Understanding the need for Best Practices for eCommerce Shipping
Shipping is a key aspect for any eCommerce business. Therefore, when starting or running an eCommerce company, it is critical that business establish, understand and adhere to best practices. Shipping practices are established in order to ensure that the product is delivered to the end consumer in the safest way without getting damaged. Further, shipping practices also ensure that businesses are able to reach their customers well in time without compromising their customers and diluting their brand image.
In this article, we help eCommerce companies understand what the best shipping practices are and how they can improve efficiency within the organization as well as the delivery experience for their customers.
What are the Best Practices for Shipping in eCommerce?
Here are some of the best practices for shipping that eCommerce businesses must follow.
1) Have a strategy
It is important to develop and establish a shipping strategy that aligns with the goals of your business. For an industry such as eCommerce that depends on shipping for its very existence, it is critical to understand the outcomes of events in the shipping process. Depending on the products, target market and geographical location, businesses must understand which shipping methods, partners and policies work best for their business in order to sustain and grow.
2) Assemble a team
A team is critical to the success of any shipping operation. For eCommerce businesses, shipping is the only instance of physical interaction with the consumer. Therefore, having a team to manage these operations can solve multiple problems that may arise during the process. The right team can help resolve issues that may arise during shipping to ensure deliveries are successful and all orders are fulfilled.
3) Identify goals
Companies must understand the goals that they are trying to achieve through their shipping operations other than delivering the product itself. These goals can be to increase conversion rates and repeat order rates through a wholesome delivery experience, or to improve brand awareness through branding on shipping packages. No matter what the goals are, the business must understand them and create a roadmap to achieve them.
4) Understand shipping companies and services
The shipping industry is brimming with various ecommerce shipping companies. Further, a large number of companies are big players and offer high quality service. Therefore, while choosing a shipping company businesses can easily become overwhelmed and might end up with a partner that does not suit their requirements.
Therefore, before choosing a shipping company for your business, understand the different types of services offered by the provider and if they help you achieve your goals. Further, understand if the shipping partner helps you reach your target market and allows you to grow.
5) Understand shipping timelines
The time between placing an order and receiving the product is critical for a customer. Most customers face post-purchase anxiety where they are expecting to receive their product, and have a tendency to cancel the order if their product does not show up within the expected time frame.
Therefore, it is important that businesses establish clear shipping guidelines with their provider, have SLAs in place and give realistic expectations as to the delivery timeline to their customers to successfully fulfill orders.
6) Understand cost of shipping a product
The cost of shipping is a key component of an eCommerce business. Customers are often fazed by high shipping costs as they feel it is an unnecessary expense over the cost of the product itself. Owing to this, companies often tend to offer free shipping. However, free shipping can damage margins and increase operational costs for businesses.
Therefore, when charging shipping fees from customers, businesses must consider keeping these charges low and partner with a major provider that has a wide network which can help reduce the cost. Further, companies that want to offer free shipping to their customers must adjust the cost of shipping the product within their margins and adjust product prices accordingly.
7) Optimizing packaging
Packaging of a product is a key component during shipping. Since shipping companies generally charge fees based on volumetric weight, larger boxes can easily increase the cost of shipping. Therefore, businesses must try to use packaging boxes that fit the product snuggly without taking unnecessary space to reduce the cost of shipping. Further, businesses may also consider customization on their shipping boxes to improve brand awareness.
8) Give importance to updates and notifications
During the shipping process, customers appreciate being aware of the status of their order. This status can be offered to customers at different stages after a purchase has been made. Providing event-based notifications and updates helps improve the experience for customers and reduce the odds of order cancellation. Further, it can also be used by the eCommerce business itself to remain aware of the status and manage any exceptions that may arise during shipping.
How to ensure best practices are followed in your company?
The proof of the pudding lies in eating it. Therefore, it is just as important to follow best ecommerce shipping practices as it is to have them in place. Here are some ways businesses can ensure that their shipping practices are followed in their organization.
1) Checks and balances
One of the best ways to ensure that shipping practices are followed by employees in an organization is to establish checks and balances. This ensures that each entity within the organization is accountable for their actions and prompts them to follow proper procedures. Further, the fear of reprimand and demotion is a major driver for most employees to ensure that they follow guidelines provided by the executives.
Having the right protocols and controls in place is another way to ensure shipping practices are followed. When companies establish protocols, employees understand that as a way of doing business and inculcate them as a practice that is conducted in due course of business. Therefore, the right protocols can help employees better understand the actions that they need to take in order to ensure that an order is fulfilled.
The shipping process involves a myriad of moving parts and multiple partners. Therefore, when companies engage in shipping operations there are bound to be certain failures and errors. In order to make the system more efficient and capable of dealing with errors, verification protocols must be established.
Verification allows businesses to ensure that different stages of the shipping process are being completed in the prescribed manner. Further, upon any failure noticed in the system, businesses can easily identify problems and resolve them.
4) Service Level Agreements
When companies get involved with shipping companies, they must sign SLAs to ensure failure to fulfill an order will hold the provider accountable. When companies sign SLAs they essentially form an agreement with shipping companies where the provider must ensure that they make all necessary and logical attempts to fulfill the orders in the general course of business. This protects eCommerce companies from sustaining damage if the shipping company does not perform its duties.
5) Training and awareness
Finally, a great way to ensure best shipping practices are followed by an organization, businesses must train their employees and spread awareness. When employees are aware of their responsibilities, they are better equipped to handle operations and perform. This not only improves shipping performance but also improves the overall culture within an organization.
Further, training can also help employees understand how to deal with exceptions and resolve issues without having to wait for instructions from top management.
Following best shipping practices is essential to the success of eCommerce businesses. Since shipping is responsible for ensuring that online businesses make a sale, it must be efficient and effective. Without best shipping practices in place and being followed, eCommerce companies are likely to fail major issues in fulfillment and eventually diminish customer experience.
1. What are the most important eCommerce Shipping Best Practices?
Some of the most important eCommerce shipping best practices are having a strategy, assembling a team for managing shipping operations, identifying goals, understanding partners and their costs, and understanding the needs of the customers.
2. Why do companies need to follow eCommerce shipping best practices?
Companies need to follow ecommerce shipping best practices in order to ensure that their products reach their customers safely and in the promised timeline. Failing to do so is bound to result in customer abandonment, diminished brand value and business loss.