Free shipping — those two words can make customers instantly interested in buying from an online shop. However, it’s impossible to grant free shipping at all times. For orders below $50, for example, taking out the shipping fee will generate a significant loss in the business. To encourage a purchase, online stores normally set a minimum worth of orders that’ll qualify for free shipping. This strategy is tried and tested. Nevertheless, customers will always look for an opportunity to dodge the shipping fee without reaching the minimum worth of orders.
This poses a challenge for small businesses, many of which are still struggling to make sales. If they can’t streamline their shipping, they may find themselves dealing with complaints shortly after opening the business. We can’t fault those disgruntled customers, either. If the shipping fee is greater than the order amount, anyone will complain. Who would buy from a store that forces them to spend more to justify the high shipping fees?
That said, below are the common shipping problems small businesses face and how to solve them:
- Refining Shipping Strategies
Often, a small business would start by selling on eBay or social media. On eBay, they can benefit from the website’s shipping partners, so they don’t have to charge steep shipping fees. On social media, this isn’t the case. The business owner would have to handle the shipping on their own. They’d take the orders. Then, they book a courier to pick up and deliver those orders. This results in costly shipping fees because the courier gives the business the same rate they charge to individuals. For example, if ABC courier charges $20 for a medium parcel, then the business will charge an extra $20 to the customer. If the customer’s order is just $25, they’d almost spend double just to receive their order.
To avoid this problem, small businesses should enlist a shipping partner with a reliable courier service. This will allow them to control their shipping fees and streamline their delivery processes. However, as small businesses choose the right shipping partner, they must consider the following:
- Dropshipping — This is the process in which retailers send customer orders from their supplier, who would ship the products from their warehouse. The products would never go through the retailer’s facility. It’s shipped straight from the manufacturer. This can be an attractive option to small businesses that want to increase their shipping volume without creating space for more stocks.
- Networking — To find good shipping partners, small businesses must network with different couriers. They can start by looking for well-known couriers around their area.
- Packaging — Some couriers charge depending on the parcel’s size and weight. This can limit your options when it comes to packaging.
- Shipping technologies — To ensure that orders are arriving on time and without damage, small businesses can use advanced tracking technologies. This will also help them verify a customer’s claim, such as complaints on damaged parcels.
- Cost — Many customers are willing to pay a reasonable shipping fee. So don’t limit your options to couriers that can allow you to reduce shipping fees but will deliver the products at a slow pace.
- Too Many Products to Ship
Some small businesses just take and take orders without considering its effect on their inventory. This can result in shipping delays because there are just too many to ship.
To prevent this scenario, some businesses set “cut-offs.” It’s basically a date range through which they accept orders. Businesses arrange these cut-offs in “batches.” For example, for the first batch of orders, they can set a cut-off of one week with specified dates. This lets them organize their orders and arrange shipping dates without being overwhelmed.
- Hard to Access Locations
Some customers who live in remote areas may find their orders delayed. That’s because even couriers can find it challenging to locate secluded towns. Some of the most remote areas in the United States include:
- Crested Butte, Colorado
- Marfa, Texas
- Eureka, Nevada
- Jordan Valley, Oregon
- Jarbridge, Nevada
Serving those areas can force businesses to charge a higher shipping fee to customers living there. The only way for businesses to keep the costs low is to negotiate with their shipping partner. They must build a good working relationship with them so that the business’ requests can be considered.
- International Shipping
Without a doubt, serving international customers can give small businesses a boost. However, some of them do this impulsively. They don’t consider the possibility of couriers demanding tariffs and taxes to customers. Hence, before allowing orders from international customers, businesses must ensure that their offerings aren’t subject to high taxes in another country.
Once small businesses get the hang of shipping strategies, they won’t face any of these challenges again—or reduce them, at least. In no time, they can decrease their rates even more or offer free shipping for a smaller minimum worth of orders.