Shipping can be a daunting task for businesses that are new to it. There are many things to consider, from choosing a suitable shipping carrier to calculating shipping costs. This post will discuss five tips to help make the shipping process much more straightforward. Keep reading to learn more!
Styles of Shipping and Fulfilling Orders
Before you go through these suggestions, let’s take a quick look at the many shipping and fulfilment options available to ecommerce retailers. There are three main styles of shipping that you can take advantage of.
The main benefit of using a dropshipping business model is removing the need to carry any inventory. When a store owner dropships products, they simply partner with a supplier who will ship products directly to their customers whenever an order is placed.
This eliminates the need to worry about excess inventory, as you’ll only ever have to order the necessary amount of products to meet customer demand. All you need to do as a business is to ensure you have an ecommerce platform that is ready to accept the orders.
If you want to maintain more control over your shipping process, you can choose to fulfil orders yourself. This means handling the entire order fulfilment process from start to finish, including packaging and shipping products. While this gives you more flexibility and control, it also requires more time and resources.
Contrary to self-fulfilment, a 3PL allows you to outsource a lot of the heavy lifting. A ‘third-party logistics company’, or ‘third-party fulfilment company’, is a company that stores, picks, packs and delivers your products to your customers. They also handle your stock levels, as well as any returns. Stocka is one such company that, as part of Freightways Group, will integrate with your online store and handle all the logistics involved with getting your products to your customers.
The shipping and fulfilment method you select may significantly influence other factors while beginning your shipping journey. Check the tips below to get an idea of factors to consider when selecting your shipping carrier.
1. Calculate Shipping Costs in Advance
Calculating shipping costs in advance is critical so you will know exactly how much your shipment will cost your bottom line. This way, you and your customers can avoid any surprises when it comes time to pay for shipping.
How much does shipping cost?
Before deciding how much shipping will cost you, consider how the shipping costs are determined.
Here are the three elements that impact shipping costs, as well as how they influence you:
- Service & speed: A faster and higher-priority delivery may be required by your business, depending on its reputation and degree of service to clients. This is generally an additional fee.
- Dimensions & weight: Parcel shipping costs can vary greatly depending on the size and weight of your item. The larger or heavier the parcel, the more expensive it becomes to ship.
- Destination: If you’re planning to send overseas, which may be the case if you are working with a 3PL, then you should be aware that not only are international parcel shipping costs higher than local parcel shipping, but they may also vary depending on the country being sent to.
To get a better estimate of how much your parcel will cost, try using a shipping calculator on your carrier’s website or talk to them directly to get a better estimate.
There are many different carriers to choose from when it comes to shipping. So, how do you know which one is right for your business? The answer depends on your needs and budget.
2. Customer Service
How can I deliver my products to customers? This is no longer the only question businesses should be asking. With the rise of the digital age, delivering goods to customers now also means providing exceptional customer service.
In fact, our research discovered that providing outstanding shipping services has a significant influence on consumers’ perceptions of what constitutes excellent customer service. Providing additional services such as security, tracking, and returns impacted consumers’ willingness to buy.
Here are some specifics:
- Security: 68% of consumers would pay more for secure delivery of high-value items.
- Tracking & Returns: Having the ability to track parcels and being offered a returns policy were 2 of the top 5 pre-purchase delivery considerations.
Ecommerce Insights: Consumer 2024
When everyone’s doing eCommerce, it’s the way you do it that matters. Read about eCommerce strategies that work.
The most important thing to remember when shipping is that your customers come first. Make sure you provide them with the best possible experience by choosing a carrier that offers excellent customer service.
3. Packaging your Product for Shipping
One of the most important aspects of delivery is packing correctly. If the parcel is not packaged well, it could be damaged or lost in transit, and that would be bad news for both you and your customer. To read more about packaging correctly, take a look at this packaging article.
Online businesses are also urged to explore branding opportunities in this area. Adding a little bit of branding to your packaging can help set you apart from the competition and make your customers feel extra special. Ways you can add branding to your packaging include adding a logo, using custom packaging or adding stickers.
Also, be sure to not obscure any essential data from your shipping provider, such as the sender and receiver addresses. The shipping label is vital in getting your product to your customers. A handwritten shipping label can sometimes add a flair of customisation, but it could also limit you in providing your customers with the best delivery experience – say for example if the address was illegible or ill-formatted. Alternatively, you could look into an automated shipping label applicator to save you time or a shipping label printer. Read more about our shipping label printer options here.
There are many different shipping labels available, so be sure to choose the one best suited for your needs.
4. Ask yourself, can you ship it?
You would be surprised how frequently businesses send items without doing their due diligence around shipping regulations. When the items are considered dangerous, prohibited, too large, or if they’re going overseas, it is time to ask your shipping provider for guidance.
Dangerous Goods items such as perfumes or batteries need special labelling and handling, so you must be familiar with the rules and regulations before sending such goods. Take a look at our Dangerous Goods guide to check whether your item is considered dangerous. The guide also covers the difference between dangerous and prohibited items.
Whether you’re shipping large items within New Zealand or shipping large items internationally, there are specific rules and regulations that you need to be aware of. Oversized items can incur overweight charges, so you must factor this into your shipping budget. Items too large for New Zealand’s postal network will have to be sent through a courier, which means increased shipping costs for you and your customer if you choose to pass these costs on.
If you are looking to start shipping internationally, keep in mind that exporting can be expensive if you do not have the right packaging materials or if you do not understand the customs forms required for the country you want to send to. We recommend using an international shipping company to take care of these complexities.
5. Consider Technology & Integration
The shipping company or resources you choose will significantly impact your business. The tips above should give you a better indication of what to consider when deciding on your shipping carrier.
85% of businesses expect to increase their decision-making based on data and analytics in the near future. However, when it comes to shipping, what should you be tracking?
Another type of shipping resource to take into account is your Warehouse Management Software (WMS). A WMS is an essential tool for businesses new to shipping because it allows you to keep track of inventory and shipments in real-time. This type of software also helps reduce human error, automate many shipping processes and help you collect data. WMS’s are also often capable of API integration, meaning data can flow easily between your system and any third-party platform. This can be really useful if you want to automate your shipping process or connect your ecommerce platform to your WMS. Read more about APIs here.
Automate your supply chain with our API
Our API helps you get real-time freight data into your business platform and manage your freight where and how you want.
There are multiple factors to consider when starting your shipping journey and your shipping partner will be key to your success. Some shipping companies are experts in small business courier services, others in ecommerce and retail shipping. The key is to find the right fit for you.
When you’re ready to start looking for a shipping partner, let’s have a chat.