Ship Like a Boss: The Ultimate Guide to Understanding Ecommerce Shipping Solutions

When you run an eCommerce business, keeping your customers happy is critical to your success. While there are a lot of things to think about, shipping belongs at the top of your list.

Not convinced? In a recent survey, a shocking 77 percent of people said they have abandoned their shopping carts due to unsatisfactory shipping options. Offering free shipping can also greatly increase the number of people who place orders and the amount of money they spend.

This makes choosing the right eCommerce shipping solutions a critical part of your business success.

The 6 Most Common Ecommerce Shipping Solutions

To choose the best shipping solutions for your business, you’ll want to start by understanding your options. Here are six of the most common solutions.

1. Overnight Shipping

Thanks, in part, to recent moves by Amazon Prime and other major retailers, overnight shipping is now the preferred method among online shoppers.

It used to be that 2-day shipping was the norm and offering an overnight option was a way to stand out. However, the trends point to a shift. Soon, retailers who don’t offer overnight shipping will find that they’ve been left in the dust.

2. Same-Day Delivery

Some retailers (cough… Amazon) are taking things to the next level by offering same-day delivery. This shipping option requires some serious efforts on the part of the seller. It requires top-notch technology, coordinated operations, and a reliable courier service

However, in most cases, it’s definitely worth it. In fact, 61 percent of consumers are willing to pay more for same-day delivery. Further, 56 percent of shoppers between the ages of 18 and 34 expect this option when shopping online. 

3. 2-Day Shipping

When Amazon Prime first started, 2-day shipping was the “holy grail.” However, it was also relegated mostly to eCommerce behemoths who could handle the logistics behind it.

Now it has become the standard for online shoppers. Any online retailer who wants to remain competitive should figure out how to offer a 2-day shipping option within the next couple of years, if not sooner.

4. Expedited Shipping

The term “expedited shipping” refers to any shipping method that is faster than standard ground shipping. While this doesn’t guarantee the delivery will occur within a specified number of days, it still appeals to shoppers.

Retailers who offer expedited shipping find that it helps to meet customer expectations, reduce cart abandonment, and build customer loyalty.

5. International Shipping

Opening up your business to international customers can be an excellent way to grow your customer base. However, international shipping often poses a challenge, especially to smaller retail businesses.

Not only do you have to handle your own logistics, but you’ll also have to deal with the other country’s regulations, taxes, and tariffs. If you choose to explore international markets, you’ll need a great shipping partner who can help you navigate these issues while still offering affordable services.

6. Freight Delivery

Finally, freight delivery involves the transfer of goods across the globe by air, land, or sea. Generally, if you’re going to ship items that weigh more than 150 pounds or are larger than 30 x 30 x 30 inches, you’ll need a freight shipping provider.

Ecommerce Shipping Options: How to Get Your Pricing Right  

Now that you understand your shipping options, you’ll also need to learn how to price your shipping right. Set your rates too low and you’ll end up losing money, set them too high, and your customers will close their browsers and walk away.

Some of the factors that go into calculating the cost of shipping an item include:

  • Package dimensions
  • Package weight
  • Value of the contents
  • Shipping destination
  • Shipping speed
  • Carrier used

The three most popular ways to price shipping are flat rate, actual carrier rate, and free shipping. Here’s a deeper look into each.

Flat Rate Shipping

Retailers who choose flat-rate shipping charge the same rate for all orders that fall within a certain category. The categories are often divided by the weight of the items, their value, or some other determination.

This is often calculated as a blended average cost across the category, which means that some buyers will pay a bit more than the actual cost to ship their product while others will pay a bit less. The simplicity of this method is one of the major benefits.

Actual Carrier Rate

Another option is to pull the actual carrier rates into your website so you can charge the buyer the true cost for the shipping option they choose. This has the benefit of ensuring that the buyer covers the entire cost of shipping. It also allows the buyer to choose from different shipping options based on what it will cost them.

Free Shipping

Another recent study showed that 88 percent of shoppers are more likely to shop at a site if they know they can get free shipping. While it used to be a nice touch, offering a free shipping option is now expected of most retailers.

While completely free shipping is the holy grail for shoppers, it might not be feasible for your business. Don’t make the mistake of doing this if it will put you at a detriment. Instead, explore some of these other options.

Free Shipping with a Minimum

This is important if you’re selling low-value items. Offering free shipping on a $3 order doesn’t make much sense. Most companies choose thresholds like $25, $30, $50, or $75. The right minimum will depend, in part, on the value of the items you’re selling.

Free Shipping on Certain Items

This is a great way to offer free shipping without cutting too deep into your bottom line. Consider offering it on expensive items, things that are going out of season, or items that aren’t selling well.

Free Shipping to Loyal Customers

It can cost up to five times as much to acquire a new customer as it does to keep a current one. So, it makes sense to reward customer loyalty. One of the best ways to do this is to create a rewards program and offer free shipping once shoppers reach a certain threshold.

Let Us Help You Explore Your Shipping Options

Choosing the best eCommerce shipping solutions can feel like a real challenge. We can help! Contact us today to discuss your goals and get started.

Just E-Commerce Things: Everything You Need to Know About 3PL Companies

Have you checked out that 3PL provider? Or what about this 3PL warehouse?

If you’re drowning in e-commerce terminology for third-party logistics companies, no worries. You’re not the only one.

Whether you’re operating in a small business or a mammoth of a corporation, 3PL services can really smooth down a lot of rough business edges.

But knowing that the 3PL market is projected to grow on a global scale by 7.1% from 2018 to 2025, you can’t stay in the shipping dark ages anymore.

So keep on reading for the ultimate guide about everything 3PL.

What Is a 3PL Exactly?

Basically, a 3PL is a third-party logistics provider that offers a variety of outsources logistics services.

These services span a wide spectrum of categories, from the management of procurement to fulfillment processes.

Overall, it’s a catch-all term for services that involve —in one way or another — the storing and shipping of items.

3PL providers come in all shapes and sizes as well, starting from warehousing services to refrigerated shipping services.

3PL vs. 4PL: Which Is Which?

You might have stumbled upon 4PL whilst looking for 3PL providers, so here’s how they differ.

For example, you’re in the shirt-making business and you are using the services of a 3PL provider to take care of your shirt storage in a fulfillment center.  

Your 3PL provider goes ahead and outsources their process of putting your shirts in specialized boxes before getting to their fulfillment center. This makes them into a 4PL provider.

Another case would be when the 3PL provider becomes your company’s only point of contact throughout the supply chain process. Once put in charge of multiple 3PL activities, it is a 4PL or a lead logistics provider (LLP).  

Benefits of 3PL

Now that you know what is what in the logistics world, here’s how a 3PL can take your business to the next level.

By virtue of handling a variety of logistics functions; like distribution, warehousing, packaging, you get the opportunity to tremendously cut your costs of operations.

In addition, 3PL providers will be able to do these services way better than if you decide to do them in-house. They can make use of the economies of scale and the simple fact that it’s their core business. 

3PL Services: What Can They Do for My Business?

Instead of waxing poetic about the benefits that 3PL providers can bring to your business, let’s take a deep dive into the services they offer and you can judge for yourself.

1. Procurement: The Lost Art of Streamlining Sourcing and Manufacturing

In a nutshell, procurement is the process of getting the finalized product that you sell. 

It applies to products that people make in their garages to full-blown manufactured products.

All of the steps taken in this process falls under the procurement umbrella.

To save time and money, 3PL companies come in to streamline the process through a variety of services.

Examples of 3PL services are raw materials sourcing, scouting for the perfect factory for your business. As well as, setting up a schedule for your manufacturing, as well as product development.

2. Transportation Galore

This section is were 3PL providers tend to shine.

Whether you limit your product transportation domestically, or you ship internationally, 3PL services can take care of the whole operation.

From selecting the perfect carriers to taking care of the paperwork, all in a time-controlled manner with the lowest costs possible.

Usually, the distribution services available are divided into the following categories:

  • Import/Export: If you’re in the business of international buying and selling, freight brokers — air freight or otherwise — can cut through the noise and paperwork, then offer you the best deals available.
  • Overseas Shipping: Not only can 3PLs help with securing the lowest of freight rates, but they can also manage the ship and air schedules with an iron fist.
  • Domestic Shipping: 3PLs acting as freight brokers can also secure the cheapest US rail and truck freight deals, as well as keeping a close eye on the most time-efficient pickup times.

3. Fulfillment: The E-Commerce Edition

E-commerce companies have special needs that are tailored to the fast-paced e-market, so the 3PL industry is all caught up to speed via their fulfillment services.

With many startups and small businesses experiencing growth, 3PL providers have developed a quick response in their fulfillment scales.

Nowadays, they usually provide these services at a lower cost than operating an independent warehouse.

These 3PL fulfillment services come in different shapes and sizes. It usually depends on whether your business is a B2B or a B2C, however, they all tend to offer these services:

  • Order Processing and Packaging: Two-in-one deal where the 3PL handle customer orders online, package it accordingly, and perform quality control on both the processing details and packaging.
  • Warehousing and Inventory: Full-fledged inventory management which includes receiving, storing, and tracking capabilities. In addition, it also offers specialized processes for high-value items or climate-sensitive products.
  • Returns Management: Nothing can clog up your business pipelines like managing returns. But with 3PL services in returns management, you have options like having the returns sent to your 3PL for handling and restocking.
  • Stock Forecasting: Some 3PL providers offer stock level forecasting services. This can be essential to meeting order demand on time.

4. Growth Services: For Your Sales and Customer Reach

There are a few 3PL providers who offer front-end sales services. These can help you with increasing your client base as well as your marketing efforts.

In addition, there are some services specifically designed for e-commerce businesses. They are composed of strategies set for tackling online markets.

From brand development, online store management, to social media multichannel management, you can delegate all of these functions to professionals.

Use the saved time and money to focus on your business core, especially if you’re a startup or a small business owner.

However, make sure to choose the right 3PL provider. The right one can tap into intelligent procurement. This will transform the supply chain logistics into a well-oiled supply-to-sale logistics machine.

Ready to Take Your Business Logistics to the Next Level?

Now you know all about 3PL providers and what third party logistics entail. So, you can pick and choose thorough a variety of providers for the services that your business needs.

So how about you start checking the services available for you?

And if you have any questions, contact us and we’ll put you —and your business— on the right track!