Ecommerce Shipping Requires as Much Attention as What's Being Sold

Ecommerce sellers face a difficult question when it comes to free shipping.

On one hand, free shipping makes an ecommerce storefront more attractive to shoppers. A third of shoppers say they won’t shop at a website that doesn’t offer free shipping, 72 percent consider a competitor when shipping is tacked onto the ecommerce costs, and 52 percent of abandoned carts are due to shipping-fee sticker shock, according to ecommerce app Propel Ad.

On the other hand, if the customer isn’t paying for shipping, you are.

What’s the answer? That’s up to the seller. But shipping costs are an inextricable and influential part of the ecommerce marketplace that need to be managed almost as attentively as the products for sale in the first place. You need software that makes shipping easy to manage.

More and more elements are coming from multiple supplier sources well before the final product reaches the buyer. In sophisticated supply chains, like with the promotional products industry, products like apparel travel multiple hops from supplier to apparel decorator to even the distribution center before the product reaches the end customer -- often incurring shipping costs along its path. With touchpoints and shipping costs increasing, the need for shipping cost control is more granular and crucial than ever before.

The right ecommerce software and business management software have at least five major hallmarks for managing shipping costs.

1.) Seamlessness: The software needs to integrate with the shipper. Whether it’s FedEx, UPS, the U.S. Postal Service or your own shipping operation, the shipper needs to know where, to whom and with what method to take the product. And this needs to happen with virtually 100 percent accuracy. Inaccurate shipments are costly shipments.

2.) Flexibility: Not all shipments are the same. Sometimes you want to provide free shipping or a price break when a certain condition like a spending threshold is reached. Sometimes it’s a warehouse shipment, other times a drop-shipment. Urgency, volume, and special offers also influence shipping costs. And more frequently in B2B transactions, the party paying for the shipping may be the customer. For precise, on-cost shipment billing, the software needs to adjust to a wide range of conditions.

3.) Real-Time Self-Service: It doesn’t matter if it’s the customer service agent in the back office or the consumer purchasing on the website, the business management system and ecommerce website need to understand the business rules and calculate shipping lead times, handling charges, and cost and then present accurate, fixed shipping costs to the buyer in real-time -- even for fulfillment that requires shipping segments.

4.) Automation: Automation is the foe of errors and the friend of efficiency. When every node of the supply chain communicates with the other nodes, the shipping information, entered just once, is communicated accurately all along the chain. One-step data input assures accuracy to knock out costly shipping mistakes.

5.) Control: The whole point is to control shipping costs. The best software lets the user track shipping profit and losses in real time -- and it provides tools that make sure you’re more often tracking profits.

Find out more about Essent Fulfillment software with advanced shipping management.