When creating an online store, start with the essentials. You must select an ecommerce platform, list your products, process payments, and ship products.
After completing a sale, you must quickly, efficiently, and safely ship the purchased items to your customers. Because you are shipping every item you sell, you must select the right shipping carrier, set shipping rates, and choose packaging.
Selecting a Shipping Carrier
While selecting a shipping carrier might not be the most exciting decision you will make when starting an online store, it’s an important task and a choice that shouldn’t be rushed.
You need a shipping carrier that provides fast, reliable, and affordable shipping options. You should consider several elements when selecting a shipping partner, including:
- The types of products you are shipping. Some carriers have restrictions on the types of products they will ship, so make sure the carrier you select will ship your products.
- Where you are shipping to. If you have plans to ship globally (even if you aren’t ready yet), it’s crucial to find a carrier that offers worldwide shipping. You need to know what criteria to follow, and what rates they offer.
- The shipping speed. Customers expect packages to be delivered quickly. It’s important to select a carrier that offers fast delivery times for the best price.
- The shipping price and fees. Of course, one of the most important factors to consider when selecting a carrier is cost. When looking at shipping prices, consider the size and weight of your products, and the areas you are selling to. You should also look at any surcharges they offer.
- Their reputation. When selecting a carrier, your customers will feel more secure having their package delivered by a company they are familiar with such as UPS, FedEx, or the USPS.
- The convenience. When shipping numerous orders, you want a convenient carrier. Before selecting a shipping company, investigate whether they will pick up packages from you (and what fees they charge), or if you need to drop the packages off (and how far away the drop-off locations are and their hours).
- Tracking options. To give your customers the option to track their packages, ensure the carrier you select provides this information.
Set Your Shipping Rates
You have several options when determining the shipping rates you will offer your customers.
- Free shipping: Offering free shipping on your products can help drive sales. However, someone still must pay for the shipping fees, so you must determine how to cover the costs. You can raise the prices of your products to cover the expenses, pay for the shipping costs yourself, raise the product prices slightly so both you and the customers are paying for the fees, or only offer free shipping to certain customers or as part of a promotion.
- Real-time carrier rates: You can charge real-time carrier rates to use the live pricing costs from various carriers so customers can select the service they want based on the price.
- Flat-rate shipping: Flat-rate pricing is a popular option and is best when your products are generally the same size and weight. It also takes finesse to ensure you don’t drastically over- or undercharge your customers.
Choose Your Packaging
Selecting packaging might not seem like an exciting task, but it is a necessary decision. The right packaging not only protects products, but the presentation can also be part of your brand experience.
- Packaging materials: You have numerous options for the type of packaging materials you can select for your products, including boxes, padded envelopes, or non padded envelopes. You also need packaging materials from tape, tissues, filler, boxes, and stickers.
- Inserts: You can add printed materials inside of each package – from flyers, postcards, coupons, samples, and other promotional materials for your online store.
- Labels: You need to create shipping labels for each package you send. This will require buying labels, printers, and a process to easily gather shipping information and address for the label.
An important part of creating an online store is finding the right shipping partner. It’s essential to find a carrier that offers the best rates and quickest delivery times. You also must decide on the type of packaging you want to ship your products in, and what to charge your customers for shipping.