If you’re running a small business selling things on the internet, then the chances are that a large proportion of your expenditure will come in the form of postage and packaging. Deciding on a shipping policy that strikes the right balance between attractiveness to customers and economy can be a tricky thing; there are always compromises to be made between competing priorities. But there are several rules which can be safely described as ‘hard-and-fast’. Let’s take a look at some of them.

Don’t mislead your customers

When it comes to shipping costs, it might be tempting to disguise them until the very end of an online transaction. But even if you’re able to advertise a lower list price for an item, it’s not worth attaching an extra few pounds for shipping at the end of a transaction, especially if the customer doesn’t know it’s coming. The shock factor that comes with a sudden price hike at the very end can be enough to persuade many customers to abandon their cart.

Give your customers options

One way of avoiding the shock is to offer your customers free shipping as standard. You’ll likely need to raise your prices across the board in order to pay for this, but at least you won’t risk alienating your customers in the process. There is a downside to this approach, however, in that it’s restrictive: many of your customers would rather pay the extra cost and have their goods arrive sooner. That’s why it’s important to offer a range of different shipping options. This might result in a slight increase in hassle when it comes to packaging up your items and sending them out, but it’s sure to be worth it.

If you’re shipping valuable items, then it’s worth the expense of offering recorded delivery for free. That way you’ll improve the likelihood that your package will arrive intact – and you’ll be less vulnerable when errors do occur.

Package your items securely

If you’re sending out fragile or especially valuable items, it’s well worth the cost and time of packaging them securely. Bubble wrap and polystyrene foam has been inexpensive and widely available for a while, and so there’s really no reasonable excuse for not using it. With just a little investment, you’ll be able to reduce the amount you’re spending on returns and replacements – and you’ll boost the reputation of your firm in the process.

Of course, not all items are sensitive to being broken, but some are more sensitive to things like humidity and air penetration – so be sure to vacuum-seal and supply with silica gel where appropriate.

Use a reputable carrier

When you’re shipping your items, you’re effectively collaborating with another organisation. Such a collaboration should be treated like any other – you’ll want to ensure that you’re trusting your package to a reputable organisation.

Don’t waste packaging

While it’s important to protect your items while they’re in transit, it’s also important that we don’t go overboard. Oversize and overweight packaging is not only inherently wasteful – it’ll cost more in potage, too. Customers are likely to be dissatisfied when packages are shipped in oversize boxes, especially if they know that the cost of this packaging has ultimately been passed on to them. Even huge-name retailers like Amazon have come under fire for their packaging practices – and so it’s clear that customers want parcels that are sensible.

Postcode Finder

Of all the packages that get lost in the mail every year, the vast majority of them occur because the address has not been properly displayed (or recorded). While this loss might only represent a small number of parcels, these numbers quickly become large if you’re losing the item every time it happens.

Fortunately, we’ve a means of preventing this sort of loss from occurring. The address finder is a device that’ll reduce the likelihood of error when you’re recording an address – on the part of either your staff or customers. Simply put in the postcode, and you’ll be able to select from a range of addresses in a drop-down box. An address lookup system will virtually eliminate the possibility of a mistype.

Offer a the right layout

As well as considering the errors that can occur after a sale, we should also make sure that we’re doing all we can to ensure sales occur. Ensure that your website is sensibly laid out, that it’s legible, and that it offers a search function so your customers can easily find the items they need.