Shipping and delivering purchases to shoppers is one of the biggest factors that contribute to overall customer satisfaction. And no time of the year is shipping and delivery more important than during the hectic holiday season. Implementing a strategic shipping and delivery policy for your small business is crucial for leaving your customers satisfied and engendering good will for your company.
While these might seem like minor aspects in the larger shopping experience, 93 percent of respondents to the 2015 Pitney Bowles Holiday Shipping Survey said that shipping options were an important factor. With shoppers placing so much weight on this aspect of the transaction with your company, you need to have a plan in place to meet and exceed customers’ expectations.
Consider these four shipping and delivery tips to optimize customers’ experience during the holiday shopping season:
1. Offer free shipping
Not charging customers for shipping their purchases can be a hard sell for some business owners. This leads to greater overhead and cuts into the profit margin for each item sold.
However, surveys show that customers are much more likely to make a purchase if your company offers free shipping. According to a recent Ask Your Target Market survey, respondents were 84 percent more likely to buy from brands that offered free shipping. Further, 75 percent of respondents said free shipping promotions were a better incentive for shopping than other types of special offers or discounts.
You don’t necessarily have to offer free shipping for every-sized purchase. In fact, you can dangle the option of free shipping once customers reach a certain minimum dollar amount in their shopping cart. The Pitney Bowles survey showed that shoppers were 60 percent likely to buy more items to reach the threshold necessary for free shipping.
2. Use multiple carriers
There’s no reason to stick exclusively to one shipping company. Using a single carrier exposes your company to the possibility of delivery delays if there’s a problem with the particular company you’re using.
Each carrier provides its own unique advantages, whether it’s a discount at a certain volume or a flat rate once a specific weight is reached. Consider developing a strategy that incorporates the best prices and shipping options from a range of carriers. You may find that smaller packages are less expensive to deliver through one shipping company, while larger boxes are cheaper with a different carrier.
3. Let customers track the delivery status
Not knowing how long it will take for their items to ship can be one of the most infuriating aspects for customers during their shopping experience. Thankfully there are ways to incorporate delivery tracking features in emails that immediately get sent to the customer. This method alleviates the need for customers to go to the carrier’s website and punch in their tracking number to check on the status. Instead, sending a tracking email directly to customers’ inboxes ensures they have easy and direct access to this information any time they need to check it.
4. Utilize online shipping software
Keeping track of customers’ addresses, purchases and financial information as well as details and accounts with a variety of carriers can be a complex nightmare if there isn’t a dedicated system in place to manage all of this data. While shipping software used to be limited to the world of major corporations, small businesses can now take advantage of less expensive cloud-based shipping software solutions.
Although digital shipping platforms do require an initial investment to implement, using a merchant cash advance from an alternative lender can provide your small business with the working capital necessary to adopt this software and truly optimize your holiday shipping and delivery experience for your customers.