How Entrepreneurs Should Prepare for Shipping in 2021Jill Quash
For many entrepreneurs, 2020 was a time of growth as more consumers shopped online instead of going into physical stores. But the spike in demand for ecommerce also presented some challenges, especially for entrepreneurs shipping products to their customers.
According to Shopify’s Future of Commerce report, 84% of consumers have shopped online since the pandemic began, compared to 65% who have shopped in-store. Given ongoing concerns about preventing the spread of COVID-19, this is a trend that’s expected to continue well into this year, with only 57% of consumers saying they plan to shop in-store over the next six months.
A strong shipping strategy is critical for independent businesses, especially in 2021. Demand is at an all-time high, and shipping transportation times are taking longer. Retailers of all sizes need to have a plan in place. The following tips will ensure entrepreneurs set themselves up for success during 2021 while creating positive customer experiences at the same time.
Tips to prepare for shipping in 2021:
Plan and finely tune all shipping and delivery processes – Having a process for shipping and fulfilling orders is imperative, while still giving customers the branding experience they expect. There is no better time than the New Year to develop a sound shipping strategy or to revisit your existing strategy as your business grows.
Keep more inventory on hand than usual, and stock up on shipping and packaging supplies – Shipping delays won’t just affect outbound deliveries – they’ll likely affect any inbounds too. Entrepreneurs should ensure they have enough inventory on hand, and make sure they have their sticky labels, printing labels, and mailers ready to go.
Explore alternative fulfillment options – If entrepreneurs are finding themselves constantly worried about fulfillment, exploring fulfillment providers or 3PLs (third-party logistics) may be a good way to take this task off their hands. Engaging fulfillment experts to pick and pack orders allows entrepreneurs to focus on building their brand.
Determine what shipping options to provide – There are endless options – free shipping, flat rate shipping, exact cost shipping – so entrepreneurs should figure out what makes sense for their business. For local customers, another option is to offer local delivery or pickup options, which can help cut down on shipping delays and fees. According to Future of Commerce data, consumers are increasingly buying from independent merchants in their own communities, allowing them to rely on alternative delivery methods. The report found that online shoppers spend 23% more and have a 25% higher cart size when local pickup and local delivery are offered by independent retailers. Furthermore, online shoppers that chose local pickup or local delivery during checkout had a 13% and 19% higher conversion rate than shoppers who selected shipping at checkout.
Communicate, communicate, communicate – One of the most important things entrepreneurs can do is to talk to their customers. Knowing how much shipping will cost, and when a purchase will arrive is critical to customers in helping them understand potential delays. Customers will appreciate the transparency and entrepreneurs can help them avoid frustration.
For entrepreneurs, preparation, planning and communication are the keys to a successful year. Perhaps now more than ever, entrepreneurs have every opportunity to master their shipping strategy, create a uniquely memorable experience for their customers, and thrive.
Written by Saujanya Shrivastava, Sr. Product Lead of Shipping, Shopify
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