Juggling the expectations of modern customers with the technology you have at your disposal can be tricky. Underpromise on your service and clients will be hesitant to buy from you, over promise and they will feel let down if you can’t follow through. It’s a tightrope act and the best way to manage it is to think about it purely from a customer standpoint first - what do they value above all else? And, once you know what they want - how can you streamline this process and squeeze out as many efficiencies as possible? More on this in our next post.
In the mean-time here’s 5 smart automation rules that could transform the way you ship.
Offer free shipping for orders over a certain valueFree shipping is a proven weapon in the battle to increase conversions in the shopping cart. Offering free shipping after the customer has reached a specific cart value helps to increase your average order value (AOV). In fact, 58% of shoppers have added more items to a cart to qualify for free shipping (UPS, 2014). The threshold that you set should be reasonable but will depend largely on the type of goods you’re selling and your margin.
Offering free shipping can also allow you to use a less premium delivery service with customers far more willing to wait additional days if they haven’t paid for the shipment.
Manage your carrier selection based on where your customer isNo one size fits all, and using multiple carriers for you shipping can provide you with flexibility, efficiency and cost-savings. Automate your carrier selection for certain areas as a way of consistently managing your options. This might involve having two shipping zones - one metro zone in the city you are sending form with a low cost carrier that offers a fast ETA for local deliveries and one delivery zone for the rest of the country serviced by a reliable nationwide carrier. You can obviously build on this as well by offering different metro carriers and different regional carriers as required. Trialling out different zones and carriers allows you to find the optimal mix of cost and service level for your customers.
Restrict products to certain zonesThere are lots of reasons why you might need to restrict sending certain products to specific areas. You may have a licensing agreement in place that allows you to distribute only in certain areas or there may be legal restrictions on certain products in some areas. Having a rule in place that automatically disallows shipments in these circumstances protects your business from accidentally breaching these restrictions. Even better, if you can provide your customer with reasons for the restriction it allows you to explain the situation, prevent a frustrating experience and hopefully retain the customer for future purchases.
Automate carrier selection by SKU typeIf you stock a wide range of options it can be uneconomical or even impossible to use a single carrier. Those who can facilitate small parcels and satchels will often be poorly equipped or will simply turn-down requests for larger shipments. The same is true of specialist bulk carriers not moving smaller goods. Even if you do find a carrier able to do it all they will likely be a more expensive option or less reliable. By automating your carrier selection based on the products a customer is buying you can make sure that you’re getting a capable carrier for every order while saving your fulfillment team precious time.
Have more than one place to send from? Use them!Shipping from more than one physical location has been gaining popularity, especially among retailers with a large network of stores. It allows you to justify holding more stock in stores and therefore reduce the amount of centralized distribution warehouse space your business requires. It is also an excellent way to minimize your shipping costs as you will be able to ship from the nearest location with stock. As a simplified example; if you had a store in each state you could make each state a zone with the primary shipping origin set as the relevant store.
Some of our enterprise customers have taken this kind of automation to the next level, using inventory information from their stores to help automate where a shipment will be sent from. If the closest store is out of a certain product, the next closest store with stock will be sent the order to fulfill it. Now that is an optimized shipping process!