There are so many moving parts in ecommerce that some of the end systems are neglected until it becomes an issue. Some businesses treat shipping as the end of their responsibility as it is now the carrier’s job to get the order to the customer, but the best ecommerce businesses know this is a bad idea. Shipping is one of the systems that have the most moving pieces and different players, but it is also one of the most critical parts of an online business. Too many businesses leave the shipping process and experience as an afterthought without realizing how many sales an awful shipping experience can cost a business. eCommerce is still a relatively new and ever-growing industry, so everyone can improve and learn from others. As the market and customer expectations continue to evolve, one thing will remain: customers will always need a fast, secure way to get their online orders delivered to their doors. As much as ecommerce businesses might want to pass the problem onto someone else, there are things every business should be doing to ensure shipping solutions are following the best practices to make life easier for everyone involved.
Define Your Shipping Process And Make A Plan
So long as customers are receiving their orders, it can be easy to push your shipping process workflow to the back of your mind. However, the shipping plan and process you laid out may not be enough for today’s environment. The online world moves fast, and shipping plans that worked as soon as two years ago may be outdated by now. Your shipping plan and process also affect more than just your employees and your company, as the shipping carriers are part of the process. It is well worth the time investment to sit down and look at your current shipping flow to see if there are places you can improve and refine the process. Once you make a plan, ensure it is clearly communicated to everyone involved in the process. A plan is only good if everyone understands how to follow the plan, communicate the plan, and make sure the necessary details are available online so any employee or associate worker can review the procedures and goals.
Carriers are responsible for getting boxes from place to place, but they are typically not responsible for the contents and packaging inside. A carrier can take perfect care of a box, but if the items inside are bouncing around, it is unlikely the order will arrive in the best condition. Your business should care about your customers and your products, which means taking the time to package orders so that they arrive safely. Bubble and cling wrap are excellent bulk packaging materials, but they are not the most environmentally friendly. Starch-based packing peanuts are the perfect replacement for the classic styrofoam peanuts. You can also use recycled paper or any other paper to wrap items and take up empty space inside a box. A new type of packaging, EZ or insta pack, is a thermo reactive foam that quickly grows to fill empty space in a closed area. Thermo foam packaging is best for expensive and delicate items as each sheet of expanding foam is not inexpensive. Bubble bags, expanding foam, fitted foam inserts, and more may feel like overkill, but investing in high-quality packaging will save you money in the long run as inadequate protections ruin fewer orders.
Consider Shipping Insurance
Shipping involves more than two parties as the carrier service is the intermediary that gets the package to its final stop. Most carriers do their jobs, but not all deliver the packages in the correct condition. When customers complain of damaged or missing packages, it may be time to look into shipping insurance. Customers do not want to open their boxes only to see broken items, and businesses don’t want that issue either as it reflects poorly on the brand’s reputation. Even though carriers cause most of the damage, it is your company’s reputation on the line. Shipping insurance doesn’t fix the damaged goods issue, but it can help you recoup losses. Shipping insurance protects the shipper from damaged, missing, and stolen packages, so your business does not have to eat the cost to replace the items for your customer. You can take steps to pack orders more tightly and add fragile warnings on the outside of packages, but shipping insurance is your last defense when carriers fail despite your other protections.
Shipping is a vital if often pushed aside part of ecommerce. Shipping is too important to get wrong, so lay out a clear plan that all the people involved in the process understand how the workflow is supposed to work. Put time and effort into figuring out the best packaging so as few items arrive damaged as possible, but when all else fails, shipping insurance can help your business recoup losses for shipping mistakes.