Is your online business competitive in the 21st century? Or are you already doomed to failure?
Most business owners focus on things like product quality and persuasive marketing. However, shipping is just as important as these other factors.
In a world where Amazon can provide almost anything within a day or two, it is vitally important that you have competitive shipping options. And before you can truly compete, it’s important to know what those options are.
Keep reading to learn about the best shipping options for your online business!
The Power of “Free”
Your customers will respond in different ways to different words. But there is no word they like as much as “free.”
Free shipping is often the tipping point for a hesitant customer. The idea that something will come directly to their door at no extra cost is a powerful motivator.
On your end, “free” is relative. Unless you want to go out of business, you must compensate for “free shipping” in one or more ways.
For example, you might increase your product prices. This is a sleight of hand strategy because customers focus on the free shipping and not the slightly-higher price of the item.
You can also modulate your free shipping costs by offering special promotions to customers (more on this later).
Nothing in business should happen without a reason, and shipping is no exception. Before you change up your shipping methods, it’s important to align them with your overall goals.
For example, a goal to increase your conversions and a goal to decrease costs are very different. You may be willing to ship items at a partial loss in the first scenario but not in the second.
In this way, shipping should be part of your long-term business strategy. Make sure your methods are fully in alignment with your sales, marketing, and other strategies.
There are really only two fundamental product shipping options. You can outsource your needs to someone else or you can handle things in-house.
In-house fulfillment is popular for several reasons. First and foremost, it may allow a business (especially a small business) to save money vs. relying on third-party shipping.
Second, it gives you complete control of the process. The buck stops with you, and there is no one else you can blame shipping problems on.
At the same time, shipping with speed and efficiency means you must devote the time, resources, and personnel to making things work. If that seems untenable, then third-party shipping may look better and better as an option.
If you go with the in-house option, you’ll need to explore the best possible wrapping and packaging options. Be sure to explore paper overwrappers to find the best packaging choice for your needs.
Keeping It “Real”
If free shipping doesn’t work, there is always the realistic alternative. That means charging your customers whatever the actual market rate is.
You can check with carriers such as the USPS and see what the rate happens to be at the time of the order. Just charge the customers that amount and you should be good.
Obviously, charging real-time rates doesn’t have the persuasive glamour that free shipping does. But your customers will know they aren’t being ripped off, and you won’t have to worry about charging too much or too little for each order.
Promotions and Synergy
So far, we have focused on two extreme options: either charging customers nothing at all for shipping or charging them down to the penny. However, there is a third option you should consider.
Instead of making free shipping automatic, consider making it part of a promotion. For example, “free shipping on orders over $50.”
This is a proven strategy that was perfected by Amazon. It persuades customers to order more products while defraying any losses you take on the cost of shipping.
You will need to experiment and find the best price point at which your company should offer free shipping.
Dropshipping is an increasingly popular way to send products to customers. However, this solution doesn’t work for every business.
With dropshipping, your products are never actually stored onsite. Instead, they are stored by a third-party vendor who will send them out after you make a sale.
This works well for certain products. For example, you may design something like a t-shirt and use dropshipping to send it all around the world. If you sell more than one type of product, dropshipping may not be ideal.
Keep in mind that not every vendor participates in dropshipping. Furthermore, you are still the face of your product and company: if there are problems with shipping or delivery, you will be the one that customers try to contact.
There is one more pricing option beyond free, real, and promotional. You can always offer your customers a flat rate.
Flat-rate shipping can be a double-edged sword. That’s why it is important to set the right price point for this form of shipping.
If it is too little, you may lose money on each order. This is like just throwing cash away every time a customer hits the “buy” button on your site.
If it is too much, you may discourage customers from making purchases. Try to find the “sweet spot” that encourages purchases without encouraging major losses.
Packaging Options: Keep It Simple
Interested in shipping products out on your own? We have two words for you: “light and small.”
Your boxes need to be sturdy enough to protect your products. At the same time, they must be light and small enough to keep the shipping costs down.
Be sure to get a wide variety of shipping boxes. This helps you to sell items of various sizes while still keeping costs down across the board.
Shipping Options: Your Bottom Line
Now you know what your online business shipping options look like. But do you know how to create the kind of website that leads to sales?
We help businesses just like your own to reach their full potential. To see how we can help with your business evolve, check out our “how-to” website design guides today!