Automating the Web of Shipping Options

By Ian Goldman

According to a survey conducted by Shopper Approved among 25,660 customers, there’s essentially a 3-way tie in the key factor shoppers cited to explain why they buy online instead of locally. The winning reasons are larger selection (25.4%), better pricing (25%), and convenience (24.7%). But if you add the people driven by pricing and convenience together, it comes to 49.7% of all respondents.

That is significant because both price and convenience rely heavily on shipping. In fact, shipping costs lead to the quickest cart abandonment by customers. Everyone has had the experience of placing an online purchase only to get to the end of the checkout process and realize, “that’s how much it’s going to cost to ship this order? No, thank you!” All of the work done to attract customers, guide their shopping journeys, and convert them is completely negated if shipping charges are not aligned with expectations.

Similarly, shipping times can easily negate the convenience of online shipping when customers view them as too long. Customers expect their purchases to arrive within a reasonable amount of time and faster is almost always better. Price and convenience only get you so far if you can’t deliver in a reasonable amount of time.

These components of shipping — expediency and cost — have a direct impact on the most important factors driving customers online in the first place.

The problem faced by retailers is that shipping cost and speed is reliant upon a number of factors like distance, package weight and size. Further, there are multiple carriers to select from, so determining the fastest, cheapest way to ship an item is not a straightforward task. But there are features that you can look for in your ecommerce platform that simplify the process by doing much, or all, of the work for you.

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