Shipping: Make or Break


From ‘The Mast’

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Shipping – the necessary evil of online stores. You’d think it’d just be one small part of the process, but delivery times and shipping rates can make or break a sale.

On an average e-commerce site:

  • around 7% of customers will add and item to the cart
  • 4% will reach checkout
  • and around 2% will actually complete the checkout.

That’s a significant drop off at each step of the process.One of the factors that causes this drop off is shipping rates.

We’ve all done it. We’ve jumped onto a store, found something we wanted to buy. We’ve been happy to spend the $50 on that item. We add it to cart (the modern day equivalent of holding it in your hand as you walk around the store).
We get to the checkout page and suddenly, we’re informed, in order to receive this item we have to pay an extra $15. It’s not what we were expecting. It’s not part of the decision we just made. We were happy to pay $50, but $65 is a completely different decision. So we drop it and bail.

Similarly, I’d do the same thing if the price didn’t increase but I was told at checkout that I had to wait 3 weeks for it. Not knowing that upfront changes everything and I probably wouldn’t proceed.

Unlike in a physical store, you don’t have the sales person standing there waiting for you. Online we don’t have to worry about looking like a crazy person that just drops the shirt, turns and high tails it.

When it comes to shipping rates, some people like to think that there’s magic numbers that hoodwink customers and some like to think that all shipping costs need to be hidden in the price of the product to make shipping free. I don’t think there’s a winning formula. I believe it’s all about communication and letting the user know upfront what they’re in for. Shipping is common place so, people expect it. They just need to be told exactly what to expect when they are shopping.

If the user understands, as they look through your catalogue, “I’m going to have to add $10 onto the cost of this item” then they aren’t shocked by the total price when they reach checkout. Similarly, if an item is going to take a few weeks to ship to them and they know it, they can take that into consideration before buying.

My advice to all my clients is:

  • Try and find the most cost effective way to ship items: in regards to packaging, keeping the postage weight down, and trying and strike up a deal with your local post office.
  • Make the shipping rates & delivery times really clear to the user across the store.
  • Keep it as simple as possible for you and the customer.

Below are some articles that cover the topic of shipping in much more detail. Hope you find something useful for your online store.

Other Articles

The Beginner’s Guide to Ecommerce Shipping and Fulfillment – Read ›

How to Choose a Shipping Strategy for Your Online Store – Read ›

Shipping Rate Strategies for Your Online Store – Read ›

Are you running an online store? What’s your biggest challenge – I’d love to hear about it. Email them through!

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