Over the past couple of years, companies such as Amazon and Walmart have accustomed consumers to expect free shipping every time they purchase something online. This, however, is not possible for most small businesses. In fact, companies with less than five years under their belt often take a hit on shipping to bring down the price. Fortunately, there are a few shipping strategies that can be implemented by a business to ensure that it does not become a greater barrier to their success.
Providing Live Rates to Consumers
One of the biggest mistakes small business owners tend to make is setting a flat rate for all their products. Although it may seem like a great way to provide the consumer a consistent price, it can ultimately hurt your business. The reason for that is shipping prices are constantly fluctuating. Offering live rates to consumers is one of the best routes a business can take to ensure that you aren’t shorting yourself on shipping costs that eat into your revenue. What exactly are live rates? Live rates are the current rate a carrier is charging for that transaction. A consumer chooses the live rate, and thus your company prevents having to pay extra on shipping.
Although live shipping has become increasingly popular over the years, some business owners do not like when they don’t control their pricing. In this case, providing table rates may be your best bet. Table rates are exactly what it sounds like. You set up a table that informs consumers of everything they can get and what rates they would have to pay. This is a great strategy to upsell items but also to save money on shipping. For example, you may offer free shipping on purchases of $50 or more as the shipping price is worth obtaining those few dollars of profit.
Protection Against Porch Pirates
The unfortunate reality is that there are bad people in the world. Porch pirates, a not-so-loving term for those who steal packages off people’s porches, not only give consumers headaches but also damage small businesses from being able to thrive. Shipping is expensive enough but having to replace a product and ship again can cause a loss prevention nightmare, not to mention the time and energy it takes you and your employees to sort out the situation. Although there is nothing you can do to discourage people from stealing, you can place certain measures to diminish it from occurring in the first place. One of the best methods includes providing the consumer the ability to determine how they are going to receive their package. For example, some consumers may not want to receive the package while they are away from home, and thus you may include a “signature requirement” on the shipping. You can also invest in vehicle tracking tools for deliveries. This helps you know where deliveries are at any given moment, and lets your customer know when to be there to pick up their package before someone else does. Yes, this does add to the shipping expense, but if stolen products are a major issue, then it may be necessary.
Offering Free Shipping to Your Customers
Free shipping seems like something that only the giants of the e-commerce world can handle. After all, they have the warehouse staff and all the delivery vehicles in the world to be able to handle those costs. Although those things do add to their advantage, it is not the only trick they use. Many online retailers will simply place the cost of shipping into the product. Many consumers are more likely to purchase an item that has free shipping, even if it’s out of their budget.
As you can see from the information above, there are several ways a small business can improve its shipping strategies. It must be noted that all these strategies will require trial and error until you come up with the perfect process for your business.