ECommerce Fulfilment Costs-The double digit growth of online retail outlets has invariably attracted hordes of start-up companies. They simply want to capitalize on this astonishing and rapid emergence. These self sponsored or VC backed internet shopping outlets typically consolidate their energies on providing an easy to shop interface, offer maximum products, competitive prices and a promise of “Quick Delivery”. Not many look into the backend; the packing and delivery mechanism.
It is a proven fact that many buyers select a product, click “Proceed for payment” button with great enthusiasm only to ditch the shopping cart process midway, typically at the point where the shipping rate is mentioned. The reason; although the product itself looks attractive in terms of pricing, the additional burden of shipping defeats the promise of “Best Price”. Online consumers have become wary of such deals and promises. Today, these buyers visit several online outlets, compare prices, including shipping, and based on the most lucrative offer commit themselves.
Fulfilment costs need not scare your customers any more. Here are various ways to cut down these expenses and improve customer loyalty.
1. Credit & debit cards
Many card companies offer rewards or discounts to owners when they make payment with these cards, especially while initiating an online transaction. By offering this facility, online retailers can bring down the final cost of a product significantly. This rebate could be in the form of cash back, redeemable points, discount on certain merchandise or services.
A buyer exploits these rewards/points while shopping online in the form of free or discounted shipping which also means the concerned visitor does not abandon the shopping cart midway.
2. Flat ship rate
By offering a flat rate, companies can reduce the percentage of customers opting out of shopping cart. Online retailers need to talk to their shippers and develop innovative strategies to bring down the cost of shipping. As mentioned earlier some of these entities offer a flat rate irrespective of the size and weight. It makes sense because the customer is aware of shipping cost even before he/she clicks the buy button. Flat rates are generally competitive for both small and big value purchases.
3. Offer exclusive membership or membership card
Membership binds the customer. Membership also translates into big shipping discounts which will simply buoy the customer and coerce him/her to complete the purchase process. The potential buyer will not pull out at the last minute. Online retailers can offer such memberships for a price which will offer not only discounts on shipping but also on certain products. Retailers can then tie up with manufacturers or suppliers of such products and seek reduced prices as they tend to benefit from such a strategy.
4. Is express delivery essential?
This is an important question. Have you, as a retailer, promised next day delivery? If not, there is not point increasing the shipping burden by using express service. Retailers need not deliver goods by air. If the promised delivery time is three or maybe five days then the retailer can opt for cheaper ways. A buyer won’t mind receiving goods a little late if the amount saved on shipping is huge. Retailers can offer both the options and let the customer decide.
5. Reduce paper use and exploit stock cartons
By innovating packing method, retailers can bring down the final delivery cost. Instead of customized cartons, stock boxes can be used to ship goods which generally cost less as they are heavily discounted. Another point to note is the size of the container. Many shipping companies charge by the size and weight. Retailers need to experiment and even ask their product suppliers to modify their packaging to make it shipping friendly.
Kitting is yet another way of reducing shipping cost. This simply means analyzing customer behavior and creating an efficient delivery mechanism accordingly. Many online buyers typically purchase two or three related products. Mark such bundled purchases and create a consolidated shipping program which will bring down the cost dramatically.
7. Opt for fulfillment agencies
Fulfillment companies are specialized entities who cater to large volumes of delivery. They have agreement with similar businesses in an array of cities and locations which makes the entire system efficient, competitive, flexible and scalable. Online retailers can reap benefits by appointing such an entity to handle their shipping. This will also stop premature shopping cart abandonment.