While it’s true that Amazon has revolutionized shipping speeds, it’s perhaps truer that it has revolutionized customer expectations. Back in the day, snail mail was all the rage. It would take packages weeks to be delivered, which was seen as perfectly normal.
Today, such shipping speeds are practically unheard of. Amazon Prime, which offers 2-day shipping on a huge catalog of products, has permanently altered the way we shop online, essentially turning snail mail into gazelle parcelle.
Competing with a juggernaut like Amazon may lead you to wonder if you can truly compete, or even just offer a competitive edge, in an increasingly saturated market. The good news? You absolutely can. Read on for a few winning techniques you can employ in order to up your shipping game and sleigh the holiday season and beyond!
Basically, the gist of shipping is this: The closer you are to the customer, the faster the shipping time will be. This can be broken down into shipping zones, which are regions of the country used to determine shipping costs and speeds. These zones can have slightly different borders depending on the carrier you’re using, but it all works about the same.
Therefore, if you only have one warehouse but customers from all over, you might not be in the best position (pun intended). To solve this problem, we offer you a simple(ish) solution: Multiple locations. Instead of having one facility that’s only effective for a few zones, multiple facilities allow you to reduce costs and keep shipping times relatively quick for most zip codes. The juggernaut we mentioned earlier actually uses this technique with over 75 fulfillment centers strategically placed all over the U.S. of A.
Wondering how to go about this? If you don’t have the resources to spread your wings, you can always consider outsourcing to a fulfillment center that offers multiple locations. Not only will your products be more accessible, but outsourcing provides a host of other benefits like order and inventory management.
If you’ve ever ordered something online, you know that your order usually isn’t shipped out until a day or two later. Many customers have the assumption that the shipping process doesn’t begin immediately but, as a savvy business owner, you’ll soon discover that that’s not necessarily true. Savvy business owner, meet same-day picking!
Most companies nowadays can issue a 24-hour pick policy, but, depending on your operation, you might be able to offer a 3 to 4-hour buffer window (or possibly even less!)
For example, let’s say you have a pickup scheduled for 5 p.m. every day, and you know that normal business operations permit a three-hour turnaround. In this scenario, you can guarantee same-day picking until 2 p.m. every day! This not only gets orders out the door faster, but it also creates a sense of urgency for your customers, especially if they’re on a time crunch and still a little bit indecisive.
For the times you can’t guarantee same-day picking, you can still play to the customers’ assumption that the shipment won’t be picked until the next day. Savvy business owner, meet delayed notifications.
Here’s how they work: Chad places an order for a mug on Monday at 1 p.m. The store says that it will take 3 days for his package to ship from Los Angeles to New Orleans. Therefore, he is expecting the order to ship on Tuesday and get to his place on Friday.
Plot twist! Chad’s order was picked and shipped on Monday, which means he won’t get his notification until Tuesday (hence the term). Imagine Chad’s surprise when he receives his mug on Thursday instead of Friday. That’s why delayed notifications work so well — you’re raising the perceived value of the shipment by overperforming in the pick and pack process. Underpromising and overperforming is the name of the eCommerce game.
Almost everyone is familiar with FedEx’s crazy fast shipping times, but the reality is that most carriers have some form of an expedited shipping service. Of course, there’s a small caveat: It’s more expensive than standard shipping, sometimes prohibitively so. One of the quickest ways to kill your margins, for instance, is shipping heavy products overnight. We can practically hear the sound of wallets breaking with that one!
While it might not be possible to offer the fastest shipping, your eCommerce store can still offer pretty fast shipping with second-tier expedited options. FedEx has 2-day shipping. USPS has Priority Mail. DHL has a comparable express service. With these more affordable options in your toolbox, you’ll be better equipped to run, or at least jog, with the big dogs.
Remember the outsourcing thing we talked about earlier? A pretty huge plus that comes with outsourcing is negotiated shipping rates, which can help grow your business big time. Since fulfillment centers ship out an extremely high volume of orders, they can get some killer discounts from the carriers they work with, especially DHL and FedEx. Wins all around!
Hopefully, you’re now ready to ship orders at the speed of light, or at least very close to that. Like any important business decision, we recommend you take your time to thoroughly explore these options and see how they can be incorporated with your existing procedures and resources. You’ll find, however, that an effective shipping strategy is truly a game changer when it comes to retaining existing customers and drawing in new ones.
Best of luck from the ShipMonk team!