How to Avoid 8 Common Shipping Mistakes


Shipping is essential when you sell online, and savvy e-retailers know it involves much more than simply sending a box.

Shipping can be fun when it creates “wow” moments for customers and drives additional sales.  However, it can also be complicated and expensive as you try and navigate things like service level and accessorial charges.

Thankfully, there are things shippers can do to avoid the most common shipping problems.

1. Let your customers choose when their package will arrive. It goes without saying that every customer is different. Some want free shipping, and others want fast shipping.

According to a recent study by ORC, 82 percent of Americans would select free shipping where the product arrives in five to seven days. However, of those that find fast shipping more attractive than free shipping, only 19 percent would be willing to pay more than $10 for fast shipping.

By providing your customer with multiple shipping options, they can choose what’s most important to them – arrival time or cost.

2. Listen to your customers. Customers will often offer feedback about how their package arrived. When they do, listen.

If you hear complaints about delivery times, you probably need to choose a better (and more expensive) shipping option.

If your customers are constantly amazed at how quickly the item arrived, that’s great because you’re exceeding their expectations. However, it can also mean that you could potentially use a slightly slower (and less expensive) shipping option.

3. Use the right packaging. Packaging is important, very important. It protects your product. It builds your brand’s image and identity. It determines how you’ll be charged by a carrier.

Make sure you’re using the correct packaging for the item you’re shipping. Don’t try and pinch pennies by shipping items in boxes that are too small, or without protection like bubble wrap.  A good rule of thumb is to use a new box with two-inches of cushioning.

4. Don’t guesstimate shipping costs. Imagine this situation. You’re trying to get a package out the door quickly, and you have run out of the box you usually use for the item. You find another box in your warehouse, but it’s slightly larger than what you would usually use. The good news is you are able to get the item on the carrier’s truck immediately. The bad news is you may be paying more to ship the item because of DIM weight pricing.

You can avoid wasting money if you take some time to research your shipping costs. Depending on the shipping carrier you use, you may be charged for things like Saturday delivery, fuel surcharges, delivery signatures, and residential delivery charges. Understand these fees in advance so that you don’t pay for a delivery feature that isn’t important to you and your customers.

If you use shipping software, like ShipWorks, we’ll show you the shipping options and costs so that you can make an educated decision before you print the shipping label.

5. Track your shipping supplies.  You have probably put hours into managing your product inventory, but what about your shipping supplies? Since supplies are necessary to send items to your customer, they are important.

By tracking your shipping supplies you can establish re-order points so that you never run out of supplies. Our friends at SkuVault have some great tips on how to store supplies and inventory.

6. Be prepared for changes from shipping carriers.  Shipping prices and policies change every year. Usually, the changes happen at the beginning of the year, but sometimes they happen mid-year. Two of the most recent changes from carriers that e-retailers need to be aware of are USPS decreasing prices for electronic postage, and FedEx and UPS announcing that they will charge by DIM weight.

7. Automate your shipping process. You can spend all day creating shipping labels, or you can automate the process. With ecommerce shipping software you can stop doing most of the manual tasks that come with the shipping process, like retyping addresses. You can also make your product and packaging look more professional by creating customized invoices and packing slips. The end result is that you save hours a day, and make life better for you and your customer.

If you’re already using shipping software, make sure you’re taking advantage of all of its features.

8. Audit your shipments. Studies have shown that on average packages arrive late about 10 percent of the time, but shippers only refund a portion of late arrivals. By auditing your shipments, you can be reimbursed for carrier’s shipping errors such as late deliveries, incorrect Saturday delivery charges, duplicate charges and incorrect address corrections. It would be really time consuming to check each shipment on your own, so thankfully you can automate the process with companies like Refund Retriever. And the best part is that Refund Retriever is fully integrated with ShipWorks software!