Choosing the right shipping carrier(s) for your online store is one of the most important business decisions to make when starting or running an e-commerce business.
This is because timely delivery is a top priority for more than 87% of online shoppers. Thanks to same-day and next-day shipping capabilities, more and more shoppers are now expecting their orders to arrive even faster, with 41% willing to pay extra for same-day delivery.
Not only are they expecting faster deliveries, 79% of customers surveyed also want free shipping.
Fast delivery and free shipping (including reverse shipping) may excite customers, but can also eat into retailers margins.
So, how do you strike a balance?
In this post, I’ll highlight five (5) top qualities to look out for when choosing a shipping carrier for your online store, but first
What is a Shipping Carrier?
Simply put, a shipping carrier or shipping partner is a shipping company, such as DHL, UPS, FedEx, etc.
They play a key role in the eCommerce supply chain by facilitating parcel delivery from the seller to warehouse or customer, locally and internationally.
Why Is It Important to Choose the Right Shipping Partner?
Let’s answer this question by highlighting what the wrong shipping carrier can do to your business.
- Poor packaging
- Delayed shipping
- Broken or damaged products
- Loss of products (due to no insurance policy)
- Stolen products
- Late delivery
- Angry customers
Now, here’s what the right shipping partner can do for your business:
- Proper packaging
- Fast shipping (same or next day)
- Fragile/special product handling
- Insured packages
- Zero cases of theft or refund in case
- Timely delivery
- Happy customers
- Fewer returns
- Fewer refunds
- New customers
So, how do you choose the right shipping carrier for your online store in order to enjoy these and other benefits?
Following are seven tips to consider in choosing the right shipping carrier for your online store.
5 Things to Consider When Choosing a Shipping Carrier
- You and Your Store
Yes, you and your store are the most important factors to consider when looking for a shipping carrier for your online store.
You can gain more clarity here by answering the following questions.
What products do you sell?
What markets do you serve?
What shipping carriers serve your catchment area(s)?
For instance, if you run an online store or a local brick and mortar store in China serving customers throughout mainland China, China Post delivery may make more sense. They also offer package tracking so your customers can track their orders, and can deliver globally.
On the other hand, if your primary market is UAE, you may want to consider shipping carriers with the capacity to deliver anywhere in the Emirate. In that case, you can check out your competitors, what shipping carriers are they using?
- Size, Spread, and Speed
When considering a shipping carrier for your online store, you should consider their size. Are they big enough to handle large volumes of orders, can they deliver to faraway continents?
Shipping and logistics can be capital intensive, so the bigger they are, the better. For instance, Amazon has fulfilment centres spread all over and a fleet of planes to move parcels from point to point in record time.
This enables them to offer expedited shipping and deliveries like same day and next day delivery, much to the delight of shoppers who want their orders delivered fast, even if for an extra fee.
So, consider the size, spread and speed of delivery when choosing a shipping carrier for your online store. If you serve a small local community, your focus should be on local carriers offering speedy and efficient deliveries.
This is one of the biggest factors to consider when choosing a shipping carrier for your online store, especially considering the fact that 79% of online shoppers want free shipping.
And although 41% of shoppers don’t mind paying extra for fast shipping, how much is too much? As a rule of thumb, too much is when the cost of shipping exceeds product cost. For some shoppers, too much is anything north of $10.
Therefore, it is critical that you choose a shipping carrier that offers flexible pricing options so that your customers can choose the best shipping option based on cost and speed of delivery.
Compare different shipping carriers, their shipping rates, and shipping costs to determine the best fit for your online store, the kind that your customers will be willing and happy to pay for.
- Order Tracking Capabilities
The waiting period between when an order is placed online and when it arrives can be full of anxiety for many online shoppers. Will the order arrives safely, will it be exactly as seen on the website, or will it be another what-you-ordered-vs-what-you-got fail?
Shipping carriers that offer free order tracking help customers to feel more relaxed and in the loop as their orders move from the warehouse to their own house. This can also reduce the number of emails or phone calls from antsy customers asking to know the whereabouts of their orders.
These days, many shipping carriers are integrating order tracking software in their process so that customers can keep tabs on their orders. It is important that you ask and confirms that your preferred shipping carrier indeed offers package tracking.
According to reports by Proship, an overwhelming 97% of shoppers expect to be able to track their online orders. Not only should you offer free order tracking, but you should also aim for hassle-free and user-friendly order tracking experiences.
- Customer Reviews
User reviews are a great way of testing the waters when choosing a shipping carrier for your online store. When online shoppers leave reviews, they usually talk about product quality, product packaging, speed of delivery, and the delivery experience.
You should check out shipping carriers reviews on trusted third-party review sites, as well as by checking customer reviews on popular online stores. Most of these reviews will state which shipping carrier brought their items and in what condition.
This can give you a heads up, and help you to avoid shipping carriers that come up often for poor shipping services. This is because poor shipping experiences can reduce repeat purchase rate and increase churn.
Reports say 56% of consumers read at least four reviews before buying a product. You should read a lot more reviews before choosing a shipping carrier for your online store.