WooCommerce is one of the most favored online selling platforms by sellers today, precisely because it offers a wide array of options for your fulfillment and shipping needs. After you have set up your website, and managed your product listings to their full potential, you really have to tighten your process and make sure that your products are sold and shipped in the most satisfactory way so that customers place repeat orders and eventually be turned into a loyal base of followers.
Shipping mechanisms and strategy are one of the most important aspects of e-commerce and online selling. E-commerce prides itself on convenience and satisfaction with online customers getting value for their money without the hassle of physically going into stores and looking at products. What we want to avoid, and we say, avoid at all costs, is the shipping process having many issues that will make it less than satisfactory.
Here, in this piece, we guide you with the best practices on handling your WooCommerce fulfillment and shipping to ensure safe, smooth and satisfactory fulfillment for you dear, beloved customers. We’ll also hook you up with some tips on how to boost interest and attract more customers by making your shipping options and methods value-added. And towards the end, we’ll be explaining a few extensions that you can attach and plug in to your WooCommerce account to help you smoothen the overall process of fulfillment and shipping.
How do you optimize the shipping process?
For your own peace of mind, and to make the most of all the opportunities that may arise, you must make sure that your machinery to deliver your customers’ sought-after goods is well-oiled, up, and running. No customer will place a repeat order with a seller that has an inefficient and cluttered process in fulfilling orders.
Having a streamlined process will also save you a lot of time and effort, and you can reallocate to getting your head in the game of strategizing and gradual upscaling of your business in general. Basically, we’re just saying: leave the small, but very integral, components to the hands of the professionals so you can clock in precious time into aiming high and hitting your goals!
Experience fulfillment by Locad today!
Determine and calculate shipping costs
Nothings comes free these days, of course, we have expenses for shipping, but the point in strategizing our shipping process is not merely cutting costs (although it’s part of that), but also treating our shipping process as an investment that we can recoup in increased sales and better brand reputation. In determining and calculating shipping costs, we have to consider the following expenses, which we should actually spend on to ensure utmost quality for customer satisfaction:
- The cost of boxes, wrapping, tape, and stickers
- The price of hiring a worker to pick, pack, and ship an item.
- The expense of sending a courier to pick up and deliver a package
- Import/export costs when shipping overseas
Determine your product types
It is best also to do a quick inventory of the types of products that you sell. Through a quick rundown of what we have, and what we plan to sell in the future, we can phase our spending on packaging materials to reflect our projected demand and actual sales. You might need bigger boxes, more wrapping and more tape if you sell larger-sized items. You might want to increase the quantity of packing materials if you are selling little trinkets that are expected to garner an exponentially higher number of orders.
Also, note the complexity of the fulfillment process for each product type to ensure proper compensation and skills training for those who will handle the picking and packing. We also should note where we plan to ship certain products and foresee the whole process that they will go through. For fragile or perishable items, for example, there has to be more appropriate packaging and handling by the workers. You also have to look into special arrangements with logistics providers so that the parcels are handled without sacrificing the product’s quality.
Add shipping zones based on capacity
Especially if you’re confident with your product, offering new shipping zones, even ones internationally to add to your domestic, smaller scale is a good move for your business. However, we have to tread that path carefully so we don’t stumble and all our efforts become only for naught.
Based on where you are now, plan in phases your expansion strategy. In international shipping expansion, we have to consider the locations nearest to your home country of operations so it would be easier to manage at the beginning. We also have to study certain restrictions, rules and regulations on e-commerce shipping that apply internationally, and the agreements that bind specific countries when it comes to trade relations.
And when all these are considered, we can move on to adding more shipping zones via the WooCommerce dashboard. WooCommerce lets you easily add shipping zones through the Shipping panel on your Settings in the dashboard.
When you’re adding shipping zones, you will be asked to put in a Zone Name, which is your personal abbreviation for that certain shipping location and a Zone Region, which lets you choose from a dropdown menu of a wide range of location options.
Categorize into shipping classes
This one’s pretty easy when you’ve done your inventory. WooCommerce lets you classify each item on your product listing into shipping classes. This is basically a cluster of products that act as a digital basket of products according to the shipping costs they incur.
This way, you can accurately and clearly present the shipping cost in each product listing to guide your customers on how much they have to shell out for shipping once they decide to check out and buy your product.
Shipping strategies – cover everything
Including in your store a wide array of shipping options essentially expands your customer base because whatever a specific customer’s preferences on shipping are, the store can cater to them. Here are some of the shipping strategies and methods that are available on WooCommerce.
Live rates. Live rates are real-time calculations of shipping costs that take into account your product size, weight, and other specifications and compute the total cost according to real-time rates that also change whenever your selected 3PL provider updates their rates as well.
Table rates. These on the other hand are a set of rules on shipping that offer maximization of space and cost. These provide you with higher customizability on your shipping methods. For example, you can place a rule that only ships a product when part of an AUD50 minimum purchase. Or place a specific shipping cost for products below AUD10 and a higher rate for those above.
Flat rates. Flat rates are beneficial to you when there isn’t much disparity in product shape, size or weight and basically, you can use the same packaging for everything. With a flat rate, there is only a fixed cost of shipping for all your items.
Free shipping. According to studies, 98% of shoppers are more likely to buy from stores that offer free shipping. But sadly, free shipping isn’t for everyone. You are required to maintain a profit threshold, so it is best to match this with other sales boost strategies to ensure that you keep scaling your business while carrying the heavy costs of providing free shipping. The rule of thumb always should be that you get more than you spend.
Pick up. The pick up shipping option can be offered for customers who reside near your location of operations, or whichever warehouses you have partnered with in various locations. Pick up is quicker because some customers might want to get their item before they come to dinner, or during an afternoon walk with their dog. Less time waiting, the satisfaction comes faster.
Evaluate shipping setup
It’s important for your whole shipping mechanism to have a test run to rule out any possible issues and prepare in advance for any troubleshooting that you might have to conduct once your store goes live.
To ensure that the whole shipping configuration goes smooth sailing, you should pay attention to the following nodal points:
- Zones and Shipping Classes. These two are the main criteria that determine shipping settings, so these are the priority for testing. You might need to take a look at one time from each of your shopping categories, and test it in every shipping region, which you can do with a VPN just to know if they work in that region. Things to check include are the accuracy of shipping costs both in the checkout page, in the cart, and in the listing itself.
- Grouped Products and Cart Sizes. If you have placed some rules on discounted or free shipping, you need also to countercheck if they are reflected on your intended, specific product combinations or cart sizes.
- Integrated Third Parties. This is more on the technical side. Synchronization of systems between platforms is a major aspect of streamlined shipping processes. Keep track of the accuracy of real-time shipping costs, tracking details and return policies should you choose to integrate a third-party shipping platform to your WooCommerce.
- Information Availability. This is a crucial one. We don’t want our customers confused so any information on discount alerts, free shipping, and even data disclaimers must be inconspicuously placed on the interface in such a way that customers can easily access them.
- Checkout Process in Full. This is the cherry on top. Once you already finished with the other aspects, finish the checkout in its entirety to determine if the order will be reflected onto your dashboard.
Automated plugins that could help your WooCommerce store
To lessen the load on WooCommerce shipping management, here are some helpful plugins to help and assist you in shipping optimization. WooCommerce shipping is a native WooCommerce plugin tool that you can use to print shipping labels for USPS and DHL right at home. This takes off your back the hassle of manual input of shipping information by hooking you up with labeling software.
Shipstation integrates your WooCommerce with other sales channels like Amazon. Orders are imported and shipping promos are also reflected upon integration. Shipstation also gives you an additional feature of branding shipping labels and other shipping collaterals with your own company’s logo.
Table Rate Shipping by Bolder Elements assists you in creating your table rate shipping rules with an allowance of up to 15 conditions. Some examples include the subtotal of the cart, the shipping class, the size of the package, the product category, and even the day of the week. Pretty handy for your intricate shipping strategy. Advanced Shipment Tracking can integrate in one dashboard the tracking data from more than 150 3PL providers.
Optimize with a logistics engine provider
Ever wondered if you can sit in place and your deliveries will still be fulfilled? Or are you dreaming and wishing for extra hours so just you can sit on your thinking chair and plan that expansion and upscaling you’ve always wanted but don’t have to time to set up? Worry no more, because the logistics engine has got your back.
A logistics engine provider such as Locad integrates groundbreaking, multi-channel software platforms with a vast network of pickup centers, storage warehouses, and other logistics locations worldwide to drastically cut down delivery time, ensure safe delivery of goods by partnering with reputable 3PL providers.
Through the unified hub called Control Tower, you can now integrate your WooCommerce account with all of your other sales channels, and manage them all in one place. Get orders in real-time and strategically allocate and re-allocate your inventory with just a few clicks. Locad optimizes the delivery process by shipping from the warehouse hub nearest your customers.
With logistics engine providers like Locad, you won’t have to go through the daily hassle of checking every channel you have because all the information you need is placed in a neatly organized interface which truly makes you feel like the boss of your own business. Redirect your energy to achieving greater heights by partnering with Locad. Contact a services agent today!