7 tips to find the perfect shipping company for your online shop
Written by: Monica McCoy
When you think of your ideal online shop, most times the first thing you think of is how it will look, the colour scheme, the style, how you'll feature the products, how you'll make them more appealing or how to offer the best user experience. After that you'll think about how to achieve the most visibility online and in social networks. After all, you want to attract quality traffic. It's important to find the perfect shipping company for your online shop to offer the best service and gain loyal customers.
It's important to note that the user experience doesn't rely solely on the online shop itself. After a user reaches your online shop, selects the product and makes the order, the user experience doesn't end there. The shipping process is a vital piece of the user experience. It's important to work with the best courier service to offer your clients reliable shipping times, delivered with a smile.
One of the most underestimated factors in the purchase experience of any e-commerce is the selection of the right shipping company. I mean the moment when the product leaves the warehouse and is delivered to your client. When you receive one order per day, it's no problem. However, once you receive 20 orders per day the shipping logistics get more complex and the probability of errors and issues multiplies.
Whoever hand delivers the product to your client is the only physical person representing your online business. If your shipping company fails, you're the one who gets a bad name, not them. This is why it's crucial that you select the best partner to develop a rock solid shipping strategy. It will allow you to ensure a positive experience to all your clients. Proper shipping management can make your online shop a total success or an utter failure. So picking the right shipping company is a make or break decision.
Now we're going to give you 7 things to think about when picking the perfect shipping company for your online shop.
7 tips to find the perfect shipping company for your online shop
A solid shipping strategy for your online shop is key. The greater the shipping cost for your clients the greater the barrier between you and their decision to buy your products. When you get started you may not have enough negotiation power or shipping volume to get low prices.
Here are 7 factors you should consider when picking the best shipping company for your online shop:
It's important to offer competitive pricing. Again, the shipping cost could mean the difference between winning a new client or having them back out of the purchase due to the high shipping cost. However, selecting the cheapest shipping option can be a double edged sword. Cheap doesn't mean good quality service. By selecting the cheapest shipping service you could run the risk of having your products delivered late, getting lost, or arriving damaged. The result is a poor user experience and an unhappy customer.
To give you an idea, a friend of mine who sells his own freshly roasted coffee through his online shop. A 250 gram bag of coffee, of super high quality by the way, costs 8€. That is a reasonable price. However, when you go to checkout the shipping cost is 5€. For the average customer this ruins their experience, just because of the shipping policy of 5€ per order. A better solution would be to offer free shipping on orders above a certain minimum order. This both encourages the customer to buy more coffee by compensating them with free shipping.
Back to the topic, the shipping cost can vary depending on these factors:
- the package volume vs. the weight. The tariff will vary on the ”volumetric weight” of the product. This is the calculation of the weight depending on its dimensions (length, width and height). To get an idea, you can calculate the volumetric weight in this link.
- the distance to the destination. The cost per shipment changes according to the area: local, regional, national or international. As you begin receiving more orders the price per shipment tends to decline. Most companies adapt the shipping cost depending on your shipping volume. The more shipments the lower the cost.
Do your homework and read all the fine print when selecting a shipping company for your online shop. Make sure that they are a trustworthy, serious company that can offer you certain guarantees and security when using their services. They should ensure basic things like proper package handling and delivery time.
The coverage the shipping company offers depends on who your potential clients are and where they live. If you only ship within your city then you won't have any inconvenience in terms of coverage. This is the case for online shops selling fresh produce, for example. However, when you want to expand your business to outside your city (national or international shipments) you'll need a company that can adapt to your needs. At the same time they should be able to guarantee coverage and reliable delivery via their branch offices in the areas you need to ship to.
The shipping company should already offer national coverage. It's helpful for you if they offer a fixed national price. It's best if they have agreements with international shipping companies if you receive an order from outside your country.
If you decide to go with a well-known international shipping service, such as MRW, UPS, FEDEX or DHL they should give you a "price ratio" based on destination and volumetric weight. This way you can integrate these prices in the shipping calculator of your online shopping cart.
At diligent we like to integrate a plugin that calculates the shipping cost during the purchasing process in your Woocommerce online shop. It's called Flexible Shipping Pro Woo, check it out.
A lot of these companies already have their own perfected shipping system, shipping tracking and integrated logistics. They can offer you the best integrated technological solution possible depending on the kind of online shop you have.
4. Delivery times
You should have a balance between the logistics and actual delivery time. It's better to tell your client that delivery is within 24/48 hours when in fact it will probably arrive within 10 hours. Your client will be much happier this way. In the case of a delay or problem you might have enough margin of time to fix it and deliver it within the promised timeframe.
Don't forget clients who want the package as soon as possible. It's good practice to offer your clients the option of an expedited delivery, at an appropriate price of course.
Every shipping company has its own schedule for package pickups (which you should keep in mind for the order pickings). Ask them about the options available, hours, reception logistics and delivery times. Check with the courier how notice they need from the time you request them to pickup the packages to the moment they arrive to pick them up.
5. Problems and returns
Your clients may not always be home to receive the package, so you need to know how your shipping company reacts in these situations. Do they contact the client to schedule a certain time to try to deliver the package? Do they go back the next day to try and deliver it again? Do they leave a slip in their mailbox for them to pick it up at a courier office? Or do they return the package to you if they can't deliver?
And what if the package arrives to your client damaged? Check the courier company's policy on covering damages and how much they can reimburse for any damages
6. Integrated logistics
There are companies such as Rico that offer integrated logistics services. The services include product receipt, stock warehousing, order picking preparation, packaging, labelling and product shipping. An integrated logistics service can be an invaluable part of your business model. It depends on the type of online shop you have.
This graphic that explains the integrated logistics cycle:
7. Logistics cycle
I'd like to propose two hypothetical case regarding the logistics of an online shop to help you visualise the degree of services and reliability you'll need from the courier service you pick for your online shop.
In the first case, the courier handles all the logistics, provides the warehouse, stock management, product pickup, package preparation, labelling and final product delivery.
The second case is more common for smaller online shops. As owner of the online shop you take care of the warehousing and product preparation. The courier company then picks up the product and delivers it.
I hope that these 7 tips help you pick the right shipping company to match the needs of your online shop. 'Til next time!