As a brand with a strong DTC channel, you’re constantly bombarded with advice about marketing and growth. Unfortunately, the shipping process doesn’t get as much hype as it deserves.

But shipping matters. Accenture found that effectively managing returns can bring in a 22-46% increase in profit on average over six months. That’s clear evidence of how much consumers value a great returns process.

From first order shipment through returns and beyond, these ecommerce shipping best practices can help you retain and improve customer relationships.

1. Batch create your shipping labels

Printing multiple shipping labels in bulk is a huge time saver. When you receive orders, you should print the invoices and handle the picking and packing. When you prepare the shipments, add the appropriate invoice to each box.

Then later, you can bulk print shipping labels in the order the orders were received so it’s fast to match labels with boxes.

With ShippyPro’s label creator, you can batch print hundreds or thousands of shipping labels in one go. You can batch labels even for different Carriers and regions, so you never have to worry about getting it right.

2. Give free shipping for orders that hit a certain minimum

Customers love free shipping. Due to companies like Amazon, Zappos, Wayfair, and Sephora, customers have come to expect that there will be free shipping over a certain order amount. 61% of consumers report that they are “somewhat likely” to cancel an order if there isn’t free shipping.

At the same time, offering free shipping can be great for your bottom line as 58% of consumers will add more items to their cart in order to qualify for free shipping.

3. Offer multiple shipping options with accurate costs

There should be no surprises during the checkout process. Customers want to know the approximate total (including shipping) as quickly as possible.

To provide accurate information right away, you should use a checkout flow that includes real shipping costs. ShippyPro’s Live Checkout feature can be integrated with dozens of local Carriers to provide accurate costs right at checkout.

Intimissimi checkout shipping options

4. Provide accurate delivery date estimates

Customers also want accuracy when it comes to the delivery date. 15% of US consumers don’t regularly have their shipping expectations met. If you can deliver on time, you can improve the perception of your brand and stand out from competitors.

ShippyPro’s Live Checkout feature also includes accurate delivery date estimates provided in real-time by Carriers so that customers can choose the right shipping option for their needs. By integrating with Carriers, you can offer real delivery dates to shoppers automatically.

5. Create a returns portal for easy online returns

Ecommerce returns can be a logistical and profit nightmare. Or, you can find ways to make the returns process mutually beneficial for you and your customers.

Fortunately, it turns out that what saves you time is also what customers like best. An online returns portal can handle return initiation and approval as well as printable returns label. Not only will this portal save time for your customer service employees, but it will also be faster and easier for customers too.

Here’s an example returns portal, where customers can request a return by entering their order number or tracking number:

example returns portal

With ShippyPro’s Easy Return feature, you can create a portal without coding it from scratch. Just set up your return policy (such as length of the return window and any contingencies for product types or clearance items). Then, copy and paste the HTML code into a page of your website.

6. Offer printable pre-paid return labels

In today’s world of online shopping, customers expect pre-paid return labels.

There are two main options:

  1. Include a return label in every order
  2. Make it easy for customers to print a return label

Including a label in every order does cost a bit more, and there’s a chance it could increase returns. You might want to opt for allowing customers to print their own label from your returns portal.

7. Create a tracking page for orders

Just like a returns portal, an automated order tracking page is also mutually beneficial for you and your customers.

Your support team doesn’t have to field as many questions about order status and delivery. Meanwhile, customers can get answers to their questions immediately rather than wait for a response.

order tracking page

In the order confirmation email, include a link to the page where customers can track every step of the order, from order creation to shipment to when its out for delivery to when its received.

Fortunately, it’s not difficult to offer a tracking page. You can do this automatically with ShippyPro’s Track & Trace feature.

And this feature also lets you offer coupons on the page or suggested products after the order has been delivered, or at every stage.

8. Notify customers of shipping updates

When you offer automated shipping updates to your customers, you give the information the need while reducing customer support tickets related to shipping and order progress.

In addition to providing a tracking page, ShippyPro’s Track & Trace feature also sends out automated emails and/or SMS messages to customers, depending on your settings and the customers’ preference.

9. Include shipping and returns in your customer research surveys or feedback requests

Customer feedback is essential for continually improving your relationship with your customers.

Companies often ask questions about their products in their surveys, but might leave out shipping-related questions.

The next time you send out a survey to your customers, or include a pop-up to a survey on your website, be sure to include questions about shipping.

Here are some example questions you might ask:

  • On a scale of 1 to 10, how satisfied are you with Brand’s shipping options and speed?
  • What improvements to Brand’s shipping options would you like to see?
  • On a scale of 1 to 10, how satisfied are you with Brand’s return policy?
  • On a scale of 1 to 10, how easy is it to return Brand items?

10. Regularly review what your direct competitors offer for shipping and returns

You need to keep pace with customer expectations or risk cart-abandonment and low customer retention rates. The best way to do this is to pay attention to what your direct competitors are doing. Consider companies that sell similar products as you, are in a similar price point, and target the same audience and geographical market.

Purchase an item and go through their checkout and returns process. See what options they provide, what messaging they use, how easy it is to choose shipping options, and the quality of their returns process.

It’s wise to be in the habit of doing this for a few companies a quarter. And of course, you can keep the merch if you want to.

Ship, track, and accept returns with ShippyPro

ShippyPro is an easy, modern software for printing shipping labels, tracking orders, notifying customers of progress, and handling returns online.

Learn more about our features and start a trial with your first 250 orders free!