Having a shipping strategy is an essential but often overlooked part of creating an effective eCommerce business and marketing it. You may assume it's just a matter of charging actual shipping costs to the customer. Nope!
Why Getting Your Shipping Strategy Right is Important
How many times have you abandoned your shopping cart because shipping was more expensive than you anticipated?
Shopify discovered the primary reason for an abandoned cart was high shipping costs or extra taxes being added at checkout. The flipside of this is that customers complete transactions where shipping costs are clear and attractive. Shipping incentives can overcome their hesitation to buy.
In fact, shipping can be a marketing tool that closes the sale and wins you repeat customers.
In this guide, we’ll cover the four most important points to consider as you plan your eCommerce shipping strategy.
Top 4 Features of a Winning eCommerce Shipping Strategy
1: Offer Free Shipping 🆓
Free shipping is a great way to entice a customer to make a purchase. With no hidden or surprise costs at checkout, buying is a breeze, and you can emphasize this in your messaging. For example, “The price you see is the price you pay.” What's not to like about that?
Free shipping doesn’t have to impact your bottom line, depending on what you sell. If you sell things with a high value, build the actual shipping cost into the price of the item.
Your ability to offer free shipping depends on your overall profit margin. If you can’t offer free shipping, consider offering subsidized shipping. Pay half the normal shipping costs, reducing them to $5 down from $10, for example.
2: Charge Real-Time Rates 🕥
If you can't offer free shipping and are concerned about turning away customers with high shipping charges, here's another approach. What if you integrate with the shipping carrier's API to offer real-time shipping costs down to the penny?
Most shipping companies offer-time rates all around the world including USPS, UPS, DHL, FedEx, Royal Mail, and many more.
How you set this up varies based on the platform you use. Fortunately, both Shopify and WooCommerce offer extensions to make the process quick and simple.
If you offer multiple shipping options, live rates let your customers pick what works best for them. Some people are happy to wait a few extra days to receive their order if they save money on shipping.
3: Offer Flat Rate Shipping 📨
Flat rate shipping is one of the most straightforward shipping strategies for you and your customers.
Consider the benefits of clearin messaging like “All shipping is only $5.”
If you have a clear price of $5 per item for shipping or only $5 for the first item, it's easy to understand.
It’s also easy for you to set up in WooCommerce or Shopify, and the consumer knows that whatever they buy, they just have to add $5, and that is what they are paying.
No strange volumetric calculations for size and weight are needed. Avoid those at all costs!
4: Offset the Cost of International Shipping 🌐
If you can do free domestic shipping, free international shipping might be cost-prohibitive. Most companies charge full cost for international shipping today.
As an alternative, you can attract international customers by deducting the cost of your domestic shipping.
For example, if domestic shipping is $5 and international shipping is $15, charge $10 for international orders. Just treat them all as domestic orders. If this undercuts a rival's international shipping rate, it's a win for you.
Things to Remember Before Deciding on Your eCommerce Store’s Shipping Strategy
Calculate Your Costs
A lot more goes into the cost of shipping than the shipping charge alone.
- Packaging Costs — Boxes, tapes, bubble mailers, ink, labels. Make sure you add it all up!
- Transportation Costs — Do you drive to the post office to drop off your parcels? Then make sure you account for the cost of gas. Divide it by your average number of parcels a day.
- Bank Fees — Whatever payment gateway you use will charge you a fee on your orders which includes your shipping charge. If you pay a 2% payment processing fee and charge $10 for shipping, you lose $0.20. Don't forget to account for your payment gateways.
In the days of TikTok-based buying and selling, the packaging is more important than ever.
For years, premium brands such as Dior, Gucci, and Apple have made the unboxing experience a real event. Some people buy such goods just for the packaging they come in.
Packaging and presentation are important, but keep an eye on your costs — fancy packaging can quickly get expensive!
Make the Most of Shipping as a Marketing Opportunity
Shipping can seem a minefield at first — full of complicated jargon and complex pricing structures. You may have thought you could simplify shipping by charging actual postage costs on every order. But you actually can be more creative and close more sales by reducing friction for your customer even further.
Your shipping strategy should convince people to buy from you rather than a competitor.
How do you charge for shipping in your eCommerce store? What have you learned from testing shipping strategies on your website? Let us know in the Commerce Journey Facebook Group.