Dream. Dare. Do – that is Suyati’s work principle in a nutshell.
While setting up an ecommerce store is relatively easy, the crunch comes when it is time to ship the product to the customer. The stakes of shipping rise further in today’s age of instance gratification, where customers buy the product at the click of a mouse or a few hand taps, and then expect the product to reach them the same or next day. Shipping can make or break an ecommerce firm.
eCommerce shipping is not as simple at putting the product in a cover, and calling up the courier guy to take it away. The process is complex, requiring resolution of many considerations, brought forth by customer expectations. Customer expectations manifest in many ways:
Many people actually buy based on shipping options, cost, and other shipping considerations, rather than product price. Deploying the necessary infrastructure, and setting systems in place to resolve the key challenges requires considerable effort and investment, but the investment would be worth its while.
Tweetable Quote: “Launching ecommerce venture is the easy part. The crunch comes when shipping the product to the customer.”
The most obvious option for etailers to fulfil the shipment obligation is tie-up with logistics providers.
The various options available for etailers include:
Most etailers charge shipping costs from their customers.
Customers are for the most part ready to pay, but expect accurate and fair pricing. They also expect etailers to be explicit and reveal the shipping charges upfront. Charging a low cost for a product, and then including a high shipping charge is often seen with disapproval as “bait and switch” tactic, even when high shipping costs may be legitimate.
Getting accurate pricing for specific locations is demanding for most etailers. The possibility of surcharges for weekend or rural delivery makes it even more complex. Many etailers simply give up and offer flat, uniform, shipping rates.
Online customers would be delighted with free shipping, if they get it. In fact, 75% of online shoppers prefer shopping with etailers who offer free shipping. Etailers may expect a sizable following and sales if they do offer free shipping, but it may not be feasible to sustain the offer beyond a point, owing to the considerable resources and expenditure it attracts, taking away all or a sizable portion of the margins.
Returns are an inescapable process of ecommerce business, more so since customers do not have the opportunity to touch and feel the product. Offering free returns shipping is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it may encourage ‘frivolous’ returns, while on the other, it gives customers greater confidence to go ahead and buy, with the knowledge that they can always return with minimal hassles if the product fails to meet expectations. Considering that free return shipping communicates the etailer standing behind the product, in most cases, it pays to offer this facility and trust the product.
Having set up the shipping infrastructure, and resolved the pricing policy, the core task is to actually ship the product when the customer places an order.
The variables that influence packing include:
The following conventions help:
Etailers would do well to follow these time-tested best practices related to shipping:
Finally, as elsewhere, nothing in the ecommerce world is set in stone. It makes sense to evaluate and review the shipping strategy periodically, in any case no later than once in six months, to ensure peak efficiency, and deliver the best possible value to customers at the lowest possible cost to the business.