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    Top 18 eCommerce Shipping, Fulfillment & Returns Tips for 2020

    At JetRails, we know that it takes a village to properly support an eCommerce business. That includes great designers, developers, marketers, and vendors that address needs like payments, taxes, shipping, and web hosting. With so many facets to your site, and so many experts to learn from, it can be challenging to keep up with the latest and greatest best-practices and optimization opportunities. With that in mind, this is the first installment of our new “Community Collaboration” series of articles.

    For this post, we posed some questions to a variety of JetRails partner organizations and industry experts in the shipping, fulfillment, and returns field, including:

    – As experts in shipping/returns/fulfillment, what are your hot tips for 2020? 

    – What’s new, what’s changing? What new options do merchants have that they didn’t have before? 

    – How can merchants compete effectively? 

    – What are the new best practices to improve costs, increase rates of conversion and re-ordering, or other metrics? 

    – What’s rolling out that merchants should be watching or preparing to defend from? 

    We asked these industry veterans to share tips that spoke to challenges, trends, and happenings. Lo and behold, the submissions were fantastic! Without further ado, here are the Top 18 tips that were shared with us:

    Give Customers Good Choices

    Give eCommerce Shoppers Shipping Options

    Alternative delivery options are about to change how we all view eCommerce shipping. Innovation shipping and delivery solutions that have been considered specialized or for limited verticals are going to become more mainstream this year. Specifically methods like white-glove or in-home, same-day delivery, and alternative pickup locations. 77% of online shoppers have abandoned a purchase because of the shipping options. These extra delivery services could be your way to winning over buyers and beating the competition.”

    “Do not be afraid to charge for shipping but give your customers optionality with multiple couriers and options on checkout.  Having multiple shipping options will increase conversion by providing optionality for that customer’s specific needs. In the era of “free shipping”  you will be surprised at how many customers will pay for the option to obtain your products 2-5 days earlier for a more premium service.” 

    “ Fast and free will continue to reign supreme when it comes to eCommerce shipping. However, BOPIS is quickly gaining steam with shoppers. BOPIS, or Buy Online Pickup In-Store, gives buyers the ability to receive their orders quickly without having to pay shipping costs, plus the added convenience of picking up purchases on their own time. Not to mention, in-store pickup increases foot traffic and could drive additional sales on-site. With the expansion of alternative pickup locations through parcel carriers like UPS and FedEx, even merchants without a brick-and-mortar location will be able to take advantage of the benefits of BOPIS.” 

    Expect Speed to Continue to Matter

    eCommerce Shipping Speeds Impact Conversion Rates

    “Same-day and two-day shipping will take center stage as Amazon develops its logistics market. The temporary divorce between Amazon and FedEx (since been repaired) has taught us that domestic carriers are capable of one and two-day delivery for e-tailers. Take advantage of these options and attract more buyers who don’t want to wait to get their packages delivered. “

    Don’t Leave Questions Unanswered

    Don't Leave Shipping Questions Unanswered on your eCommerce Website

    “Provide dynamic rates on checkout- especially for International customers.  High costs for flat-rate shipping will almost certainly kill conversion for your cross-border audience. Go one step further and showcase and/or collect taxes and duties for full transparency and a seamless shipping experience.” 

    “For most eCommerce sellers, delivery date estimates are the last “low hanging fruit” of conversion optimization in 2020. 45% of shoppers have abandoned a cart due to lack of delivery information, and 64% want shipping information on the product page itself. However, while all sellers either have or can get access to the data they need to compute accurate delivery dates (shopper location, inventory location, operational overhead, and carrier rates), almost none do, because doing the math correctly, in real-time, is hard. FenixCommerce is a turnkey solution that integrates with your eCommerce platform, inventory and warehouse software, and carriers, and produces accurate and optimized delivery dates, order cut off times, and shipping costs, on the product, cart, and checkout pages, producing on average a 10% conversion lift and a 21% shipping revenue increase.”

    “You will always hear us recommending merchants show estimated delivery dates at checkout. It’s simple; customers have come to expect estimated delivery dates, and it is an easy way for you to increase consumer confidence in your store while giving buyers the experience they want. To take that experience even further, consider implementing a calendar date picker and/or time slot delivery option to your checkout.”

    Optimize Costs

    Optimize Shipping Costs

    2020 is the year where consolidated USPS shipping rates will vanish. Many consolidated partners and vendors have seen their rates go away after the post office made new changes at the start of the year. For those who lost their rate, their best option moving forward is to find a company that has a tethered rate, so they can still save money on volume without overpaying. “

    “Saving on Freight and reducing transit time is imperative to delivering the standard D2C experience.  Invest in a fulfillment solution that allows you to take advantage of a multi-warehouse network, allowing your brand to go bi-coastal.”

    Understand your gross profits, which will allow you to calculate how much money you can spend on shipping, especially when deciding between standard or expedited, or between free or charging your customers.”

    Make Returns Easier

    Make eCommerce Returns Easier

    “Offering a hassle-free returns policy for your customers is a must-do in 2020 and beyond. New reports find that more than 80% of customers want a no-questions-asked return policy with free return shipping. Failure to offer them this key amenity often results in them not buying from your online store in the future. Moreover, retailers that are offering easy returns stand to improve customer loyalty and retention by a longshot, with reports by Science Daily finding that profits can increase by 25% or more in just 6 months with hassle-free returns.” 

    Analyze Your Shipping, Warehousing & Fulfillment 

    Analyze your Shipping, Warehousing & Fulfillment

    “Understand your most common final shipping destinations and average shipping zones. This will help you better understand if you should split inventory, how you should approach it, and how much you could save. If your 3PL has multiple facilities, they should help you identify how to split inventory and the estimated cost savings. For example, if you send expedited and reduce your average shipping zone from 7 to 4, you could likely save around 22% on shipping costs.”

    Every business has unique fulfillment needs. Assess where your fulfillment services have failed or been stress tested during your peak season.  Then determine solutions & cost to ensure scalability & peace of mind.”

    “As capacity continues to shrink, shippers should consider how the carriers view them as a client. Become a ‘Shipper of Choice’ not just by paying your bills on time and treating drivers well, but by digitizing your shipping processes to align with carriers’ needs while also ensuring that your items are packaged well and classified properly. Doing so will help eliminate freight damages and invoice disputes, positioning you as a more desirable customer.”

    “In 2020, both eCommerce business and supply chain professionals are increasingly under pressure to improve shipping performance (which means get packages to their destinations quicker for more shoppers) while improving shipping margins (which means lowering costs or finding ways to charge for shipping that customers increasingly expect to be free). We believe there’s huge untapped potential to help with these goals in the data these eComm professionals are already sitting on. For example, by factoring in where a shopper is sitting in relation to the inventory that shopper wants to buy, it’s possible to algorithmically determine that a ground shipping service can get the inventory to the shopper overnight; the shopper can then be charged for expedited delivery while the seller pays for ground instead of overnight..”

    “A Technology focused solution is key.  As you grow, your solutions will as well.  Make sure your 3PL is partnered and integrated with services that will assist your brand to reach your 2020 goals.”

    Don’t Overlook Options for Oversized & Heavy Orders 

    Increase eCommerce Sales by Offering Freight Shipping

    Make your heavy freight checkout experience as easy as small parcel. With API technology, live Less-Than-Truckload (LTL) rates can be calculated at the point of sale. By providing your customers with their total cost you can avoid cart abandonment by removing the need for them to call or wait for a quote. Further enhance your customer’s buying experience by making shipment tracking simple, all the while alleviating your customer service team by reducing the number of inquiries regarding shipment status.”

    “Align your business with a freight partner that focuses not only on cost competitiveness but operational efficiency and compatibility. Seek out a provider who prioritizes technology in order to keep your freight program on the cutting edge. Make selecting your 3PL part of your long-term strategy instead of purely based on rates.“


    Hopefully, some of these ideas will get your creative and technical juices flowing and help you to improve your shipping, fulfillment, and returns. Stay tuned for more community participation articles like these on other topics!

    About The Author
    Robert Rand
    Director of Partnerships & Alliances

    Robert is the head of partnerships at JetRails, a mission-critical eCommerce hosting service. Robert has over a decade of experience in helping merchants benefit from sound eCommerce and digital marketing strategies, assisting organizations of all types and sizes to grow and succeed via digital commerce. Robert is a frequent author and thought contributor in the eCommerce industry, and hosts The JetRails Podcast.

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