The flow of content:
|Shipping Cost Calculator|
|Shipping Label And Sizes|
|Commercial Invoice (Customs Form)|
The shipping strategy is a vital part of any e-commerce store’s operations, and a lot of factors affect its order shipping policies. As a matter of fact, the combination of products, shipping options, costing, carriers, and the included legalities makes order shipping policies extremely complicated. It is a major expense with most of the work carried out by external agencies, which adds to the already complicated equation. It is advisable to use an order management system to automate the operations and ensure reliable shipping across the geographies.
In the above infographic, it is clearly visible that the shipping strategy heavily influences cart abandonment. In this article, we will break down the shipping process into parts. Read ahead to understand the topic in detail:
Choosing the right shipping carriers is critical to your business since your reputation is dependent on them. If something goes wrong, the customers always blame the seller and not the shipping carrier. To select the right partner, you should consider both the user reviews and the costing. You should also analyze the tracking facilities and the additional benefits, like including the returned merchandise in the total shipping volume. Some of the popular international and regional courier services are as listed down:
- StarTrack Courier
- Australia Post
- Canada Post
- Royal Mail
You can also list down multiple shipping carrier options right on your website for your customers to select the courier of their choice. Both your reputation and bottom line depend on them, so make sure you reevaluate them from time to time. Also, check out for the hidden charges in the form of surcharges since they can hit your profitability to a great extent.
Shipping Cost Calculator
Shipping charges are among the major cost centers for any online store, and they also affect the decision making on the part of the customers. The shipping carriers charge on the basis of the volumetric weight instead of just weight or sizes. Hence, you should use the right packaging methods and materials to keep the costs under control. All of the shippers, including industry giants like FedEx, UPS, and USPS, allow you to calculate the shipping costs based on the volumetric weight, destination and type of item to be transported. The country of origin and the delivery period also influence the charges. Many retailers choose to infuse the shipping costs with the product costs to woo the customers with free delivery, but this tactic is not applicable for inexpensive items. Here’s the list of shipping cost calculators for the leading international and local companies:
- International Shipping Carriers
FedEx – Shipping Price Calculator
USPS – Shipping Price Calculator
- Local Shipping Carriers
Canada Post – Shipping Price Calculator
UK Royal Mail – Shipping Price Calculator
Australia Post – Shipping Price Calculator
Shipping Label And Sizes
Every online retailer uses shipping labels, and they are a small yet essential link of the order shipping process. All the information required for the shipping process, including the product description, handling recommendations, and the barcode. The popular label sizes are as listed below:
- Letter Size Label Sheets: 8.5×11″
- Legal Size Label Sheets: 8.5×14″
- Tabloid Size Label Sheets: 11×17″
- A4 Size Label Sheets: 11.7×8.3″
- A3 Size Label Sheets: 16.5×11.7″
- Labels Size For Thermal Printers: 4″ x 6″
Shipping labels help in tracking the shipments and also simplifies inventory management. The shipping labels also help in making business intelligence. They are printed on either paper-based or film-based facestocks.
Domestic shipping is relatively simple since both you and your customers are aware of the options and the price range. However, when shipping internationally, businesses have to secure permissions, quality certifications, and robust packaging. We also advise you to choose your shipping career according to the region and their expertise. It is a major cost center, and your shipping partner can also help if your shipment is facing troubles during customs clearance. In the below section, we are going to include the detailed description of a commercial invoice that doubles as a legal document for your products. It is also a common practice to allow the customers to select the shipping carrier of their choice. You should also refer to the shipment insurance clauses to ensure that everything is as per the expectations.
A survey finds that 53% of the people will choose not to make a purchase if they aren’t informed about the arrival date of the product. On the other hand, 54% of the surveyed shoppers agree to give repeat business to the retailers that provide predictable delivery schedules.
Commercial Invoice (Customs Form)
A commercial invoice is needed when you are shipping internationally. A commercial invoice contains a lot more information than the selling price and shipping address. It contains information like:
- Air waybill number
- Exporter / Shipper details
- Item description
- Country of origin
- Date of export
- Invoice number
- Shipping terms and conditions
- Importer / Consignee
- Harmonized (HSN) code
- Unit value / Total value
- Total weight
All the information necessary for customs clearance is included in the commercial invoices, and thus, it includes all the legal information required for international trade. It helps businesses in accounting and finances while also allowing the port authorities to maintain adequate reports.
Return Merchandise Authorization (RMA) is an e-commerce business strategy for accepting the return of goods/ products from the clients against refund/ credit. Usually, online retailers require the customers to fill a form that explains the reason behind returning the concerned item before generating a return label. This helps keep track of the incoming goods and determine the causes behind returning their product. In case the merchant finds the reasons mentioned by customers as ineligible, they can also revoke the free returns. It also aids in assessing your financial risks, refining product quality, operations, and building future marketing strategies. The RMA clearly defines the time period for which the product is eligible for a return, reasons, proofs (when damaged products are received), and refund type. The refund is processed either instantly or when the sender gets it back. The returned items are also updated in the inventory management system.
For an order value amounting to $1000 or more, providing free return shipping increases the orders by 17%.
A return label is a prepaid shipping label that allows your customers to return back your products. They help in reducing cart abandonment, deescalate aggravated customers, and build a positive brand image. This makes the customer feel that they have control over the purchase and encourages them to make purchases without fearing about the returning process. It is a challenging strategy for businesses as it increases the return rate and pressurizes their bottom line. Online stores often resort to using an online portal to control and analyze returns. Using return labels is becoming very common across the online retail industry as it continues to affect the vast majority of purchase decisions.
A survey report states that up to 96% of the shoppers will consider ordering again from an online store if their last merchandise returning experience was an easy one.
Your shipping strategy goes hands in hands with your overall organizational strategy. Each department has a role to play in defining the order shipping policies. The marketing teams give suggestions regarding the fulfillment options, the sales team extends forecasts to the purchase/ production department, while the warehouse team coordinates with the shipping carrier and so on. It would not be wrong to say that shipping is the most challenging part of running an online business as the competitive margins continue to pressurize the profitability. As all of these constituents of your shipping strategy are variable, make it a point to track the performance as a whole. We hope that you find this article on order shipping useful for your e-commerce business.
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- Proforma Invoice Vs Commercial Invoice- The Terminological Difference!
- Ecommerce Shipping: Your Step-by-Step Guide to Shipping Profitability
- Return Material Authorization (RMA)
- The Beginner’s Guide to Ecommerce Shipping and Fulfillment
- Significance of automated Shipping labels
- How to understand trading policies and overcome inventory related challenges in cross-border e-commerce?
- Order Fulfillment tips to please Customers
- Cross Border e-commerce- Selling to Canada and USA
- E-Commerce-Friendly Shipping Providers: How They Help?