Need a Shipping Strategy for an Online Store? Here’s How to Choose Your Strategy

Are you looking for some online shipping ideas and tips to streamline, unburden, and reduce the cost of operating your ecommerce store? You’re not alone. Many online retailers face the problem of abandoned shopping carts once customers calculate shipping costs, but covering the costs of shipping for customers can be equally damaging to your bottom line. How can you win?

Ultimately, it’s a matter of developing a carefully designed strategy that works for your specific business model and range of products. Here are five steps to help you decide which shipping strategy is most appropriate for your website or ecommerce operation.

  1. Look at the Number of Abandoned Shopping Carts
    First, take a look at the number of abandoned shopping carts that your store experiences each month. Chances are that people found a product they liked, added it to their shopping cart, then realized that the actual cost of the item, once shipping was included, was way more than they bargained for. The cost of shipping and handling is one of the primary reasons for abandoning a shopping cart. If this seems to be happening too frequently, it’s definitely time for a change. If it’s not, your strategy could probably still use some tweaking.
  2. Consider Offering Free Shipping
    There are three basic options for online stores that ship products to customers, so we’ll start with the free shipping option. Typically, an ecommerce business will only offer free shipping to domestic customers. Sometimes, it’s limited to residents of the mainland United States, thus excluding residents of Hawaii and Alaska, and all foreign customers. Even with the exclusions, this will still give the majority of your customers an extra incentive to make a purchase, especially if you advertise the free shipping throughout your website and promotional materials.
  3. Consider Passing Full Shipping Cost to Customers
    If you find that free shipping will simply eat up too much of your profits to be viable, you may consider simply charging your customers what you are charged. Some shopping cart systems, such as Shopify’s, make it possible to establish real-time shipping quotes based on exactly what the customer has in their cart, thus charging them exactly what you will pay FedEx or UPS.
  4. Consider Offering Flat-Rate Shipping
    Of course, the problem with varying your shipping rates based on what customers order is that you can’t give them any certainty regarding what they’ll actually pay. So, the final option to consider is offering flat rates. This will take a bit more work, as you will need to do a variety of calculations to determine a price point that will work across the board, or a series of price points for shipping based on the size, weight, and/or consumer cost of the shipment.
  5. Pick Your Strategy Out of These Three
    Finally, you will need to look at all three of these shipping strategies, and your current situation, and decide which is right for your business.

Good luck, and hopefully these online shipping ideas and tips can help you make the most of your shipping strategy!

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