Shipping and Returns
A fulfilment partner for shipping is of course the ideal solution. But for many starting online stores this is not a possibility. They will have to arrange the shipping themselves. Shipping companies and what they offer vary internationally, so instead of suggestions for what shipping company to choose, we designed a handy decision matrix with some selection criteria that you can put to your local use.
When you have a low volume
When your online store just opened and you don’t have daily orders, one low-cost possibility may be to go to parcel shops yourself and send the parcels from there. Another option is to bring your parcels to another online store. When they have a shipping company that is also suitable for you and collects their orders on a daily basis, you could try to make a deal with them in order for the shipping company to also collect your parcels from the partner’s premises. You probably also get a discount because you work together with another online store (more volume)!
Choosing a shipping company
Criteria include price, and whether they collect from your address (and for what fee) . Some shipping companies charge per kilo. If your have heavy parcels, don’t choose for such a company as they are likely to be the most expensive for your type of business. Some shipping companies cannot handle very large parcels. The parcels are mostly sorted out in a fully-automated process and the big parcels get stuck along the way. If you sell a lot accross borders, it is probably good to have a partner that is active in both your country and the countries you ship to. There are only a number of truly global shipping companies, such as DHL.
Think also about parcel returns!
Sending is only one part of the shipping process – a part of your parcels come back as your customers return the items. We only have 5% of returns but there are online stores with over 25% of returns! Especially if you are working in fashion you should expect many returns. You should first decide whether you want a policy of free returns or not. Nowadays free returns are the standard for many online stores so probably you should go along with that. The problem is that you have to refund shipping costs to the customer because s/he sends you a parcel. This is a big administrative job. There are now options that make it easier to return items, including a standard reference number for your company used by some shipping companies that allows customers to bring the parcel back for free to the parcel shop, another one is that you send a return label along with the original parcel. There are more options, depending on your local provider(s). It is worth checking out how you can arrange your parcel returns!