How to Set Your Busy-Season Shipping Strategy

How to Set Your Busy-Season Shipping Strategy

Your process is set and you’re all stocked up on supplies. The next step is to figure out the customer-facing details—specifically, what are you going to charge for shipping?

The most common options are free shipping, flat rate shipping, and exact cost shipping. We’ve got some tips to help you figure out which one is right for your store.

1. Free shipping

Shipping costs are frequently the most-cited reason why people abandon their carts, so offering free shipping is a smart way to use a compelling offer to improve conversion rates, without solely relying on percentage or dollar value discounts.

That said, it’s not always cheap to provide, even with the discounted rates you get through with USPS, UPS, DHL, and Canada Post. If you want to offer free shipping to everyone, you need to understand how it affects your margins and what rates you’re on the hook to cover—including what it costs to ship your heaviest items and shipping to your furthest locations.

However, it’s not all or nothing when it comes to free shipping.

You could offer free shipping some of the time, to some of your customers. Consider sending a free shipping coupon code to your current customers to encourage repeat orders, or offering free shipping above a certain order size to increase your average order value.

However, when providing free shipping, you’ll need to watch out for shipping cutoff dates. If you’re only springing for free standard shipping, you’ll need to make the expected arrival dates crystal clear so your customers can order in time for their holiday of choice.

2. Flat rate shipping

If you want to offset some of your shipping costs and still avoid sticker shock when people check out, a flat rate shipping policy could be the perfect fit. With flat-rate shipping, set a price that will cover most of your shipping costs, most of the time, and be ready to cover the cost for particularly expensive shipping options or items.

With flat rate shipping, aim to set a price that will cover most of your shipping costs, most of the time.

Your customers will always know the shipping fees ahead of time, and you’ll still recoup most of your shipping costs, which is the best of both worlds.

3. Exact cost shipping

With exact cost shipping, customers can see exactly what it’ll cost to ship their order, and pay for it when they check out, and they’ll get the same discounted USPS, UPS, DHL, and Canada Post rates.

Remember, cart abandonment rates tend to go up around BFCM and other holidays, and shipping costs are one reason why.

Just remember: Cart abandonment rates tend to go up around BFCM, and shipping costs are one reason why. It’s not a deal-breaker to offer exact cost shipping, especially if that’s what works best for your business, but it is important to be aware of the potential impact—and have a plan in place to win back shoppers who’ve abandoned their carts.

4. International shipping

You might not be shipping internationally right now because it seems complicated and expensive, but it’s not as tricky as you think it might be. Plus, customers are more and more likely to shop outside of their borders, so if you’re considering expanding your audience, an international shipping strategy is one great way to do it.

Once you’ve decided on a pricing strategy, it’s time to get into implementation by making sure each product is shipping-ready, and that starts with adding accurate weights.

If you have difficulty with setting shipping strategy for your online store, AsiaCommerce has a service to help you. We can also help you to market and sell your products, both a retail product or a product that needs to be sold in a huge amount. We are making it possible for local business leaders to cooperate with the International global market. Besides export service, we can also help you to import, transport, search for foreign products and handle distribution issues of your company in southeast Asia.

Need help with fulfillment? We can help you! You can fill the form here: https://asiacommerce.net/south-east-asia-marketplace-distribution-fulfillment/

How to Set a Shipping Strategy for Your Online Store

How to Set a Shipping Strategy for Your Online Store

A new customer comes to your website, finds a product they want at a price they like and adds it to their cart.

They get to the checkout page and then it happens. They get hit with the shipping and handling rates and all of a sudden they start second-guessing their decision to buy. 

Suddenly a product they thought had a fair price is starting to seem a little expensive. One of two things happens next. Either they decide to press on despite the increased costs, or they abandon their cart and leave your website disappointed. 

So what can you do to influence this decision? 

Let’s take a look at some shipping strategies and how you can use them in your business. 

Shipping Rates and Abandoned Carts

The real challenge when figuring out your shipping strategy is determining a solution that cuts into your margins as little as possible yet remains attractive to your customers.

And this is something you’re going to want to get right. Studies have shown that shipping and handling fees are the number one factor driving shopping cart abandonment. 

Shipping Rates and Abandoned Carts

With this information in mind, let’s look at the three most common shipping options and the pros and cons of each. 

Option 1: Offer Free Shipping

Offering free shipping – usually just for domestic orders – is a sure-fire way to get your customer’s attention, however, depending on your margins, it can also potentially cut into your profits.

That said, the marketing punch that displaying ‘Free Shipping’ on your website provides can be a significant advantage over any competitors that don’t offer the same perk. Deciding to offer free shipping will require you to either absorb the cost or slightly increase your prices to cover it.

You could also try offering free shipping with a minimum order amount or minimum number of items. This should drive up your average order value and help you have more profit dollars to apply the shipping cost against.

Prominently advertising that you offer free shipping can be an effective way to drive up conversion rates. Chubbies offers free shipping on all their shorts (including return shipments) and which they proudly display on their website so customers shopping know that the price they see is the price they pay.

Option 1: Offer Free Shipping

Determining whether to offer free shipping or require a minimum threshold often comes down to your margins and the niche you operate in.

If you offer luxury or handmade, one-of-a-kind items, rolling in an extra percentage for shipping and handling into the cost of your products probably isn’t too much of an issue. However, if you’re in a highly competitive market where both free shipping and the lowest prices are the norms, like refurbished cell phones, for example, marking up your products to cover shipping costs may not the best idea. This is where you have to consider either a different option entirely or absorbing the cost for the shipping on most of your items.

There are, of course, exceptions.

Large or particularly heavy items like full tower PC cases or furniture can cause some problems for your ‘Free Shipping’ promotion. Doing your research and knowing your numbers about things like how much each of your products actually costs to ship, how your competitors handle shipping, and your allowable profit margin can help you make the right decision.

Option 2: Charge What You Get Charged

In some shopping carts, it’s possible to set up real-time shipping quotes – in other words, your customers more or less pay exactly what you would pay to ship your products.

There are always small discrepancies that can happen, of course, but in many cases, you can end up breaking even between the shipping charges you collect and what you ultimately have to pay to ship the package.

Simple Sugars, a store that was recently on Shark Tank, employs this tactic, offering real-time shipping quotes to their customers at checkout. Once a customer gets to the checkout, they select where they want their order shipped to, and the calculator does the rest.

Option 2: Charge What You Get Charged

Using a real-time calculator like this can win you a lot of trust with your customers. It shows that you aren’t inflating your quoted shipping fees or raising your item prices to cover the charges.

This strategy doesn’t have the same persuasion power free shipping does but it’s an easy way to make sure that you’re not draining shipping costs out your ears, and that your customers are getting the best deal possible.

This is also a good option to use for heavy or oversized shipments that you simply cannot or do not want to allow to ship out under a free shipping promotion.

Option 3: Offer Flat Rates

Your third option is to offer a flat rate for every package, or flat rates for weight ranges and order totals.

This particular method of charging for shipping requires a bit of preparation as you need to figure out your average cost of shipping a package. This is a best practice you should be doing anyway to make sure that you don’t drastically undercharge or overcharge your customers.

When you hit the right cost, you’ll probably be over – or under – the actual shipping cost by a little, but it should even out in the end. 

Truly’s Natural Deodorant takes the flat rate approach, and has a simple $2.99 charge for a single product order.

Option 3: Offer Flat Rates

Angela Collison, the founder of Truly’s says her “main focus in setting up my shipping prices was to make it as inexpensive as possible while still delivering the product in a reasonable amount of time. My products are relatively inexpensive and I don’t think anyone wants to pay as much for shipping as they do for the item ordered. USPS was a good fit for us as they are very affordable for single items and their flat rate priority options allow me to ship out multiple items for one flat rate regardless of the weight. I was able to set up price-based shipping as I have only a few different products, but I am not sure how that would work out for someone who has a large number of products.”

The above quote highlights an important point about the nature of flat rate shipping: figuring out what flat rate works for you, and if you need to do it by order totals or weight ranges will require some testing.

Luckily, USPS does offer a few different sizes of flat rates boxes, and if you have particularly small, but heavy objects, taking advantage of the cost savings from cubic shipping prices can help to bring your flat rates into a comfortable range.

Of course, every business is different and only through testing will you find out what works best for you.

You’ll need to find out the statistics on your products and the best ways to ship them to be able to make the most strategic decision possible. This is where additional apps can help you find information and alternatives (both with shipping carriers and methods) that you may not have had access to previously.

Option 4: Outsource shipping to a third-party logistics provider (3PL)

Outsource part or all of your distribution and fulfillment services to a 3PL. They deliver your products with an out-of-box experience—some 3PLs can even handle returns and provide ePacket tracking.

If you have difficulty with setting shipping strategy for your online store, AsiaCommerce has a service to help you. We can also help you to market and sell your products, both a retail product or a product that needs to be sold in a huge amount. We are making it possible for local business leaders to cooperate with the International global market. Besides export service, we can also help you to import, transport, search for foreign products and handle distribution issues of your company in southeast Asia.

Need help with fulfillment? We can help you! You can fill the form here: https://asiacommerce.net/south-east-asia-marketplace-distribution-fulfillment/

How to Prepare Your Store to Work With Big-Box Retailers

How to Prepare Your Store to Work With Big-Box Retailers

Your business is at the point where it is about to explode. How do you transition from a small shop (fulfilling orders from your basement) to fulfilling orders with major retailers too? What are the biggest pitfalls to watch for?

First of all, congratulations! This is an undeniably big moment, and while it comes with a lot of change, and a lot of hard work, so did getting to this point—that’s worth celebrating.

But OK, you’re here now, and you’re wondering about the hard work part of it.

There’s so many things that change when you go from fulfilling orders yourself, in your own little space, to selling to independent stores, to dealing with big box chains. And speaking of fulfilling orders, that’s the first thing you’ll need to get a handle on as you grow.

Managing your (new) fulfillment process

There’s a lot you need to know about working with big box stores, and working within their systems—but don’t worry, they’ll tell you about it. In detail.

All big box stores have vendor manuals, these things are like 200 pages of guidelines on how they want to receive the product, because these companies are getting the product in from hundreds, if not thousands, of different vendors

When they get a shipment in they want it to all look the same no matter who it’s from. They want the barcode printed and placed like one inch from the top right corner of every box so that when they get it they know exactly where the barcode is going to be

Working within that framework is going to be a major change (and challenge) for anyone who’s used to shipping and fulfilling orders themselves.

Start outsourcing

If you’re at the point of working with major retailers, it’s time to bring in some professional fulfillment support.

You don’t need to become the warehouse logistics expert as well. Found value in outsourcing this. Basically shipped all your goods to a logistics center and then gave them the instructions on where it’s to go, when it was supposed to go, who it was going to, and then they did all the preparation for that shipment properly, so you wouldn’t get any fees.”

Um, fees?! Yeah, large retailers take their fulfillment process seriously, to the point that it will cost you if you’re not compliant.

If you don’t meet their requirements you get dinged. You get fees taken off your invoice. Like, ‘Oh, you put the label in the wrong spot? That’s $200.

You’ll save yourself a lot of time if you focus on your strengths, and don’t try to become a logistics expert on top of everything you’re already doing. And how should you find a fulfillment partner? Dan says it’s all about the legwork.

It’s not hard to do a Google search to find warehouse and logistics or fulfillment centers. Then you just have to interview them and be like, ‘Do you deal with big box store X, Y, Z?’

Getting your legal stuff in order

It’s not just your fulfillment process that needs to change as you grow. You’ll also need to look into legal protections for yourself and your business that might not have been necessary as a smaller shop.

You had to incorporate it because you wanted to separate the business from your personal life now that you’re being exposed to way more customers. If anything goes wrong, you don’t want to be personally liable. Plus, once you realized you were getting way more exposure.

It’s not just your own protection you need to worry about anymore, either, so make sure you read the fine print.

A lot of larger vendors will have specific requirements on how much business insurance you have. You had to up your business insurance because they wanted a certain amount of coverage.”

Managing your cashflow

Cashflow is always going to be a cornerstone of running your business, but it changes pretty drastically when you go from a small shop to working with big businesses.

The other big thing to prepare for is the payment terms. A lot of these big box stores won’t pay you for 60 days after receiving the shipment. Meanwhile, you’ve probably put out all your money 60 days before you deliver the product to them, so you’re out that money for almost 120 days. Cashflow can be a challenge.

Plus, a big order is great for volume, but take cautions that you’ll need to take another look at your numbers when you’re handling large shipments.

Once you’re dealing with these big orders, they’re great, but you have to output so much more because the volume’s so much bigger. Your margins are smaller because you’re dealing with a big box store, and you’re not getting paid for longer. It’s a different game.

If you have difficulty with preparing your store to work with big-box retailers, AsiaCommerce has a service to help you. We can also help you to market and sell your products, both a retail product or a product that needs to be sold in a huge amount. We are making it possible for local business leaders to cooperate with the International global market. Besides export service, we can also help you to import, transport, search for foreign products and handle distribution issues of your company in southeast Asia.

Need help with fulfillment? We can help you! You can fill the form here: https://asiacommerce.net/south-east-asia-marketplace-distribution-fulfillment/

Why Your Business Needs a Fulfillment Warehouse

Why Your Business Needs a Fulfillment Warehouse

A fulfillment warehouse can help automate and handle the shipping for you. When you choose to work with a fulfillment warehouse, you will store your inventory at one of their warehouses. Depending on their level of integration with your shopping cart, when an order comes in your fulfillment partner will automatically be forwarded the order to pick, pack, and ship the purchase order on your behalf.

There are a number of advantages to using a fulfillment warehouse including:

  • Cheaper shipping rates. Because fulfillment warehouses ship such large quantities for multiple vendors, they receive cheaper shipping rates. They’re also integrated (usually) with all of the major shipping logistics and 3PL companies, giving you easier access to the widest range of shipping options.
  • Shorter shipping times. Strategically choosing your fulfillment partner and the warehouse to store your inventory means you can store your inventory closer to the bulk of your customers.

Fulfillment warehouses aren’t for everyone, though. There are several disadvantages as well that you need to consider.

  • Branding experience. Generally, if you use your packaging presentation as part of your branding experience, like Trunk Club, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a fulfillment warehouse that will work with that level of dedication and customization for your brand.
  • Additional costs. Although you will likely receive better shipping rates working with a fulfillment partner, there are other rates that need to be paid including what is commonly referred to as ‘pick and pack fees’ as well as warehouse storage fees.

Shipping is a fundamental part of your ecommerce business

Shipping is definitely a challenging aspect for any ecommerce business. Every business will have their own unique challenges they need to work through and overcome to develop the best and most efficient shipping strategy. Like many aspects of building your new ecommerce site, it will take time and tweaking to determine what works best.

Understanding all the variables and evolving your shipping strategy with your growing business is vital to its long term health and success. So once you think you have it figured out, don’t let it go stale. Reevaluate every six months to make sure you’re delivering the absolute best possible service and experience for the best possible price to your customers.

As you can tell by now, shipping can be tough. Deciding what to charge for shipping, then figuring out how you get it to your customer. There are so many decisions to make along the way.

If you have difficulty with packaging and shipping, AsiaCommerce has a service to help you. We can also help you to market and sell your products, both a retail product or a product that needs to be sold in a huge amount. We are making it possible for local business leaders to cooperate with the International global market. Besides export service, we can also help you to import, transport, search for foreign products, and handle distribution issues of your company in southeast Asia.

Need help with shipping? We can help you! You can fill the form here: https://asiacommerce.net/south-east-asia-marketplace-distribution-fulfillment/

The Importance of Packaging and Marketing on Ecommerce

The Importance of Packaging and Marketing on Ecommerce

As the world of ecommerce develops so do the expectations of customers who buy online. Years ago, packaging and shipping was simply a way to receive a product purchased online, but more and more people are looking for shipping, packaging and presentation as part of the ecommerce experience.

This expectation means that for many businesses, outside of selling commodities, competing effectively means going above and beyond to impress customers and exceed their expectations by delivering an experience, not just a product.

Packaging options

Before you can ship your products, you’ll need to package them for safe transport. So what options do you have? There are a few common options for packaging including boxes or envelopes (padded or unpadded). For many businesses and products, you’ll a box as well as some other packaging materials to safely ship your products.

You may also want to try thinking outside of the box (no pun intended) and look at other packaging options. For example, poly mailers can be a great way to mail products that don’t need a lot of structure or cushioning, like clothing.

Poly mailers offer multiple benefits. They’re lightweight, which reduces your shipping costs, and they can adjust to different volumes and weights depending on what’s included in the order. For example, the same size of poly mailer could accommodate one pair of socks, or five, and you wouldn’t be overpaying on packaging weight or dimensions for the single pair.

Keep it light and small

Because the cost of most shipping options is based on size and/or weight, do your best to keep your packaging as small as possible. This will not only help you save on your shipping costs and what your customer paid for shipping, but will also keep packaging costs from eating away your profit margin.

Depending on your business and product line, you may want to consider carrying a variety of package sizes and packaging materials.

Most people would consider the packaging for the product above to be excessive. This is exactly what you’re trying to avoid as it inflates shipping costs dramatically.

Insurance and tracking

Depending on what you’re selling and its value, shipping insurance and tracking can offer a great deal of security. With most carriers, insurance and tracking is relatively inexpensive and provides you recourse should one of your packages get lost or damaged. Some shipping services like UPS and USPS Priority Mail offer complimentary coverage for up to $100, and that coverage can be up to $200 in some cases.

Consider purchasing insurance on big-ticket items so that, in the rare cases when a package does get lost, you’ll be covered. Keep in mind that some shipping services have insurance already built into the price, so consider this when you are comparing various courier prices.

Customs declaration and forms

If you’re shipping outside of your own country, you’ll need to include the proper customs documentation. These are available online through Shopify or at your local post office or shipping retail location. These forms tell the customs officers at the country of import what is in the package, how much it costs, and whether it is a gift or merchandise.

Check with your country’s postal service to find out exactly which forms you’ll need to attach to your package. These forms should be completed honestly and clearly to prevent your package from getting held up in Customs.

Tariffs, taxes and duties

If there are any additional customs fees due when a package reaches its destination, your customer will be responsible for them at the time of delivery. It’s always a good idea to make sure to include this information in your shipping policy page so customers aren’t surprised by unexpected fees. 

Here’s an example of how one store prominently displays information regarding additional charges on their shipping policy page to ensure customers are aware of possible charges:

An example of ecommerce policies about shipping and tariffs

Customs declaration information

For more information on customs declaration and the required forms and policies, please see the resources below:

  • USPS Customs Information
  • UPS
  • DHL Express

If you have difficulty with packaging and shipping, AsiaCommerce has a service to help you. We can also help you to market and sell your products, both a retail product or a product that needs to be sold in a huge amount. We are making it possible for local business leaders to cooperate with the International global market. Besides export service, we can also help you to import, transport, search for foreign products, and handle distribution issues of your company in southeast Asia.

Need help with shipping? We can help you! You can fill the form here: https://asiacommerce.net/package-forwarding-international-dropship/

How to Calculate Your Shipping Costs

How to Calculate Your Shipping Costs

You put a lot of effort into making sure your customers have a great experience. You approve the images, you tweak your store, and you write the emails, all with the goal of leaving your customers happy.

But when it comes to shipping, it can feel like you’re handing your brand over to a stranger.

All shipping couriers base shipping rates on a variety of factors including:

Package size

Package weight

Origin country

Destination country

Plus additional shipping options like tracking and insurance.

It can be difficult to compare services exactly as they all offer slightly different options, and every business will have their own unique variables.

Below we have compiled a list of shipping calculators to some of the largest and most popular shipping couriers so that you can begin comparing pricing and options. If you’re based in the US or Canada, you can pay for USPS, UPS, DHL Express, and Canada Post shipping and receive pre-negotiated rates.

Consider your margins

To be successful at ecommerce, you always need to keep an eye on your profit margins. Because shipping represents a significant expense for ecommerce merchants, if you don’t do your research, you could end up losing money on shipping.

Before you finalize your pricing and strategy for your ecommerce store, you should use a chart like the one below to map out all costs associated with getting your products into your customers’ hands. Many ecommerce entrepreneurs are shocked by how quickly the little charges add up. Don’t get caught in the same trap.

Here’s a quick example of how you could calculate your total price to include the cost of shipping.

Cost of product$10
Packaging$0.50
Shipping costs$7.50
Customs/Duties (if you cover them)$0.00
Credit card fee$2.50
Profit margin50%
Total price$30.75

If you have difficulty with shipping, AsiaCommerce has a service to help you. We can also help you to market and sell your products, both a retail product or a product that needs to be sold in a huge amount. We are making it possible for local business leaders to cooperate with the International global market. Besides export service, we can also help you to import, transport, search for foreign products, and handle distribution issues of your company in southeast Asia.

Need help with shipping? We can help you! You can fill the form here: https://asiacommerce.net/package-forwarding-international-dropship/