EcommerceBytes-NewsFlash, Number 2770 - March 28, 2012     2 of 3

ShipRush on Uploading Tracking Information to eBay

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ShipRush Product Manager Rafael Zimberoff understands the challenges online sellers face when it comes to shipping. Online merchants of all sizes use ShipRush software to manage their shipping through FedEx, UPS and the USPS. With eBay making tracking information more important than ever through new policies taking effect this year, EcommerceBytes caught up with Rafael to get his advice and to discuss what measures eBay and Amazon are taking to help third-party sellers.

How does keeping buyers informed about the status of their orders benefit sellers?

Rafael Zimberoff: Imagine if for every ten sales, five customers called you on the phone to ask you about their order. The customer wants to know when it shipped, what shipping service, how long it will take to arrive, and if he needs to be home to sign for it when it comes.

This means if you double your sales, you will double the amount of time you spend on the phone.

Email isn't any different, just a tad easier because you have more than one minute to "pick up the call." If a percentage of users contact you by email, even if only %1, that is going to grow with your business.

Why this matters: In ecommerce the goal is usually to scale: To be able to grow your business a lot, quickly. This means that "friction" per sale needs to be really really low. To achieve this, buyers need to be able to "self service" as much as possible. This is the main benefit: Reduced per-customer friction on your ecommerce business.

But there is a catch... Reduced friction comes from the buyer knowing what is up with her shipment, but how do we know where she will look for shipping information? Will she check her email? Will she go back to your web site or ebay.com? Hard to know! So the answer is: Make it easy to self service everywhere. On your website, on ebay.com (for eBay sales), and in their email (because that is where we often look).

And yes, for eBay sales that means your tracking numbers better be in eBay!

There has been talk for years of sellers saying "Well Amazon requires it, but eBay isn't so strict," but that is a mirage. All your buyers need it, every time. Heck, eBay is now going to require tracking numbers for their Top Seller eligibility. (And if you sell cables that go First Class Letter Post, e.g. without a tracking #.... what are you going to do?)

Can I digress just for a second? Have you noticed how some web sites send you a LOT of email when you buy something?

1) Thank you for your order
2) Your order has been accepted/is in processing
3) Your order has shipped

And sometimes even one more ("welcome to our web site" or "thank you for registering"). If someone buys five items a week on line, that can add up to forty or more emails a month, or 480/year. Ouch!

How much work is it for sellers to upload tracking information where buyers can view it?

Rafael Zimberoff: None. Use a shipping system that does this automatically. This is not something to compromise on. There are add-ons to eBay, Amazon, and most cart systems that push tracking numbers into the eBay and the ecommerce systems automatically. Use one!

This is also an important reason to use a shipping system outside of eBay. It is true that eBay has some Postal Service functionality built in to eBay.com/paypal.com. But such a system is not going to help you with your Amazon orders or your own cart. Also, your shipping clerk needs to log in to eBay/PayPal to use such a system, which may be less than ideal.

Get your shipping in a system that hooks to all the ecommerce systems you use now and are likely to use in the next year.

Do eBay and Amazon do a good job of making tracking information visible to buyers?

Rafael Zimberoff: Yes. This is relatively new on the eBay side, and has been in Amazon for years. Buyers can look up their purchases easily, and if you shipping system is pushing tracking numbers into eBay and Amazon, it is there.

Remember that on eBay this information is visible instantly, but on Amazon it can take from ten minutes to an hour for the tracking numbers to be visible. As long as your shipping system sends the data, it will show up, but there is a delay in the Amazon system before the tracking numbers appear.

Here is a demo of how tracking information looks to the buyer in eBay (it looks the same for the buyer and the seller) - link to ShipRush blog post.

Sellers often talk about the difficulties in offering buyers combined-shipping discounts. Why is that so difficult on eBay?

Rafael Zimberoff: Ohhhh, this is hard. Here is the issue: It is challenging for eBay to let you set up your listings with all the shipping variations you want.

Here is an example: I purchase headsets for my cell phone in bulk.... because I lose them. They are cheap to ship - ten of them will go in a padded envelope for about two bucks postage. I find them on eBay or Amazon, for a few dollars, plus a few dollars shipping, but when I want to purchase ten of them, the site wants $30 shipping. Hold on!

So the rub is: What is your rule, as a seller, in this situation? Single shipping charge up to ten pieces? $4 shipping for each block of five (to cover handling), or what?

And this is for a really simple scenario. If you sell something larger (how many of us can sell cables, anyway?), your rules are going to be different, and even different for different items.

So eBay hasn't really tackled this yet. To my eyes, this is another reason why merchants need their own ecommerce website (cart). You need a cart that you control, and that has the advanced features you need for what you sell. Whether that is a good catalog system, combined shipping options, or what you need for your business.

What other shipping related issues are you hearing from sellers?

Rafael Zimberoff: What don't I hear?

OK, you are right, no one told me that a 20 lb box going zone 5 went down in price!

We are seeing a lot more multi location shipping businesses. Doing the "back office" functions in one place, while the inventory is shipped out of their own location that is somewhere else. When shipping is happening from two locations for a single eBay account, that can get entertaining! (Who ships what? But what's on third!)

Anything new at Shiprush?

Rafael Zimberoff: How much time do you have? (g)

We released ShipRush for Stamps.com last summer. We just added letter post to it this year, which is nice (for the folks selling cables and cell headsets anyway!). This is on top of the v9.5 release last summer that added a big pile of features and a brand new Order Manager GUI.

ShipRush integrates with a growing list of ecommerce systems. eBay, Amazon, Magento and Volusion, of course, but we added BigCommerce, Sears.com, Magento GO, OpenCart, and CS-Cart. The whole list is at ShipRush.com/fedex.

Remember that ShipRush FedEx integrates with all your ecommerce systems and multiple eBay accounts and is free of charge (you still pay your FedEx bill, of course!).

ShipRush for Stamps.com is $29.95/month after the free demo month.

And ShipRush USPS is fully ecommerce integrated and is %100 free. It does everything, but does not print postage.

Our YouTube channel has been pretty active, but my favorite recent shipping video is actually on someone else's channel - link to blog post with video.

ShipRush is published by Z-Firm LLC. Founded in 1992, Z-Firm has been making parcel shipping software since 1998 and works with FedEx, UPS and the U.S. Post Office. ShipRush is used by large and small firms to automate and integrate parcel shipping and is used by many online sellers to manage shipping and tracking on marketplaces and on ecommerce-enabled websites.


About the author:

Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com.


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