Shipping is an important part of e-commerce with implications on practical levels as well as with regards to customer service. Customers don’t hesitate to abandon their cart if the rates or estimated time of delivery is not to their liking.
How though can you satisfy your customers while limiting the costs that will inevitably incur in shipping orders?
1. KEEP YOUR PROMISES
All e-commerce merchants would like to offer free shipping and be able to ship internationally. However, all shipping options come with a cost that you likely cannot bear alone.
Before offering the moon to your customers, make sure you are actually able to keep your promises, practically and financially.
Once your offer is clear and you are sure it can be carried out, publish your shipping policy on your website (make sure it can be easily found) and respect it! Your customers prefer to know exactly what to expect, and even share in the shipping costs, rather than deal with an unpleasant surprise.
I’ve said it many times, business is about trust. Build trust for your business by being honest and transparent with regards to rates and delivery schedules… You can always adjust and improve your offer periodically or as your business grows!
2. TAKE INTO ACCOUNT YOUR CUSTOMERS’ OPINION
Would you like to improve your shipping but are unsure how – either reduce rates, accelerate delivery times, or offer free shipping starting at a certain amount?
Why not use this ‘uncertainty’ to build your relationship with your customers? Survey your customers to get their input and ask them for their ideas and comments. That way, you will see what is most important to them, and consequently you will be better equipped to make good marketing decisions in your day-to-day business and for your promotions.
There are two types of consumers you want to survey:
- Those who have bought from you.
- Those who have visited your store but left without buying.
The most valuable input comes from customers who did not purchase; they are the ones who will tell you what in effect prevented from buying.
How to go about surveying these consumers?
1) Send a survey email to all those who have made a purchase on your site to ask them specific questions, especially with regards to shipping and rates, and what could be improved to boost their satisfaction.
2) Send a survey email to those who abandoned their cart (you can even do this through a Facebook ad since you can target those who put items in a cart without buying). Ask them what made them abandon their cart. Offer them a discount or another gift to encourage them to participate in your survey.
3) There is software that allows you to survey customers currently browsing your store by sending them a pop-up survey before they leave your site.
- Quick tip: Avoid using social media for surveys. Your competitors are also on social media and they don’t necessarily have your best interests in mind. Some people may never have actually visited your store. Targeted emails are still the best approach.
3. KEEP YOUR CUSTOMERS UP TO DATE WITH THE STATUS OF THEIR DELIVERY
When a customer makes an online purchase, he wants to make sure his order is being processed and wants to know when his order will be delivered.
One way of reassuring your customer – and to continue building your trust relationship with them – is to put yourself in their shoes and take the time to email them updates about their order. Tell them when the parcel has shipped or if you encountered any delay. Whether you or someone on your team does this doesn’t really matter, the point is your customers will undoubtedly appreciate the information.
Depending on the platform you use, there are plugins that automatically send updates to your customers, doing so every step of the way if you so choose. Many marketplace dashboards also offer to automate these types of follow-ups.
Carriers will also offer to send notifications by email to your customers, but if you do it yourself in a more personalized way, you will build that ‘human’ connection which will reassure your customer. Remember, a satisfied customer will give you more business.
4. THINK ABOUT YOUR RETURN POLICY
When we think of shipping, we tend to focus on the fulfilled order being sent to the customer, but we also have to think of the possibility that the order might be sent back and how to manage the costs associated with such returns.
Informed consumers pay great attention to return policies before ordering, and rightly so. They want to make sure that costs will be reasonable should there be a problem with the product.
Therefore, give some thought to your return and exchange policy. Use it as a marketing tool to draw more customers to you. Just like your shipping policy, your return policy should be easy to find on your website.
It's up to you whether you will cover the return fees or if your customer must cover it. It’s up to you to determine what returns you will accept and what services you want to offer to keep your customers satisfied. In any case though, the conditions, procedures, methods, and shipping fees for returns must be clearly defined.
Shipping is a crucial and complex aspect of e-commerce. It isn’t only about packing products and choosing a carrier. The choices you make – whether it be for shipping fees, delivery schedules, transparency, follow-ups, or return policies – all have a major impact on the conversion rate of your e-commerce and on building customer loyalty. Leave nothing to chance!
Surveys, website upgrades, software integration, plugins… None of that is free.
Don’t forget that when it comes to deliveries, you can benefit from substantial refunds when packages are delivered late. By entrusting the tracking of your packages to Buster Fetcher, you have nothing to worry about but to get money back, money which you can re-invest in your business – to improve your customer service for example!