For most online vendors with a Singapore e-commerce website, the journey to success is long and tedious. It takes more than sending out emails, tweaking your store to meet the client demands, and approving images.
One of the greatest hurdles, however, is shipping and order fulfillment. If you are new to the e-commerce industry, it might feel like you are handing over a crucial business operation to a stranger. With that said, it is necessary that you put in a lot of thought and planning in creating a proper shipping and order fulfillment strategy.
Since order fulfilment and shipping can be confusing, we have in prepared an overview of all the things that you need to know. Read on to the end for tips on how to go about shipping and how to choose the right shipping carrier, which is a process that represents a significant business expense. The tips will greatly help to ensure that your online store in Singapore is working optimally.
Shipping and Order Fulfilment 101
Like all business operations, shipping and order fulfilment requires that you have in place a robust strategy that will be the basis of all your shipping and order fulfilment practices. As you get acquainted with the processes, you can always come back and tinker with them to suit your Singapore e-commerce website shipping operations.
Here are the key steps and decisions that you should consider when creating a shipping and order fulfilment strategy.
Shipping Methods and Rates
When it comes to getting the product to the customer, you can decide to offer free or flat-rate shipping, or you can pass the shopping costs on to your customers. You can, however, choose to absorb some of the shipping costs instead of passing it all to the customer, but this requires strategy.
Free shipping is one of the proven ways of reducing the chances of shopping cart abandonment. However, to make free shipping work for you, consider the following options:
- Offer a discount code to specific customers for free shipping
- Increase your product prices to cover the shipping costs (the customer pays)
- Pay the shipping costs from your profits
- Increase the price of the product to cover the partial shipping costs (both you and the customer pays)
There is nothing like free shipping, but you can use the above strategies to minimise the cost of shipping on your part. More so, you can offer free shipping on a minimum order amount. While you are the one paying for the shipping, this strategy will help increase the amount of inventory you move on your Singapore e-commerce website, and you will have bigger margins that can settle the shipping costs.
Charge Real-Time Carrier Rates
Most e-commerce platforms will allow you to generate shipping options based on live pricing from various carriers. By charging real-time carrier rates, your customers can choose their preferred carriers and pay for the service they want from them.
Charging a Flat Rate
To gain your customers’ approval with flat rate shipping, you need to be sure that you do not undercharge or overcharge them. This shipping method will work when you have a line of standard items that have a similar weight and size.
How to Calculate Shipping Costs
Shipping rates are based on a variety of factors, and they include
- Origin country
- Package weight
- Package size
- Destination country
There are additional charges in the form of insurance and package tracking. Unlike other services, it is difficult to compare the rates from different couriers, and you need to use their shipping calculators and make the best decision. The shipping rate calculator is available for free on the carrier’s website.
Analyse the Numbers
Shipping represents a major business expense, and you need to track your profit margins to avoid losing money. Before settling on a shipping strategy, you need to do your research and analyse how much it costs to get the product to the customer.
Consider the following factors when calculating the ideal cost of your product that will help cover your shipping expenses
- Price of the product
- Shipping costs
- Custom duty
- Credit card fee
- The product’s profit margin
You will need to include customs duty fees if you handle them for your customers. Otherwise, these things will help you in calculating the total selling price of your products.
To best streamline the shipping process, it is necessary that you include the weight of the product in the product description. This will help you get an actual figure of all the shipping costs, which you can pass on to the customer.
Carefully Select the Shipping Packages
There are a lot of things to consider when it comes to choosing the right packaging for your products. During the early stages of the e-commerce industry, packaging was seen as a way of safely shipping products bought online.
However, in the Singapore e-commerce industry people believe that shipping, packaging, and presentation of the product as being crucial to the online shopping experience. This means that you need to compete by delivering value and experience with your Singapore e-commerce website, and not just the products.
You will need “out of the box” ideas to ensure that your packaging delivers value in a sector where brown boxes and sealed factory bags are seen as the standard shipping packages. Today, some of the successful e-commerce websites know the importance of using creative packaging to deliver a fantastic unboxing experience for their customers.
Source your Packaging
There are various types of packaging right from boxes to padded and unpadded envelopes, poly mailers, and more.
Poly mailers, for example, are a perfect way of shipping products that do not require padding, such as clothing, beddings, cushions, and more. They are lightweight, and they significantly reduce your shipping costs. More so, they can accommodate different weights and volumes depending on the order.
You could also consider other types of packaging such as ValueMailers, eSupplyStore, and Fast-Pack. In a majority of the cases, the shipping cost depends on the weight and size of the package. This makes it necessary to keep your packages as small as possible. With that said, you can get free packaging materials from DHL, UPS, USPS, or invest in branded packaging.
What You Need For Successful Shipping and Order Fulfilment
After selecting the proper shipping method, rates and choosing the appropriate shipping packaging, you will need to look at a few other things that will make the shipping process better. You need to consider getting insurance and tracking services, custom declaration forms, tariffs, taxes, and duties.
Tracking and Insurance Services
These services will increase the security of the product during shipping. Most couriers will offer insurance and tracking services at a relatively affordable fee. You can rest easy knowing that you will get paid if your product gets lost or is damaged during the shipping process.
It is advisable that you buy insurance for big-ticket items just in case they get damaged or lost. Recent developments have made it necessary for carrier’s to include insurance and tracking costs in the shipping fee. It is therefore necessary that you should consider insurance and tracking services when comparing the shipping rates from different carriers.
Customs Declaration Forms
If your Singapore e-commerce website is attracting foreign customers, then you need to fill the proper customs documentation. You can get them at the local shipping retail location or the post office.
The forms tell the customs officials what is in the package, whether it is a merchandise or gift, and how much it costs. You should fill in the forms with honesty to avoid problems such as the package being held up in customs.
Declare Duties, Taxes, and Tariffs
Import or customs duty fees are charged once the package reaches the destination country and the recipient of the package must pay these charges. However, most people are oblivious to this fact, and they end up feeling duped.
When drafting the shipping policy for your Singapore e-commerce website, you need to consider the additional customs fees that are payable in the destination country. You should indicate the information about the additional charge in your shipping as well as the terms and conditions policies.
Open A Business Account with Your Shipping Carrier
After getting the appropriate shipping carrier for your Singapore e-commerce website, you should set up a business account. When compared to personal accounts, business accounts offer a variety of services.
Depending on your preferred carrier, you can get better expense tracking, discounts, online tools to help streamline your shipping activities and more. You will need to put all of these things into consideration before you start the shipping process.
Labelling Your Package
After figuring out your packaging, product presentation, carrier, and the associated costs, you need to determine how to label your packages correctly. Most beginning Singapore e-commerce website owners start by writing the recipient and return addresses by hand on the packaging. As easy as this might seem, it is time-consuming and not scalable as your business grows.
If you are using Shopify as your Singapore e-commerce website platform, then you should use Shopify shipping to print and pay for multiple shipping labels. The process is easy and straightforward and here is how it works
- Select all the orders that are ready for shipping from your orders list
- Preview each shipment and adjust or fill in any missing details such as the carrier, shipping service and package
- Buy all the shipping labels in one click then print them in a single PDF document
The PDF document can be printed on regular paper using a standard printer. However, you can save more time by investing in a thermal label printer to print the labels directly on self-stick labels.
Using a Fulfilment Warehouse
It might be difficult to find an appropriate place to store the entire inventory displayed on your Singapore e-commerce website, and this is where you can take advantage of a fulfilment warehouse. It can also help you automate the shipping process.
You will have to integrated the warehouse into your shopping cart, and once a customer makes an order, the fulfilment warehouse will automatically get the order. They will then pick the item, pack it, and ship it to the recipient’s address.
Using a fulfilment warehouse has several benefits including
- Since fulfilment warehouses are usually integrated with some of the best shipping and logistics companies; you get easier access to a variety of shipping options
- You can store a bulk of your inventory close to your customers, and this reduces the delivery time
- Fulfilment warehouses ship large orders for multiple online vendors; you are sure to get cheaper shipping rates
As good as this might sound, fulfilment warehouses are not for every e-commerce business, and it has its share of disadvantages including
- Although you will get better shipping rates, there are associated costs that you have to pay such as ‘picking and packing costs,’ warehouse storage fees, among others
- Few fulfilment warehouses have the branding experience that will deliver value during the unboxing of the product. If you have an out of the box packaging idea, it is difficult finding a fulfilment warehouse that is dedicated to your brand presentation
How to Pick the Right Shipping Carrier for your Singapore E-commerce Website
Now that you have what it takes to create a sustainable shipping strategy let us now shift focus and look at the things you should consider when choosing a shipping carrier.
While cheap pricing is a deal breaker for many online vendors looking for a shipping carrier, you need to consider the reputation of the shipping carrier. The customer might get a damaged product or worst case scenario; the product gets lost.
To avert this, do a thorough background check and establish what type of reputation they have in the market.
Types of Products
When reviewing different shipping carriers, you need to consider the size and shape of your products against the offered services. During the research process, you may find that some specific policies or restrictions make them not suitable for the type of products you have on your Singapore e-commerce website.
If your Singapore e-commerce website serves both local and foreign customers, then you need a carrier that will handle both domestic and international shipping.
Other things to consider when searching for a shipping carrier include
- Insurance and Tracking services
- Live rates
In the early stages of running your Singapore e-commerce website, you might get frustrated by the shipping processes. However, we hope that this article will help you get through the hurdles and challenges posed by shipping.