How to Stay on Top of Shipping During Challenging Times

June 3, 2020

5 – 7 minute read:

With physicals stores closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, customers are turning to online shopping to make their everyday purchases. This rapid move has impacted the courier industry with most companies facing order backups and levels seen during the winter holiday season. However, many customers are voicing their growing pains caused by delays and increased shipping costs to the online retailer. Here are some ways to avoid customer frustration and effectively handle shipping operations.

Offer different options

Since increased shipping costs tend to reflect on the customer, it is important for stores to offer other options to alleviate the fees. One way is to offer free shipping. You can include its cost in the product price or absorb it into operating costs. Either way, your customers will notice and be more likely to make the purchase.

Another option is offering flat-rate shipping where shipping for all orders is the same amount. This encourages customers to purchase more products at once increasing their order value which makes up for the shipping. You can also offer curbside pickup if your store has a brick and mortar location. If not, it can be a great idea to set up a location where customers can do so as it removes shipping costs for them as well as for you.

Keep your customers informed and happy

Due to the fact that your customers are likely to face delays receiving their package and even increased shipping costs, it is beneficial for stores to communicate with their customers and keep them informed. If you know specific orders are behind schedule, let the customer know and ensure that their product is on its way. Most people already know that couriers are facing increased volumes and will appreciate your effort to keep them informed. Send them updates of when their order was packed, sent out for delivery, and if it is currently delayed.

Another way to keep customers happy is to offer excellent customer service during this time when complaints are likely to increase. Make sure you’re prepared to answer questions about order status and shipping fees. If your customers are not too happy about increased shipping costs, you can alleviate their frustrations by offering discounts on your products.

Track shipping data

The help of data analytics is a valuable tool in order to make smart decisions regarding your shipping operations. By keeping track of how much you’re spending on shipping orders out to customers, it becomes easier to see any places where these costs can be brought down. One example is seeing which products cost the most due to weight or size and possibly not offering them during this time if they are not top sellers.

The best way to analyze your store’s important data is using the UI Ave Analytics app. It allows you to make sense of important data and immediately see which areas are performing well and which ones could use improvements. If you don’t know how to increase performance, the app has you covered and shows suggestions created by assessing your goals and past performance.

Find the right packaging

Yes, we agree that custom packaging does make a better impression on the customer and helps with a store’s branding however, it can be an unnecessary expense during this time. Many couriers offer free packaging when used with specific shipping rates. In turn, you can offer these cost reductions to the customer’s shipping fees or cut down on your own operations spending. It is also important to find the right box size for your products. Boxes that are larger than necessary can bring costs up. Sometimes boxes aren’t the best option, as some products can fit inside padded envelopes or poly mailers.

Update warehousing and fulfillment

If you notice large amounts of orders going to specific locations, it could be worth considering opening warehouse space near those locations. This would lower shipping costs as orders would leave these new warehouses and have to travel shorter distances as opposed to all orders leaving one central location. Make sure to calculate whether the lower costs of shipping offset the extra warehousing costs.

Another option is to fulfill your own orders if you don’t already do so. This is a great way to lower spending for stores with fewer orders, smaller products, or those that don’t need large warehouses or fulfillment teams. This option also doesn’t have to be permanent and you can return to normal operations once the pandemic is over. However, if you choose to fulfill your own orders, make sure to take all the necessary precautions to keep packages and work stations clean and disinfected.

Conclusion

Shipping has changed during the pandemic with increased fees and delivery delays. These changes don’t need to have a negative impact on your store. By following the tips above, online retailers can stay on top of their shipping by keeping costs down and their customers happy.

Summary:

  • Offer different options
    • Free shipping
    • Flat rate shipping
    • Curbside pickup
  • Keep your customers informed and happy
    • Communicate delays 
    • Send status updates
    • Provide perfect customer service
    • Offer discounts
  • Track shipping data
    • Keep an eye on shipping costs to plan accordingly
    • Analyze product performance to select the ones most worth selling
  • Find the right packaging 
    • Choose the right size
    • Consider other packaging options
    • Replace custom packaging with free boxes provided by the courier
  • Update warehousing and fulfillment
    • If possible, fulfill your own orders
    • Consider new warehouse space in popular shipping locations
    • Maintain disinfecting standards

External Resources:

https://goshippo.com/blog/how-to-optimize-shopify-shipping-rates/ https://www.shopify.com/blog/shipping-resources
https://www.shopify.ca/blog/retail-response-covid-19
https://discover.dhl.com/e-commerce/e-commerce-advice/ecommerce-tips