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5 Ways To Meet Merchant Shipping Demands
Today’s guide will cover 5 ways in which retailers can meet merchant shipping demands during the holiday season to create seamless customer experiences.
Written by Madeleine
Meet Merchant Shipping Demands 🛒
Record-breaking sales are the dream for many retailers during the holiday season, but for merchants to make those sales, setting up a shipping and fulfilment process for each order is the necessary reality.
Luckily, this isn’t a bad problem for merchants to have, but if it's something that your business is currently tackling, we’re here to help navigate your company through it. So, with that being said, today’s guide will cover 5 ways in which retailers can meet merchant shipping demands during the holiday season to create seamless customer experiences during the rush.
N0.1: The Shipping and Delivery Process 📦
Do you know the steps that make up your brand's shipping and delivery process? If the answer is no, now would be the ideal time to find out.
However, if you're already familiar with the process, write it down if you haven’t already because getting the process out of your head and onto a piece of paper is one good way to share your store's shipping and delivery protocol (during busy periods) with company team members.
It’s also a good idea to revisit your shipping strategy to ensure that it is still relevant for use during peak season, as we presume that certain conditions will change during this period.
To figure out what your business process is, we would suggest paying close attention to the next few orders that your brand ships and delivers. Additionally, store owners could check in with their team to learn how order fulfilment demands are met. After this point, merchants will then be in a position to curate a list that maps out each step within the shipping and delivery process.
Alongside each step, an approximate time estimate should be written down for each task. For instance, your brand’s shipping and delivery fulfilment process may look a little something like the list below:
Review all open orders in one place from the Orders tab in Shopify (1 minute).
Organise all orders by delivery method and location (2 minutes).
Pick out the inventory required for each order based on the selected delivery method (3 minutes).
Print packing slips (in bulk) or login to the Shopify mobile app to view order details (2 minutes).
Gather any necessary branded materials such as coupons or free testers (1 minute).
Print shipping labels in bulk via Shopify’s admin for set orders that are ready for fulfilment (1 minute).
Set up an assembly line for; packing slips, inventory, packaging, shipping labels and extras (2 minutes).
Pack each order with the; packing slip, inventory and extras. Then, seal and label each package (5 minutes).
Attach a shipping label to each package (2 minutes).
Whist outlining the stages of this process, we would suggest looking out for bottlenecks, noting how long each step will take to complete.
If you’re wondering how to streamline the steps of your team’s working process, we’d say that with a little procedure revision, shaving a minute or so off of each order is possible.
Achieving this will increase the number of shipments that your team is able able to wade through each day.
For the larger establishments who'd like to free up their internal team, it might be time to consider outsourcing your brand's fulfilment.
In short, this means sending your brand’s inventory to the Shopify Fulfillment Network. Orders will then be; picked, packed and shipped to your customers giving stores back the time to focus on scaling their business.
To save time on every order that your business fulfils, merchants can buy and print multiple shipping labels with Shopify.
Shopify retailers will also receive access to negotiated shipping rates for; USPS, DHL, UPS in the United States, Canada Post in Canada and Sendle in Australia so, it’s a win-win situation.
To get started with this strategy, merchants should head to the ‘Orders’ page within their store admin and select the requests that they’d like to fulfil.
Then, select “Create shipping labels” to view the full list of shipping details and prices for the selected orders. All that's left to do at this point is to simply purchase and print shipping labels directly from that page and if any information is missing, merchants will be able to adjust this too.
As consumer behaviours evolve, so will how merchants send their products. Options such as local delivery and local pickup allow retailers to connect with their local market, putting control back into the hands of the sender as opposed to a third-party carrier.
Shopify Local Delivery is quick and easy for merchants on the platform to implement and once set up, users will then be able to make use of the Shopify Local Delivery app to build and share optimised routes to simplify their store's delivery process.
Then, when it’s time to get out there and deliver, drivers can download the app on iOS or Android devices to access; directions, send notifications and delivery status updates.
For local customers who order online but want to pick up the products themselves in person, Shopify offers merchants BOPIS options such as the curbside service or local pickup. This is a convenient way for local customers to skip on shipping costs and pick up their purchases in-store, using the curbside service, or from other locations of the retailer’s choosing.
When businesses set up local delivery and pickup for their online store, the shipping rate will automatically be set to free.
Data shows that consumers have grown to love the ease and convenience of the experience and we believe that this is a trend that is likely to stick around after the pandemic has ended.
N0.2: Shipping and Packaging Supplies
With a consistent process in place, online stores should have a good idea of what physical items will be required to fulfil each order. So, now that we’ve covered the basics, it’s time to see how your shipping and product packaging supplies are holding up.
This check-in is important to ensure that your business has enough of each item to handle its forecasted sales during the holiday season. Let’s be honest, the last thing you’re going to want to do is to halt your shipping and delivery process because you’ve run out of sticky labels.
If you’re using a desktop printer, be prepared by replenishing your supply of printing labels. If you’re looking to upgrade to a thermal printer, see to that now and not two days before Black Friday or on top of the Christmas period.
Merchants in the US can stock up on free Priority Mail and Priority Mail Express Flat Rate packaging directly from USPS, so if you’re able to take advantage of these services, but place those orders well ahead of huge shopping events!
Additionally, Canada Post offers a variety of shipping and packaging supplies and Sendle has compostable mailers too. So, why not check these services out and order supplies for your business sooner rather than later?
While offering gift options can cost time and money, you’ll be able to successfully sell to holiday shoppers in need of extra flourishes such as gift-wrapping. If additional services such as this are complementary, consumers may feel compelled to purchase them without an additional discount.
However, this will require planning well in advance to ensure that your business has enough supplies in-store to get through the season without any hiccups. Shopify merchants can add a gift wrapping option to their cart page or make use of the Gift Wrap Plus application available for download via the Shopify App Store.
N0.3: Shipping Deadlines and Delivery Delays 📅
Each holiday season, shipping carriers release delivery deadlines to ensure that consumers are aware of cut off dates before specific holidays. This year, carriers are slowly releasing schedules, but with the ongoing COVID-19 public health situation, pandemic-related supply chain disruptions and increased ecommerce on a global scale to consider, it is likely that delivery times will be delayed.
In anticipation of another busy holiday season for online shoppers, we’d suggest keeping an eye on your carrier’s shipping deadlines and be sure to factor these impacts into your store's estimated delivery times so that your customer’s orders arrive within the timeframe stated.
Shopify merchants can view the latest shipping carrier statuses within the Help Center. Equally, store owners can visit their chosen carrier’s website for further information on shipping and delivery estimates.
N0.4: Shipping and Delivery Strategy
So, now that your process is set and you’re all stocked up on supplies, the next natural step is to figure out the customer-facing details, but more specifically, what you’re going to charge for shipping.
The most common options are; free shipping, flat rate shipping and exact cost shipping, but to help you narrow down the list even further, we’ve compiled a list of merchant shipping tips to help you figure out which service is right for your store:
Shipping costs are frequently the most-cited reason why people abandon their carts, so offering free shipping for your customers is a very smart and compelling way to improve conversion rates without solely relying on percentage or dollar value discounts.
That said being said, it’s not always the cheapest option to provide, even with the discounted rates accessed through; USPS, UPS, DHL Express, Canada Post and Sendle (with Shopify) taken into consideration.
Therefore, if you'd like your business to offer free shipping to all of its customers, you’ll need to understand how this affects your margins and what rates you’re on the hook to cover. This should include what it costs to ship your heaviest items alongside the shipping costs to the 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 your customers with a free shipping coupon code to encourage current customers to repeat orders. Additionally, retailers could offer free shipping above a certain order size to increase their average order value.
Note:When providing free shipping, online businesses should watch out for shipping cutoff dates. If you’re shooting for free standard shipping, you’ll need to make the expected arrival dates crystal clear so your customers can order in time for the holidays.
Flat Rate Shipping
If you want to offset some of your shipping costs whilst avoiding sticker shock at the checkout, implementing a flat rate shipping policy is a great idea as this means that a set price will cover most of your shipping costs, most of the time.
Flat rate shipping tends to lead to higher conversion rates at the checkout as opposed to carrier-calculated rates so with this method, your brand’s customers will know about the shipping fees well in advance, whilst your business recoups most of the shipping costs in the process.
Exact Cost Shipping
With exact merchant shipping costs calculated, customers will be able to see exactly what it’ll cost for their order to be shipped at the checkout.
Cart abandonment rates tend to increase around major shopping holidays such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday 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 of action in place to win back the shoppers who’ve abandoned their carts.
Note:It should be noted that customers will receive the same discounted; USPS, UPS, DHL Express, Canada Post and Sendle rates that are available to you as a Shopify merchant when orders are fulfilled with Shopify Shipping.
Getting Orders to Local Customers
When consumers reside close by to a business, retailers should utilise unique and local methods to deliver products to certain audience members efficiently.
Speeding up delivery times for local consumers can create a better experience for the individuals who live locally, whilst encouraging further sales with the draw of fast and affordable delivery and pickup options.
Note:When retailers set a store up for local delivery, it should be recognised that customers will be presented with this option at the checkout stage.
Merchants can use a radius or postal code to decide how far they’d be willing to travel to deliver localised orders.
Additionally, merchants can set a delivery price and a minimum order amount as well as being able to create a message about how and when their store will deliver purchased items.
With the local pickup service made available, customers will have the ability to skip the shipping rates and pick up their online order either; in-store, from the curbside, or other locations of their choosing. In either of these cases, these options are a great way to avoid shipping delays and costs without compromising on the convenience or flexibility of Shopify fulfilment.
Shipping internationally can open your business up to new markets, but it requires an in-depth understanding of the customs and taxes in each country where you’re planning to sell your products.
The simple fact is that consumers are more likely to shop outside of their borders in 2021, so if you’re considering expanding your brand's audience reach, with international shipping, this strategy is one great way to do it.
For those of you who don’t know, there are carriers with international shipping options already in place which are built directly into Shopify’s Shipping to streamline the process for you: USPS, DHL Express, UPS, Canada Post and Sendle are the Shopify fulfilment options on this list.
Stores on the platform can choose to ship with the same premium carriers that global retailers use with guaranteed express service, negotiated shipping rates and service to over 220 countries and territories.
What’s the best part? Ultimately, it doesn’t matter which option you choose as all customs forms and details are automatically generated for merchants when international shipping labels are purchased through Shopify Shipping.
If your business ships with DHL Express, the information is electronically transmitted to customs, so retailers won’t have the bother of paperwork.
If you’re new to the likes of international shipping, we’d suggest choosing one country, to begin with, while you figure out the process. Then, display the countries that your business ships to alongside the available shipping options so that customers can find out this information easily for themselves.
When merchants purchase international shipping labels through Shopify Shipping, all customs forms and details are automatically generated for your business so you’ll need to find out which taxes may be levied on your shipments and display those fees or processes clearly to your customers.
Since taxes and duties can change from country to country we would recommend providing a clear disclaimer that your business does not cover, nor is it liable for, duties and taxes that may be assessed when orders arrive across the border.
If your business needs assistance with this, Billy! is an excellent resource for online stores to utilise.
Here at Karmoon, we think that covering all bases is potentially safer than laying out each process for each country. However, if your business does see a high volume of orders from a specific country, consider providing expanded information for your customers there.
Once you’ve decided on a pricing strategy, it’s time to get onto implementation by making sure each product is ready to meet merchant shipping demands and that starts with adding accurate weights to your products.
N0.5: Weighing Products ⚖️
Adding an accurate weight to each of your store’s products will enable customers to see accurate shipping costs during the checkout process. This is great for your brand’s customers, but it’s great for your business too as merchants will have the ability to quickly print correct shipping labels for each order.
Updating or correcting the weight of an order mid-fulfilment won’t be necessary here, but if you need to figure out how much each product weighs, why not order a shipping scale from the Shopify Hardware store for your online business? Trust us, it’ll make Shopify fulfilment and merchant shipping a whole lot easier.
So, that concludes today’s guide to meeting merchant demands this holiday season. We hope that you have found our tips useful. If you’re actively looking to work with a Shopify agency designer or developer to assist you with your business, we’d love to hear from you. Get in touch to get started!
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