The Ultimate Beginner's Guide to Shipping for Your New Online Business

You've worked hard on your business. Now it's time to deliver the goods to your customers. Check out our complete beginner's guide to online shipping for tips from our eCommerce fulfillment experts.

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eCommerce Fulfillment

So you have put in the work in production to come up with the type of product bound to shake up the market and satisfy your customers. The only thing standing between your ratings and your paycheck is the delivery of the goods to your customer. With all that goes into considering which shipping company to use, it’s exhilarating to finally find the right one.

You may feel some anxiety because you feel like handing your shipping responsibilities to the wrong person can cause your business to collapse. Well, here is a shipping 101 guide that will help you choose the right logistics partner for your shipping needs.

Shipping 101: Laying the Foundation for Your Shipping

1. Consider the Shipping Rates and Methods

Your budget informs your choice of business expansion. When making your financial analysis, you have to consider whether you will pass full shipping costs to customers or offer free or flat-rate shipping to absorb some or all of your costs. How will you get orders to your customers once the order is done?

If you are considering free shipping, it’s a great way to reduce shopping cart abandonment. However, since shipping is not free, then the costs must be compensated for in another way. Cost may be covered by the customer or by you.

You could leave it on the customer with a full or partial increase in product prices. Another way may be covering the shipping expense yourself out of your margins or in conjunction with your customer. You may also consider charging real-time rates through integration with other platforms, such as USPS.

Flat rate shipping is also a great consideration if you have a reasonably standard product line of items with similar sizes and weights. If you can avoid the long-distance shipping costs, base your market closer to home. Offer local delivery within a certain radius or look into eCommerce fulfillment warehouses closer to your customers. Working with a 3PL that has multiple fulfillment center locations can also save on shipping costs.

Some factors to consider in pricing include package size, package weight, origin address, destination address, and additional costs like tracking and insurance. As you make all of these considerations, remember to add your profit margin in your calculations. You can also easily get a pricing quote from most shipping companies.

2. Do You Understand International Shipping Regulations?

As your business expands to the international market, the laws that affect commerce are bound to affect you too. Be sure to research international shipping regulations thoroughly. When filing your packages, remember to include proper customs documentation as per the country's regulations in question.

The documentation should include: what is in the package, how much it costs and whether it is a gift or merchandise. Check with the country's postal service to know what their customs regulations look like. Complete the forms honestly and thoroughly to prevent packages from being held up in customs. Customers will cover any additional fees on arrival— just be sure to include this on the shipping policy page to avoid having disgruntled customers.

3. Look Into Packaging Options

Packaging and presentation are now becoming an integral part of the eCommerce experience. Customers no longer see the appeal in simple shopping bags and receipts. The packaging choices you make will differentiate your brand and work towards placing your business above the rest.

Apart from aesthetic value, pack for safe transport using boxes and envelopes that are padded or unpadded where convenient or necessary. You can use poly mailers for items that do not have structure or cushioning, like clothing.

Keep your packaging light and small to avoid extra costs. Depending on your business and product line, consider carrying a variety of package sizes and packaging materials. Of course, you shouldn't forget to label your packages so that they don't end up in the lost-and-found heap of the airport or dock.

4. Consider Working With a 3PL Fulfillment Provider

Finding the right partner for your business can be a daunting process. Thinking about choosing a 3PL fulfillment company might feel as though you are handing over your business to a stranger. However, working with an experienced eCommerce fulfillment company should be more like partnering with a logistics expert who can be an extension of your brand.

It is best to carry out several comparisons on pricing, delivery service type, delivery speed, and reliability. For more international shipping, remember that different courier services offer different services for domestic and international shipping. You should look into a 3PL provider that offers the shipping options and eCommerce fulfillment services your business needs.

5. Order Tracking, Insurance, and Customer Support

Every company has an insurance policy, but the specifics usually vary from company to company. The best policies should be affordable and all-inclusive. Check to see if there are any hidden costs in the cover that you will be billed for later.

Order tracking offers security and, combined with customer support, it gives the customers peace of mind. Customers can have a positive experience with your company when they’re able to monitor their orders. Most times, tracking is relatively inexpensive and is built into the price. Tracking information also gives a record to refer to in case anything happens.

Kick-Start Your Shipping and Fulfillment Journey With Rakuten Super Logistics

Now that you understand what considerations to make for your company’s shipping needs, let us help you set up the next steps in your logistics strategy. At Rakuten Super Logistics, we are committed to helping our clients achieve their goals. We’re more than just another order fulfillment company, but a trusted eCommerce partner that can help your business reach its full potential. Partner with us today to learn how working with the right 3PL fulfillment company from the start can make all the difference.

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Rakuten Super Logistics is a leading eCommerce order fulfillment company that provides the scalability, flexibility, and cost savings retailers demand.

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