3 Ways to Drive Repeat Business Through Shipping

  •    Freelance writer focused on web development, email marketing and baseball. He lives in Los Angeles, but wishes he lived in Tokyo.

You put so much work into getting customers over the finish line to make a purchase that you may be missing the power that shipping has to keep them coming back. From the price and speed of your shipping to how you package and present the shipped product, this entire process has enormous potential to increase loyalty and retention. It's the only part of the entire interaction in which the customer "meets" a physical representation of your business, so ideally you're putting your best foot forward.

How can you successfully do that?

1. Ensure Customers Complete their Transactions

It's incredibly easy to offer customers a variety of shipping options. Everything from FedEx overnight, to UPS two-day, to USPS first class, to a man in a cat suit riding a unicycle right up to their door can be easily added to your site. You have full control over both the price and provider and can even have different choices appear to your customers based on the country or state they happen to be in. With that in mind, there are two very important topics to consider:

  1. Exactly which shipping options you're going to provide customers.
  2. How much you're going to charge for each option.

Around 50% of customers have previously abandoned a shopping cart either because shipping was going to take too long or they weren't offered the choice of a delivery timeframe that worked well for them. That's a lot of potential customers to miss out on. Assuming your business has the bandwidth to handle it, every shopper should see at least three shipping choices:

  1. Overnight shipping (usually provided by FedEx or UPS)
  2. Two to three day shipping (like USPS Priority Mail)
  3. Longer term shipping (4 to 7 days via ground service through any of the above providers)

If providing several different shipping options sounds overwhelming, look at inexpensive and easy to use third-party apps like Shippo, which empowers you to quickly print shipping labels for all major providers directly through your website.

When it comes to pricing each option, ideally your slowest choice will be free of charge, since 81% of shoppers consider access to free shipping a major component in deciding whether they'll actually complete an online transaction. On top of that, 58% of shoppers will purchase more items if it means they get those items shipped for free, so including a free two-day shipping option for orders of, say, $75 or more could lead to an increase in orders of that size. Especially if you remind customers of this promotion throughout your site; something you can do by simply writing messages on each of your table-of-contents pages or by using a third-party app like Easy Popup or Coupon to show each customer a pop-up that ensures none of them miss out.

Setting up this kind of free shipping promotion can be done through the same process you use when adding any of the shipping options noted above to your store.

2. Wow Them On Delivery

When an Amazon box is delivered to a home or office, it feels a little like Christmas. You know that some cool, useful or needed thing you ordered will be in the box as soon as you spot it.

It's beneficial for your own business to create this same sort of Pavlovian response in customers with your own branded packaging. You don't even need to go as far as custom designed boxes (which might get expensive), since you can accomplish a lot just through your packing tape. That's what Amazon does.

Services like Stickermule can help you with this at a fairly inexpensive price point. It's worth shopping around, of course, but using their service as an example: you can buy 5 rolls of custom printed tape for $151. Each roll includes 300 feet of tape. If you use an average of 3 feet per box, you're paying around 30 cents per shipment. That's not a high price to pay to strongly connect your brand identity with a happy moment, and it becomes significantly cheaper than that when you purchase rolls in bulk.

Beyond packaging, consider including an extra freebie in the package. Whether it be a cool sticker or a thank you note or a magnet or a little plastic dinosaur, it will aid you in making a deeper personal connection with the customer. There are people making good money recording unboxing videos on YouTube and Instagram for a reason. Who doesn't like surprises, even if they're small ones?

​3. Provide a Simple, Easy Return Process

No company has a 100% success rate with their completed sales. Customers are occasionally going to want to return things, and they're going to want that return process to be easy.

Only 20% of customers will happily complete a purchase if they know they'll be required to pay for shipping should they decide to return it. So though it may seem like a good money saving measure to make customers pay for their returns, you're ultimately damaging your business long term by not biting the bullet and providing them with a shipping label.

Plus, as with printing your own shipping labels, apps like Shippo make it very simple to create return labels for your customers. Ensuring that the process doesn't have to be a painful one.

On average, 40% of an online store's revenue is driven by only 8% of their shoppers. Who are these 8%? The returning customers. So one of the best ways to up revenue is to increase the number of your own customers who return to shop again. Providing an easy, smooth shipping experience that surprises and delights your customers is a direct path to doing just that.