3 Steps To Find The Right Shipping Provider For Your Business

Business.com / Business Solutions / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

Your shipping and packaging gives you a chance to provide a real "aha" moment for customers. Three insights to make shipping work for you.

Shipping is often seen as a dead cost for E-commerce retailers, though it doesn't have to be that way.

Your shipping and packaging gives you a chance to provide a real "aha" moment for customers.

Everyone loves opening a beautifully wrapped package delivered sooner than expected.

The question is: how can you ensure a good experience if your costs leave you without the time or money to invest in your customers?

Through an analysis of thousands of consumers and retailers across three continents, here are the three top insights to make your shipping work for you.

1. Know Your Shipments

Most carriers offer flat rate shipping, and this can be an easy and cost effective way to ship your goods. However it is essential that you closely track your actual shipment sizes and costs. Using nonstandard packaging and shipping packages outside of the set dimensions will incur much more expensive “Dimensional Pricing”.

The ideal solution is to have an integration between your shipping provider and E-commerce platform. That way you can leverage your product data to make informed decisions and get the best shipping rate for every order.

Once you are intelligently using product data to automate your carrier and service choices, you should begin to make use of the data your system is collecting. Are you experiencing any regular cost blow outs? This is especially important if you ship items with a wide range of sizes and weights as you may be able to identify products which are consistently over or under certain dimensions.

This data also presents opportunities for changing your packaging or even bundle products together for better value. Once you are certain about your packaging options and dimensions, you might consider what you can improve inside the box to give your users the best moment of truth upon opening the package.

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2. Know Your Options

As a vendor you have a lot more choice than you might think. Recent research from Temando surveying 800 E-commerce vendors shows a direct link between increased shipping options and sales. Different shoppers have different needs and priorities. The same research found that 80 percent of shoppers want same day shipping. On the other hand 44 percent of cart abandonments are caused by a lack of free shipping.

Knowing your shipping options and average costs allows you to decide whether you can subsidize a free shipping option. However, you should also explore the premium services that your carrier provides that would let you stand out from your competitors.

Can you offer hyper local, three-hour fulfillment? Does your carrier provide pickup and drop-off locations? The better you understand the available shipping options the better you can serve your customers.

Don’t be afraid to shop around and see what’s possible. Finally, many providers, including USPS, FedEx and UPS, all offer a guaranteed delivery time. This means that if they are late in delivering your package, you are entitled to a refund. This is important to keep in mind when comparing options as it can make a huge difference when dealing with irate customers.

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Here's a comparison of the four largest carriers globally, courtesy of Comparical:

U.S. based and international courier comparison chart.

3. Use the Best Carrier for Every Order

Don't limit yourself to one courier service only. Different carriers will have different prices for different delivery methods along different routes. You can compare these manually by entering the package specifications and route into a pricing calculator for each supplier you work with, or alternatively you can use a multi-carrier shipping platform to automate the process, like Temando.

This process is especially important for international shipping, where different providers will be operating with significantly different strengths and capabilities in different regions. There is no one-size-fits-all policy when shipping your goods internationally. Without an automated system this may sound like a lot of effort, but this strategy can save you lots of money in the long run.

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The Takeaway

The right shipping provider can mean the difference between happy customers and unhappy customers, and can ultimately lead you to higher profits.

If your checkout processes are seamless, but your shipping provider fails to keep up the momentum, nothing you do may keep the customers happy. It's the connection between your storefront, and the product arriving to your customer's hands.

While manually selecting a carrier for each individual product can be hard work, using an automated system will create a better experience with minimal effort.

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