5 Shipping Best Practices for E-Commerce Retailers

E-commerce and shipping go hand-in-hand. They are like baseball and hot dogs or peanut butter and jelly. In fact, shipping is so important to e-commerce that failing to get it right can doom a retailer’s business. It pays to know the best practices of e-commerce shipping and follow them to the letter.

Below are five such practices, complements of Preferred Shipping, an authorized DHL Express reseller based in Sugar Land, Texas (you can visit their website here). Implement them all and your company will have a good start on handling shipping the right way.

Carefully Consider Free Shipping

Free shipping is considered an excellent marketing tool because it motivates people to buy. Even if free shipping means a slightly higher retail price, consumers cannot help but thinking they are getting something for nothing. However, free shipping is not always in a company’s best interests.

Industry best practices dictate that companies carefully consider free shipping and all its implications. For example, future shipping rate increases necessitate increased retail prices. Will customers respond well if retail prices go up?

Maintain Clear Shipping Policies

It is imperative that e-commerce retailers develop clear shipping policies. Equally important is publishing those policies on the company’s website. Shipping policies are meant to protect the retailer. By laying those policies out clearly and on a public forum, retailers can always point customers to written policy if there is ever a disagreement.

Be Cautious with Policy Changes

Developing shipping policies and publishing them on an e-commerce website doesn’t make those policies permanent. There are times policies have to be adjusted to account for changing conditions. However, e-commerce operators should be cautious about any and all policy changes.

Free shipping is an excellent example. If a retailer has offered free shipping on all items from the very start, how will customers react when free shipping is eliminated a year later? Such a decisive policy change could kill any sales momentum the retailer has already built.

Choose Shipping Partners Wisely

Shipping best practices dictate that e-commerce retailers choose their partners wisely. Not every shipping company does things the same way. Shipping solution resellers can also vary quite a bit in service and pricing. It really pays to research shipping solutions before choosing one.

Caution is especially warranted for international transactions, according to Preferred Shipping. Why? Because international shipping requires paying attention to compliance issues. These are issues that do not apply to domestic shipping. Finding a shipping partner capable of ensuring compliance goes a long way toward guaranteeing fast and efficient international delivery.

Manage Costs Through Options

Shipping costs can be better managed by offering customers options. An e-commerce retailer might give customers three options for shipping providers. On top of that, each provider might offer multiple options for additional services. These might include tracking, insurance, and even discounts for combined orders.

Offering options gives customers more control. If they want to pay for extra features, they can. Otherwise, they can choose basic shipping and pay less. More control for the customer translates to more cost control for the retailer. Retailers can let customers pick and choose their options rather than paying for top-of-the-line service on every order themselves.

You cannot run an e-commerce operation without arranging for shipping. But you also can’t run a financially successful operation if you don’t do shipping right. That’s why it’s in the e-commerce retailer’s interests to learn shipping best practices and implement them. Best practices lay the groundwork on which good shipping policies are built. They lay the groundwork for reliable shipping that doesn’t end up costing an arm and a leg.