eCommerce Shipping - The top 5 tips for any beginner
Having been in the industry now for over 3 years and growing up with the eCommerce revolution, I want to dispel some myths, give some advice and some general information about the considerations you should make when shipping eCommerce products. Here are 5 tips for eCommerce shipping.
Packaging, Packaging, Packaging!!!
Packaging is important for two reasons when focusing on your eCommerce shipping strategy. Firstly, you need to make sure your product is well packaged so that it won’t get damaged in transit, i.e. leak or bend. The second point to consider is how big the packaging is as depending on how or where you send it you could end up paying for fresh air to be shipped.
Most UK Couriers will allow you to send 20/30kg in one box but this is not just weight related, it is also box size related. If you have an item that weighs 5kg and your box is 120cm x 80cm x 40cm then your dimensional weight is around 85kg. the calculation is LxWxH in cm divided by 4500, in this example gives an answer of 85 meaning you will be charged for 85kg of weight. This is an extreme example and different carriers have different numbers to divide by, i.e. 5000 or 6000.
When it comes to international eCommerce shipping it’s a bit different depending on if you use Express (i.e. DHL. Fedex, UPS etc) or economy (i.e. Hermes, Landmark, Asendia) as one is a courier service and will have the same dimensional weight restriction as above and others will be tracked postal which have a max size box of 64cm x 46 x 46cm, with the weight being the only factor, and if you are sending large letter (flats) you will be restricted to 35.3cm x 25cm x 2.5cm. One golden rule is polybags expand in transit. What might have left you as a Large Letter will cost you as a packet if it expands.
My advice is pack it well, but pack it tight and you will be fine.
Tracked or Untracked
In my opinion this comes down to the cost price of your goods, if your item has a 90% margin on it and costs you very little you are probably shipping high volumes and untracked would be perfect but be prepared for two things. Firstly, you will lose goods now and then and instead of wasting time ringing your courier partner or the post office just send another one. Secondly its untracked so once its left if it doesn’t get there then there is nothing that can be done about it.
If your items are a bit more expensive then you will want to consider tracked and maybe signed for. The industry has undertaken a huge change in the past 12 months where carriers really don’t want to go back to a property twice, so they will leave safe if you allow them. If you don’t want this then you will need to go with a carrier that gets a signature or pay the extra for the signature.
When sending abroad the same rules apply however you need to factor in that postal services abroad may not be efficient as the Royal Mail. It is common in the UK for us to bash the Royal Mail, but they are world leaders. NEVER send anything untracked to Italy for example as you will likely never see it again. In my company we have access to incredibly low priced tracked and insured postal service all over the world that we leverage due to huge spending power to pass on to smaller e-tailers.
Express or Economy shipping?
This is becoming more important all the time as many carriers are buckling under the pressure to deliver in 24 hours in the UK and you can save a of money by moving to 48 Hour shipping. This eases congestion as carriers can move more parcels around depots in the morning to achieve the timescales. Most consumers now are happy with a 48 hour delivery and you can always offer a 24 hour option if the want to pay for it, you can also tap into 72 hour tracked products now with Yodel and Hermes. When sending internationally the difference is a lot starker. DHL could cost you around £20 for a next day to the USA or you could pay less than £10 for a 7-10 day service and that’s just for 0.5kg so again you might want to offer the option.
The biggest factors for express and economy will be price and speed, most e-commerce clients will expect to wait a week or more for economy shipping so bear this in mind when you are considering what to offer. An economy parcel to the USA could be as cheap as sending a next day in the UK.
International Shipping is not Scary!!
If you want to grow your business, then you will want to look at shipping abroad. There are many easy ways now to have your website translated locally and have the stock fulfilled from the UK. You can see where traffic is coming from using Google Analytics or I like to use SimilarWeb as a tool to see where views are coming from for free. Shipping a parcel within the EU is no different to the UK (remember Switzerland and Norway are not in the EU) and require no additional paperwork at al thanks to the Single Market and Customs Union.
Sending outside of the EU requires one of two things, either a CN22 for postal products or a commercial invoice for courier shipments. Neither are scary and with the right supplier the software will generate for you. All of those non-EU shipments are also VAT free which helps cash flow.
Consider if you need insurance for your items in case they don’t turn up or there is damage. Some products have insurance included and some you can pay a fee for it. You need to decide the best method for you and also a Marine policy would be really useful as this covers everything you send for a yearly cost and could work out more economically.
Following the above 5 tips for eCommerce shipping you can ensure you delivery the best possible experience for your buyers, and develop a stronger relationship. This is all beneficial for your company when it comes to eCommerce shipping.