Key Factors for Choosing the Right Shipping Carrier
Running an ecommerce brand is no small feat – you have to consider everything from marketing and customer engagement to fulfillment and shipping. When it comes to the latter, choosing the right shipping carrier(s) is perhaps one of the most crucial decisions you’ll make. After all, your chosen carrier(s) will be responsible for ensuring that your products reach your customers in a safe, reliable, and timely manner. So, how do you go about making this decision?
Let us take you through a guide that will make choosing the right shipping carrier an easy task!
1. Shipping Rates and Fees
One of the most important considerations when choosing a shipping carrier is the rates you will pay for the different classes of service. In this context it is important to determine the classes of service you want to offer such as Express or Expedited services or Standard services, and then compare the rates and fees charged by different carriers for these services to ensure you get the best deal possible. For example, you may find that one carrier is best for Expedited shipping whereas the other is better for Standard shipping. In general it is better to see if you can utilize a single carrier to meet all your needs, since discounts tend to be better the higher the volume you have with a carrier. Look for carriers that offer competitive pricing, as well as any discounts or promotions that may be available.
Note: If you are just starting out, it may be most important to find a shipping carrier that offers the minimum cost, but in the long run, finding the right balance between cost, reliability, timeliness and service will serve you best.
2. Shipping Speed & Delivery Options
Another key factor to consider is shipping speed and delivery options. Depending on the nature of your products and your customer’s expectations, you may need a carrier that offers expedited [next-day or two-day delivery] in addition to standard delivery [could be 1 -5 days or more]. You’ll also want to look for carriers that offer a range of delivery options, such as delivery and signature confirmation or insurance.
The next thing you should take into consideration is surcharges. Surcharges are additional fees carriers charge for certain situations. Fuel, residential delivery, overweight packages, and signature confirmation are just a few examples of common surcharges you’ll encounter. The prices for surcharges vary from carrier to carrier, so it’s critical that you factor them in, on top of the base price that’s shown.
4. Tracking & Customer Service
Today, a delightful customer experience is the prime focus of all eCommerce brands. Therefore, keeping customers updated about their orders is super important. Customers expect to be able to track their shipments and receive updates on the delivery status. You should look for carriers that offer robust tracking options, as well as reliable customer service in case any issues arise.
Note: You should choose a shipping carrier that has modern tracking and notification software. Also, the one that provides an easy-to-read tracking page will make a huge difference.
5. Reputation & Reliability
Finally, it’s important to choose a carrier with a strong reputation for reliability. Your chosen carrier will be responsible for ensuring that your products arrive safely and on time. You’ll want to ensure you choose a carrier that you can trust. Go for carriers with a proven track record of reliability and good customer service. One statistic to look out for here is carrier on-time delivery records, this will give you more insight to how reliable said carrier is over a long period of time.
Note: You can easily check the reviews through a Google search, or on eCommerce platforms such as Shopify.
Though all of the above points will certainly guide you in the right direction on your hunt for the right shipping carrier, our last piece of advice is making sure you understand how much you value each category of shipping and fulfillment. If you’re looking for the fastest delivery, your shipping carrier choice will be different from someone who only wants to minimize cost as much as possible.
A suggested objective framework for determining the right choice is through what’s known as a Kepner-Tregoe [or KT] Matrix. This allows you to assign relative weights to the criteria important in your decision, and then assign scores to each of the carriers you are evaluating to come up with an overall weighted score. The one with the highest score would then be more than likely the right choice. Of course, there could be additional subjective criteria that could also factor into your decision.
KT Matrix Framework for Selecting Carrier
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