With Amazon having scored 44 percent of e-commerce sales last year and eBay sales in 2017 amounting to nearly 9.7 billion U.S. dollars, it’s no surprise that marketplace selling is big business. Strong inventory assortment and management can help sellers strengthen their online selling success, yet these key details alone won’t help marketplace sellers reach their fullest potential. To ensure sellers are meeting customer demands and staying competitive among fast-moving marketplaces, shipping needs to be among their top priorities.
To help keep up with this growing commerce avenue, sellers need to ensure their shipping strategies are as strong and as efficient as possible. To help, consider the below five tips.
Let’s face it, not everything is black and white and when it comes to shipping, this holds true, as well. Options for shipping can vary based on a variety of factors – including the location of delivery, package size, surcharges that may apply and much, much more. Because of this, it’s important to offer variety for your customers to choose from when it comes to shipping their purchases. The most popular options for e-commerce shipping include ground delivery, LTL freight carriers, same-day or overnight delivery and – of course – free shipping. The catch, however, is you must have a solid understanding of rates applied by each carrier option and thus, be able to minimize your shipping expenses while maximizing your shipping efficiency. Introducing multiple carriers into your shipping strategy can also help you accomplish this goal – ultimately helping you have control over your shipping costs.
#2. Acquire Free Shipping Boxes from USPS
Reducing expenses is a standing goal for online sellers and paying for boxes represents both substantial and unnecessary addition to your shipping costs. The cost of shipping boxes can dramatically reduce margins, adding as much as $7 to the cost of each sale made. What many business owners don’t realize, however, is that USPS will mail shipping boxes to your home or business at no cost. If you are sending your products through Priority Mail, Flat Rate, Priority Mail Express, or International Shipping, it does not necessitate expensive packaging or a trip to the Post Office. USPS offers a wide variety of box dimensions – including a free option for an assortment of product sizes. Depending on your marketplace business size – this is particularly beneficial to smaller marketplace businesses – this can help your company reduce shipping overhead while still meeting shipping goals.
#3. Prepare Responses to Customer Queries
Time is valuable and in-demand for any business owner and as a marketplace seller, this is no exception. And when it comes to time, giving customers attention should always be on your to-do-list – including in response to their shipping inquiries and other questions they may have. The reality is, however, these efforts can be a time-consuming aspect of the online selling and shipping business. To reduce this time in performing this often-repetitive task, create scripted responses to some of the most common customer questions your marketplace receives. In other words, save time and resources by selecting the appropriate answer for each query from an arsenal of pre-scripted responses. This strategy gives each customer the best-worded answer to their shipping questions every time while enabling you to focus your resources on more pressing demands… such as shipping.
#4. Select Shipping Packages Based on Parcel Size
Quality control continues throughout the shipping process. Amazon and eBay have strict shipping policies, and sellers that don’t adhere to these policies can face fees or penalties with both platforms. One policy many sellers often overlook is that they need to send packages out in the correctly sized box for the respective enclosed items. When a shipping box is not fitted to the items within the package, it can easily become compressed and destroy products throughout the shipping and handling process. In addition, Amazon requires that you provide 2 inches of cushioning between your products and the box itself, so that the items are secure enough that they do not move within the package. Be sure your fulfillment standards meet these expectations to also ensure your customers are not disappointed upon the package arrival. Another tip? Have a variety of package sizes available for your fulfillment team to easily and be ready to use – with no time in between having to source the right size package for any specific shipment at any time.
#5. Review, React & Reconsider Your Shipping Approach
Data and analytics are vital assets to any business, and as a marketplace seller, these are extremely important to consider. When you allow data and analytics to deliver insight on your shipping performance, you welcome the opportunity to strengthen your company’s operations. Incorporating regular reporting into your shipping strategy can help identify where you may be spending too much, ways you might be able to improve on shipping efficiency and insight on your best practices, missed opportunities and more. Explore more about how data and analytics can help your business here.
Bonus Tip: Incorporate a Parcel Auditing Strategy Into Your Shipping Management
From late deliveries to duplicate charges to incorrect dimensional weight charges and more, there are a lot of “fine-print” details that make up carrier contracts… and expenses. As a result, it’s imperative your shipping strategy includes understanding when and why you are being billed incorrectly for your shipping expenses. Incorporating parcel auditing as part of your strategy should be a must – with more details here on why this is a valuable component to any marketplace seller’s shipping business. Hint… it involves gaining money back at no upfront expense to you!
Finally, while shipping can be a powerful tool to differentiate marketplace sellers from their competitors and help meet customer expectations – it only works if you actually put your strategies into action. Identifying a plan that your entire commerce team can support – from marketing to fulfillment to customer care and every other touchpoint of employee interaction in between – is critical for marketplace success. Trust that your business is prepared to compete in the always evolving and constantly changing landscape of online selling with shipping strategies you can be proud of while also trusting they are helping to meet your marketplace goals.