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Are Shipping Options Killing Your E-Commerce Business Today? Reduce That Risk Quickly with These 5 Timely Changes

Posted on 3.20.2017

You’ve just found the greatest thing to make your day, you see the price, add it to your cart, and then find out it won’t arrive for two weeks. Do you buy it from this store or head to another store — now that you know the product’s name — and see if you can get it sooner or cheaper?

If you’re like most Americans, you ditch that first e-commerce site and head to Google or Amazon.

If you own that first e-commerce store, you just lost yet another sale, not because of your products but because of how you ship them and provide that shipping information. This lost sale is a prime reason you need a partner who eliminates fees, contracts, and complex shipping math that your customers don’t want to decipher.

Shipping has become a make-it-or-break-it part of the online shopping experience. If your shipping options aren’t clear, competitively priced, and free from bad surprises, you’re going to be on the break-it side of that equation.

Here are five things you should consider for your e-commerce operations to make shipping work for you, instead of against you.

Do You Have Too Many Clicks?

Shoppers need to get to your products in about two clicks. That’s from your page through categories and right to the goods. Any more than that and you’ll see a big section head back to Google to find things elsewhere.

Your shipping should follow the same focus. Don’t make them click any additional time to find the shipping costs. Whenever possible, make it so your shipping prices are available on product pages.

And, bolding the shipping price and then using a call-to-action for benefits like free shipping will help people know what to expect and be pleased that they have a way to save. Amazon has done this for quite some time, because it works.

Another common thing to avoid is making your users sign-in to get information like pricing. This also drives people away. If you can, always show the prices and costs.

There may be some information you need, such as a ZIP code for shipping or tax estimates. In that case, ask the user just for their ZIP and explain why in the form. You get the data you need but don’t come off as someone out to grab information unnecessarily.

Pick a Pricing Plan and Stick to It

You’re probably considering free shipping options to keep up with Amazon and lots of the other e-commerce giants. Free shipping is a popular option and it’s a quick way to level the playing field, but you already know that it isn’t really free.

So, what you’re left to do is to find a free shipping option that works for your budget. Here are the three most common ways brand afford a free shipping offering:

  1. You pay the price of the shipping out of your margins.
  2. Increased product prices allow you to cover the full cost of shipping.
  3. Small increases to pricing essentially splits the shipping cost between customers and your margins.

You also have the option to offer free shipping once the cart reaches a specific amount, usually when the product price no longer means you’re reaching as far into your margins. It can push your average order slightly higher, especially if your free-shipping price is relatively low.

End Bad Surprises

The average abandonment rate for a shopping cart online is just under 80%, and one of the big reasons are terrible surprises that often lurk in carts and checkout pages. Shipping fees are often a surprise that hits just before paying, and it’s a pain that’s often too high to make the purchase stay viable and enjoyable.

If you had $25 to spend and found something that was listed under a “total” cost for $21, you’d add it to your cart and be pretty happy. But, what if at checkout that total cost now jumps up to $27. There’s a disconnect, and the seller has missed a few opportunities to tell you what to expect for shipping costs.

Are you going to look back through their site to find something new or are you going to give up and head elsewhere? Is there anything they could do (short of ending the shipping cost) that would get you come back next week?

In e-commerce, surprises that don’t give a discount are bad surprises.

Tell Them What You Provide

Two magic words can help you set proper customer expectations: “Learn more.”

Give a brief look at your shipping options and information, then put the “Learn more” link at the end to give them a chance to explore if they desire. This should be done with Tooltip text, so that the user simply hovers over the phrase and gets the information they need.

Things to include in the tooltip are what you would want to see if you were about to make a purchase, such as:

  • Shipping options available on most orders.
  • Shipping rates or what dollar amount gives free shipping.
  • When the goods will be shipped – typically the next business day.
  • If you provide tracking numbers for each order.
  • A generic version of your returns policy: “Coverage under our 14-day return policy”

Having this tooltip appear when the user hovers over the phrase means they aren’t navigating away from the shopping cart or experience, but does provide them with a quick way to answer questions.

You get to mitigate concerns and reassure the customer that you’ve taken their worries into consideration and already have a plan to deliver an amazing shipping experience.

Make Sure You Have the Right Partner

The most trusted source of information on your products — and any products online — are customer reviews. That’s great news if you have a wonderful product, but it can also be dangerous news if you have a terrible shipping partner.

When a customer orders from you, they hold you accountable for the shipping experience. It isn’t going to be the fault of UPS when your package is late — it’s your fault. So, every delay, mistake, broken item, and return is a ding to your reputation.

If your current fulfillment partner isn’t meeting your shipping promises, that’s a big risk to your reputation and the health of your business.

You should also look to see if your fulfillment partner is creating gaps in your coverage or offerings.

Can you reach 99.9% of Americans within three days, or are you stuck with a complex shipping equation customers have to figure out, from restricted states to providing arrival date ranges of 5 or more days?

Do you have to hide the cost of shipping after everything else because you’re always paying based on weight, timeframe, and a host of other calculations that the customer doesn’t get to see?

Are you forced to adjust your pricing to offset SKU or account management fees?

That’s a perfect way to turn your customers off and send them running to a competitor.

Whenever you can, simplify the experience and work with partners who can do the same. Customers want a direct, simple pricing not a complex shipping table that leaves them without a clear idea of when their package will arrive.

Confusion over shipping shifts a potential negative into something that customers don’t even consider. In your e-commerce store, you want shipping thoughts to always be something your shoppers assume will work and then live up to those expectations.

Find a partner who makes the promise and the fulfillment universal, and you have a partner who is an asset instead of a potential liability to your long-term viability.

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