Category Archives: Shipping 101

2017 Holiday Shipping Cutoff Dates

Author: Ashley Overton  |  October 30, 2017

cuttoff-dates-2017-blue-min

Let’s end another holiday season with timely shipping!

We want to ensure everyone has a jolly holiday season this year, so we have created a quick summary of holiday shipping cutoff dates for a few of the major carriers. We hope this guide helps you remain stress free this season and reminds you to keep on top of cutoff dates for all the carriers you plan to use this year.

UPS

The UPS year-end holiday schedule starts in November for Thanksgiving and ends in January. You can download the full schedule from their site to ensure easy access. And, if you are shipping internationally this holiday season, take a look at UPS’ World Holidays schedule which maps out 3 months of global holidays. There are plenty of holidays to be mindful of around the world between the months of October and December. Below you will find 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 18th US Domestic shipments only
UPS 2nd Day Air December 20th 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 20th 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 has published the last days to ship to ensure your orders are delivered by December 25th. Those needing to ship a last minute delivery will be happy to know, the FedEx SameDay delivery option will be available 24/7 for urgent deliveries (even on the 25th). FedEx also has you covered for your international shipments, you can find rates and transit time for global delivery here.

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

USPS has published holiday mail-by-dates for all their domestic and international services to help everyone avoid the holiday rush. If you have a loved one in the military, you will want to keep their Military Holiday Shipping Deadlines in reach as well. Below you will find a summary for frequently used USPS services.

Service Ship By Notes
First Class Mail December 19th US Domestic shipments only
Priority Mail December 20th US Domestic shipments only
Priority Mail Express December 22nd US Domestic shipments only

These summaries will serve as a great starting point as you plan for the holiday season, but should not be used as the only resource for your shipping management. These summaries only contain information for some of the major carriers, and you should keep up with restrictions and cutoff dates for every carrier you use. The carrier’s website will hold valuable information, but remember you can contact your carrier representative with more specific questions and concerns.

Link to full article

3 Ways to Combat Cart Abandonment by Reducing Unexpected Costs

Author: Melanie Fatouros-Richardson  |  October 12, 2017

Unexpected costs are never a happy site. Our partner, Bold Commerce, explain how unexpected costs, such as shipping, can lead to cart abandonment and share tips to help you combat the problem.


You spend hours a week on Instagram, pour all your profits back into Facebook ads, and agonize for days on making the smallest changes on your online store, all to try and get customers to your store.

But what about once they actually land on you store? With abandoned cart rates hovering around 70%, your store is literally leaving money on the table if you’re not putting time into decreasing cart abandonment.

With hundreds of long, drawn out cart abandonment articles out there, we wanted to give you a quick, no nonsense guide on 3 ways you can combat cart abandonment on your store by the end of the day.

Let’s get started.

Reduce unexpected costs

unexpected costs chart

Nothing will make a customer leave the checkout page faster than seeing a total higher than they were expecting. In fact, 60% of shoppers said that being presented with unexpected costs is the reason they leave without completing their purchase.

That’s over half your customers!

Here’s a few ways you can cut down confusion on your site and keep customers in your check out.

Shipping

A customer should never be surprised by shipping costs. Have a section on your website clearly explaining your shipping policies and display that info on your homepage. Better yet: offer free shipping.

A Deloitte study found 69% of shoppers are more likely to shop with online retailers who offer free shipping. Take a look at this article to see if you can afford to offer free shipping on your online store, and 10 commonly-used ways to offer your customer free shipping.

If you can’t afford to offer free shipping on all orders, a great way to increase sales AND reduce unexpected costs is to offer free shipping over a certain dollar amount. Think: Spend over $100 and get free shipping.

Currency Conversion

Save your customers the time and hassle of figuring out how much their order will be by displaying prices in their local currency (based on their location). I don’t know about you, but if I don’t know what the total of my items are, I almost never follow through with the purchase.

And I’m not the only one. 13% of online shoppers say they’ll abandon their cart without paying because the price is in a foreign currency.

The good news is this is an easy fix. If your online store is on Shopify, there are tons of apps you can download that will do the conversion for you. I’m slightly biased, but my favourite one is Bold’s Multi-Currency app . It lets your customers shop in any currency they like. You can use its powerful built in geo-location service to auto-select the currency, or give your customers the option to choose from a beautifully styled dropdown with flags.

multicurrency Nike image

Unexpected taxes and fees

Have you ever booked a trip online? There are two ways prices are usually displayed: a total price including taxes and fees or the price before they’re added on.

That might seem simplistic, but the twist comes with the fact that you almost never know which price you’re seeing!

FlightHub does it right by not only posting the total price, but letting us know that’s what they’ve done.

Make sure to clearly label on your site the total price your items on your product pages. It doesn’t matter if you have additional fees, it matters if you’re hiding them from your customers.

Get out there and make a change

It’s one thing to read about how to reduce your abandoned cart rates on your Shopify store, and a whole other thing to actually do something about it.

I challenge you to implement at least one of the above ideas on your store by the end of the day: don’t just think about it, or say you’ll take a look later this week, login right now and make the change. And don’t forget to let us know in the comments below when you do so we can all follow along.


About the Author

Melanie Fatouros-Richardson is a Content Marketer at Bold Commerce, where she helps store owners grow their businesses. Follow along to learn more about eCommerce and tips & tricks for selling online.

 

Link to full article

The Importance of Creating a Strong Shipping Strategy for Holiday Sales

Author: Chad Rubin  |  October 3, 2017

With the Holiday Season coming up it is important to remember the importance of creating a shipping strategy that complements your overall Holiday Sales Strategy. Our partner, Skubana, has shared valuable knowledge on Holiday sales and creating a shipping strategy.


2017 Holiday ShippingIn 2016, holiday sales made up approximately 10.6% of all retail sales for the entire year, or 21% of total sales for quarter 4. Ecommerce holiday sales (especially Christmas), are rising year over year, with an increase of 17% from 2015 to 2016 (compared to a drop of 12% for brick and mortar sales for the period), and are expected to rise another 14% for the 2017 Christmas season.

Ecommerce sellers, especially those on Amazon, understand the importance of holiday sales, simply because sellers with the right products see huge increases in order volume. Many also invest heavily in creating sales and marketing campaigns designed to boost this further, even stocking additional products to meet seasonal demand. Keeping up with these increased sales means developing a fulfilment strategy and logistics solutions to ensure that customers receive their orders, you do not sell out of product, and you are able to keep your operation running smoothly.

Another consideration is that the additional expense of marketing and sales typically reduces profit per product. Even though you still see a profit, you’re earning less per sale. By ensuring that customers are happy, you can generate a similar or higher value per sale by generating positive reviews and customer awareness, which will function as social proof to increase sales throughout the rest of the year.

Unfortunately, because of the nature of holiday sales, many stores are left overwhelmed with the increase in order volume, unable to keep up, and sometimes unable to ship products out on time.

By creating a strong strategy to ensure that your shipping, fulfilment, and customer service solutions will meet the increased demand, you can ensure that your store benefits from the holiday sales.

Calculating your Potential Sales

The first step to creating a quality fulfilment strategy is to determine how much you are likely to sell, what you need, and how you need to distribute it. Depending on the age and organization of your store, you can achieve this in a few ways.

For example, if you have strong records from 1 or more years previous, you can use this to calculate potential sales by tracking the previous year’s percentage in sales increase with your current rate of sales growth. So, if you have an average of a 15% sales increase for the holiday period for the last 3 years running, you could use that to calculate what you are likely to sell.

If you don’t have that data, are a new ecommerce store, or have introduced significantly new products, or become popular in ways that mean that previous year’s data won’t be applicable, you will have to use other data to predict possible sales.

For example, you can compare your current turnover rate or use industry benchmarks in combination with your current rate of sale on a per-product basis to predict how much your sales are likely to increase. Combined with increases you expect to see for campaigns, you can get a general idea of what to plan for.

Developing Solutions

Once you know how much you are likely to sell, you can create a framework to support that volume of sales. Your primary concerns are likely inventory (you cannot likely afford to sell-out of a seasonal product), labor (can your warehouse staff support the increased demand), and warehousing.

This means reviewing your current capabilities, determining if you can increase sales without adding on additional employees, and reviewing your space and storage solutions.

  • Determine an inventory order management system that will prevent stock-outs. You may need more inventory or you may have to order more frequently depending on your pipeline
  • Identify peak order times and integrate scalable order processing, either using automation or by bringing in additional employees to handle peaks.
  • Integrate extra quality checks for the holiday period. People who are overworked are more likely to make mistakes, and when products are gifts, returning them on time isn’t always possible.
  • Create a system that allows you to change orders from warehouse to warehouse quickly, so that you can solve stock-outs or other logistics problems.
  • Use multiple shipping providers, so that you can distribute increased deliveries among them without overwhelming any

Outsourcing to Third-party Solutions

Whether you already use a third-party solution or ship everything in-house, third-party logistics (3PL) and solutions like Fulfilment by Amazon (FBA) can be extremely helpful during the holiday season. For example, Amazon accounts for about 30% of all online sales during the holiday period, having a presence on Amazon and relevant products almost guarantees you an increase in sales. Using FBA not only boosts sales further, it takes shipping and logistics out of your hands. Amazon will deliver products themselves, typically offer free 2-day shipping, and handle returns and customer service. This can be a great way to meet sales demand while reducing the load on your own warehouses and systems.

Similarly, 3PL can enable you to reduce the burden on your warehouses while speeding up shipping and delivery. Many third-party logistics companies are international, have warehouses around the country, and can offer a variety of packaging solutions – which means faster and cheaper fulfilment.

In both cases, the only possible concerns for using either solution is increased costs (slightly in the case of 3PL), lack of control over the shipping process (but handled by professionals), and splitting your inventory. For these reasons, you should review your options and your existing relationships, as well as your potential sales to determine if either or both are an option for you.

Boosting Customer Satisfaction

Making your customers as happy as possible ensures that you derive real value from each sale. By boosting customer satisfaction, you will increase positive reviews and word of mouth across the web, which will boost your sales for the rest of the year.

For example, if you choose to adopt 3PL you can likely easily include a printed return label with every product. Customers can use it for free return shipping on products, and it won’t be charged to your account until sales are made.

You can also take steps to work with customer service so that you prioritize customer satisfaction over immediate profit. This means increasing your number of service representatives so that you can respond quickly to all inquiries, managing the quality of responses, sometimes accepting returns for no reason, offering expedited shipping free of charge and replacing items quickly when you have made a mistake, and so on.

Because many holiday shoppers are looking for gifts, they need them by Christmas (not always the case as many shoppers are just taking advantage of sales) – so taking steps to expedite any returns and replacement products to make that happen will greatly increase customer satisfaction.

Finally, it is crucial that you have a strong internal management system to ensure that your inventory management, quality control, and customer service are on track and running smoothly.

Preparing a strong fulfilment strategy for the holidays will ensure that you can meet demand, keep customers happy, and make the most of the holiday sales.


About the Author

Chad Headshot resized

Chad Rubin took his family vacuum business online and built his own direct to consumer ecommerce business called Crucial Vacuum. He grew it from 0 to a $20 million dollar valuation in just 7 years. He happens to be a top 250 Amazon seller. He co-founded Skubana with DJ Kunovac and built one of ecommerce’s hottest operational softwares.

 

Link to full article

International Freight 101: Navigating the Waters

Author: John Edmonds  |  August 8, 2017

Shipping internationally via freight can get a little tricky, so we’ve invited our partner, Freightos, to share steps and tips on the end to end process of International Freight.


If importing had a Facebook relationship status, it would be “It’s complicated.” But that doesn’t mean importing should be off the table.

Nutmeg is the proof. Seriously.

In the 15th century, you could buy 125 pounds of nutmeg in the Indian Ocean’s Banda Islands for the equivalent of $3,000 dollars today. Back in Paris, it would sell for $2.1 million dollars (markup, baby!). International trade is all about supply, demand, sourcing costs and transportation. So when a seller can source cheaper overseas, why not?

And here’s the good news. Importing has gotten easier since the 15th century. Here’s the basics, brought to you by Freightos.

Avoid Product And Packaging Shipwrecks

iStock-585514502_1200x800Not everything is import-perfect. Sourcing overseas literally opens a world of opportunity but don’t forget to do your due diligence for each product:.

  • Make sure that Customs, the FDA and other agencies haven’t imposed restrictions on the product. Even products like cosmetics, wood or aluminum can be a problem. Check out the product on an HS lookup table (basically a standardized global product lookup table) or with a simple Google search.
  • Make sure that your products aren’t subject to hefty anti-dumping duties (colored pencils are!) or defined as hazardous for air or ocean shipping.
  • Intellectual property, copyright and trademark all impact importing matters. If the product is a big brand product (or uncannily similar to one), read up on it first.

Packaging is tricky – too little and your product arrives in pieces, too much and you literally pay the price, as overzealous packaging makes freight costs skyrocket. This is particularly true when shipping by air, where size and weight matters far more than ocean freight. Here’s some more hints:

  • Get your supplier to use the smallest possible boxes and make sure they fit well on pallets. 
  • If you have a say on product packaging, get creative product packaging ideas that look great but are the right size to minimise costs.
  • Try to only palletize goods after US customs clearance. Why pay to ship pallets around the world?
  • Double-box fragile products to add extra cushioning. Use bubble wrap in the first box, unless you are sure that your warehouse permits styrofoam peanuts. Head’s up – Amazon doesn’t!
  • Clearly mark carton count, gross weight, net weight, country of origin and tracking labels on every box and carton.

The Sales Agreement: Your Voyage Starts Here

Factor in freight costs from Day One of working with your supplier. International freight relies on eleven incoterms, categories that define freight responsibilities for your and your supplier. Like the tax law, they’re important, complicated and boring. So, either read the regulations, follow this concise summary for beginner importers…or go safe and opt for FOB or EXW.

What do they mean? Free On Board (FOB) is when the supplier pays all costs to get the shipment loaded at port, including customs on their end, while you arrange everything else, including international transit.Ex Works (EXW) means you’re arranging, paying and are liable for the entire shipment from their warehouse. Depending on the supplier’s negotiated rates, this could vary so check out  this freight rate calculator when deciding.

Let A Forwarder Be Your Navigator

As appealing as it may seem, never try to import alone – ship happens. A (good) freight forwarder that can arrange and troubleshoot international shipments is what you need. But finding the right one can be hard…and Yelp won’t help. Typically, it’s come down to a combo of relying on word of mouth and luck but new solutions, like Freightos online freight marketplace,help find the right forwarder for each individual shipment.

When you do find a forwarder, make sure you:

  1. Have your supplier copies of the packing list and commercial invoice – you’ll need them.
  2. Decide if you’re shipping by air or ocean. Air freight is quicker, and not necessarily more expensive for a smaller shipment.
  3. Sending to a fulfillment center requires can require inspect and prepping – make sure you know if you need your forwarder to help with that.
  4. Get cargo insurance –  it’s an absolute must, as default carrier insurance is pitfully low.
  5. Calculate your total weight and total volume (this should be on the packing list).
  6. Write down the precise product description from the commercial invoice or ask your supplier for the HS code.
  7. Find your US company tax ID, which you’ll need for customs records.

Navigation From End To End

There’s roughly one trillion international freight documents which you’ll discover along the way but you’ll probably encounter the Bill of Lading (or airway bill of lading), commercial invoice and freight quote first (you can see a list of key documents here). More importantly, get ready to triple check the data on the forms you provide to your forwarder – even tiny discrepancies can lead to costly delays.

Here’s a simplified process of what your forwarder will be arranging:

  • Trucking to pick up and deliver your shipment to a consolidation center.
  • Load consolidation (if you’re shipping less than a container load, your shipment will get put in a container with other shipments)
  • Trucking to port.
  • Customs clearance.
  • Loading by port authority.
  • International transit (ship or air) …
  • the same steps in reverse in America.

Speaking of customs, you’ll need a customs bond to import. Ask your forwarder whether you should get Continuous bond or Single Entry Bond (plus ISF bond for LCL ocean freight) – this will depend on how often you’ll be importing.  Also, if you are planning on importing regularly, set up your own Customs account. It’s quicker and easier in the long run.

The Bottom Line

Just to make sure you were paying attention, here’s the things to watch out for on a typical shipment:

  1. Check import, carrier and IP restrictions when selecting a product.
  2. Check out packaging restrictions (and opportunities) too.
  3. Think incoterms when negotiating your sales agreement.
  4. Gather information before requesting quotes.
  5. Once you have a forwarder, get them to take you through the shipment process.
  6. Double-check all documentation.
  7. Make your shipment hassle-free for Customs, so that Customs is hassle free for you.
  8. Leave delivery to your international forwarder.

And, of course, check out the Freightos Marketplace, which makes the process much easier, with a one-stop shop for comparing instant quotes from 30+ forwarders, online booking, shipment management and 24/7 support…hold the nutmeg.


About the Author

John Edmonds is a logistics expert who loves writing about freight (who doesn’t) at Freightos. When he’s not, he enjoys Miso soup, cats and cricket (the game, not the insect).

Link to full article

The Importance of Packaging in The Ecommerce Experience

Author: Phoebe Haig  |  June 13, 2017

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.

 download (3).jpeg

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.”

 CrisIzuWEAAJKTl-630x427.jpg

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.

Link to full article

5 Tips to Get More Accurate Shipping

Author: Ashley Overton  |  June 2, 2017

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 If you are just getting started and want to understand more about how dropshipping works, you should checkout this guide on dropshipping.

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.

Link to full article

How to Boost Your Conversions with a Customer Friendly Shipping Process

Author: David Wain-Heapy  |  April 4, 2017

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

Link to full article

2016 Holiday Shipping Cutoff Dates

Author: Ashley Overton  |  November 1, 2016

screen-shot-2016-11-01-at-10-53-44

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.

 

Link to full article

International Express Shipping Strategy for The Holiday Season

Author: Pompey Mansilla  |  September 26, 2016

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.

Link to full article

Simplifying your Checkout with Rate Shopping

Author: Ashley Overton  |  July 19, 2016

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.

 

Link to full article