Smart Shipping: How to Drive Sales and Delight Customers

As the eCommerce world continues to grow, smaller stores and sites need to constantly assess shipping strategies to keep customers happy. While shipping speeds and prices are both important, most of your customers still prefer free over fast.

About three-fourths of consumers say free shipping is the most important feature a site should provide to online shoppers, according to a 2017 survey by UPS. Free shipping can also be a marketing or sales tool for your store: Over 90% of consumers say they've taken an action on an eCommerce website in order to earn free shipping. Pricing transparency also matters: Consumers say clearly displaying shipping costs early in the checkout process is the second most important feature.

Here are four tips to help your website stay competitive on both smart shipping costs and delivery times in order to meet customers' expanding expectations.

1. Simple Pricing and Free Shipping

Although shipping rates may seem pretty easy to calculate, the process can be confusing. Some shipping companies charge by weight, while others charge a flat fee. Then there are choices for expedited shipping, overnight shipping, weekend shipping and rural shipping as well as special handling charges.

One way to streamline the process is to use the Real Time Shipping (RTS) feature (available with the Performance Plan). RTS enables carriers to calculate shipping rates during checkout that are displayed to your customers. Rates are based on the weight of the product and the number of boxes required to ship the order. If you're based in the U.S. and are shipping to a U.S. address via the United States Post Office (USPS) or DHL, Weebly has negotiated special shipping rates that are available to RTS users.

You can also use the manual shipping rate feature to setup free shipping. You can control what type of orders qualify and use it to drive sales. For example, try setting free shipping for orders over a certain price or weight to incentivize larger purchases.

2. Offer Multiple Options

As your business grows, you'll likely need to work with multiple vendors to handle your shipping needs and meet customers' expectations for speed and price. Taking the time to evaluate different options can be worth the pay-off of increased efficiency and savings for shipping.

ECommerce websites should consider both USPS and private carriers when calculating the most affordable shipping options for customers. One way to streamline the choices is to try the Shippo, a powerful shipping tool available in the App Center. Shippo prints labels for packages that are sent through multiple carriers, including USPS, FedEx, UPS, Canada Post and DHL Express, and also provides discounted shipping rates that are up to 80% off of retail prices. When sales and demand increase, you could try purchasing a label printer to expedite the process.

3. Consider Drop Shipping

Another way to reduce costs is by using drop shippers like Printful. Most drop shippers enable retailers to store inventory in a third-party warehouse. This means your eCommerce orders go directly to the drop shipper, which packages and sends the products directly to customers. The option allows you to increase shipping volumes without adding extra space for inventory.

Larger stores with more growth can also work with third-party logistic providers (3PLs) that offer more control over the supply chain with services such as storage, inventory control and order fulfillment.

4. Rethink Packaging

With many shippers determining costs by the weight and size of the package, you may need to get creative about packaging. Use the minimum amount of space possible and label each package when shipping multiple items, experts advise. Preassembled products also make shipping faster.

Appropriate packaging for safe delivery of the product is also important to your customers. About two-thirds of U.S. consumers believe their shipment packaging shows how much the retailer cares about their order.

As eCommerce grows so will the number of new digital shoppers ready to find your products. These tips can help your online store create smart shipping strategies that meet customers' expectations for speeds and prices — and keep them coming back for more.