How To Meet Merchant Shipping Expectations In 2022↘
With the number of supply chain concerns, delivery delays and order fulfilment issues that the wake of the pandemic has brought to all of our doors, customer expectations are at risk of being shattered.
It’s no secret that shoppers favour rapid and free shipping options and according to a recent study, 75% of participants believe that free shipping has a substantial influence on a consumers’ purchasing decision.
However, it is thought that customers prefer trustworthiness and transparency even more than affordable pricing and quickness when shopping for goods online.
As such, for brands to be able to land themselves in the good books of their customers, clear and consistent communication is key.
So, for today’s article we are going to discuss how online stores can meet merchant shipping expectations in 2022, beginning by offering transparent shipping costs and reliable timeframes:
Transparent Shipping Costs and Timeframes
According to the study mentioned above, 74% of consumers prefer to see shipping prices upfront when making purchasing decisions online, whereas 68% of shoppers desire free returns and appreciate it when anticipated delivery times are displayed.
Additionally, consumers like to learn:
- How much shipping will cost?
- How long it will take for their order to be received.
- If order returns are free of charge or require an additional fee.
- If order updates will be provided if a delivery slot is delayed.
The points listed above are blind spots that merchants should try to identify to increase the transparency of their store's shipping process.
Additionally, online stores can become more open with their shoppers by:
N0.1: Providing Shipping Information 📜
Upfront brands are clear and consistent with customer communications, especially when it comes to their shipping procedures.
As a result, stating expectations ahead of time will save time and energy later on when it comes to handling queries over order fulfilment and merchant shipping via customer support.
Therefore we would suggest creating a dedicated shipping page on your website that includes:
- All of the shipping options offered, such as the timeframe and cost of each option.
- Order processing times that refer to the number of days it will take for an order to be dispatched after it has been purchased.
- Domestic and international shipping options for customers across the globe. International shoppers will need to be able to know if a business will ship to their location as well as the cost and duration of the shipping method.
- A full return policy should be a feature on this page as customers will want to know if free returns or an option to return in-store is offered. Equally, if a payable fee is required the return policy should cover this information as well as how customers will receive their refund.
- Shipping delays are another touchpoint to cover. For instance, are orders taking longer than usual to ship? If they are, be sure to let shoppers know upfront before they purchase from your store.
- Cancellation policies should be made clear to consumers. For example, will customers be able to cancel an order once it has been placed? If so, let them know how long they will have to do this alongside their options if they miss the window.
N0.2: Listing Shipping Prices
Have you ever discovered the perfect item, put it in your cart, and then gasped at the cost of shipping? If you have, we guess that the tab was quickly closed down. Are we close?
Well, if this has happened to you, it would seem as though you’re not alone. In 2021, the Baymard Institute discovered that 49% of shoppers abandoned their cart due to the extra costs (e.g. shipping and taxes) at the stages of checkout.
However, merchants can avoid cart abandonment by communicating shipping prices before a shopper gets to the point of checkout. Therefore, listing shipping prices within a shipping information page would be a great place to start.
We'd also suggest including delivery costs in the buy box or on each product page, particularly for large, bulky, or heavy items.
For instance, if your business sells furniture, you might charge a flat rate of $150 for shipping. If this applies to your store, be sure to place this information within the buy box, alongside the product details so that customers can view this information easily as they browse.
Even if your store’s merchant shipping costs are high, removing the element of surprise will create transparency and establish trustworthy expectations from the start.
Consumers can mentally accept the extra fee while they shop, rather than abandoning their cart when the final price is substantially greater than anticipated.
Similarly, be sure to let customers know if a low-cost or no-cost shipping option is offered. This could be the extra motivation they need to purchase from your business.
N0.3: Providing Return Options 📦
If a customer makes a purchase from your store for the first time, they will need to know how to return it to you alongside how much this will cost them in terms of money and effort.
For complete transparency, be sure to let your customers know how your returns process works, just like we recommended for order fulfilment and merchant shipping expenses.
The details of a store’s return policy should be contained on the shipping information page or a separate returns page.
Separately, the ‘further information’ section of your product pages are an excellent place to share this information.
Consider including a symbol in the product buy box if your business provides; free, low-cost flat-rate shipping, or in-store returns. If your business does not accept returns, be sure to make this policy very clear before customers reach the checkout.
N0.4: Making Delivery Estimates Clear
It’s no surprise that customers will want to know how long their order will take to arrive and according to Shopify’s research, around 45% of consumers prefer to see predicted delivery timeframes onsite.
If your store offers several different delivery options, it’ll be difficult to communicate all of the time estimates throughout your website which is why we’d recommend creating a long list of delivery times on your shipment information page.
Instead, place the most cost-effective option in a banner at the top of your store’s homepage. For example "$X flat rate shipping, delivered in Y to Z business days," might be a good example of copy to use here.
Another place to show this kind of information is directly within the buy box, but if you’re wanting to go the extra mile, we'd recommend adding a line with the estimated delivery date alongside this.
N0.5: Communicating Shipping Delays 🚚
If you’re experiencing shipping delays, as so many other businesses are, just make sure to communicate them with your customers from the get-go.
For instance, merchants could list their store’s order fulfilment and merchant shipping information alongside any possible delays on a banner at the very top of their website.
This is a great location to place need to know information as shoppers will take note of the updates listed here the moment they land in your store.
If the delivery time frame changes after a consumer has placed their purchase, why not send them an email to let them know? If possible, it should also be explained why the timeline is taking longer than intended.
The worst thing that a business could do is not provide any kind of update, especially if the deadline has been extended by more than 24 hours.
Improve Merchant Shipping Procedures to Meet Customer Expectations
According to Shopify’s Future of Commerce report, consumers said that the following shipping strategies have a very significant influence on their decision to make a purchase:
- Free shipping.
- Fast shipping (e.g. same-day or next-day delivery).
- Flexible shipping (e.g. choice of delivery time and date).
- To match these expectations, many brands are offering free or flat-rate shipping in 2022. However, some of these solutions will come at a higher expense.
Nonetheless, there are always solutions in which these costs can be minimalised.
For example, try to; offer flat-rate shipping, include shipping costs in your product margins, or use Shopify Shipping to take advantage of lower shipping rates.
Here’s how you can meet higher consumer expectations of merchant shipping this year:
N0.1: Offer Free Shipping 💸
Free shipping is a big hit with customers. However, paying for it out of pocket can place a significant burden on your profit.
So, here are a few options for reducing the cost of free shipping:
- Consider the costs of merchant shipping when calculating the profit margin on each product that you're selling. Do your products have a large enough profit margin to cover shipping costs while still making a profit? If the answer is no, price alterations will need to be made.
- The next solution is pretty simple, just increase the price of your products to cover shipping costs so that you're not out of pocket.
- Merchants could also offer free shipping right above their average order volume threshold to raise the average order value (AOV).
- Free shipping can also be implemented as a promotion which is run a few times out of the year.
- Last but not least, free shipping can be utilised as an easy way for merchants to increase their list SMS and/ or newsletter subscribers.
N0.2: Utilise Shipping Services
Making use of shipping services can be a great way for merchants to send products to their customers whilst keeping things within an affordable price range.
Shopify Shipping can save online stores up to 88% on shipping costs with the assistance of; USPS, UPS and DHL.
Additionally, Shopify’s shipping tools help retailers to streamline the entire shipping process as retailers can print and purchase labels directly through Shopify, all whilst managing everything from one convenient dashboard.
Furthermore, Pirate Ship is another shipping tool that can save online stores up to 89% on UPS and USPS merchant shipping costs.
N0.3: Offer Flat-Rate Shipping 💰
If you can't or don't want to offer free shipping, why not consider offering a flat-rate shipping option instead?
Retailers have the option of; taking on the entire sum of shipping, splitting shipping costs with their customers, or passing it on to them.
Flat-rate shipping is a terrific approach to set expectations from the start, especially if the shipping methods offered are expensive.
Here are a couple of ways merchants can make flat-rate shipping work for their business:
- The flat rate can be adjusted based on; price, weight or shipping distance. Orders up to 15 pounds, for instance, might ship for $5, whereas orders up to 25 pounds will likely ship for $15. We’d suggest creating a table that shows what flat-rate prices apply to each; order amount, weight, or distance if this option is selected.
- Offer a fixed charge for all orders or orders above a particular value. To do this, take a look at your typical order value and apply a flat rate to all orders that are a few dollars over the line.
- All orders will be charged at the same flat cost which is straightforward. However, it may cost your business a little bit more.
It's entirely up to the business at hand in regards to how flat-rate shipping is executed. However, we’d recommend estimating the average cost of shipping for all of your store’s items within the product inventory.
N0.4: Expand Shipping Options and Utilise Shipping Rates
Customers will become resentful if only one or two delivery choices are offered, especially if both options are too expensive or will take too long to arrive.
So, if you’re not looking to go down the flat-rate or free shipping route, be sure to provide at least one reasonable alternative in terms of cost and delivery so that shoppers can pick what works best for them.
One approach to achieve this is to charge your consumers accurate shipping costs, which means charging them exactly what the carrier will charge you to send their item. Retailers can choose from several different; speeds, carriers and rates to calculate the correct costs.
N0.5: Lower Shipping Costs and Share Savings 🤝
Many business owners confront the challenge of keeping shipping costs low. So, here are four suggestions for reducing delivery costs in 2022:
- We’d start by reducing the weight of the package. For instance, an envelope weighs less than a box, while corrugated boxes are lighter than regular cardboard. To fill up space and keep objects safe, try to use the lightest packaging material you can find, such as tissue paper.
- USPS offers complimentary boxes and envelopes for businesses by providing a variety of shipping supplies such as complimentary boxes for companies to get started. All merchants will need to do is register an account to have them delivered to their business or home address.
- Stores on Shopify can also take advantage of Shopify Shipping which can save merchants up to 88% on shipping costs via; USPS, UPS, or DHL.
- Last but not least retailers should check that they are using the appropriate packing size. Going forward, we’d suggest reducing the weight and expense of shipping by using the smallest; box, envelope, or padded mailer possible.
So, that's it for today's guide. What are your thoughts on our advice to meet merchant shipping expectations in 2022? Reach out and let us know.
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!