Category Archives: Shipping

The Importance of Packaging in The Ecommerce Experience

We have invited our partner, JH to discuss what an important role packaging plays in winning back current customers and how to complete your customers’ ecommerce experience with shipping.


Not only does packaging protect your product, it’s the first thing that your customer sees in person from your eCommerce business, and so it’s absolutely crucial to get it right.

A massive part of building a sustainable brand is bringing customers back, time and time again. Often relatively ignored by marketers who’re more usually focussed on gaining the attention of new customers, it’s almost always less expensive and more powerful, to get a current customer to purchase again, than it is to go out and try and attract new ones.

In a survey from Dotcom Distribution they found that 52 percent of consumers are likely to make repeat purchases from an online retailers that deliver premium packaging experiences.

Customers as Brand Advocates

The report by Dotcom also found out that 39% of the respondents had shared a picture or a video of new purchases, most commonly using Facebook (84%), Twitter (32%), Instagram (31%), YouTube (28%) and Pinterest (20%).

Personalization in packaging adds a level of excitement that allows you to create a genuine relationship with customers, and people are hardwired to want to share great experiences, which is why social media is filled with people sharing their news. When your product features on your customer’s news feed, you want to make sure it’s for all the right reasons.

When customers receive a product with premium packaging and a personalised note thanking them for the purchase, the feeling of trust and satisfaction is amplified.  It turns customers into brand ambassadors – one of the strongest assets a company could have. They become advocates of your brand and they’re the people that will create word of mouth, which is an age-old promotional tool businesses can’t prosper without.

Packaging as a Marketing Channel

The sky’s the limit on how unique and memorable you want your customer’s experience to be. Though the use of packaging, you can create a unique experience that acts as a marketing channel in itself.

 packaging-ideas7

Paul Smith like to think outside the traditional box and use cylinders and other shapes to surprise and delight their eCommerce buyers, when they buy smaller items like ties and socks.

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Thelma’s make ice-cream cookie sandwiches (yep, how divine!) and they’ve become well known for their quirky and kitsch oven boxes. The packaging cleverly serves to remind the customer of their brand promise: “Our cookies are made fresh and delivered warm right out of the oven.”

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Our all time favourite though, is from bike manufacturers Vanmoof who realised they could use packaging to solve a problem. When bike sales moved online, manufacturers had to think of better ideas of making sure their products arrive safely with their customers.

What did Vanmoof do? Instead of putting a picture of a bike on the box they printed a picture of large flatscreen TV instead and saw instances of delivery damage drastically reduce.

What to Consider

When Amazon’s boxes with their “grinning” A-Z logo show up, everyone knows their Amazon delivery is here. How can you make sure your packaging is just as recognisable to your customers, and creates the same sense of excitement? Here are the elements you’ll need to think about.

  • Box – The first thing to consider is the main shipping box. And size matters due to shipping costs, so be strategic.

  • Tissue Paper – Wrapping your products in tissue paper adds a sense of premium around your product. Custom-printed tissue paper, even more so.

  • Filler – Traditional filler types included styrofoam packing peanuts, foam inserts, air pillows or bubble wrap. All protect your product, but also can add a sense of luxury when done right too.

  • Sticker – Branded stickers be used to fasten tissue paper – for their price they’re a pretty inexpensive way to add a quality feel.

  • Custom Note – It may be difficult to scale, however, for smaller companies, a customised note – handwritten being the ultimate – will always be gratefully received.

  • Free Gift – A small gift can be a great way to surprise and delight customers as well as increase the overall experience.

  • Sample – Based on your customer segmentation data, you could also consider including a sample that is likely to cross-sell the customer by introducing them to new products.

Creating a memorable experience at this crucial part of the customer journey, can help to give your business the competitive edge, by seeing customers come back again soon for more of your products.


About the Author

Phoebe Haig is the Marketing Manager at JH. She blogs (link:www.wearejh.com/blog) regularly on tips and news for the world of eCommerce.

A BBQ Restaurant Eliminates Their Shipping Pains and Increases Efficiency with ShipperHQ

This success story highlights a ShipperHQ merchant selling a wide array of items online including perishable goods and how they transitioned from using a custom shipping solution to become more efficient.


rudysRudy’s BBQ and barbeque in general is known as a staple of Texas and many other states of the south. Rudy’s began its journey as a gas station and general store near the University of Texas, shortly after opening they decided to expand and offer great homemade food for a modest price. They have since opened in multiple states throughout the South and even have an online menu so all their fans around the US can enjoy their meats, rubs and sauses.

The BBQ company expanded to the ecommerce market in 2001 only selling sauces and rubs. In order to handle their shipping needs, their developers built a custom shipping solution. In 2011, things got a bit trickier in the Rudy’s BBQ shipping world as they decided to add meats to their online menu. When shipping meats they had to put specific rules in place that would only allow the meat to be in transit for a limited amount of time and to only be delivered to certain areas. With their custom shipping solution, they were able to implement the shipping options they wanted along with the rules they needed, but the build and maintenance was very time consuming and it wasn’t the most accurate way to develop the shipping rates they showed at checkout.

After running a custom shopping cart for 9 years, the Rudy’s team decided it was time to find a solution that would allow them to implement the rules they currently have set up, easily make updates when needed, and help them to accurately pack their products.

Screen Shot 2017-06-01 at 11.31.11 AM

Less Time Shipping, More Time Selling

Prior to ShipperHQ, the addition of a new product or changes in restrictions would call for tons of manual work involving their team to update custom code. Just a simple change could cost the company a lot of time and money.

Creed Ford, owner of Pictoric Media, explains their initial shipping challenges:

Our team would build out rules and it was open source, so we could build any rules that we wanted, but it was extremely hard to support and update. It was a big capital expense and was even expensive to update.

Rudy’s BBQ was introduced to ShipperHQ about a year ago and were happy to hear that they would no longer have to worry about their shipping! They decided to take advantage of the customization service which allowed our team to completely handle the ShipperHQ implementation and made for a quick and smooth transition. And now, the team can easily make changes to their configuration in minutes.

Creed on using ShipperHQ:

The shipping options we use now are very similar to what we had before since we had a custom shipping solution and had it where we wanted it. And, having the ability to create and use Shipping Rules has made ShipperHQ worth it. We no longer have to spend hours or days making changes to our code when we have a requirement change or add an item to the menu.

Improvements Their Team & Customers Can Enjoy

After further use of ShipperHQ, the team found that they are not only saving time with shipping, but they now have better access to the data they need and can produce more accurate shipping quotes.

Efficiency and savings was the number one metric and goal which was hit!

Creed on reaching their goals:

We have the ability to have data come through the systems and not have it go through code which was painful for our team. Having a system intelligent enough to pack product into correct boxes has also helped us to give more accurate shipping quotes.

By utilizing the Dimensional Shipping and Date & Time features they are able to charge their customers the correct amount for shipping. So, their customers aren’t faced with higher than expected charges, and Rudy’s can rest well knowing that their shipping costs are covered every time.

The Future is Looking Bright

Rudy’s is still pretty early on in their transition from their custom shipping solution, but they are looking forward to a bright future with ShipperHQ. Now that the team can more efficiently ship what they sell online, they have even more time to focus on their company goal which is to provide great tasting, homestyle food at reasonable prices. With shipping in order they are able to hold their online store to that same standard, and remain extremely competitive in the BBQ industry. We are excited to see what is instore for Rudy’s within the next year!

5 Tips to Get More Accurate Shipping

An order comes in, you know what you wanted to charge the customer for delivery, but then you realize what they paid was actually a dollar less than what the shipment will cost! Now what? Majority of the time you end up eating that cost, unless you want to be that guy ringing up your customers notifying them that you need to charge them a little more than they initially expected.

One dollar or ten cents may not seem like a lot when you take in one order, but imagine bringing in thousands of sales. At this point you are losing out on hundreds or thousands of dollars just in shipping. Or, you are spending tons of time sorting out each order and contacting customers. Either way, in the end you are paying the cost.

This scenario only shows two of many reasons behind the importance of calculating and showing accurate rates and options at checkout.

The Importance of Accurate Shipping Rates

bad good
Undercharge and you are left covering the cost Consider the dimensional weight of products and apply surcharges when necessary.
Over charge and risk scaring customers away Apply discounts or pull the negotiated rates you receive from the carrier. Considering dimensional weight can be helpful here as well.
When the checkout isn’t transparent and you leave customers guessing about charges Show time in transit or estimated delivery date and name each option accurately to describe what it is.
Show too few options and lose a chance for upselling Try offering a standard option, expedited option and free shipping if possible. Consider showing estimated delivery to upsell faster options.
Show too many options and risk confusing customers Try rate shopping so that only the lowest, most attractive options are shown.

Control your shipping, don’t let your shipping control you

You should have complete control over the rates you are charging your customers. You made an educated decision on what you charge for the product and the same should happen for your shipping. This way you can make a business decision on whether you want to to charge more or less than what the service provider you use is charging you. If you want more attractive shipping, you may want to undercharge for shipping and build that cost into the price of the products. Or, you may want to overcharge via shipping to cover the cost of packing. Whatever you decide, you should be in control and should not be reacting to what your rates decide to do.

Show the services you actually use

The options you show at checkout should reflect the services you are actually using. This doesn’t mean you need to display the exact carrier and service name to your customers, but you should indicate what the service is or does.

For example, if you are using LTL freight to ship your larger items, you shouldn’t show a small package or ground shipping/standard shipping option in your checkout. Not only will this scenario require you to add a surcharge to cover the cost of the shipment, you could also confuse your customers.

This holds true for other services as well. You don’t want to charge customers for same day delivery when they believe they are paying for a slower service. The customer will think they are being overcharged and many times this can lead to cart abandonment.

The more transparent the checkout the better. You don’t want customers questioning why they are being charged more than they would expect from the service they selected. And it can be quite shocking to find a freight truck in front of your home when you are expecting delivery from a small package carrier.

Use Dimensional Shipping

ShipperHQ Dimensional ExampleWhen you ship a product you are charged for on the billable weight which is the higher
value between dimensional weight and actual weight. Dimensional weight is (length x height x width)/166, but keep in mind that the divisor can change. So if you are delivering something large but light and only calculate the items actual weight, you are undercharging the customer for that shipment.

A great example is Shipper the Bear. He is extremely large (close to 8ft tall when standing) but light in weight for his size; his billable weight would come from his dimensional weight, so you would want to stuff him in the smallest box possible and minimize the width, height and length of the package. You should account for the product’s size and pack densely.

With that said, it is important that you are shipping items in proper boxes. You could save a lot of money by ensuring you are not packing small items in large boxes and leaving tons of extra open space in the box.

Rate from Multiple Warehouses & Dropshipping

Having functionality that supports rating from multiple origins is crucial for those who ship via multiple warehouses and for dropshippers. If you ship from two or more different locations it is important to show the rates for the correct origin, or warehouse, each time. When you only rate from one location, it is very likely that you are overcharging or undercharging customers that receive orders from your other locations.

If you have one warehouse on the East Coast and another on the West Coast but only use the West Coast warehouse for rating, you are overcharging customers on the East Coast that receive their shipments from your east coast warehouse. This is because your checkout believes it is shipping the order across the country, when in reality it could only be shipping across state or city.

Now think larger scale, if you have warehouses in different countries your rates will look incredibly different than how they should. Other options you should consider are whether you want your orders to ship from fewest warehouses or from nearest. Sometimes it is cheaper for sellers to ship multiple items from one or two warehouses rather than collecting one item from each of the closest warehouse that houses each item.

dropship

Know when to Surcharge and Discount

Adding discounts and surcharges is a simple way to account for fees that are not automatically reflected in the rates pulled from your live carriers, handling additional charges that apply to select products, and reflecting negotiated rates.

Many times merchants need to add padding, dry-ice or other material to boxes which adds to the box weight and in turn increases the amount you are charged to ship certain items. This is where you should apply surcharges to the rates you show at checkout, so you are covering all costs for shipments. This can also be useful for international shipments that have duties and fees attached to the delivery cost.

To avoid overcharging customers who do not fall within these categories, you will want to ensure you have rules in place that allow you to only charge surcharges on certain items, when certain boxes are used, or for deliveries that ship to certain locations.

In contrast, you may find that you need to apply discounts to your rates. Discounts can allow you to provide more attractive shipping or reflect negotiated rates from the carrier. This way you are not overcharging for rates and can even build some of the shipping price into the product’s cost.

Make use out of Date & Time

Date & Time is a great tool for merchants who sell perishable goods, products that can only ship in specific boxes,
hazardous materials or products with regional restrictions such as Alcohol. Imagine not only having the ability to show your customers when they can expect their package, but having the power to control the max time in transit for groups of products that have time sensitive shipping requirements.

Date & Time includes time in transit and estimated delivery date which makes it easy for merchants selling perishables to only charge their customers for expedited services when it is necessary. If you have a customer in the area that can get a ground shipment within 2 days and this is within the maximum allowed time in transit,  you can allow them to use the cheaper/slower shipping service.

Or, on the other hand, you can hide the slower, ground option from your customers that reside outside of a specified area; this way you don’t have customers choosing the slower services when they really need the faster and more expensive options.

date-time-calendar-@3xDate & Time also give you the ability to up sell your expedited shipping options and provide transparency to your customers. As we get closer certain holidays you will find that many customers are more likely to shop from sites that show when their order with arrive.

Taking Back Control

Now it is time to pull this all together, develop your shipping strategy and find a solution that fits your business’ unique needs. Whether you are looking to take action on one or all of the above, you should do your research so you fully understand how you want to ship. Consider what options you should or shouldn’t be using based on your customers’ needs along with your own and imagine how you want those carriers to look at checkout.

I would recommend investing in a Shipping Rate Management Software like ShipperHQ when you decide it is time to execute your shipping strategy. This type of software can be tailored to fit the needs of businesses small to large and will help to simplify various shipping barriers. With this solution, you can show the options you want and decide who can see them and when. It is intelligent enough to calculate the most economical box choices based on your product size and boxes you use, and reflects the shipping rules you put into place. Talk to our team to see how you can get more accurate rates and options.

An Agriculture Technology Startup uses Shipping to Increase Ecommerce Customers by 22%

This post starts off our Customer Success Story Series. This success story highlights a ShipperHQ merchant on Bigcommerce that was able to break through the challenges they faced as they expanded to the ecommerce market in order to keep up with customer demand.


Bright AgroTechVertical farming came about as a way for farmers to avoid costs associated with growing food. Since then, the vertical farming space has become quite noisy. Bright Agrotech, an agriculture technology startup, chose to address the increase in demand for these farming supplies by expanding to the ecommerce market. In doing so they knew their situation was unlike most ecommerce merchants’ and they would need to conquer their pretty unique shipping challenges in order to beat out their competition and successfully sell online.

Bright Agrotech guides modern farmers to plan, build and operate successful businesses and ultimately build a new, local food economy based on transparency and trust. Their approach is to Equip, Educate and Empower. With these 3 E’s, Bright Agrotech gives modern farmers the hardware, software, and services they need to make a positive impact on local food economies.

The company expanded to the ecommerce market around 2014 and immediately knew that they would face challenges delivering their unusually large and bulky items to their customers. They were dealing with multiple packages per product, dimensions that resulted in balloon charges (or that exceeded carrier requirements), and freight shipments. After their first few months as an online store, they migrated to BigCommerce in hopes that they would be able to find a solution.  

Putting Your Shipping Strategy to Work

Bright Agrotech started their online journey knowing what they wanted to show and offer their customers at checkout. But, they faced issues when it came time to relay this to their customers on their frontend. Initially the team used BigCommerce’s builtin shipping options to apply flat-rate shipping on their larger items to cover what they thought their average costs would be.

Perry Baptista, Chief Operations Officer describes what challenges the company faced:

Without a shipping calculator that was prepared to handle all of the above, we were frequently unable to charge accurate shipping rates. Nearby customers ended up largely overpaying for shipping, and we had to eat the cost on more expensive shipments. Our customers had limited shipping choices or less-than-complete information about how their shipment would arrive.

Trust me – having a freight truck show up at your house when you’re expecting UPS is a jarring experience that usually results in a number of additional costs for both the customer and us.

The team quickly realized they would need a more powerful shipping calculator to handle their shipping needs. Knowing that building a custom solution would turn out to be extremely costly, they began their search for an application that would fit their needs and were led to ShipperHQ.

Shipping large Items

Increase Conversion through Improved Shipping

June 2016 was the beginning of change for the Bright Agrotech team. They found their solution, now it was time to put it to action and see the results. 

Directly after the implementation of ShipperHQ and other process improvements, they noticed an increase in their ecommerce order fulfillment efficiency.

Perry Baptista explains the effects of their improvements:

I am pleased with the results we’ve been able to achieve. If I compare March 2016 through December 2016 to the same period in 2015, we’ve had a 17% increase in our conversion rate.

Prior to adding ShipperHQ, Bright Agrotech only offered one shipping option, which was “Standard Shipping.” If you take a look at their current checkout, they are now able to offer up to 5 different carriers and 3 shipping speeds. And, they can now incorporate multi-origin shipping information into their shopping cart and shipping quotes. Not only do they have more options to satisfy their customers, they are able to meet increasing demand by reducing the amount of customer service and internal time spent on shipping arrangements.

Bright Agrotech Checkout

Perry Baptista further explains their improvements:

Before ShipperHQ, we’d actually call customers if they had been massively undercharged for shipping. Customers weren’t happy at the additional charges, we weren’t happy about the high costs, and we were both out a ton of time – the most expensive part of all!

Now, even with a 22% increase in ecommerce customers this year, they have not needed to increase their fulfillment or shipping staff. By making use of advanced features such as Dimensional Shipping, LTL Freight and Carrier Rules, Bright Agrotech was able to tell ShipperHQ exactly how their large items need to be handled and what they want their customers to see based on zone, product size and more.

Perry Baptista explains how ShipperHQ has made shipping large/bulky items easier:

Bright AgroTech & ShipperHQ

First, ShipperHQ allows us to assign multiple shipping boxes to a single BigCommerce product. Many of our large items, like the ZipGrow Farm Wall, ship in two or more boxes, and BigCommerce’s basic shipping calculator could only calculate real-time quotes on one box per product. Using ShipperHQ’s dimensional rules feature allows us to accurately quote the correct number and size of packages in real time.

Second, ShipperHQ can quote shipment of an item via freight carriers, which was needed for our large ZipGrow Commercial Bundles. This is one of the only shipping programs on the market I’ve seen with this functionality. Many of our products can only ship cost-effectively via a freight method, so being able to pull real-time freight quotes improves Bright’s bottom line while giving our customers an accurate representation of how their items will arrive.

Finally, I love that ShipperHQ can restrict carriers and zones. For international customers, we only use USPS, so it only makes sense to limit an international customer’s options. Within the US, we prefer to ship only UPS on large items from our warehouse. Being able to clearly define via ShipperHQ what a large item is and restrict its shipping methods is amazing.

Bright Agrotech Free Shipping

The Boundaries are Endless

The company has been able to expand their checkout in ways they were unable to imagine before. With additional options and the ability to control what their customers see at checkout they have been able to broaden their reach, opening them up to thousands of potential customers and are able to cover their shipping costs. Now, they rarely have a shipment they can’t send. Even if they are unable to serve a location, a customer will be informed that they can’t automatically ship to them via the website, which has allowed them to save tons of customer service time.

As always, we are happy to watch Bright Agrotech grow and expand new horizons. We are excited to see what is in store for the company’s future and what more they will be able to accomplish.

How to Boost Your Conversions with a Customer Friendly Shipping Process

Online Shipping that converts

We have invited David Wain-Heapy, a Director at Best Response Media, to share advice on important actions you can take to boost conversion with shipping on your ecommerce store.


The shipping process should be the cornerstone of your business. Without a well-structured, integrated system in place, your company could face serious problems further down the road. Failing to convert customers is the death knell for small businesses.

Encompassing checkout, delivery, the returns policy, and carrier options, the shipping process should reflect your values. To convert prospective customers into revenue streams, your company must symbolise security, flexibility, and quality. The easiest way to showcase a total lack of these things is with a poorly planned checkout-delivery process.

However, with an average landing page conversion rate of just 2.35%, advertisers seem to struggle getting past simple sales barriers.

Give your customers ordering flexibility

The average consumer sees choice as part-and-parcel of modern retail. Moving online, this choice becomes integral. Think about this: 46% of customers will choose one retailer over another because they have multiple delivery options.

Behind the smoke-and-mirrors of modern marketing tactics, flexibility plays an enormous role in converting sales.

Apart from avoiding pushy salespeople, the internet gives consumers the power to sit down, process information, and compare products and services at their own leisure. Keeping payment, delivery, and returns options open and transparent will help customers reach an actionable decision about your brand.

Making this action a conversion comes down to choice and control.

With basket abandonment costing the UK economy £6bn annually in recent years, it’s important to analyse consumer trends.


Major causes of abandonment are:

28percent

Unexpected shipping costs


Solution: keep costs transparent and offer alternatives like click-and-collect, fixed date delivery, and free shipping

23percent

Being required to make an account


Solution: give customers the option to checkout as a guest

13percent

Worried about payment security


Solution: give people multiple payment options


The power of returns

Want to keep up with competition? Offer returns.

67% of shoppers check the returns policy before making purchases.

Making things truly customer friendly means extending flexibility beyond the landing and product pages. Giving customers a sense of control and freedom during the ordering process is more of a Call-to-Action in itself than clever marketing tactics or your product range.

Keep things flowing

In fact, customer experience is expected to overtake pricing and products as the main company differentiator by 2020. If providing customers with options is key to converting, optimising the shipping process for multiple channels is a close 2nd. The UK currently leads the world with 65% of ecommerce traffic from mobile devices.

So, how can ecommerce sites use this to their advantage?

Web designs must work across popular devices without sacrificing clarity. The easier a user can navigate and understand information, the better the customer experience.

Offering huge functionality is pointless unless the ordering process is tailored to a customer’s preferred device.

With the average conversion rate being almost directly comparable to screen size (desktop: 3.09%, tablet: 2.64%, smartphones: 1.51%), this confirms product image size plays a role in generating sales. Advertisers could be optimising their sites better for mobile devices:

Make images larger and shipping options clearer.

Planning for the future

71% of customers are willing to switch retailers because of a bad online experience. Far from looking for brands to be loyal to, the average consumer is extremely unforgiving. Even if traffic is converting now, there’s no guarantee that these conversions will lead to future sales. A disappointing sales experience can stop the cumulative growth of repeat customers.

Customer retention is a vital KPI. Compared with new visitors, repeat customers have a higher conversion rate (4.5% vs. 2.4%) and a lower bounce rate (24.4% vs. 34.8%).

This should make it clear why the stages following the ‘order’ button are so important. Investing time into creating happy customers will reap greater benefits than pushing conversions through aggressive Calls-to-Action. A responsive design with simple visual cues, large images, and multi-channel functionality will serve customers better than needless complexity. The trend towards minimalism in recent years is a direct response to consumer analysis.

It’s important visitors to your website feel their needs are being catered to. Simplicity can positively impact customer experience by revealing the functionality of underlying systems. Going into the future, these things will become the make-or-break factor for online businesses.

 


About The Author

David W headshot

David Wain-Heapy is a Director at Best Response Media.

They are an eCommerce agency and provide innovative Magento ecommerce and digital marketing solutions from their offices in Central London. www.bestresponsemedia.co.uk

PreImagine 2017 Sponsor Spotlight: MageMojo

MageMojo built their hosting company specifically and only to host Magento stores. They specialize in doing one thing and doing it really well so they are able to offer faster performance, deeper support, and lower prices. “We’re making Magento great again!” says Eric Hileman, Co-Founder of MageMojo.

The MageMojMageMojoo team has been a part of the Magento community since 2009. In addition to providing the community with great service, they are very active in showing their support. This will be their second year attending and sponsoring PreImagine and they are also organizing Meet Magento NY this year and plan on going big!

Eric sheds some light on what it’s like to be both a guest and sponsor at PreImagine and how to get the most out of your evening there:

Why did MageMojo decide to sponsor PreImagine this year? 

We love to support community events in Vegas, especially since the Wynn is expensive.  PreImagine needs all the support it can get in order to put on a great event (and open up that bar!).

How would you describe your past PreImagine experiences?

As a sponsor Good! ★★★★☆

As a guest Excellent! ★★★★★

What is your favorite memory from past PreImagines?

Favorite memory was thinking how beautiful it was out there on the Sunset Terrace in the evening surrounded by Magento community members from all over the world.  That was the first time we’d seen people whom we’d only known from their twitter profiles, IRL.  It was a feeling of inspiration that really energized us for the next couple days.

What are you looking forward to most this year?

We’re looking forward most to spreading the word about the Magento Security Council we co-founded and the free malware scanner the Council put out.  We’re also giving free 3 month memberships to Nomad Mage for continuous learning.  Spreading education about security while also learning from our Peers is exciting!  We’re ready to collaborate on more initiatives with other community members!

What would you list as the biggest benefit of attending PreImagine?

PreImagine is the eye of the hurricane. Everyone is crazy busy leading up to Imagine.  We all arrive in Las Vegas and have that one day where everything is calm.  PreImagine sits in that calm window and gives everyone a chance to take a breath, say Hello to old friends, and relax for a little while before the whirlwind begins again Monday.

Do you have any advice for first time attendees? 

There’s no need to be shy. Find the people you recognize from twitter, stackoverflow, etc, just walk up and introduce yourself.  We’re all here for the same reason and you’ll find you have a lot in common with everyone, if you open up!

2016 Holiday Shipping Cutoff Dates

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With the Holiday Season quickly approaching, it is crucial to ensure your customers get their orders on time. Although it may happen more often than we like to admit, there is nothing worse than waiting until the last minute to ship out a gift and having to face the task of ensuring the order makes it to its destination in time. To keep your holidays bright and to relieve some of the stress, we have put together a quick summary of the shipping cut-off dates for some of the major carriers. You will find it extremely helpful to stay on top of current cut-off dates for all carriers you plan to use. Below you can find the 2016 holiday shipping dates and news.

UPS

With eCommerce making a rapid increase, it’s important to stay on top of the new deadlines this Holiday Season.  The UPS year-end holiday schedule starts in November and makes its way to the end of December. You can download and print the schedule from the site to ensure easy access. Here is a summary for the most frequently used UPS services.

Service Ship By Notes
UPS Ground Contact UPS Dependent on origin and destination
UPS 3 Day Select December 19th US Domestic shipments only
UPS 2nd Day Air December 21st US Domestic shipments only, some limitations in Alaska and Hawaii
UPS Next Day Air December 22nd US Domestic shipments only, some limitations in Alaska and Hawaii

* Between Nov. 21st and Dec 30th, a limited number of UPS Ground and UPS Standard packages that have transit times of three or more days and specific origins and destinations will require an additional day in transit. Contact UPS for more information.

FedEx

FedEx is anticipating a record-breaking peak holiday shipping season this year, and has gone as far as hiring an additional 500 employees to cover the rush. They have advised that you take note of Christmas falling on a Sunday this year, which makes losing track of shipping deadlines even more detrimental. Luckily, they offer FedEx SameDay which is available every day of the year. FedEx also offers a Get Rates and Transit Times application to their customers so they can easily find the FedEx delivery option that will get their shipment to its destination in time. But, if you are looking to avoid the rush, we have listed the last days to ship your packages so they arrive on or before December 25th below.

Service Ship By Notes
FedEx Home Delivery & FedEx Ground Contact FedEx US Domestic shipments only, excludes Puerto Rico
FedEx First Overnight December 23rd US Domestic shipments only, excludes Puerto Rico
FedEx 2 Day December 23rd US Domestic shipments only, excludes Puerto Rico
FedEx Priority Overnight December 23rd US Domestic shipments only, excludes Puerto Rico
FedEx SameDay December 25th US Domestic shipments only, excludes Puerto Rico

USPS

Although USPS encourages holiday shoppers to ship as early as possible, they have gone ahead and provided a list of shipping deadlines just in case you are faced with last minute shopping. They have provided the mail-by-dates for all their domestic and international services. Below you will find a quick summary of some of their services.

Service Ship By Notes
Standard Post December 15th US Domestic shipments only
First Class Mail December 20th US Domestic shipments only
Priority Mail December 21st US Domestic shipments only
Priority Mail Express December 23rd US Domestic shipments only

As we hope you find this helpful to your holiday shipping, our summaries should only serve as an outline for you shipping management this season. We have provided information for some of the major carriers, but you should keep up to date with restrictions and options from other carrier you wish to use as well. You can find helpful information by visiting the carrier’s website or you can contact your carrier representative with specific questions.

 

International Express Shipping Strategy for The Holiday Season

Holiday Shipping

The holidays are coming near which means it is time to start thinking about what changes you may need to make in order to keep your international customers happy. So, we have invited Pompey Mansilla, Co-Founder of ILS, to share advice on how to put an effective International shipping strategy in place for the holiday season. 


Summer: suntan lotion, palm trees, and an ocean breeze are now behind us.  Gone are the days when school started after Labor Day; kids are already back in school and Halloween is fast approaching, which can only mean that The Holidays are right around the corner.

Internationally, August is the biggest vacation month and now everyone globally is preparing for The Season.

E-COMMERCE IS E-SSENTIAL

Already accounting for nearly 10% of global retail sales, e-commerce has become a critical component to global commerce.

In 2015 alone, more than half the world’s mobile phone-owning population accessed the web. And that figure is forecast to steadily climb. Many of those people will not just access the web for information or send emails or engage in social media. Instead they virtual window-shop and eventually purchase products.

RECOMMENDATIONS FROM ACTUAL SMEs

  • Starting small is the approach Sarah Davis, owner of Fashionphile, recommends.  She started selling eBay and today does more than $15M in annual revenue, with 30% of her sales coming from international buyers.  Her advice:

“Just sell one item internationally. EBay and PayPal allow you to put your toe in the water and get used to selling internationally, and them amp up from there.”

  • “We do ship internationally!  We do also charge for international shipping for orders under 300$. However, I would say that it is currently a pain-point for us because we aren’t able to deliver 100% the quality of shipping service for our international customers like we are for our domestic ones. Example: We are unfortunately unable to generate free return labels for our international customers. Following tracking is more difficult because of dual tracking numbers (one while in the US / one internationally). You have less control over the shipment, etc., etc. It’s another thing on the list of “need to solves”

     Darby – Owner Smoke Cartel

RESEARCH DEMANDS FOR YOUR PRODUCT AND LOCAL BUYING TRENDS

A helpful resource is PayPal’s PassPort site, which has a wealth of information about global buying trends for specific countries. For instance, PassPort breaks down, by country, the top shopping categories, how often shoppers purchase from countries like the US, their buying motivations and potential barriers. It also summarizes local customs, trends, taboos and even holidays of each country – so you sell the right products to the right customers, marketed in the right way.

Grey November, Black Friday and Cyber Monday are nearly here, and businesses are already placing their holiday marketing plans into high gear. Specials and promotions, as well as creative discounts are just about lined up.  Unique seasonal partnerships are ready for launch.  At the same time, companies are addressing the key challenges that stem from higher volumes of store and site visitors, training seasonal staff, testing website infrastructure and coordinating with suppliers.

Both online retailers and brick-and-mortar operations are also taking a hard look at another element that will be critical to their overall success: shipping and logistics.

Just how active is the world of shipping during the holiday season?  Consider these numbers: at DHL Express, during the 2015 peak season (the Monday after Thanksgiving until Christmas) delivery volumes were 41% higher than the average daily volume in our third quarter, and 25% higher than peak season in 2014.

To ensure your company can survive the peak holiday season and literally deliver on what your customers have ordered – on time, on target, and in one piece – you’ll want to have a clear shipping strategy in place.

The best way to develop an efficient, cost-effective and reliable shipping strategy is to work with an experienced shipping and logistics partner who understands high-volume planning.  If you operate globally, you will want to make sure that your international shipping process in particular can handle increased demand. 

In addition to finding the right shipping partner, retailers want to ensure you clearly display estimated delivery dates and ordering cutoff dates for Christmas delivery.

  • All DHL services are time definite and offer you secure door-to-door delivery service of goods and documents to and from virtually every country in the world. Whether you need your shipments delivered early morning or by the end of the working day, our services offer full track-and-trace visibility so you always know where your shipments are.
  • ShipperHQ, the ultimate shipping rate management solution, has partnered with International Logistics Solutions (ILS) to make international shipping simpler and more cost-effective for small to medium sized merchants.
  • As an Authorized DHL Agent, ILS gives US merchants access to DHL Express services while offering them lower rates and excellent customer service from international shipping specialists. With DHL Express, merchants have the ability to delight their customers and raise their brand image with a one to three day transit to almost anywhere in the world with full door to door tracking.

You can set up an ILS Account and speak to a representative to learn more about ShipperHQ and ILS combined.


 

About the Author

LINKEDINPICTURE Pompey Mansilla is the co-founder of 2 companies within the DHL Express Network, along with his partner, Rick Betancourt.  International Logistics Solutions is an Authorized Reseller specializing in international shipments from 1-400#.

In addition, Direct Hit Logistics provides pick-up and delivery service for DHL Express with over 400 routes in the Southeastern United States.  They are the largest representative of DHL Express in the country, from a combined sales and operational platform.

Store Pickup Functionality is Now Available Magento 2

We announced the release of ShipperHQ for Magento 2 at the beginning of this year and our customer growth on Magento 2 is constantly rising. To keep up with the demands of our customers, we are continuously moving ShipperHQ’s feature set forward. We are proud to announce that we have recently added Store Pickup to the list of advanced features available on Magento 2 so users can easily show pickup locations at checkout.

Why You Should Add Store Pickup to Your Checkout

We live in the time where everything is “Googled.” I am just as guilty as anyone when I say our generation will search the web for anything from cooking recipes to how to fix a car or fly a plane. Customers now want access to more information before they make a purchase or venture to the store. In addition to information, they are keen to look for savings and quick service. So why not give them what they want and add the convenience of Store Pickup to your checkout?

Cost

Customers love discounts and this is a great alternative to offering free shipping without having to cover the costs. According to a survey from eFulliment Service, close to 70 percent of respondents said they prefer cheaper shipping over fast shipping. By adding Store Pickup to your checkout, you and your customers can avoid the cost of shipping. They have the ability to reserve their products online and pick them up at their own convenience. This way you seal the deal before they even enter the store!

Convenience

Store Pickup can help you keep your customers satisfied. It allows your customers to check the availability of products. This way they aren’t faced with the disappointment of finding that the item is only available in one of your stores 50 miles away or online after they have already reached the store. If they find that the item is not available in a nearby store they then have the option to have it shipped to their house, request to have it shipped to the store for pickup, or they can have someone else pick it up for them at another location.

Research

Although they may end up buying the item in store over purchasing directly online, having products (even those only found in store) available for research is beneficial to your customers. This gives them the opportunity to read reviews from other customers and find detailed information on the products. This also ties into convenience as the can do all of this from the comfort of their home.

Store Pickup in ShipperHQ

ShipperHQ allows merchants to offer more to their customers while having the ability to add restrictions, discounts and surcharges to options shown at checkout. With the Store Pickup feature you have the ability to delight your customers with the opportunity to save money at checkout.

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The Store Pickup feature allows you to set as many locations as you want for pickup. You then have the ability to sort those locations by distance from the customer and set your account to only show locations that are within a certain distance. This feature has been available to our customer on Magento 1 and is now available to those on Magento 2.

Contact us for more information on Store Pickup and ShipperHQ!

 

Simplifying your Checkout with Rate Shopping

Customers expect a simple checkout process. They have found the items they want to purchase and want to complete the order with as little confusion and minimal steps. If you are a merchant that uses many carriers and have many shipping methods available, you are probably showing a long daunting list of options at checkout.

Simplify your Checkout

8cER7GLcaIf you use multiple carriers such as UPS and FedEx, you will find that many of their methods have similar transit times that differ in price. The ground option for UPS may be cheaper than the comparable transit option for FedEx. If your customers know they will get the shipment in the same amount of time for less they will most likely choose that option, so showing both could be a distraction and a point of confusion. With Rate Shopping you can take the pressure off your customers by only showing them what they want to see; the lowest prices!

Why is this important?

We have already established that your customers will have less options to choose from, but why is this important?

One of the top reasons for cart abandonment are unexpected costs at checkout. According to a study by North American Technographics, 44% of cart abandonment came from customers who found that shipping and handling costs were too high and 11% found the checkout process to be too long or confusing. So it is important to do your best to make this process as easy as possible so you can close the deal; and by showing the lowest rates every time, you can keep your customers happy and coming back.

This is especially important for B2C merchants as B2B consumers may want to see their preferred carrier at checkout even if that means they are faced with many options at checkout.  

How it works in ShipperHQ

Screen Shot 2016-07-19 at 14.23.09Taking control over the options you show to your customers at checkout is what ShipperHQ is all about. Our Rate Shopping feature takes that control to the next level by allowing you to simplify what you show at checkout. Customers on all of our supported platforms can add Rate Shopping to their list of Advanced Features in ShipperHQ.

ShipperHQ will take the shipping method you use and compare the rates so only the cheapest rate is shown with the custom name you have given to that option. This way your customers are still aware that they are using the ground or standard shipping, but aren’t faced with the task of comparing and choosing each method. Rate shopping allows your customers to experience a quick and easy checkout.