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The Best Shipping Methods for Online Businesses

Which are the best choices when it comes to shipping your product to your customers?  Do you plan to drop by the post office every time you get an order?  Can you really stock everything you sell in your garage, basement or storage space?  Which services should you use, and how quickly should you mail things?

All these questions, and more, trouble the online entrepreneur who must ship product to people located around the country or even the world.  Here is some basic information to make your shipping troubles smaller.

State Your Policy

Nothing you do will be more important than actually setting aside an area on your page where you state your policies clearly and directly.  When customers know what to expect they are less likely to be upset when you follow through.  Just as importantly, keep in mind that your shipping policy should be the “worst case scenario” not the standard by which you operate.

What that means is if you promise to ship within 48 hours of getting an order, try to ship out on the same day.  Speedy shipping is impressive, slow shipping will cause you to lose business.

Make it Visual

If you plan to offer several shipping options, make them clear and use a visual method to show what you charge for each choice.  Provide a chart that gives the customer an estimated arrival date, price and shipping method.  Both UPS and Fedex offer tools that will help you to establish delivery time.  Anticipate delays caused by weekends and holidays.  Remember, getting your package there early is good, but late is unacceptable.

Provide the Customer with Information

Few things are as irritating to a customer as not knowing what is going on with their purchase.  Let them hear from you several times in the process.  Contact them when you receive an order, when it is delivered or picked up for shipping and when you are informed that it arrived.  A final email a week or two later to make sure the item arrived safely and is what they wanted will help head off any customer service problems, and establish you as a concerned vendor.

Think Carefully about Free Shipping

Free shipping is the golden fleece of online marketing.  Customers will pay higher prices for something to get their items shipped for free.  The problem is that if you offer free shipping as a special during a promotion, customers will be reluctant to pay for it later.  If you are going to offer free shipping, do it based upon a price point, once customers order enough merchandise it is worth eating the cost of shipping to keep their loyalty.

Hopefully these tips will help you run the shipping part of your online empire smoothly.

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