Shipping for Shopify retailers: 9 common shipping mistakes and how to avoid them

Shipping for Shopify retailers: 9 common shipping mistakes and how to avoid them

Your Shopify store’s success depends on fast, easy shipping. Customers today expect hassle-free delivery every time they shop online. If you can’t meet their expectations, then there are plenty of competitors out there who will.

Are you in the process of setting up a shipping policy for your Shopify store ? Or trying to improve your existing shipping to make your customers even happier ? Or setting up a Shopify store for local delivery ?

If so, then you should know about the nine common shipping mistakes covered in this article. We’ll tell you exactly which pitfalls to watch out for. And how you can avoid shipping-related blunders to boost your Shopify store’s success.

Mistake #1: Offering inflexible shipping options

As a Shopify retailer, you know the importance of keeping your customers happy. A major factor for customer satisfaction today is flexible shipping. Always offer your customers a range of shipping options, such as standard or express delivery and delivery to service points (click & collect). Many customers are happy to pay additional fees to receive their merchandise faster.

Even if customers opt for cheaper, standard shipping, they will still appreciate that you give them multiple shipping options. Depending on the delivery region, you may even offer a choice of various couriers. Some customers have a clear courier preference. For example, they may be located nearer to a specific courier’s pick-up location. Plus, flexible shipping options can cut down on failed deliveries. Some carriers only offer one delivery attempt before returning the parcel to the sender. In general: the more freedom of choice, the better.

Mistake #2: Overlooking surcharges

Are you receiving bills from your carrier for unexpected shipping costs? If so, it sounds like you’re making a common mistake: overlooking shipping surcharges in your courier's terms and conditions. Couriers tack on these fees for a number of reasons. For example, if you select the wrong shipping method for a specific shipment, a surcharge may apply. In other cases, the weight of your package or the type of packaging you use (such as bags or tubes) may result in surcharges.

Check the fine print and contact your couriers to learn about possible hidden costs. Understand the rules and stick to them. This saves you from unpleasant and costly surprises.

Mistake #3: Improper packaging

Brown packages on white table

If you want your customers to receive their merchandise without delay, it all starts with proper packaging. Be sure to understand your carrier’s rules for how to package your items. Use standard, approved packaging at all times. Some carriers do not permit you to use ‘Fragile’ stickers, for example.

If you’re in doubt, always contact your carrier for advice. The last thing you want to do is send off a package only to have it returned because of improper packaging.

Mistake #4: No back-up plan

Shipping is like any other part of your business: there’s never a 100% guarantee for success. When things go wrong, smart Shopify retailers have a back-up plan in place. That means you have back-up carriers you can rely on in case your go-to service is unavailable.

Carriers run into all kinds of unexpected difficulties. Perhaps they are overloaded during peak season. There are occasionally strikes or other unforeseen issues that can bring your shipping to a stand-still. Get the upper hand on these unexpected problems. Using Sendcloud, for example, you can temporarily switch to a different carrier any time with just a single mouse click.

Mistake #5: Underestimating the importance of shipping insurance 

To insure or not to insure... it’s an age-old question. Each Shopify owner (Shopify currently has more than 1 million merchants) has to make that call on their own. However, if you’re sending costly or branded merchandise, paying a small fee to insure your parcel can pay off big-time in case anything goes wrong along the way.

You might want to think twice before relying on the standard insurance that your carrier offers. Some carriers don’t even offer insurance in the first place. Those who do often take ages to process claims. After all, insurance isn’t their core business.

There are, however, plenty of cost-effective independent insurance options. Sendcloud, for example, lets retailers insure shipments valued at 100 euros or more. If your insured shipment gets lost or damaged, you can expect fast, efficient service.

Mistake #6: Forgetting about return shipping costs

As your Shopify business starts booming, you’ll inevitably run into return shipping costs. These costs occur, for example, when packages return to you after failed delivery attempts or because they are incorrectly addressed. Sometimes return shipping is unavoidable. But you can make some smart choices in advance to keep returns to a minimum.

The best approach is to offer flexible delivery options. For example, give your customers the option to collect their parcel at a pick-up station in case they aren’t home to receive the shipment when it arrives. That way, you avoid return shipping costs while also giving your customers better service. It’s a win-win.

Mistake #7: Unclear tracking for parcels

Your customers love to know exactly where their parcel is during shipping. Be sure to give them exactly what they want by providing clear, up-to-date communication about the shipping status. 

Sendcloud lets you send personalized tracking notifications to your customers at every step of the shipping process. It also informs customers automatically when there is a shipping delay. Clear communication is a great way to strengthen customer relations and build trust in your brand. It also helps cut down customer service contacts and failed deliveries. When you give your customers a heads-up, it's easier for them to plan to be home when parcels arrive at their doorstep.

Mistake #8: Failing to automate the shipping process

In this day and age, there’s no reason why your logistics team should be filling out shipping labels or choosing shipping methods by hand. Modern logistics service providers offer convenient options that can automate every step of your shipping process.

Shopify retailers benefit greatly from using software that automatically generates accurate picking lists, packing slips and shipping labels. Sendcloud, for example, also offers an automated process for return shipping. Automation options like these reduce the chance of simple mistakes that can have costly, time-consuming consequences. In general, the more automated your shipping process, the better.

Mistake #9: Calculating volume weight incorrectly

Volume weight (also known as ‘dimensional weight’) is not the same as the regular weight of a parcel. Some major carriers, like UPS, base shipping costs on a specially calculated volume weight rather than the actual weight of the parcel.

Check if your couriers make use of volume weight and if so, how it’s calculated. The volume weight is often also used for Express shipments. This way, you know exactly how much the shipping will cost, and you won’t be stuck with any unexpected costs. 

Effective shipping grows your business

Hassle-free shipping is critical to the success of any Shopify business. Fast, efficient delivery is one of the greatest benefits you can offer to keep your customers happy and to increase conversion. Those happy customers are far more likely to return for repeat business and refer your shop to their friends.

Because shipping is such a major expense for any online retailer, it’s important to avoid common mistakes. By offering flexible options, making smart use of automation and understanding your carrier’s shipping rules, you’ll save money while also giving your customers exactly what they expect: a modern, trouble-free online shopping experience.

How are you dealing with these common challenges at your Shopify store? Do you have any tips on how to tackle these issues? Or are you facing challenges that aren't listed above? 

About Sendcloud

Sendcloud helps online stores to save time, effort and money on their most frustrating process: shipping. The all-in-one shipping platform connects 30+ (inter)national carriers to Shopify stores and enables efficient worldwide shipping. Simply install the Sendcloud app, start shipping and exceed customer expectations with an optimized checkout, fully branded tracking notifications and a self-service return portal.

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