November 1, 2013

4 Best Practices for Shipping 2.0

Posted by Faith Albert

Shipping — it can be mundane, routine, and even boring if you’re not a fan of operations and logistics. However, when you have little to no physical contact with customers, which is the predicament of many e-commerce sites, it can also be a vital opportunity to surprise and delight an unsuspecting buyer. The transaction should be an extension of your brand and company values. Here are 4 approaches to make your shipping truly stand out.    

Instill Your Brand Into Your Shipping

Tieks sells designer ballet flats. The company prides itself on using the best materials to deliver the highest quality. The shoes are shipped in a beautiful blue box garnished with a flower and contains a handwritten note. The customer is no longer just receiving a package; they are receiving a gift that feels intricately personal instead of perfunctory. Instill your brand in your packaging to show that your values transcend your product into every detail of your operation. Your customers will notice and your brand will benefit.


Anticipate Needs & Ship Samples

People love sampling ice cream. They might fall in love with their new favorite flavor or find something they would recommend to a friend. The same can go for your e-commerce site. Whether your customer is ordering new tiles for his or her bathroom or 400 invites for a New Year’s Eve party, it can be helpful to see (and feel) a preview. Some companies even analyze what their customers are buying and ship them a few freebies of related products knowing they will be hooked. Shipping samples to your customers shows that you stand by your product. 

Take the Fear Out of Online Shopping

There was once an online company that sold shoes. They couldn’t gain traction. The site just wasn’t catching views or orders, and something drastic had to be done. The company realized that people were scared to purchase online because potential customers feared the shoes might not fit and they’d have to return them. So the company offered FREE shipping. Revenue skyrocketed, and before too long that company was acquired by Amazon. That company is Zappos, and it even went one step further to upgrading its customers to overnight shipping when possible. To off-set expenditure, Zappos absorbed some of the cost by raising its prices. Although this strategy isn’t feasible for all companies, the effect was—and is—drastic. 


Make it work

Eddie Bauer recently had a situation where a jacket didn’t reach its destination. The destination was Afghanistan and the customer was a soldier. The soldier contacted Eddie Bauer’s customer service department and lamented that he had failed to provide part of his address, thus making the package undeliverable. Eddie Bauer could have said, “I am sorry that happened. Would you like to purchase a replacement?” Instead, the outfitter immediately shipped another jacket via 2-day shipping. Eddie Bauer made it work, and gained immense amounts of positive public relations, just by shipping a package. 

Let’s face it: a mini-van can get us from point A to point B, but the journey would be a lot more glamorous and interesting in a BMW M5. The same can be said about shipping. You can send a brown box in 7-10 days or you can use this interaction to make yourself stand out, remind people why they love your brand, and ultimately create brand ambassadors around the world.