Most eCommerce shops face fierce competition. Continuous upward trajectory and rapid growth in online shopping means that many eCommerce sites must continuously revisit their strategies to maintain customer retention. Though online retailers can do all they can to retain customers, once a product has been purchased and shipped, your brand falls into the hands of strangers.
As an eCommerce business, few things are more disappointing than finding out your shipments have been delayed. Not only does this lead to a loss of revenue, but it diminishes customer request, fragments customer loyalty, and sullies the brand reputation.
The right shipping strategy can make your business. Likewise, choosing the wrong shipping partner can break your business. This can lead to unhappy customers who suffer through poor experiences.
The right shipping strategy will boost delivery accuracy, improve status and tracking visibility, reduce fulfillment time, and facilitate smooth returns. To get the most out of your shipping strategy, here are some things to consider.
1. Variable rate shipping
While the term “free shipping” is alluring to customers, it may not be suitable for your business model. Depending on your product type and inventory, free shipping may be a viable way to attract businesses. Products with higher profit margins, like luxury items, can absorb the costs of free shipping.
But for many online retailers, this can cut away at profits.
Variable rate shipping is an attractive method of shipping among online retailers. Unlike free shipping, variable rate shipping will allow an online retailer to recoup shipping costs while still remaining competitive. This varies your shipping costs from order to order.
By charging customers different rates according to their purchase, a variable rates strategy can be modified to appear like free shipping with enticements and offers on shipping to increase average order.
2. Location-based shipping
For online retailers, globalization is a good thing. Provided a customer can access the Internet, retailers can attract a wider audience base than previously. This means that as a retailer, delivery must be as adaptable as the consumer base.
Location-based shipping offers a shipping strategy for eCommerce sites who are looking to expand into international shipping. International shipping though creates some complications. Namely, products requiring additional shipping fees or country-specific import and export laws.
The right shipping solution partner will provide shipping options according to the customer’s location. Whether it’s conditional shipping; which prevents order transactions on items unavailable to their region, or multi-address shipping, the right partner will understand the hassle of dealing with shipping internationally.
3. GPS-based delivery
Similar to location-based shipping, the right shipping solution should include GPS-based delivery.
In many parts of the world, especially within regions that continue to expand their urban city centers, like that of the United Arab Emirates or China, many international customers do not have a listing address. In cities where streets often lack formal addresses, traditional shipping solutions are unreliable and prone to error.
GPS-based delivery utilizes the power of your smartphone and a local delivery app to track your every move. This allows items ordered from an online retailer to be delivered right to you, wherever you may be. This eliminates the need for physical addresses, an issue particularly acute in emerging markets.
4. Consumer consent
In recent years, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced new rules regarding delayed shipping.
These newly instituted regulations now require consumer consent if an online shipment company fails to fulfill an online order. This in short means, if an eCommerce site is unable to fulfill a delivery within 30 days, and without customer consent, the customer is automatically refunded the cost of the purchase. This will require shipping solutions to fulfill every order in a timely and confident manner.
5. Shipping technology and analytics
In the early days of online retail, businesses had few insights to determine where the fault lay if customers received faulty, incorrect, or damaged goods. Businesses were held liable in those days and often had to take a customer’s word for it.
The advent of new technology has eliminated the loss of profit and risk to faulty or missing products. Thanks to technology, online retailers now have to power to carefully monitor every delivery step from the moment the product leaves the business.
eCommerce sites now have the ability to utilize real-time scanning and video surveillance to provide complete transparency around tracking visibility. This crucial ability benefits the customer while ensuring your company is protected from liabilities for any errors.
Shipping analytics also provides effective monitoring to offer opportunities in identifying emerging patterns in the marketplace. This can lead to effective, personalized engagement strategies.
The new rules of shipping will require shipping solutions to move towards predictive, logistics-based shipping strategies. Solving the problems that once plagued online shipping means local merchants and global brands continue to grow profitable online businesses.
Naveen Joseph is the Head of Operations – UAE for Fetchr which supports both B2B, B2C and peer2peer deliveries in the Middle East. Fetchr is a technology solution that makes shipping as delightful as shopping and helps local merchants and global brands build, launch and grow profitable eCommerce and online businesses.