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August 16, 2021 by Aaron Shifer

How To Pick The Best Shipping Carrier For Your Online Business – What To Consider

For online businesses, shipping matters. 13% of customers will never place another order with your business if their shipment is late. 34% of customers say that “long delivery times” are a top reason they choose to shop at brick-and-mortar stores, rather than at online stores.

And, according to a study conducted by Avionos, 62% of customers cited “Fast Shipping Speed” as the most important aspect for a positive digital shopping experience. “Easy Delivery Process” was a close second at 54%. These both ranked higher than customer service, a simple online shopping experience, and a number of other factors.

We’ve made our point. Choosing a reliable shipping partner is essential for your online business, and for satisfying your customers.

But how do you choose the best shipping carrier for your online business? That’s a great question. Read on, and learn about a few of the top things you should consider when picking a shipping partner.

1. Look For Convenient Pickup And Dropoff Locations

First, you should consider the convenience and logistics of partnering with a certain carrier. Ideally, you want a shipping carrier that can come pick your items up at your warehouse, business, or home, depending on your situation. 

You also have the option of dropping packages off with carriers like FedEx, UPS, USPS, and others. However, this is usually more time-consuming. To ensure the fastest turnaround times, you should definitely choose a shipping carrier that offers free daily pickup.

2. Consider The Types Of Items You’re Shipping

If you’re selling small items and light items, flat rate shipping is often a good option, since it simplifies the shipping process. Or, if you’re selling books or other media, you can save money by choosing a shipping method like USPS Media Mail.

When shipping larger products, the cost of shipping mostly depends on the weight of the item and how far it’s being shipped. The dimensions of the package are also taken into account, but are not quite as impactful on the overall shipping cost.

You also should remember that some carriers have weight limits for their standard parcel services. UPS and FedEX have a weight limit of 150lbs. USPS has an even lower weight limit of 70lbs. DHL has a weight limit of 660lbs, so it may be a better option for heavy packages and freight deliveries.

3. Keep Expected Shipping And Delivery Times In Mind

Timely deliveries are extremely important for online shoppers, as we mentioned earlier. Because of this, you should keep expected shipping and delivery times in mind. It’s always a good idea to go with a shipping carrier that offers consistently fast shipping speeds.

However, this doesn’t mean you should only offer fast, expensive delivery options. Quite the opposite! A study from consulting firm McKinsey found that only 23% of customers are willing to pay extra for same-day delivery. In contrast, 70% of consumers are happy with the “cheapest form” of home delivery.

In other words, speed is important, but reliability and price are really important, too. Plenty of people are willing to wait longer for their packages as long as they don’t have to pay too much (or anything at all) for shipping, and they know their package will arrive on the expected date.  This leads to our next point…

4. Make Sure Your Shipping Carrier Offers Shipment Tracking

You should always choose a shipping carrier that offers shipment tracking. USPS, UPS, FedEx, and DHL all offer this service, and most smaller regional carriers also offer shipment tracking. Opting for a shipping carrier that offers tracking has a lot of benefits:

  • Customers can track the entire journey of their shipment from end-to-end – from your warehouse to their front door
  • Shipment updates can be integrated into emails, keeping your customers informed
  • Reduced calls and messages to your customer service team for order updates
  • Tracking numbers help build trust and make your business seem more reputable
  • Shipment tracking numbers can help you resolve customer service problems when a shipment is lost, damaged, mishandled, or otherwise goes awry

In some cases, tracking may not be necessary for really inexpensive items, or things that can be sent in a traditional envelope through the USPS. But in general, it’s best to opt for a shipping carrier that allows you (and your customers) to track the location and status of their shipments.

5. Think About The Carrier’s Reputation

You can’t go wrong with the “Big Four” – FedEx, USPS, UPS, and DHL. No shipping carrier is perfect, and packages sent through these services may occasionally be mishandled or lost – but overall, they have stellar reputations, and for good reason.  

However, you may want to do a bit more research if you’re partnering with lesser-known shipping carriers. LaserShip, for example, is a regional shipping provider in the Eastern and Midwest United States. While it offers good rates, it’s also known for its poor service, with one article calling it the “Most Hated Company On The Internet.”

That doesn’t exactly bode well for your customers if you choose them as your primary shipping provider! So, as you can see, It pays to do a bit of research – particularly when working with smaller shipping carriers.

6. Consider Additional Services –  International Shipping, Signatures, Insurance & More

Not all carriers offer the same services, so make sure you learn a bit more about what they have to offer before committing to a shipping carrier for the long term. A few important things to think about include:

  • International shipping – If you plan on selling items internationally, you should definitely choose a carrier that offers reliable international shipping services. DHL is particularly acclaimed for this, so that’s something to consider.
    You’ll also need to think about the countries to which you want to ship – not all carriers ship to the same countries. You may need to partner with multiple carriers in order to ship to all of your desired areas.
  • Signature delivery – This is particularly important if you sell high-value items. Requiring a signature on delivery increases security, and dramatically reduces the risk of fraud. It creates a “paper trail” that proves the person received the item – and since the shipment won’t be left at the destination address without a signature, it’s less likely to be stolen from a customer’s front door.
  • Shipping insurance – Again, this is more important for highly valuable items. Even if you don’t sell high-value items right now, it’s a good idea to have insurance as an option if you start to carry them at your store. With shipping insurance, it’s easy to get compensation for a lost, damaged, or otherwise mishandled package.

If there’s some particular additional service you need from your shipping carrier, you should double-check what they have to offer before you start using them to ship packages for your online business.

7. Don’t Forget About The Price – Especially If You Offer Free Shipping

Finally, consider the price. Customers want affordable shipping. As mentioned earlier, 70% of customers are willing to wait longer to get their package if it saves them a few bucks. However, some people need their orders sooner – and are willing to pay a premium for faster shipping. 

That’s why, as a rule, you should also offer multiple shipping options – for example, you can offer both 1-3 day Priority Mail shipping through USPS – as well as Priority Mail Next Day service for customers who need their packages faster.

It’s also a good idea to choose a partner that offers live rates and shipment estimates. Most eCommerce platforms allow these integrations. They can see a live preview of how much their order will cost, and when it is expected to arrive – providing them with more transparency. 

Price is also really important when it comes to free shipping. If you offer free shipping sitewide – or on orders exceeding a certain value, such as $50 – it’s in your best interest to choose a shipping provider that offers slower service at a lower price.

This allows you to save money and keep prices lower, since you don’t have to absorb as much of the cost of shipping. And, despite a slower shipment time, your customers will still be happy, since they got free shipping.  50% of customers are willing to wait 5-8 business days for their package as long as it ships for free.

Remember – You Don’t Have To Choose Just One Shipping Carrier!

We hope this blog has helped you learn more about how to choose the right shipping carrier for your online business. As a final note, it’s important to remember that you’re not stuck with a single shipping carrier. You can use whichever one you want! 

In fact, major shipping carriers like FedEx, UPS, USPS, and DHL all work natively within Adobe Commerce (Magento).  That means that you can easily integrate them all into your storefront, as you see fit. You and your customers can access real-time rates and information about each carrier. 

So don’t be afraid to experiment. If you’re not satisfied with one shipping carrier or just want to try a new one, feel free to make the switch. It’s really easy to do so, especially if you’re using Adobe Commerce (Magento). 

And remember, for more eCommerce tips, tricks, and advice, you can visit the 121eCommerce blog. Need help with Adobe Commerce (Magento)? We’ve got you covered there, too. Get in touch with us for a brief meeting. Whether you need to integrate a new shipping provider or you have a more complex project in mind, we’re always ready to help.

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