Any business that sells physical products needs a trustworthy way to deliver them. A courier solution can be an effective method for many, though the wrong choice can limit growth and risk damaging the business.
It’s important to align your brand with a courier that suits your individual needs and will allow you to focus more on growing your business than on shipping logistics.
This guide will discuss the seven most important considerations when finding the right courier partner for you.
1. Determine the challenges of shipping your products
Above all else, your product must make it to the buyer safely. Given that all products come with unique requirements when being transported, you need to consider the factors that may present obstacles to achieving this reliably and consistently across your product range.
Some of the most common ways for a product to complicate the shipping process include:
- Size: the dimensions of a package will affect the cost and feasibility of shipping with many popular courier services. Some may even refuse to carry items outside their package guidelines. Be sure to measure the package dimensions, not the product itself.
- Weight: much like a package’s size, the weight will have a marked impact on the delivery cost. This will need to be declared on the creation of the courier order, and you should be able to see how the delivery has been affected.
- Fragility: This is an important distinction, as it is wise to make any courier partner aware they are handling fragile loads. While we’d like to think that every package is always treated with the utmost care, the realities of supply chain optimisation models show that efficiency and haste are kings in operating profitable courier services. Still, a quality courier partner will ensure that fragile packages make it to their destination safely.
Check if any of your products might be affected by the challenges discussed and ensure your shipping partner can work with you to deliver. Furthermore, ensure you have suitable packing materials available for each product.
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2. Assess your international shipping needs for both the present and future
Even if you are operating at a domestic level at the moment, it’s not unlikely that the idea of opening up to international customers will arise. While this is one of the quickest methods to expose your business to a vast number of customers, if you haven’t got the right courier partner to help supply that demand, you may be in a worse position than before.
Review the international shipping capability of each courier you consider and compare this with your current domestic shipping requirements. Each of the challenges you already face will be amplified by the cost and logistics required to transport packages across the globe successfully. This can affect whether it is viable to ship specific products internationally, and your cost model will need to reflect that.
3. Review the shipping options and flexibility on offer
One of the best ways to give your customer a high-quality experience is to provide them with control of their journey. From the initial intrigue to the conversion at the checkout, shipping is an integral step in that process.
By providing your customer with a range of shipping options and prices, you will not only allow them to decide the estimated speed of delivery but also their tolerance for pricing and visibility during transit.
Many couriers will offer a range of shipping methods, such as expedited next-day delivery with tracking features and insurance protection to the product’s value. Ensure these suit the product you’re shipping and relay that information to your customers. Given that the eCommerce industry continues to grow, as seen in the data below, you need to take every opportunity possible to grow your customer base and outperform the competition.
4. Check for eCommerce integration with your chosen platform
Imagine you’re starting a fresh new business brimming with passion and drive. You check all the boxes – choose an eCommerce platform, buy a domain name, populate the site with content and products – only to fall at the last hurdle – the checkout.
Large courier partners can operate alongside your domain through APIs, enabling orders to be placed on your website and the relevant shipping request made to the courier. Not only does this cut down on the administration required from you, but it also creates a seamless experience for the customer. Ensure your eCommerce solution can be integrated with your chosen courier.
5. Map your order life cycle out
Some products will be ready to ship at a moment’s notice. Others, however, might only be back-ordered from a supplier once the demand is sufficient, customisable at the checkout, or even made-to-order.
Given that this will drastically affect the speed at which you can deliver your product to a customer, it is beneficial to understand the average product purchase lifecycle within your business. For example, if you are making outdoor furniture to order, it may take you two weeks to build, and the larger size means it’s more difficult and time-consuming to ship. This means that a typical conversion process may not work – if the order is made and the shipping contract is created automatically without the build-time factored in, you could be in a difficult spot.
Understanding your order lifecycle is essential to a robust ecommerce marketing automation strategy. The more aspects of your business that can be safely automated, the better position you put yourself in. Remember that some products may not be eligible for such an approach. Still, many can reliably integrate into such a strategy and reduce the direct input required from yourself or an employee.
6. Consider cost factors in your decision
At an absolute minimum, your business needs to be profitable to operate. Competition is fierce across the vast majority of eCommerce verticals, making every bit count to help your business continue to grow. Map out the costs to your business – physical premises, business VoIP pricing, domain costs, product costs, and shipping costs – and ensure that, wherever possible, you keep costs down while retaining quality.
Determine the right balance between courier costs, speed, and range of services, and consider that as part of your product’s cost. Some businesses will offer free bulk shipping to mitigate the delivery cost. In contrast, others pass the shipping cost over to the customer, which is beneficial if you provide multiple delivery options.
It’s also possible to place price thresholds to qualify for free shipping, and it can be a proven business tactic to increase revenue. According to a recent post by SaveMyCent, 24% of customers would spend more to qualify for free shipping, which is a significant portion of your customer base.
The graph below highlights how important free shipping can be to customers, making it an important choice when selecting a courier partner based on their pricing.
7. Stress test your shipping courier’s customer support
While it would be fantastic if customers never faced any issues when shopping, it’s a universal truth that every business will have to deal with problems and complaints at some point. Many of the negative experiences your customers have are both preventable and manageable by your company. However, once the package has been handed to your courier partner, you can often do little. This is why you need to understand how prospective shipping partners handle customer support and how they communicate with business partners.
Ensure you understand the types of telephone systems in use – do you or your customers have to fight through automated responses, or will they be
able to talk with a live customer service agent when seeking help? Is the customer support service quick, easy to follow, and has useful information on the status of their package? What compensation is available if a package is damaged or delivered in an unsatisfactory manner?
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Consider partnering with a shipping provider that offers cloud call centre solutions, which can enhance customer support by providing efficient communication channels and streamlined processes.
The approach taken by your shipping partner will reflect on your business, so you have to be confident that their actions align with your approach to customer care and satisfaction.
Building a successful business is a long and challenging journey, demanding that business owners adapt and learn various skills to succeed. To give yourself the best chance of success, don’t make shipping another part of the puzzle you need to manage. Find a suitable courier to support your business and remove the administration hassle from the equation.
By taking the steps outlined above, you should have a clearer idea of which courier partner is the right choice for your business. Which topics do you feel are the most important for your business today? Solve those, and you’ll be set up for success.