Ecommerce fulfillment is one of the most important things to get right should you wish your ecommerce venture to be a success. This is because keeping track of inventory, packaging it properly, shipping, and dealing with returns can be a complex business, where failure can be costly – in both monetary terms and in terms of lost customers. Luckily, regardless of the size of your ecommerce venture, you can always find a way of fulfilling orders effectively and economically.
However, this article will focus on just one aspect of the whole order fulfillment process – shipping. While order fulfillment is in fact a multistage and dynamic process that varies depending on your business’s specific requirements, shipping involves the actual sending of products out to your customers. For some ecommerce ventures, this can involve a jaunt to the post office with a package under your arm while, for others, it can involve coordinating your efforts with a storage warehouse. Incidentally, for those following the latter path, a company such as Shipping and Handling of Texas would be much recommended.
When it comes to just shipping however, you would be surprised at the many ways this process can be made as economic as possible.
The Stages of Order Fulfillment
Before we get on to some great ecommerce shipping tips, it might be worth setting out the whole order fulfillment process, in order to get a good idea of just where shipping fits in to this dynamic operation.
The stages of the order fulfillment process are:
- Receiving Orders (involving communication of inventory to the customer and adjustment thereof when orders are placed)
- Inventory Storage (optimizing inventory storage for ease of retrieval)
- Order Processing (involving updating the inventory and preparing objects for shipping)
- Shipping (the actual process of transporting the order to the customer)
- Returns Processing (arrangement of return shipping and completing the requisite inventory update).
As you can see, shipping is just one part of this process, and how it is done (as well as how much it costs) depends on a range of factors. These factors include:
- the proximity of your storage locations to the customers you serve
- geographical range over which you ship
- what kind of products you are shipping
- size and fragility of the products
- whether you are offering free shipping or not
- the packaging you use.
Tips for Economic Shipping
Decide Where to Pass Costs on to Customers
It might seem like passing shipping costs on to your customers is the best way to save money here. But that is not always the case. There are many cases, also, when this might be downright unfeasible. You may have encountered shipping costs that are far in advance of the actual price of the product. This is a sure way to lose customers and, therefore, money. Decide carefully.
Weigh and Measure Your Products
It is wise to have different shipping costs for products of certain weights, potentially allowing you to cover shipping costs on some products and pass them on to the customer with others. This is a good way to make money from shipping and to offer free shipping (which is good for business) wherever you can.
Source Your Packaging
Did you know that, in some instances, you can actually get free packaging materials from shipping companies if you ship through them? This could be a terrific way to cut costs.
Ultimately, shipping can be a bit of a tricky thing to get right. Excessive shipping costs can put customers off but, by judiciously varying your costs, you can arrange things to be, overall, economically beneficial.