Getting shipping right is never so important for online merchants than this time of year as shoppers grow frantic and have high expectations of getting their packages in time for the Christmas holiday. Rafael Zimberoff, Product Manager for ShipRush, a shipping automation tool that integrates with shipping carriers, marketplaces and selling tools, provided some tips for sellers that apply to the holiday season and beyond.
Determine what international shipping options you want to offer on your transactions. “Cross border trade has been growing year-over-year in the ecommerce space as merchants get more comfortable with the logistics and they also understand that they don’t have to turn off all international trade to combat fraud,” according to Zimberoff. In the early days, many merchants turned off international trade because they had problems with fraud of various kinds, he said.
Sellers have learned that some percentage of business is going to be problematic. “Everyone has figured out what you can sell where, and the fraud controls available on merchant credit card accounts have improved, and businesses have grown up.”
Zimberoff also provided some tips for sellers from insurance to merchandising to increasing efficiencies:
- Anything with a value over $50 should have a copy of the invoice or packing slip in the box.
- Use parcel insurance only when you really need it. Losses that you can absorb you should go ahead and absorb. That’s because the parcel carriers are really good at what they do, and very little is actually lost or damaged if it’s packaged and labeled properly.
- Include some kind of self-promotion in every box you send out, whether it’s a little sticker with your logo on the outside of the box, or a little 3×5 or 4×6 promo, or a catalog of some kind that goes in the box. This is a moment when you have your buyers’ eyeballs – when they’re opening your packaging, so take advantage of it in some way.
- Always be looking at how you can optimize your work flow. “So much of what we see when we do site visits are workflows that are unexamined,” Zimberoff said. Just by moving things around in your storage area so that frequently ordered items are handier to ship can boost productivity.
- Prepackage popular items so that they’re already boxed and ready to go – all they need is a label. That let’s you work ahead of the work load.
“Always be looking at ways that you can change things in space and time to make your overall operations more efficient,” Zimberoff advised.
And what about those frantic holiday shoppers? Happiness is achieved when reality meets expectations, so expectation-management is a big part of doing business, Zimberoff said.
Some merchants take some of the super-slow shipping methods off of their websites leading up to Christmas (disabling it for a week or two). “Making everyone happy versus a few more sales is a balance that needs to be established,” he said. Reducing the number of shipping options or increasing the cost of shipping may be a way to handle frantic holiday shoppers and their expectations.
Zimberoff also weighed in on the new flat rate shipping service from FedEx called One Rate, see tomorrow’s Newsflash for his take on the service.