Amazon’s founder and CEO, Jeff Bezos, explained the e-commerce giant’s success hinged on "low prices, fast delivery and vast, huge selection." The company first announced free shipping for every order over $25 in 2018, setting a precedence in the industry of high shipping expectations.
As the e-commerce market has boomed in the last several years, it has become vital for SMBs to offer fantastic shipping services to stand out in the competitive marketplace. For these reasons, we should view improving a customer’s post-purchase experience as part of your company's marketing strategy.
In this article, we’ll discuss what shipping strategies can have the biggest impact on your brand image and specific marketing strategies to attract and retain more customers.
Predictable shipping costs
As you might predict, one of the best ways to improve your brand reputation is by offering free or flat rate shipping. This allows your customers to know what to expect when coming to your site or purchasing your products.
While it can be expensive to offer free shipping, one way to curb these costs is to offer free shipping for orders over a certain threshold. For example, offering free shipping for a $50 purchase or more. If your goal is to offer free shipping for all orders calculate your total shipping costs and incorporate these costs into your pricing strategy. Another great way to reduce the costs of offering discounted shipping to your customers is by optimizing your packaging. This helps because shipping carriers, like USPS, FedEx and UPS, offer flat rates for certain sizes of packages. The smaller the package, the cheaper and more predictable it is for you!
Revamping your returns policy
Between 10 and 40% of products bought online are ultimately returned or exchanged. So, it’s no wonder that an easy returns process is a vital aspect of brand management in the e-commerce marketplace.
Taking care of your customer’s post-purchase experience is a great way to improve your brand image and encourage returning customers. There are a couple of ways to improve your returns process. First, a well-communicated and transparent policy. Your policy should be clear, easy to understand, and customers should be able to read your policy before making their purchase. Second, make return shipping as easy as possible. Make sure labels can be printed at home and, if possible, offer them for free. If you’re unable to provide free return shipping labels, communicate that the cost will be deducted from their refund. Finally, make sure to reengage with the customer who returned an item. Something about your brand intrigued that customer and reconnecting will allow you to grow that relationship and encourage them to purchase again.
Utilize distribution networks
Second only to free shipping, fast shipping is crucial. Even when forking over lots of cash with the best shipping carriers it’s nearly impossible to overcome geographical distance. So, utilizing a vast distribution network can do a couple great things for you. First, you can get your products to your customers faster which improves the relationship with that customer and your brand image more broadly. Second, it can reduce costs because you will be shipping across less zones. Win-win for you, your brand, and your customers!
Marketing your shipping strategies
If you’ve made all these changes to your shipping strategy, but your customers aren’t aware of that, it frankly doesn’t make a difference! That’s why we’ll discuss a couple of marketing strategies to promote your new shipping strategies.
Did you know roughly 70% of shopping carts are abandoned during online shopping? Additionally, the #1 reason customers leave their products behind is the cost of shipping. So, upfront and obvious communication about shipping costs is vital. One of the best strategies to reduce shopping cart abandonment is website banners. Having a banner on the top of your website pages is a great way to announce promotional shipping rates, inform customers about purchase thresholds to receive free shipping, or update customers about your return policy. It’s an especially great tool because it’s likely free to update your own website, it communicates to both returning and first-time customers, and lets customers know what to expect at checkout. (looking for an in-depth conversation about the psychology behind abandoned carts and pricing strategies? Check out our podcast episode!).
Another great tool is email marketing. Emails can be one of the best ways to engage with customers. Emails are effective because they can be customized for each unique customer that you have. For example, you can reengage with a previous customer by providing information about an adjacent or supplemental product to their original purchase. Success rates for these campaigns are often higher when free shipping is offered.
Improving your shipping strategies, by offering transparent shipping prices, revamping your returns, and fully utilizing distribution networks, is a surefire way to improve your brand image and should be integrated into your marketing strategy.
A tech-based solution, like ShipCaddie TWMS, can help you improve your shipping strategies in keyways. If you would like to learn more about how the ShipCaddie platform works, request a free demo today!