Small business shipping can be tricky. You’re not large enough to negotiate enterprise contracts with big carriers like Zappos does, but if you sell physical products online, you need a cost-effective solution. After all, sending items to customers is central to your business. It may come as some surprise that the topic of shipping is not only central to how you do business, but it can also grow your business.
How shipping costs affect your customers’ buying habits
When we buy online, a key factor in our decision-making process is the cost of shipping. This is true in more ways than one. Just some of the questions customers may ask themselves are:
- If I order this product from this website, will it arrive in time for my needs?
- Does it even make sense to order it? Can I go down the street and buy it for the same price?
- Is the cost to ship it commensurate with the cost or value of the product?
However, the main question seems to be: How much will shipping cost?
Showing shipping prices up front on your e-commerce website may seem like a poor choice in some ways. Some retailers want customers to get so enamored with the product that they’ll pay just about any incremental charge to get the item in hand. However, 1 in 5 people say they’ve abandoned an online shopping cart because shipping costs were not clear on the product page. Read more in the following article: Conversion Tip: Show Shipping Costs Early.
So if you can, include at least shipping cost estimation on your product pages.
Think about your strategy
If you drafted a business plan, even a rough one, chances are you did some forecasting. You made a rational assumption on how much you expected to sell in a time period given what you knew about your market. Well, you can use those thoughts to forecast your shipping. Think about how much you expect to sell, how many packages you expect to send, and how much it will cost.
Once you’ve thought through your expectations, consider how you’ll construct your options. Maybe the numbers work out to where you can offer flat-rate or even free shipping. It will be up to you to decide whether or not options like those will make sense for your bottom line.
And to read more about formulating a shipping strategy, check out this article from Inc.com: A Money-Saving Shipping Strategy
One money-saving option would be an online postage solution like pbSmartPostage, which allows you to weigh packages and print postage right at your desk.
For more on this topic, read Keep Shipping Costs Down: Tips and Ideas.