It almost sounds like a bad word. But it doesn’t have to be.
Unless you expect every customer to collect their purchases directly from you, shipping is just part of the process for online shopping.
And it doesn’t have to be a negative experience. The key is communication. Let your customers know what to expect before they get to the check out.
The Hurdles: To find the positives we first have to look at the negatives. And really there’s only two: Time and Money.
Shipping isn’t immediate. We’re not yet at the stage where a product can be bought online and instantly arrive at your house. Even pizza delivery takes time.
Shipping is an extra cost. Even when expecting shipping costs, there’s still a limit as to how much individuals are prepared to pay. The higher the cost of the product, the lower the percentage of that cost needs to be.
For example: say you’re buying a $50 item with a $5 shipping fee. That’s 10% of the purchase price and seems reasonable. Now use that percentage on a $500 item. How do you feel about paying $50 for shipping? Still want to continue with your purchase?
So how do we remove the perception of added cost at the checkout that can halt a sale? And more importantly, how do we turn this into a benefit?
Not everyone is in a rush to have their purchases arrive immediately. For consumers that regularly shop on overseas websites, they’re used to waiting up to a month for goods to arrive. However, a month for domestic delivery isn’t going to cut it.
Be straight up with your customers. Let them know how long expected delivery time will be before they get to the check out stage. The average shipping time in New Zealand is one to three working days.
Remember to put a disclaimer that delivery times are a guide, not a guarantee, and that rural deliveries may take longer. But be sure to make every effort on your part to courier items on time. Any delays should be related to the time after the product has left your business.
How to Keep it Positive
Be direct: deliveries will arrive between one to three working days.
Be fast: deliveries will arrive the next working day for purchases made by 1pm.
Be flexible: choose between next working day delivery at [Price A], or up to three working days delivery with [Price B].
Shipping is not an area you should be trying to make money from. Let me rephrase that: do not try to make money from shipping. It’s considered bad business as consumers will quickly cotton on to the scheme and shop elsewhere.
Shipping should be as affordable as you can make it and the cost to consumers needs to be made available before the check out stage.
The average shipping cost in New Zealand is $5-$10.
Make the information easy to find and straight forward. Your store is for your shoppers after all, and if they’re buying on a budget, they may need to include shipping as part of their overall spending.
Flat-rate Shipping: one price for all. This is the uncomplicated option and suits businesses that have products and packaging that doesn’t vary much, meaning shipping will likely cost the same across the board. If you have a competitive flat-rate, promote it across your site.
Region specific Shipping: one price per region. Courier services often charge by zone or region, so you can offer different rates for local, North Island and South Island delivery. Setting this up is the same as international shipping.
Varied Shipping: price dependant on product type or weight. Effective for businesses that have a range of products that vary greatly in size, weight, packaging and therefore shipping cost. Try to keep it as simple as possible. The simpler you you make it, the less customers you’ll lose at checkout.
Persuasive Shipping: reward bulk buying. Incentivise shoppers to purchase more products by offering discounted or free shipping when they spend a set amount, or buy a certain number of products.
Promotional Shipping: short term offer. Provide special offers on shipping for a limited time. Ideal for attracting new customers, rewarding existing customers, or as part of a sale.
Free Shipping: no added costs. Add the shipping price for each product into the listed price and consider showing the included breakdown of costs in the product description.
Delight on Arrival
Being up front about delivery times and prices is the first step to creating a positive experience with shipping. Making your buyer feel special when their purchase arrives will keep them coming back.
Inserts: adding extras. This can be in the way of a thank you note, discount offer for their next purchase, sample stock or product you need to move (so long as it’s relative to the customer), or even a small gift like a bag of lollies.
Packaging: quality packaging. Professional and stylish packaging adds to the credibility of your company and has proven to motivate buyers into becoming repeat customers. In the age of Instagram, beautiful packaging gets shared by around 40% on social media which also provides you with free advertising.
Opt to Collect
As part of setting up shipping, you can offer pick up so that customers can collect their purchases in store. This provides an opportunity to upsell and connect directly with your customer. If this is an option for you, it should be made available.
Some department stores in New Zealand charge a collection fee. We don’t suggest doing this. If you offer pick ups and want to promote it, add information to your website that highlights the offer of “Free Pick Ups” or “No Charge for Collection”.
Provide a time frame for pick ups along with your opening hours and let customers know how soon after ordering they will be able to collect items. Have all the information in one place to save them searching all over your website to find what they need.
Integrate with GoSweetSpot
Shipping needs to be a positive experience for you, too. Storbie provides integration with GoSweetSpot, New Zealand’s largest courier and freight aggregator, which provides a range of benefits including:
- Cheaper shipping rates
- Easy tracking and reporting
- Huge alliance of partners
- Print your own labels (no courier tickets to buy)
- Streamlined process
You can also set up an email template that can be sent to your customers with their tracking code once the courier scans it on pick up which adds to the overall positive experience.
If you’re just starting your e-commerce website, don’t fixate on shipping. Keep it simple: get your website live, and start selling! You’ll be able to tweak shipping preferences as you go.
Read our support articles on how to set up shipping with Storbie here.
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