Use shipping to help boost your brand

Better shipping options can drive up the number of orders and the size of orders.

When it comes to your bottom line, the way you ship can be as important as what you’re shipping. What you charge, how quickly it arrives, and in what condition–all reflect on your brand and your chances for repeat purchasing.

Here’s how to ship more quickly and cost-effectively and look better than your competitors.

1. Boost sales with “free” shipping.  According to digital business analytics leader comScore, free-shipping orders were 30 percent higher in value during the last holiday season. Saltworks, Inc. can attest to the trend’s impact to a business’ sales.

The manufacturer, distributor, and retailer of fine sea salt products had a high-quality site and solid traffic, says company president Naomi Novotny. But shipping costs put off some customers. So SaltWorks tested free shipping–and it paid off.  Orders rose over the prior year, with the higher sales volume more than covering the cost. “Free shipping dramatically increased our online sales and added the value to our customers,” Novotny says.

You don’t have to give away the shipping, though. Forrester Research has some suggestions:

  • Create VIP clubs with free shipping for high-value shoppers.
  • Offer free shipping for high-margin products or set a minimum threshold higher than the average transaction size.
  • Offset shipping costs by building them into product prices.

2. Pack shipments sustainably.  Thoughtful packaging can help protect the environment but also your company image.

For example, the use of Eco-Cradle Mushroom packaging is used to pack everything from cases of wine to pieces of furniture. It’s made from agricultural byproducts like plant stalks and seed husks—at a cost that’s comparable to a petroleum-based equivalent. And the environmental toll can be far less by the time it reaches a landfill.

3. Prepare shipments better. Every step in the shipping process can affect costs. Selecting the right size box and packing materials, confirming order accuracy, generating and applying packing slips, sealing, applying labels, and so on. The solution: post a matrix listing the right combinations for your most popular orders near packing stations–or use optimizing software to automate the package material selection process, cutting shipping, labor, and material costs.