All too many retailers see shipping as the end of the sales process. After all, the transaction was completed, you’ve received payment, and now it’s time to put the customer’s purchase in a box and say goodbye. But as tempting as this attitude may be to the busy owner of a small business, it represents a missed opportunity for the type of customer experience that can really make your brand shine.
Shipping isn’t the end of your relationship with the customer, especially if customer retention is one of your goals (and it should be). Shipping should be viewed as a way to solidify your relationship with the customer and give them an experience that will encourage them to come back again.
Here are some ways to make your shipping convenient, friendly, and overall memorable.
Get the Basics Right
A well-conceived shipping process starts before the checkout page. Surprise shipping charges and other related factors are the number one reason customers abandon their carts at the last minute. Fortunately there are several ways to give a good impression with shipping.
- Above all, provide real-time shipping calculations visible in the customer’s cart at all times. Hitting the customer with a shipping charge right at the end is a shortcut to an abandoned cart. But if a customer can see how each change to their cart raises or lowers their shipping costs, they’ll feel more in control and more comfortable buying from you.
- To serve customers with different needs, provide options for multiple shipping methods and carriers. Some customers are happy to pay more to receive an item right away, while others are content to pay less and wait longer. Provide a range of methods and give a choice of carriers as well. Some customers prefer a specific carrier over others due to previous experiences.
- If you’re considering free shipping, remember you’ll need to absorb the cost yourself. A good compromise is to offer free shipping for orders above a minimum amount. This allows you to recoup some of the shipping costs, and can be a powerful incentive for a customer to toss “just one more thing” into their cart.
Make the Wait Painless
There’s always a period of uncertainty when customers are waiting for their package to arrive. Even if they’ve ordered from you countless times before, this could be the time something goes wrong. It’s just a natural consequence of waiting for something that’s paid for but not yet received.
Order tracking is the foremost way to reduce this anxiety, so provide tracking numbers or even your own branded tracking page. Email confirmations also go a long way toward reassuring a waiting customer. Send updates during important parts of the journey, like when the package is picked up and when it’s out for delivery. Some customers also appreciate an option for SMS notifications.
Now, the Fun Part
We’ve covered the basic shipping features your online store should have and why, and we’ve also gone into the ways you can keep your customers informed so the waiting is easier. Those are all, technically, the bare minimum of a good shipping experience. They describe everything you should do, but not everything you can do. We’ve made shipping convenient, and friendly to an extent, but how do we make it memorable?
This is the part where your brand can stand out for going above and beyond.
Include a personalized note in which you thank the customer for their order and reassure them that you’re available if they need help. This shows that they mean more to you than just the money they spend. You’re recognizing them as a real person, and this also helps humanize your business in the customer’s mind.
Personalization can also include coupon codes and hyper-targeted offers on products related to the purchase. This is a powerful cross-selling method because the customer is receiving a promotion for a product they’re likely to want. You can include these as separate inserts or add them to the note.
Create an Unboxing Experience
Through the usage of custom packaging, you can create a branded unboxing experience that presents your products to the customer in an ideal way. This makes a great first impression, shows off your brand in a good light, makes customers more likely to order again, and encourages them to share the “unboxing” on social media. This is fantastic for customer retention and brand awareness.
To create an unboxing experience, you’ll need packaging materials that are both attractive and functional. Printed boxes, colorful filler, and a layer of tissue paper are all possibilities. Include a note and maybe even toss in a few extras. It’s very powerful on social media when a customer discovers these little bonuses while unboxing.
Where to Start?
If you want to start leveraging shipping to boost your brand and gain more loyal customers, start from a solid foundation before you work on custom packaging. If you use the right eCommerce software, your online store will have the basics of real-time shipping, integration, and order tracking covered. 3dcart is a powerful platform and includes all you need to provide a top-quality experience.
When your online store has the right shipping features and you’ve designed your premium packaging, you’ll be using a neglected part of eCommerce in the best way. And that’s an advantage.