Taking the right approach to postage is invaluable if you’re selling physical items over the internet. This is so whether you’re running an online business, or you’d simply like to ensure that the items you occasionally sell over eBay arrive at their destination intact.
Let’s look at ten tips that’ll minimise your postal losses, and keep your customers happy.
The best things in life aren’t free
While it might be tempting to offer a customer free delivery, you’ll still probably end up passing the cost of postage on to them indirectly. Moreover, free delivery will likely be a slow delivery – and your customers might not appreciate the delay, particularly if they’re unable to pay a little extra for a speedier service.
Give your customer options
Customers are all different, and have different priorities. Some of them might prefer a rapid service, and be willing to pay a little extra to obtain it. Some might need their delivery within a matter of hours! Others might be happy to wait awhile longer. If you don’t give them a breadth of options, then the chances are higher that they’ll look elsewhere.
Don’t hide the costs of postage
One of the main contributors to a customer ‘bouncing’ from their shopping cart is a sudden price hike as previously hidden postage costs are added to the bottom of the bill. An honest approach is therefore better – you might get fewer customers eventually arriving at the checkout, but a greater proportion of them will surely follow their purchases through to completion.
Package items securely
If you’re shipping particularly valuable or fragile items, then you’ll want to cram as much bubble-wrap and polystyrene into the box as possible. But even if you aren’t, it’s worth erring on the side of padding. Naturally, there’s a balance to be struck here, as there is such a thing as too much packaging.
Don’t use oversize packaging
Excessive packaging can significantly over-inflate your postage budget. This is so not only because of the cost of the packaging itself, but because postage costs tend to be calculated per the overall volume of the parcel. Where possible, use packaging that’s of a standard, regular size – as oddly-shaped packaging will incur a disproportionate cost.
Get a scale
If you’re running a small to medium sized business, then keeping track of how much each item weighs will allow you to closely control your shipping costs, and make better decisions about logistics in the future.
If you’re looking to foster customer loyalty, you might be tempted to include within each package a treat that’ll ensure your customers come back for more. But you’ll want to do so carefully, since those extra items will add to the weight of your package. Opt for smaller gifts, like a bag of sweets, alongside heftier items. This will ensure the weight ratio between the two works out in your favour.
Print the labels
The most considerable problems with postage occur when addresses are misread or illegible. This danger, as you might expect, is especially problematic when the address has been hand-written rather than printed. Invest in a laser-printer that can create crystal-clear, unmistakable labels, and you’ll reduce the costs associated with mislabelling considerably.
If you’re going to be posting a significant volume of items, then you’ll want to get hold of a franking machine. This will create a 2D barcode, which serves the same role as the traditional ‘crown and die’ method. Rental costs for such a device are very affordable – while buying one is an investment that’s sure to pay off in the long run. If you’re still using stamps, or you aren’t selling enough to justify such an investment, then be sure to keep a sizeable collection of stamps on hand.
If you’re entering an address into an online form, then there’s the possibility of an error. If this error occurs in the wrong place – such as the postcode – then the package will probably be unable to reach its destination. That’s where postcode lookup comes in. Rather than typing out an entire address, a system like this will have a customer type in their postcode, and then choose from a list of possible addresses. A postcode finder system thereby reduces the chance of an error to virtually nil.
As well as helping customers to input their address themselves, postcode lookup can also provide a useful service to delivery staff and telephone-based customer service representatives. It’s a technology that’s formed another stepping stone toward complete logistic efficiency.