9 Ecommerce Shipping Mistakes to Avoid

By Michael J. Sammut

An online shop’s shipping methods and rates have a big impact on sales. Customers are just as attracted by low shipping rates, fast shipping options, and good packaging, as they are enticed by competitive market rates of products.

Ecommerce websites that have not yet mastered the complexities of shipping are missing out on their full sales potential. Fortunately, with a little research and planning, most of these mistakes are easy to identify and avoid.

Avoiding the 9 ecommerce shipping mistakes can help any online shop owner become a savvy seller.

1. Not Letting Customers Select a Shipping Option

Customers enjoy having multiple shipping options since every customer is likely to have different delivery expectations. Some may have an important event, like an anniversary or birthday, just around the corner so they will prioritize fast shipping to get the ordered gift on time. Others may be more interested in saving some extra money through free shipping. Your shop will automatically become undesirable if it does not provide shipping options to accommodate customers with specific arrival times or shipping cost preferences.

Customers are always on the lookout for the most economical and discounted product. Providing further discounts via free shipping serves as an excellent incentive for these customers to proceed with the cart checkout. If your store completely ignores free shipping, it can significantly increase cart abandonment rates and overall drive down your sales conversions.

Remember, your competition can always steal away your customers by offering them a more economical solution (with free shipping included).

2. Ignoring Customer Feedback

Customer feedback/reviews can make or break an online store. Customer reviews not only help other potential customers to gauge their expectations with your online store, but their feedback can also help you modify your business methods and policies for greater efficiency. For instance, if customers are constantly complaining about delivery delays, then it’s time to upgrade to a better or higher-end shipping package/service provider. On the other hand, if your packages are always delivered ahead of their delivery schedule then you can safely downgrade to a more economical shipping option and save on those shipping costs.

3. Using The Wrong Packaging

The packaging of your product is a  critical feature of the entire shipping process. Packaging not only serves to protect the product from damage during transportation, but it also contributes towards building your brand reputation. The type of packaging used also serves as an indicator of how much you’ll be charged by the shipping carrier.

In the past, delivery services were charged based on parcel weight alone. However, today’s carriers charge on basis of whichever description fits best, either by package weight or its corresponding dimensional weight. New store owners often make the mistake of underestimating the shipping cost of dimensionally large, but otherwise lightweight items – the larger the package the more you pay, despite the weight. Sometimes business owners also try to save on shipping costs by placing items in inappropriately sized boxes or skip protection like bubble wrap. This can result in damaging the item during transportation. A good estimate is to leave around two-inches of spacing for protection to secure the item.

4. Estimating Shipping Expenses

Shop owners overlook the dimensional weight pricing and pack the items in whatever box is at hand; even if it’s slightly bigger in size (See number three above). This can generate overhead shipping costs as such business owners are likely to break their shipping budget. Pay close attention to the sub-charges included in the shipping carrier’s package such as fuel surcharges, weekend delivery, residential delivery, and recipient’s signature. If these services are not important or relevant to the customer base, there is really no benefit to paying for these additional shipping costs.

5. Not Keeping Track of Shipping Supplies

Suppose you’re effectively managing store inventory, but if no one is keeping track of shipping supplies then it will be very difficult to ship out items to customers on time. Keep an eye on the shipping supplies, you can establish re-order points at the right time and ensure that your supplies stores are never depleted.

6. Being Unprepared For Changes In Shipping Package

Shipping carriers make changes to their package prices and shipping policies annually. These changes happen at any time, albeit the beginning of the year is the most popular.  Remember to check-in with your shipping carriers’ rates throughout the year.

7. Manually Managing the Shipping Process

Creating shipping labels while simultaneously managing shipping demands can be a strenuous job. All of this stress can be easily avoided by automating the shipping process with the help of ecommerce shipping software. Take full advantage of the shipping software—create customized invoices and package delivery slips to give your product packaging a more professional feel.

8. Overlooking Customer Address Validation

The address registered by the customer may be wrong and should always be validated by the business owner.

If this is neglected, the item will be shipped to the wrong address or returned to the business warehouse. As a result, the customer will be unhappy and may demand a refund or a new piece to be sent via expedited shipment. Businesses pay heavily for this mistake as this not only damages brand image, but the business owner will have to pay out of their own pocket for the second shipment. This mistake can be easily avoided, especially if your business uses some notable shipping software since they have built-in address verification features.

9. Failure to Audit Shipping

Many new business owners are often surprised to discover that parcels are delivered late at a much higher rate than they anticipated. In such cases, there is a mechanism in place that ensures some compensation for the affected business owners, but still many fail to avail of this. Shipping carriers do not voluntarily offer a refund for late shipments. However, if a business owner has done proper auditing of shipments and makes a request for a refund for late delivery with proof, their request will be easily met. Moreover, auditing shipping and carrier bills can help business owners to check for duplicate receipts, invoice mistakes, and other shipping failures.

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