Who wants to wait days, or even weeks, for their online order to arrive? Or worse, who wants their order to arrive in poor condition? Certainly not your customers. Your business’ shipping strategy is crucial for both you and your customer, and working to improve it even more so. No matter how great their buying experience may have been, inadequate shipping resources creates an overall poor experience for your customer.
In this post, we’re detailing some of the best ways you can work towards streamlining your shipping strategy, all to ensure that your customers receive the very best experience when interacting with your business.
1. Choose the right courier service.
The most crucial thing to look at when it comes to streamlining your shipping processes is the courier services you choose to partner with to fulfil your physical deliveries. As an online retailer, your chosen courier service reflects just as much on your business as it does theirs. As well, do keep in mind that, if you are shipping internationally, different couriers will offer different services for domestic and international shipments, so you should ensure you are getting the best value for your money in terms of both. Generally speaking, however, there are several things you need to consider, such as the delivery service type, the security, the delivery speed, the reliability, and of course, the cost.
Ask yourself questions such as, how reliable is your chosen courier service? How secure is your chosen courier service? How fast can your courier service ensure delivery to your customer? Use a courier comparison service to get a clear idea of the most efficient services available and suitable for your requirements.
2. Use the right packaging materials.
If there is one thing that can quickly sour a customer’s experience with your business, it’s a shipment arriving on their doorstep in poor condition. Insufficient packaging is the primary cause of damage to shipments during transit, for this reason, taking the time to look at the types of packaging that you use could go a long way in improving your business’ shipping strategy. It could mean preventing the substantial costs involved in damaged goods and customer returns, not to mention the bad reputation that comes hand in hand with it.
Not only are corrugated, double-walled cardboard boxes affordable to purchase when bought in bulk, they are a good choice for shipping the majority of items. They are even sturdy enough to provide a good level of protection for items that are fragile in any way. If you are shipping out fragile items, it’s also worthwhile investing in internal packaging materials to provide impact protection to your items. Paper materials should be used with caution, as they can easily collapse under pressure. Bubble wrap is an ideal choice for this.
3. Thoroughly research international shipping regulations.
If your online business offers worldwide shipping, it is imperative that you clue up on international shipping regulations. If for any reason you aren’t already aware, many routes across the world are controlled by customs, and due to it being a legal requirement, it can’t be avoided. All shipments coming in from or being delivered outside of the European Union must undergo rigorous customs checks to control the import and export of certain goods. Each country’s regulations surrounding customs varies, with different regulations that must be adhered to, therefore, ensuring your customers’ shipments clear customs in a timely manner without any problems can be complex if you are not adequately prepared.
4. Keep your customers informed and manage expectations.
Managing your customer expectations is the best way to build their trust. Avoid making promises you cannot keep. There’s no point offering guaranteed next day deliveries if your courier partner can’t realistically fulfil this. You’ll quickly find that the majority of customers don’t mind waiting, as long as they understand why, but they do expect you to be transparent. Often, unreasonable customer requests stem from not knowing what to expect.
With that in mind, keeping your customer in the dark about the whereabouts of their order is never going to make for a positive interaction with your business. Thus, keeping your customer informed is the best way to improve on this. Partner with courier services that offer online tracking, so that your customer can monitor the status of their shipment each step of the way, as well as be notified when their shipment is due to arrive. You could go the extra mile to provide delivery status updates via SMS, that way, they can go about their daily lives.
5. Offer support to your customers.
Deliveries can be frustrating, even at the best of times. The reality is that, no matter how much you work to improve your business’ shipping strategy, errors and unforeseen issues and incidents can always arise. The best way that you can combat this is by offering support to your customers. Make it easy for them to contact you should they require any assistance, and be sure to keep an open line of communication between your business and your courier partner so that you can work together to smooth out any issues from the moment they arise.
Stuart Cooke is the blog Editor at Irish Parcels. Courier and delivery experts based in Dublin.