Growth. It’s what every business strives for, and eCommerce operations are no different. Contrary to popular belief, growing your business isn’t just about acquiring as many new customers as possible. It’s all about bringing on new customers while RETAINING the customers you already have. On that note, here are some shipping strategies you can use to help grow your business.
Offer Free Shipping
One of the most effective shipping strategies out there is to offer free shipping to your customers. In fact, studies show that 4 out of 5 customers feel that free shipping incentivizes them to make a purchase! Besides the obvious perk of being “free,” one great thing about offering free shipping is that it eliminates different shipping options at checkout. Less options and surprises at checkout means less opportunities for your customers to abandon their cart, which will result in more sales!
Offering free shipping also gives you a value proposition to market. For example, your business can advertise something like, “we always offer free shipping!” Some businesses simply can’t offer free shipping (like if their products are too heavy and shipping costs are too high to build into the price). However, it’s something we highly suggest that you should think about if you can do it. The benefits of offering free shipping usually outweigh the costs for most businesses.
Remember: “Free” Shipping Isn’t Really Free
The basic premise of “free shipping” is that your business pays the shipping costs so your customers don’t have to. Someone has to pay for shipping, after all. The good news is, you can use shipping software to buy postage online at huge discounts! This will drastically lower your shipping costs, so it will be even easier to offer your customers free shipping.
Don’t Bombard Your Customers with Different Shipping Options
As we talked about in the above point, a great shipping strategy is to simply eliminate shipping options altogether. The more options you give your customer to choose from during checkout, the higher the likelihood they’ll abandon their cart and you’ll lose the sale. Don’t worry about offering your customers an expedited option (unless you’re shipping frozen food or perishables). USPS already offers incredibly affordable expedited shipping services where delivery only takes between 1-3 days, such as Priority Mail Cubic! You can upgrade to Priority Mail Express or use a FedEx overnight service if you really want your products to arrive faster…but most customers won’t be able to justify spending 50%+ more on shipping to get their products 1-2 days faster.
Charge a Simple Flat Shipping Rate
If you bought something online recently, you’ve probably noticed that you’re seeing less automated checkout calculators out there. This is because more and more merchants are moving towards charging a flat shipping rate that gets added onto the product at checkout. In addition to eliminating shipping options (and lowering your abandoned cart rate), charging a flat shipping rate is also nice for marketing purposes. Your customers feel like they are getting a good deal by paying a flat rate no matter where they order your products from, and this will keep them coming back for more.
Charging a Flat Rate Makes it Easier to Reach More International Customers
In addition to simplifying the checkout process, charging a flat shipping rate can take the pain out of shipping to international customers. You can use Simple Export Rate to ship internationally at affordable flat rates. Simple Export Rate is a flat international shipping rate that takes all the complicated guesswork out of international rate shopping. It’s priced simply on whether your package is traveling to Canada or the “Rest of World”.
Keep Marketing to Your Existing Customers
Did you know that on average, it costs more to acquire a new customer than it does to retain a current one? Believe it or not, some of the most successful eCommerce businesses don’t have an enormous customer base. They do, however, excel at capitalizing on their existing customers, and it makes all the difference. That’s why marketing to ALL your customers—both new and old—is so important for growing your business.
Your job as a marketer isn’t over once you get the customer—it’s a constant process to keep them coming back. Taking the opportunity to create nice custom packaging, adding in coupons for when your customers need to order more of your products, and offering promotional codes for loyalty are some of the many strategies you can implement to keep marketing effectively to your base. Remember: the more personalized you can get, the better!
Set Expectations with a Clear Return Policy
One of the main deterrents that keeps people from buying products online is an unclear return policy. Customers sometimes worry that if they buy something online, they’ll be stuck with it forever. Offering free returns is a great way to put your customers’ minds at ease when they make a purchase.
Obviously, you’ll still need to make the effort to minimize your return rate as much as possible. Describe your products as accurately as you can and take high quality images so your customers know exactly what they are purchasing. Keep it simple, but add in all the possible information your customers might be interested to know. If you’re selling clothing, include size charts. If you’re selling food products, include an exact list of ingredients. Also, let your customers leave reviews and ratings!
Fulfill Your Orders as Quickly as You Can
We cannot stress this last point enough. If you’re serious about running a successful eCommerce business, you ALWAYS NEED TO PUT THE CUSTOMER FIRST! That means prioritizing your order fulfillment. As a general rule of thumb, we suggest striving to fulfill orders the same day they come in. That way, your products will always arrive to their destinations on time, and your customers will have a positive experience. Even though fulfillment tends to get tougher when businesses reach a certain point, your customers still always need to come first. As your business grows, be sure to pay attention to the signs it might be time to start outsourcing fulfillment.