The Ultimate Guide On How To Ship Products To Customers
It’s estimated that 25% of the global population will buy something online before 2019 is over. The eCommerce industry is huge — and for good reason.
After all, who doesn’t love the idea of buying things in their PJs without ever having to leave home?
As a business owner, shipping and fulfillment are an important part of operations. How much are you going to charge? How are you going to ship products, and who’s going to do the legwork?
If you don’t know, don’t panic. You’re in the right place.
Keep reading to learn how to ship products to customers without breaking a sweat. Or your budget. Or your back.
The future and profitability of your business depend on it.
Shipping Rates: How Much Should You Charge?
Knowing how much to charge for shipping can be a tricky task. Massive powerhouses, like Amazon, have turned free shipping into a consumer expectation. In fact, 75% of shoppers say they expect it.
While you have several options, it’s important to remember your profit margins. In reality, shipping isn’t free. So, if you offer free shipping, your profit margin will shrink unless you raise your prices.
- Free Shipping: You can either pay (from your profit margins) to ship, or absorb the shipping cost into your pricing structure.
- Free Shipping Over a Specified Dollar Amount: This is a common way to increase the average money spent per transaction. But, you’ll have to pay or include shipping fees in your product pricing.
- Flat Rate: Flat-rate shipping means the fee charged to your customer is always the same. It can be difficult to find the right balance, but it’s less complicated.
- Real-Time Rates: These are calculated by weight, package size, and delivery speed. This allows your customers to pay for what they want without you having to cover any of the costs.
Comparing Shipment Methods: What to Look For
The shipment method you choose depends on who your customer is. Your customer may be a store or boutique, in which case you’ll be shipping large quantities (considered freight).
Or, you may be shipping single products directly to residential locations (considered parcels).
Regardless, choose a shipment method based on the following.
- Business reliability: Are they a big name? Do you trust them to take care of your packages and deliver them without issues?
- Cost: This usually depends on package weight and dimensions. Each carrier will have their own pricing structures. So, make sure to compare apples to apples between companies.
- Availability: Some carriers require a certain volume or only deliver to specific areas of the world.
- Timeliness: How long is the order going to take once it’s in their hands? Different shipping methods will have different turnaround times.
Choosing a Shipping Method that Works for You
Shipping single, lightweight products directly to consumers can be done via any mail carrier service.
Which one you choose depends on your needs and where you’re shipping to.
Some popular options include the USPS, UPS, FedEx, and The Canada Post. They each allow you to set up a business account and pay shipping fees from home. Print out your label, drop it in the mail, and your package is on its way.
Freight shipments work in a similar manner. But, it may be cheaper to go through different carriers. If your entire shipment weighs less than 15,000 pounds and requires less than 24 feet of space, LTL (less-than-truckload) shipping is your friend.
Contact this company to get an instant — and free — LTL quote today.
Fulfillment Options: Who’s Going to Package and Ship Your Orders?
Order fulfillment is the method you choose for holding inventory, packaging, and shipping out orders. Your fulfillment method depends on the nature of your products and the size of your business.
Drop-shipping is a hands-off fulfillment method. You’re not required to buy any inventory. And the supplier manufactures and ships your products for you.
There’s a reason 33% of online stores use a drop-shipping model. But, there are a few drawbacks to consider.
Timeliness: It may take longer for suppliers if they don’t have your specific products on hand.
Lack of Control:You don’t get to preview or package your products. So, how they look when they land on your customer’s porch is out of your hands.
Money: While drop-shipping is convenient, you have to pay extra for it.
Outsourcing is a good way to automate the fulfillment and shipping processes. The difference between drop-shipping and a fulfillment warehouse is that you buy the inventory.
You will store your inventory at their warehouse. Once an order is placed, the company will prepare it and ship it for you.
Here are some of the benefits of using a fulfillment service.
Reduced shipping rates: Warehouses tend to ship large quantities and partner with many major carriers.
Reduced shipping times: You may be able to choose warehouses close to your customers. Additionally, they don’t have to wait for you to personally package and ship their orders.
Scalability: You have the ability to scale as large as you’d like, without having to hire someone to help with order fulfillment.
Like drop-shipping, you’ll have less control over the user experience. You’ll also spend more money for the convenience of not having to fulfill orders in-house.
Many small businesses and new business owners choose to fulfill orders themselves. It’s easy and cost-effective for small quantities. If you customize your products or prefer to have complete control over your branding, in-house fulfillment is the best option.
How to Ship Products to Customers: The Bottom Line
Knowing how to ship products to customers is only half the battle. But, your shipping strategy plays a large role in the profitability of your business.
Picking the right shipping method can be summed up in three easy steps.
- Decide how much you’re going to charge for shipping
- Research shipping methods and decide which is right (freight vs. parcel)
- Choose a fulfillment method based on your needs
The most successful businesses automate their shipping strategy. This creates a seamless user experience and saves time.
Looking for more ways to improve your business? Check out the “Guides” section of our blog to help you become a more organized and efficient business owner.
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