If you are like most businesses that have products to ship, you likely already know that when you offer free shipping, well, customers tend to buy more. In fact, this happens to a degree that defies logic. The problem with the free-shipping incentive is that most customers know it and expect it, making it that much more important that you go beyond free shipping in order to get the sale.
UPS reports that approximately half of online transactions include free shipping. In addition, a comScore survey states that 61 percent of customers say they will cancel an order if free shipping isn’t offered. So if you thought that just offering your customers free shipping was incentive enough, think again! Now is the time to go beyond and stand out.
So if you want to stand out from the standard free-shipping crowd (and why wouldn’t you want to, considering that it’s what everyone is doing?), here are three ways to do it:
1. Member with Shipping Benefits. Offer a membership, where the person pays an annual membership fee but, in return, qualifies for faster shipping. Many people like this option because it means they will get their packages faster, without having to pay for a premium upgrade each time. The key here, however, is that the shipping has to be a lot faster than what they get without the membership (such as offering two-day shipping, versus shipping in 5-7 days).
2. Pick-Up Pay Back. Provide your customers with a discount, which reflects the shipping cost savings, if they pick the order up from your store. They will appreciate the additional savings and it is one less package you will need to prepare and ship. Your customers may also like the personal connection of being able to walk in and see your business, beyond its site or catalog.
3. Local Store Pick-Up. This one could be a big win for you in terms of cutting costs, if you do a lot of shipping. What you need to do is build relations with stores in major metro areas. When customers order, have them pick it up at these stores. That way, you can ship a large container (which is cheaper than individual shipments) to the store with all your orders from local customers, and the store can hand each of the orders out.
Most businesses offer some sort of free shipping, so when you add one or more of these other incentives, you give them a reason to buy from you instead of the competition. And now that you are attracting more business, it is a good time to talk about cutting your shipping costs, as well.
Reducing your shipping costs will keep more money in your pocket. A good way to do this is to look at the flat-rate shipping options that exist today. Even the post office is offering flat-rate shipping rates. Also, take advantage of reusing boxes and mailers that you can get your hands on. Not only is this better for the environment, but it will help keep your expenses lower, which is always a good thing.
Although you are selling products, there is a good chance that you are also buying, from time to time. Ask yourself what you would like, as a buyer, when it comes to shipping. If it is something that would entice you or help you become more satisfied as a customer, then there is a good chance it will do the same for your customers.
Shipping procedures can be a deterrent to online customers, or they can be an incentive. As an entrepreneur, it is your job to shoot for the incentive. When you offer incentives beyond just free shipping, more customers will likely buy from you as a result.