It’s no secret that shipping is one of the most important aspects of eCommerce. If you want to hold a candle to your competition, upping your shipping game is one of the best ways to do it. Luckily, you’ve got plenty of options to choose from — none of which require a dented wallet!
Ready to pair your fabulous products with fabulous shipping? Read on to learn the what and how of sprucing up your shipping options. From free shipping to in-store pickups, there’s something for everyone and every store.
If we’re talking shipping options, then free shipping has to be the golden child. With almost 80% of U.S. consumers agreeing that free shipping increases the likelihood of them making a purchase, you can imagine the kind of conversion wins you’ll be scoring by making it an option during checkout. While shipping that is both free and fast is ideal, free shipping on its own is still a powerful purchase driver.
But, like all good things, free shipping does come at a cost — literally. As a savvy business owner, there are a few steps you can take to keep shipping free for your customers and affordable for you.
Here are our best hacks:
- Offer free shipping only after an order exceeds a certain threshold.
- Slightly inflate the prices of your products so that they cover part of the shipping, while still technically keeping shipping free.
- Only offer free shipping for certain SKUs, specifically those that are lightweight and have solid margins. Think jewelry and accessories.
Free shipping is like the cherry on top of a nice slice of cake. The cake can be fine without it, but the cherry gives it that extra umph that makes even the most committed dieters break their vows.
Flat Rate and Table Rate Shipping
Free shipping is pretty great, but it might not be the most viable option for some eCommerce business owners. If that’s the case for you, enter flat rate and table rate shipping. They both provide fixed rates for your customers, but their approach is a little different. Let’s break it down.
Flat Rate Shipping
Flat rate shipping is when every order is charged the same for shipping, regardless of weight or destination. If you choose this option, you’ll need to do some light math in order to figure out what rate works for you. Charge too little and you might lose out on profits, charge too much and customers will be turned off. It’s all about the balance, baby.
Table Rate Shipping
With table rate shipping, you can set different rules for your orders so that rates are calculated accordingly. For example, your shipping rate could be $5 for orders within 50 miles of your warehouse, $10 for 100 miles, and so on and so forth. By combining different sets of rules, you’re able to create a personalized shipping strategy that’s a perfect fit for your business. Of course, this option can be somewhat complex, so it might not be the best choice for those who are just starting out.
Regardless of the option you go for, make sure to cross your t’s and dot your i’s so that your business stays profitable no matter what.
Same-Day, Next-Day, and 2-Day Delivery
Same-day, next-day, and 2-day — the speedy delivery options otherwise known as shipping’s Holy Trinity. If Amazon has taught us anything, it’s that customers love fast shipping. Can you believe that waiting weeks for a package to arrive was the norm in the olden days of eCommerce? Not anymore! Like Ariana Grande, customers now “see it, like it, want it, get it” — and they expect the getting part to happen pretty quickly!
The best part is that you don’t have to break the bank to offer speedy shipping. There are several ways to keep it affordable, like offering it on select items or only to certain destinations. If you have the means, fast shipping is a no-brainer. If not, don’t sweat it — you can redeem yourself by having an awesome business and gradually working your way up to greener shipping pastures.
If you want to set up shipping costs without breaking a sweat over lost pennies and quarters, then live rates are the choice for you. Live rates essentially allow you to pass on the rates you’re being charged by carriers directly to your customers. Additionally, they allow you to charge shipping proportionately to where you’re shipping to. For example, if you’re sending a pair of mittens to Susan from down the block, then those rates will be different from Karl who lives across the country. No guesswork needed!
Although live rates grant much transparency, it’s important to note that you don’t necessarily have to display those rates exactly as they are. It’s up to you if you want to offer a little somethin’ extra in terms of a discount, or if you want to hike it up slightly to cover fulfillment costs.
Are you a master of two worlds? A brick-and-mortar sage and an eCommerce guru? Then (free) in-store pickup is a fantastic way to build a bridge between both realms. It offers customers a chance to get to know you online and offline, which also means double the opportunity to woo them. Woo-la-la!
According to Business Insider, something like 70% of U.S. consumers are big fans of BOPIS — the acronym for buy online and pick up in-store. While BOPIS might sound like the name of someone’s scrawny uncle who wears wire frame glasses and is a little too into Dungeons & Dragons, we promise it’s the way of the future. BOPIS provides convenience and no shipping fees or wait times. If you have your own physical storefront, then you should say hello to BOPIS.
Word of the wise? When you start to mix and match your shipping options, it’s unlikely that you’ll get it right on your first attempt — and that’s A-OK! Just be open to implementing new strategies, experimenting, analyzing your results, and keeping track of your data on a monthly or quarterly basis. A good rule of thumb is to have at least two shipping options available: domestic standard and domestic express. For the particularly brave, you can throw in international shipping as well.
Questions? Comments! Shoot us a line. We’d love to hear from you!
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