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Create your ecommerce website on ShopWired today.
Start today with 14 days free

Ecommerce Shipping: Key Strategies and Mistakes To Avoid in 2024

29th November 2023

Ecommerce Shipping- Boxes and Truck

Ecommerce is fast replacing traditional brick-and-mortar as the go-to shopping choice. 

In 2022, in the US alone there were 268 million online shoppers. This figure is expected to rise to 285 million by 2025. 

With so many now shopping online, online retailers need an effective shipping strategy. It’s not just about getting products to customers– it's about creating a positive experience that encourages repeat business and customer loyalty. 

In this guide, we'll explore the ecommerce shipping process, from choosing the best shipping methods to handling returns and everything in between. We’ll also explore how ShopWired can help streamline your shipping process to reduce errors and keep customers happy. 

Ready to optimize your ecommerce shipping strategy? Keep reading. 


What is Ecommerce Shipping? 

When you run an online store, the shipping process starts from the moment a customer orders an item on your website to its successful delivery at their doorstep. 

Generally, the ecommerce shipping process can be split into three steps. 

Step One: Order Received 

When an order is placed, your ecommerce platform will immediately log it. At this stage, the system typically confirms the details of the order, including quantities and product variants. This step also involves a final verification to confirm inventory levels are up-to-date and no discrepancies are present. 

Step Two: Order Processed 

Next, the order is verified and order details like shipping addresses and payment information are confirmed. This review is key to maintaining a seamless flow in the order fulfillment process 

Step Three: Order Fulfillment 

Once the order has been received and processed, the next step is order fulfillment.

In this phase, the items specified in the order are picked from the inventory, carefully packed for shipping, and prepared for dispatch. Finally, the order is labeled with shipping information and readied for collection by the courier or shipping service. 

A successful ecommerce shipping strategy hinges on seamlessly executing each of these steps - from receiving the order to final fulfillment. 


Ecommerce Shipping Strategy 

Creating the right shipping strategy for your ecommerce business depends on various factors like your target audience, budget, product types, and profit margins. A mix of fast and affordable shipping methods is often the most effective.  

In the following sections, we'll explore a range of shipping methods and options that can be integral to your ecommerce shipping strategy. 


Different Shipping Method Vehicles

Different Types of Shipping Methods 

Providing multiple shipping methods can significantly impact operational efficiency and, ultimately, customer satisfaction. That’s why it’s important to understand the different types available. 

Here are some of the more common shipping methods: 

Delivery Truck

Ground Shipping

Overview- This is the standard shipping method typically used for domestic deliveries. It’s a cost-effective option for non-urgent shipments. Delivery times for ground shipping usually fall within 3-5 working days. There are plenty of courier services that offer ground shipping, including FedEx and UPS. The main advantage of ground shipping is its comparatively lower cost compared to other shipping methods. 

Ideal For- Items that don’t require urgent delivery or delivery across borders. 

Cargo being loaded onto plane

Air Shipping 

Overview- Air shipping is faster than ground shipping and is often used for international or urgent deliveries. While air shipping is more expensive than ground shipping, it is still usually cheaper than other long-distance shipping methods, such as freight shipping. 

Ideal For- Time-sensitive items or shipments that need to cross long distances quickly.

Overnight Shipping 

Overview- As the name suggests, overnight shipping means that the package is delivered the next day. If necessary, the package will continue its journey through the night to guarantee its prompt arrival to the customer. 

Ideal For- Urgent deliveries, such as important documents, last-minute gifts, or perishable items like food. 

Freight Shipping

Freight Shipping 

Overview- Ocean freight shipping is used for large or heavy shipments that can’t be sent via traditional postal services. It is estimated that 80% of all goods are carried by ocean freight shipping. Freights are usually transported by large ships across the open ocean. Ocean freight, while costly for small quantities, becomes more cost-effective for larger, international shipments. However, it is much slower, typically taking 40 to 60 days for delivery. 

Ideal For- Oversized items, bulk orders, international goods, or industrial goods. 

Hazardous Container

Specialized Shipping 

Overview- Some items require specialized shipping methods due to their nature. These could include: 

● perishable items 

● hazardous items 

● fragile items. 

Ideal For- Items that require specialized handling. 


Ecommerce Shipping Options for Your Customers 

As an ecommerce merchant, offering a variety of shipping options helps you cater to a target audience with different needs. Some customers will be willing to pay more for faster delivery, while others may prefer to pay less but wait a little longer. 

Free Shipping

Free Shipping

Offering free shipping is a great way to turn store visitors into paying customers. Businesses often set a minimum purchase amount to balance costs. For example, Free Delivery for Orders Over $30.

The power of free shipping should never be underestimated. Not only can it encourage customers to increase their spend to unlock free shipping, but it can also attract customers from competitors who don't offer it. A survey in the US revealed as many as 82% of US shoppers spent more to get free delivery

Flat Rate Shipping 

Flat rate shipping consists of a fixed shipping cost regardless of order size or weight. For customers, it offers transparency and simplicity. Customers appreciate knowing exactly how much they need to pay for shipping upfront without worrying about varying costs based on weight or distance. 

Economy/Standard Shipping 

Economy/Standard shipping is a good choice for customers who don’t mind paying a little less to wait a few days for their item. This option represents a balance between cost and speed. With typically longer transit times, standard shipping is well-suited for orders where immediate arrival isn't critical. 

Same-day Shipping 

Same-day shipping ensures delivery on the day of purchase. It's particularly appealing to customers who require last-minute items. By providing same-day shipping, ecommerce merchants can meet demand and set themselves apart from competitors. 

2-day Shipping 

2-day shipping provides a quick shipping option without the premium price of same-day shipping. It’s ideal for customers who need their item fast, but not immediately. 

International Shipping

International Shipping 

Offering international shipping broadens your brand’s reach to a global audience. However, you’ll need to consider the challenges of shipping across borders, including customs regulations, variable shipping costs, longer transit times and tax considerations (more on that below). 

Click and Collect Process

Collect In-Store (Click and Collect) 

Letting customers collect their item in-store is ideal for those who want to avoid shipping costs or won’t be home to receive their delivery. In-store collection also reduces the likelihood of missed deliveries. Stores typically hold on to items for up to 14 days, giving customers plenty of time to collect them. 

These are the main shipping options commonly offered by online stores. Of course, the types of products you sell can greatly influence your chosen shipping options. For instance, perishable goods might necessitate faster shipping methods. 

By offering a wide range of shipping options, you’ll cater to your customers’ diverse needs and preferences. Remember, satisfied customers are your greatest brand ambassadors.


Other Important Shipping Factors to Consider 

It’s also important to take the following considerations into account when considering your ecommerce shipping strategy. 

When to Offer Free Shipping 

Offering free shipping is a strategic decision. You’ll balance customer satisfaction with the financial implications of offering free shipping. Remember, offering free shipping is a great way to boost conversion rates, but it’s essential to assess whether you can afford to offer it. 

Profit Margins 

Shipping costs directly affect profit margins, so you’ll need to factor them into your pricing strategies. Consider the affordability of each different shipping option and how much it will eat into potential profits. 

Taxes Calculator

Taxes 

Understanding tax regulations is paramount in ecommerce shipping, especially when shipping across different regions or countries. Taxes can vary significantly based on the destination, and they can add a considerable amount to the final cost of shipping. For instance, Value-Added Tax (VAT) is a common consideration in many European countries, while sales tax may be applicable in various states in the US. 

Being transparent with customers about these tax costs is essential. For example, when shipping a product to Germany, you would need to include the VAT in the final price, which is different from shipping to a US state like Oregon, where there's no sales tax. Mismanagement or lack of understanding of tax considerations can not only lead to unexpected expenses but also possible legal issues.

It's important to note that customs duties are often collected before delivery, meaning customers might need to pay customs fees to receive their package. This should be clearly communicated to avoid surprises and potential dissatisfaction.

Returns 

A clear, customer-friendly return policy gives your customers peace of mind and should outline the process for returning unwanted items. By making returns stress-free, you increase retention rates as customers won’t be put off from buying from you in the future. 

Consider the costs and logistics of the returns process. You may choose to offer free returns or have customers pay for return shipping costs. Whatever you decide, it must be clearly stated on your returns policy. 

Package Theft

With the rise of "porch pirates," packages left at a customer's doorstep are increasingly vulnerable. This is where options like Click and Collect can be invaluable, allowing customers to pick up their orders from a secure location. 

However, it's equally important to have a policy in place for instances where package theft does occur. This policy should clearly outline the steps both you and the customer should take in the event of a stolen package. It might include procedures for filing a claim, steps for initiating an investigation with the courier service, and the conditions under which a replacement or refund will be issued.

Your approach to handling package theft should aim to balance protecting your business from fraudulent claims while also ensuring customer satisfaction and trust. A study by Deloitte found that 42% of customers reported they were previously impacted by a breach of personal information. But most shoppers said they would continue to shop at a compromised retailer if the company took action 


Ecommerce Shipping: Best Practices 

Even in the most streamlined operations, shipping challenges are inevitable. To mitigate the potential for problems, the following best practices in ecommerce shipping are recommended. 

Packaging Choice

1. Packaging Choice 

The choice of packaging can affect product safety and shipping costs. It's essential to select packaging that adequately protects your items while being mindful of size and weight, as these factors directly impact shipping fees. A strategy to consider is to design custom-fit packaging that aligns closely with the size of your products to minimize excess material. 

For eco-conscious brands, you may consider utilizing recyclable or biodegradable materials for sustainability. This not only helps the environment, but could also resonate positively with eco-conscious customers. 

2. Insurance 

Once a package leaves your possession, you should have insurance in place to cover any potential losses or damage. While most couriers will offer a level of insurance, it’s worth taking out an insurance policy with a dedicated shipping insurer. Accidents happen, so being insured will provide peace of mind to you and your customers. 

3. Efficient Product Packaging and Labeling 

Leveraging technology for label creation or using a shipping platform can greatly streamline your packaging process and reduce manual errors. 

On the other hand, you may choose to outsource your packaging if it provides a more cost-effective approach. 

Tracking Truck on Map

4. Tracking and Security

Order tracking benefits both customers and merchants by offering real-time visibility of shipments. It enables monitoring of the order's journey and provides up-to-date location updates. Tracking is essential for promptly identifying and resolving transit issues. 

To further enhance the security and integrity of the delivery process, additional measures like signature requirements and One-Time Passwords (OTPs) for collection can be implemented. Requiring a signature upon delivery means the package is handed over directly to the recipient or a trusted individual. Having them sign significantly reduces the risk of theft or loss. OTPs also add an extra layer of security, especially for locker or pickup point collections. 

5. Ongoing Monitoring 

Regularly monitoring and optimizing your shipping processes is crucial to maintain a quality service. There are plenty of shipping tools and integrations that integrate with your ecommerce platform to automate and streamline shipping tasks. You’ll also want to choose reliable shipping partners capable of meeting your customers’ needs.


Common Shipping Mistakes and How to Avoid Them 

A lot of things can go wrong with shipping. Issues can stem from staff making human errors, customers entering their address incorrectly, or from external issues out of your control. Being aware of some of the more common pitfalls can help you avoid them. 

Inaccurate Shipping Information 

Issue- One of the most common errors– incorrect shipping information. Inaccurate data can lead to delays, lost parcels, and dissatisfied customers. 

How to avoid- If an item has been flagged as having incorrect or missing shipping information, you may be able to manually edit the order within your shipping tool. If you need more information, contact the recipient promptly and ask them to provide the correct details. 

Poor Packaging

Poor Packaging 

Issue- Inadequate packaging can lead to damaged goods during transit. If this happens, you’ll not only have to replace the damaged item, but you’ll leave your customer feeling dissatisfied with your service. 

How to avoid- Invest in quality packaging that protects the items adequately, especially for fragile products. Also make sure you have adequate insurance to cover items that are damaged in transit. 

Underestimating Shipping Costs 

Issue- Failing to accurately account for shipping costs can erode profit margins. This not only includes the direct costs of shipping but also packaging, handling, and potential return costs. 

How to avoid- Regularly review and update your shipping cost calculations, including packaging, weight, handling, and returns. Compare courier rates and consider cost-saving measures like bulk buying packaging or using more efficient packaging materials to keep expenses in check. 

Failing to Adhere to Return Policies 

Issue- Return policies are important and it’s crucial to adhere to them. If a customer wants to return an item, they should be able to easily do so in accordance with your returns policy. The process should be straightforward and without hassle. Your platform may have templates or recommendations for setting out a returns policy. 

If an item is misdelivered, never ask the unintended recipient to send it on to the correct address. Doing so could breach privacy regulations; getting the item to its intended recipient is your responsibility. 

How to avoid- Educate your team about the importance of adhering to return policies consistently. Use a reliable tracking system to handle returns efficiently and maintain records. In cases of misdelivery, arrange for the item to be returned to your business or a designated return center, and then dispatch it correctly.

Package Delivery Scams

Issue- Package delivery scams not only target individuals but can also impact businesses. Scammers might use your business name in fraudulent delivery notifications, misleading your customers and potentially harming your reputation.

How to Avoid- Proactively inform your customers about the possibility of these scams. Use your website, social media, or email newsletters to educate them and show them what a legitimate message from your business looks like. Promptly report any scams using your business name to authorities and inform your customer base to prevent them from falling victim to these schemes.

Frustrated Customer

Lack of Communication

Issue- It’s important to keep the lines of communication open during the shipping process. Failing to provide updates and support could leave customers feeling dissatisfied and unwilling to do business with you again. 

How to avoid- Keep customers informed of the shipping status at all times. Provide timely updates, tracking information, and clear communication throughout the shipping process to maintain customer satisfaction and trust. 

ShopWired: Streamlining the Shipping Process 

Ecommerce has become the preferred shopping method for millions globally, which means reliable and efficient shipping is more important than ever in the competitive online marketplace. 

ShopWired elevates your shipping process to the next level. With a dedicated order management system at its core. ShopWired is the perfect solution for online merchants looking to build the perfect store and streamline their entire shipping process. 

From receiving an order to processing and shipping, ShopWired helps you at every step of the way. 

ShopWired Order Management System

Centralized Order Management 

ShopWired's order management system lets you manage orders directly from the admin dashboard. It provides a clear overview of all orders, making it easy to track, update, and manage them in one place. 

Comprehensive Order Overview 

View and manage all orders directly from the main order overview page. You can bulk select orders for printing directly from the dashboard or export them via CSV format. 

Individual Order Management 

Update and edit individual orders by accessing detailed information for each order. This includes options to edit delivery and order information. 

Enhanced Communication and Tracking 

ShopWired’s new order timeline feature lets you view and resend any previous emails sent to customers. This can be helpful when tracking the ongoing status of an order. 

Filter Views for Sorting Orders 

Filter View

Filter views let you sort and categorize orders using specific criteria, such as order status, date range, or customer details. This functionality allows for quick retrieval of order information. Once you’ve applied your desired filters, you can save them for quick and easy access in the future, further streamlining the order management process.

Customizable Delivery Pricing 

ShopWired’s delivery pricing system is designed to be flexible and adaptable to the needs of your business. 

Creating Delivery Zones and Rates 

ShopWired lets you create delivery zones, then set delivery rates within those zones. Customers are shown delivery rates at checkout based on the delivery country they select and the products in their cart. 

Rates Based on Price and Weight 

The system can calculate delivery rates based on the total cost or weight of the products in a customer's cart. This makes sure that the delivery costs are proportional to the order, whether based on value, weight, or both. 

Combining Weight and Price for Rates 

ShopWired also allows you to combine weight and price factors to determine rates. For example, you can set up rates based on weight while offering free delivery for orders over a certain value. 

Integrations with Shipping Apps 

ShopWired lets you enhance your shipping capabilities through integrations with various shipping apps, including Royal Mail, Shipstation, and Shipmondo. These integrations let you connect directly with a wide range of couriers and shipping services, streamlining the process of managing deliveries and dispatch. 

ShopWired’s shipping integrations help you cater to a variety of shipping needs and preferences, both domestically and internationally. With these tools, you can automate tasks to boost the precision and speed of your shipping operations. 

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