Running the operations of an e-commerce business takes a mighty amount of effort. There is always room for improvement to tweak your website, send emails to customers, and sell more products. One of those areas that we see lots of small business owners leave for a rainy day (and then never get to) is shipping.
We get it. Shipping is hard. It can be complicated and messy. Remember that time you had to wait in line at the post office for 30 mins just to send one package? And when you spent over an hour trying to figure out how to create a shipping label? You could spend all day on boring, repetitive tasks — like typing up customer addresses manually and printing shipping labels one by one — to get your customer orders out. But shipping doesn’t have to be complicated!
Shipping is an essential element in a strong e-commerce business.
That’s why we’re here to demystify it for you by offering some extra-helpful shipping tips. We’re true e-commerce shipping nerds at Shippo, and we’ve partnered with the GoDaddy Online Store team to bring you a super-easy shipping tool and great rates.
Learn these lessons below and you’ll be ahead of the game, primed for shipping success.
Take advantage of free shipping supplies.
Stop worrying about how you’re going to package your customers’ orders by ordering free supplies direct from the carriers in advance! Choose from boxes, envelopes, padded envelopes, Tyvek packaging, padded pouches — you name it, you can order it. Here are some of the most common packing supplies our customers use:
Pro tip: If you’re shipping breakables, try styrofoam packaging. It’s a durable alternative to bubble wrap and foam peanuts.
Write a clear return policy.
We’ve all been there — the shoes don’t fit, you wanted Lime Green and not Kelly Green, or the seal was broken. Put yourself in your customers’ shoes and make sure you’ve spelled out a clear return policy so their mind is eased in the event that they have to return a product.
The rule here is prepare for the worst-case scenario by outlining expectations ahead of time so that customers understand your policies clearly.
Those policies will serve as a helpful playbook and could even be a chance for you to wow your customers — like Zappos did with the company’s revolutionary free return shipping policy.
Use two tools for address validation.
Addresses are tricky little fellows because sometimes your customers don’t get ‘em right. Use these two tools to help you verify incorrect or incomplete addresses:
- USPS ZIP Code look-up tool for domestic addresses
- USPS resource for military and diplomatic addresses
Print shipping labels on stickers.
Sticker labels are the best invention since clap-on lights. For quicker shipping, slap them right onto your package without cutting them to size. You’ll need a thermal label printer to print these labels. They’re well worth the investment for all the time you’ll save!
Be upfront about your shipping costs.
Your customers will appreciate having full information about their final charges, especially if you alert them of shipping charges early on during the order-placement and checkout processes. On average, 56 percent of shoppers abandon their shopping cart due to unexpected, added costs during checkout.
Surprising your shoppers with extra charges adds a block to their purchasing flow, causing a bumpier experience.
Create return labels.
Scan-based return labels are a special kind of return label that you’re not charged for unless your customer uses it. Think of this as “pay when shipped.” This option adds a few cents to your upfront label cost (i.e. 25 cents more if shipping USPS; 50 cents more if shipping FedEx and UPS), but it makes for a much better experience for your customers. So consider including return labels in your outbound packages so your customers can easily return items, if needed.
Use SCAN forms for dozens of orders.
Do you regularly take a large number of packages to the post office? Create a SCAN form to pool all your shipments into one manageable document for the postperson. The form is a manifest with a barcode that a USPS representative can scan to process a large quantity of shipments at once, rather than having to scan each barcode separately.
Surprise your customers!
Do you often find yourself with extra product inventory sitting around? Maybe it’s not selling well or it’s out of season. Don’t waste it; instead, consider adding it to customer orders as a surprise gift. This is an especially good way to impress new customers.
Knowledge is power
See? Shipping’s not so scary. Take the time to arm yourself with operational knowledge like these tips and you’ll be a power-shipper in no time. And saving all of those hours and dollars opens up a world of possibility to focus on other key aspects of your business.