Shipping 101: How It's Affected the E-Commerce Market

Aug 16, 2019 Sarah Saker Sarah Saker

When was the last time you purchased something online? In this day and age, it’s becoming easier and easier. You can simply shout at Alexa to order an extra set of lightbulbs or quickly buy your wife’s Christmas present while waiting for the bus.

Once you get to the checkout page, however, you realize that $10 item is suddenly $21 because of shipping and taxes. So you back out and begin scrolling through items again until you can find a free shipping option or half-off shipping promo.

A decade ago, shipping was simply part of the penalty of shopping online but at least you didn’t have to go into the store. With almost two billion digital buyers, shipping has become a huge marketing tactic for many different online businesses.

Below are some ways that businesses are capitalizing on shipping and using it as a great marketing tool.


Free Shipping

Let’s start out with the obvious: companies are offering free shipping to consumers as an extra bonus for purchasing items online.

Amazon Prime changed the game in 2005 when it was introduced, offering its users free 2-day shipping on certain products. While the program was slow to start off, it has exploded over the last few years. While Prime offers plenty of other benefits, such as Prime Video, its main draw is still free shipping.

Those who frequent Amazon or other online stores see it as a smart investment, as they’re bound to recoup their money with savings on shipping.


Streamlining the Sales and Shipping Process

Occam’s Razor is a philosophical principle that states when there are two possible solutions, the one with the least amount of explanation is usually the best one.

Take that principle and apply it to e-commerce sales. Easy is simply better. Online businesses have started streamlining the sales and shipping processes, making it easier for the consumer to buy whatever they want. This means more and more “one-click” shopping and shipping.

The steps are pretty easy. First, you have to make an account and enter your information. Second, you simply shop and click. Lastly, you confirm.

That’s cutting down plenty of time from running to grab your wallet, entering all the numbers, and hitting confirm four times. The logistics of going from your screen to your door are all sped up.


Making it Obvious

If you have an e-commerce store, you’re going to want to put your biggest draws in plain view. That means marketing the biggest products, running banners on promotions, and showing off your shipping options.

This strategy goes hand in hand with search tactics, as pushing out regular content is a way to draw people to your website. Keeping the site updated with deals, news, and promos not only alerts customers but is also a way to make sure your website is still relevant.

If you’re thinking about starting your own e-commerce website, make sure you choose a relevant domain name. Then, you can start organizing your products and deals for potential customers.


Keeping it Even

For anyone that’s gone into a Post Office in the last few years, you’ve seen them advertise their flat rate shipping boxes. These boxes and envelopes come in plenty of different sizes but the motto is: “If it ships, it fits”.

So it doesn’t matter if you’re shipping a phone, a water bottle, or a bunch of rocks. If you can fit it in the box, it’s going to be shipped no matter what. This offers customers an idea that they’re potentially saving money as it doesn’t matter what they’re ordering, it’s going to be shipped for the same price.


Track it Down

What is the first thing you do after ordering a package? If you’re like most of the world and anxious about your arrival, you immediately gaze longingly out the window, wondering why your item that you ordered nine seconds ago isn’t being brought up by the delivery man right now.

But since that’s largely a dream, you can still track the progress of your package. Customers can track the progress of their package to plan out their day, know when X package is supposed to arrive, and even leave special instructions for drop-off.

Providing this option to customers is a great way to gain trust, because it shows that you know they’re expecting their package and you want to provide them with as much information as possible.

Delivery services like UPS, USPS, and FedEx all have business accounts that help companies, and in turn consumers, keep track of their packages and expected arrival time and date.


Wrap it Up

If you thought that packaging was just an afterthought, think again. Go to YouTube and type in “X item unboxing/arrival/opening” and watch the thousands and thousands of videos that pop up on your feed.

Opening a package is an experience for many, so you want to make sure you’re giving your consumer that experience. If it’s a multi-item package they’re receiving, how can you design it to where it builds up over time? How can they end by bringing out the main attraction?

Think about how you’d like consumers to open their package and feel excited when doing so. Make it Christmas as any time of the year. 

Hi, I’m Sarah. I’m a freelance writer and small business coach living in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.

I love small businesses (backbone of America!), helping them setup processes for customer support and growth, and working on creative marketing messaging.

I have always loved to write, so now I am combining the passion for entrepreneurship with my love of writing to teach others how to be successful! 

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