Imagine the following scenario: you visit your local supermarket, only to find that more than half of the shopping carts in the store have been left there in the store aisles, abandoned by their owners. Sounds a bit eerie, doesn’t it? Well, according to current industry research, this is the sad reality for many e-commerce sites.
Recent reports from trusted sources such as the Yankee Group and DoubleClick show that more than 50 percent of online shopping cart sessions are in fact deserted. Among the top reasons cited for shopping cart abandonment: shipping options that are either too confusing or too expensive. Online store owners can improve their chances of order completion and get their e-commerce sites in “ship shape” by following this simple advice.
Five tips to streamline shipping options
1. Present shipping calculations to customers before check out.
Show the calculated shipping charges on pages that list the amounts of products purchased or on pages that appear even earlier in check out process . The goal should be to inform customers about shipping costs as early as possible. You should also ensure that all relevant shipping rates and information are placed in a prominent location in your store so visitors can review the shipping information anytime.
2. Provide real-time shipping calculators.
Offer web-based calculators from shipping providers so your customers can calculate shipping rates. Ensure that the calculators are linked prominently from the appropriate areas in your site.
3. Provide a variety of choices from popular shipping vendors.
Offer shipping services from reliable and well-recognized shipping carriers, such as UPS, DHL, and Federal Express. Show the rates for each delivery option like two-day shipping, overnight delivery, etc., and allow customers to choose the option which best meets their needs. A brief description of the features of each option should also be provided.
4. Offer live order tracking from your website.
Provide functionality that will let customers track the status of their orders right from your website. Shopping carts integrated with tools like UPS Online Tools offer more than just convenience-they also make the store look impressive and encourage visitors to spend more time on your site.
5. Streamline back-end order processes.
Unfulfilled orders do not promote a respectable image for your business. Streamline your supply chain, inventory levels, and order fulfillment systems before you begin taking orders. Then, follow through with each sale by ensuring customers get their merchandise in accordance with selected shipping and handling methods.
If it’s free….
InternetRetailer.com informs, “This holiday season, free shipping tops the list of marketing promotions retailers plan to use, with 63 percent saying they expect to offer them.”
If you decide to offer free shipping, it’s important to do the math before you roll out a free or reduced shipping offer. For example, free shipping for a limited time on minimum order quantities and within a specific geographical region may help to entice new customers and increase sales.
Regardless of the type of promotion however, a careful profit analysis should be done to ensure that free shipping and other promotions will not adversely impact your online store’s bottom line.