Shipping the Right Way
Shipping is a necessary part of selling online! Because how else do your customers get their purchase? We hear so many questions about shipping problems and dilemmas! It's not always easy, and there is a lot consider, but we want to try to shed some light on this topic. If you set a good foundation you can mail packages with confidence, and put your customer's mind at ease.
Here is how:
SET YOURSELF UP FOR SUCCESS
Mail carriers provide a wide-range of packaging types and shipping methods. Start by research the best options for you, While you will probably use the most affordable options, you should know the upgraded options as you may have the occasional customer that wants that. Extras like tracking, confirmation, insurance, and read receipt are all things you may want to at least be aware of, as well. You should also know your packages weight (or get a small at-home scale, like a kitchen scale) so you can give proper estimates. Common carriers include: USPS, UPS, and FedEx.
DEFINE YOUR SHIPPING POLICIES
Now that you know about shipping options, it's time to develop some policies and come up with a plan!
Questions to consider, and should know by the time you go to ship your first order:
- Will I offer insurance on all packages? Some packages?
- What are my processing times?
- Will I offer returns? If so, do I reimburse for shipping costs?
- What provider(s) do I use?
- What methods do I use for shipping and what are the average times?
- Will I offer expedited shipping?
- Do I ship internationally?
Clearly state these policies on the shipping terms/policies section of your website. By publicly declaring these policies you are putting protections into place, in case anything should happen. It's also setting clear expectations upfront with the customer, which may eliminate extraneous customer service issues.
CLEAR COMMUNICATIONS WITH CUSTOMERS
Now that you know your policies and shipping offerings and have clearly stated it on site, be sure to communicate with customers! Do you offer insurance? Do you offer expedited shipping options? Be sure the customer is aware of this. Have options at checkout. During checkout and following checkout be sure to continue communicating policies. Send a confirmation email again reminding them of shipping policies. Send a fulfillment email with a reminder of what happens from there. It's also good to include tracking if possible, to offer extra protection and an extra layer of security.
Now that you have set up your policies and are clearly communicating them you should feel confident and at-ease about shipping packages. Some shipping disasters will be out of your control, but you are better prepared now than you were before! Be aware of common mishaps, such as delayed international shipping times. You should also keep good records. Proof of shipping is your friend. Take pictures of your packages prior to shipment. Label receipts, insurance and tracking. This will help you track packages and proof you were not the cause of anything that went wonky.
That should get you started, but you may still have very specific scenarios that arise. That's why it's good to have a team of people who may have similar situations. Join our Facebook group, Gather so you can ask questions and get support with shipping and anything else small-business-related!