Results for 'ecommerce shipping'

Should You Offer Free Shipping? A Simple Test to Decide.

From a consumer’s perspective, there’s something inherently appealing about the term free shipping. The mere thought of getting…

From a consumer’s perspective, there’s something inherently appealing about the term free shipping. The mere thought of getting something for free is often enough to put a smile on most people’s face. Unfortunately, what’s good for the consumer isn’t always best for the merchant.

The effectiveness of free shipping as a sales incentive is often supported by statistics: ComScore, a leading digital market intelligence agency, found that 72% of online customers prefer free shipping. Impressive, right? Well, not so fast. Although free shipping is preferred by consumers, in some cases it’s ultimately ill-advised.

We teamed up with our friends at MarketBrain and put together a genius little app called Shipster that will help determine the costs of free shipping on your profit margins.

Shopify MarketBrain Shipster eCommerce Free Shipping Calculator

MarketBrain has also put together an awesome blog post entitled The Beginners Guide To Free Shipping that outlines everything you need to know about free shipping vs. paid shipping.

Drop Shipping: The Easiest Way to Sell Online

Many people shy away from starting an online store because of the startup costs and fulfillment hassles. But…

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By Andrew Youderian, ecommerce store owner, eCommercefuel.com

Many people shy away from starting an online store because of the startup costs and fulfillment hassles. But imagine if someone offered to pay your up-front inventory costs on thousands of items and manage your fulfillment operations. It'd be much easier to get started, and you could run your business from anywhere in the world. Sound too good to be true? It's not, if you know about drop shipping. 

In this article, I'm going to teach you all about drop shipping. I'll go over a simple definition, list the benefits, show you how to find drop shipping wholesalers, and give solutions to some common problems associated with drop shipping. 

Update: I wrote a extremely comprehensive (and free) guide to drop shipping. Be sure to check that out here as well

What Is Drop Shipping? 

Drop shipping is a retail method in which you don't keep products in stock. Instead, you partner with a wholesale supplier that stocks its own inventory - you transfer customer orders and shipment details to them, and they ship the goods directly to the customer. The biggest benefit of drop shipping is you don't have to worry about fulfillment or inventory issues. 

Also, most customers don't know you're drop shipping, since "private label shipping" lets you ship from the wholesaler with a return address and invoice customized to your ecommerce store.

The Benefits of Drop Shipping 

There are a number of reasons you should consider drop shipping:

1. You Don't Need Buckets of Money: Drop shipping makes it amazingly easy to get started selling online. You don't need to invest heavily in inventory, yet you can still offer thousands of items to your customers. 

2. Convenience & Efficiency: Successfully launching and growing an ecommerce business takes a lot of work, especially if you have limited resources. Not having to worry about fulfillment is incredibly convenient and frees up your time to concentrate on marketing, customer service, and operations 

3. Mobility: With all the physical fulfillment issues handled, you're free to operate your business anywhere you can get an internet connection.

4. It's a Trusted Model: You might be thinking that this sounds like some sketchy, fly-by-night model – but it's not. Plenty of Shopify online stores, even major retailers like Sears, use drop shipping to offer a wider selection of products to their customers without having to deal with increased inventory hassles.

How Do I Find Drop Shipping Wholesalers? 

Before contacting suppliers, you'll want to make sure your legal ducks are in a row. In the United States, most suppliers will ask for your business EIN number and a copy of your state sales tax and/or resale certificate. Once you're properly established, you can start contacting drop shipping suppliers. 


There are various ways to find drop shipping wholesalers, and the video below outlines your options:

If you already know what products you'd like to drop ship, contacting the original manufacturer is the easiest way to find qualified distributors. Not all distributors will be willing to drop ship, but it will give you a list to follow up with. Unfortunately, the market is littered with scams and low-quality information. If you do decide to invest in a directory, I can recommend the paid directory World Wide Brands as a reputable source of drop shipping wholesalers - but it's still very important to exercise caution.

Google can also be an effective tool for finding drop shippers, but you need to keep a few things in mind. 

3 Ways to Use Google to Find Wholesalers 

1. Search Extensively: Wholesalers and drop shippers are notoriously bad at SEO and marketing, and usually aren't going to pop up on the first page of Google for a term like “handbag wholesaler.” Instead, you'll need to dig deep into the search results, often going through 10 or 20 pages of listings.

2. Don't Judge by the Cover: Suppliers also tend to have outdated, late ‘90s-era websites. So don't be scared away by abysmal design and layout. While a sleek, modern site could signal a great supplier, a low-quality one doesn't necessarily indicate a bad one.

3. Use Lots of Modifiers: As you hunt for suppliers, don’t stop with a search for “wholesale” - make sure to use other modifier terms, including “distributor” , “reseller” , “bulk” , “warehouse” and “supplier.”

4 Common Problems With Drop Shipping 

Despite my glowing recommendation, drop shipping isn't ecommerce nirvana. Like all models, it has its weaknesses and downsides. With some planning and awareness, these issues can be managed and need not prevent you from running a successful drop shipping business.

 

1. There will be loads of competition and awful margins.

Solution: It's true. Products that can be drop shipped will spawn a lot of competition. Usually this will lead to cutthroat pricing and diminishing profit margins, making it hard to build a viable business. 

To be successful, you typically can't compete on price. Instead, you'll need to offer value in a different way, usually through top-notch product education, service or selection. For more information on how to pick a profitable niche and add value, see these posts on finding a product to sell andthe anatomy of a profitable niche

2. Syncing inventory is difficult & leads to out-of-stock items.

Solution: The best way to mitigate this problem is to work with multiple suppliers with overlapping product lines. It's inherently dangerous to rely on a single supplier. Having two suppliers doubles the likelihood that an item will be in stock and available for shipment.

Many sophisticated suppliers offer a real-time product feed, and you can use a service like eCommHub to easily sync your Shopify website with the warehouse.

Eventually, you’ll sell a customer an out-of-stock item. Instead of canceling the order, give the customer an upgraded product for free! You might not make much – if any – money on the order, but you'll likely build a loyal brand advocate.

3. It's hard to sell products that you never see.

Solution: In today's world, it's possible to become an expert in just about everything through information online. Selling products from manufacturers with detailed websites will allow you to become intimately familiar with a product line without ever having touched a physical item. And when you do need to answer specific question about a product, a quick call to your supplier or manufacturer will give you the answer you need. 

You can also buy your most popular items to get acquainted with them, and then resell them as “used” or “refurbished,” often recouping most of your investment.

4. Involving a third party will result in more fulfillment errors, mistakes, and logistical problems.  

Solution: Even the best drop shippers make occasional mistakes, and mediocre ones make a lot of them. Suppliers are fairly good about paying to remedy problems, but when they're not, you need to be willing to spend what's necessary to resolve the issue for your customer. 

If you try to blame your supplier for a fulfillment problem, you're going to come off as amateurish and unprofessional. Similarly, if you're unwilling to ship out a cheap replacement part to a customer because your supplier won't cover the cost, your reputation is going to suffer.

One of the costs of drop shipping convenience is the expense of remedying logistical problems. If you accept it as cost of doing business – and always make sure to put your customer first – it shouldn't be a long-term issue.

The Final Word on Drop Shipping 

Is drop shipping the path to overnight ecommerce success? Of course not. As with any successful online store, you'll need to invest over time in a quality website, marketing, and customer service.

But drop shipping does provide an easy way to get started and the ability to leverage other people's capital without having to invest thousands of your own. When managed correctly, it can form the foundation of your own successful online store.

Further Learning

Looking to learn more about drop shipping? Check out our "Ultimate Guide to Dropshipping" - a free comprehensive guide that covers everything you need to know about building and running a successful dropshipping business. 


By Andrew Youderian, an ecommerce entrepreneur and the owner of numerous online stores. You can learn how to create a profitable online store with his free 55-page eBook or find out more about drop shipping on his blog, eCommercefuel.com.



Shopify & Mixergy eCommerce Spotlight: Vend-A-Snack

Here's a new and innovative way to get your daily fix of M&M's, Skittles, and chewing gum! Shopify store…

Here's a new and innovative way to get your daily fix of M&M's, Skittles, and chewing gum! Shopify store Vend-A-Snack is an online vending machine that's shipping treats right to your door. 


The concept is really easy: Choose any 24 items from a huge selection of chips, crackers, chocolate bars, gum, nuts and even breakfast foods. Every box is always $24 and US shipping is always free. 

Harley Finkelstein, our Chief Platform Officer, was on Mixergy with Andrew Warner giving a Masters Class in boosting eCommerce sales.  Harley used 12 different Shopify stores as examples and you can watch an excerpt on Vend-A-Snack below: 

Watch the entire 50 minute Mixergy Webinar where Harley and Andrew discuss clever ideas from 12 of the best online stores on the web. 

Inside An Ecommerce Entrepreneur's Brain

Running a successful ecommerce business requires a special set of skills. Whether it's SEO, social media, customer service,…

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Running a successful ecommerce business requires a special set of skills.

Whether it's SEO, social media, customer service, shipping and fulfillment or email marketing, often you need to be a jack of all trades.

What are some of the areas you find yourself spending the most time on in your business? Do you think all of these tasks belong here? Are there any we missed? Let us know in the comments.

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Zappos Top Ten eCommerce Lessons

Zappos Top Ten eCommerce Lessons The CEO of Zappos gave a presentation on the Top 10 Lessons they've…

At the SxSW Interactive festival last week, the CEO of Zappos gave a presentation on the Top 10 Lessons they've Learned about eCommerce. Zappos is one of the largest online retailers around, with gross merchandise sales of over $800M in 2007 and currently stocks more than 3 million shoes, handbags, clothing items and accessories from over 1,100 brands (from Zappos.com). A few of the lessons they've learned:

eCommerce is built on repeat customers.

Word of mouth really works online.

Don't compete on price.

Customer Service is an investment - not an expense!

All of these as well as the other lessons underscore one major theme: Customer Service. Zappos does their best to ensure they not only meet, they exceed customer expectations - so things like Encourage repeat business through awesome customer service. For example, Zappos will often automatically upgrade their customers to overnight shipping when they aren't expecting it, in order to exceed expectations and encourage customers to return to them.

Read all the slides at Zappos and let us know what you think.

5 Strategies to Get Customers to Trust Your Ecommerce Store

All right. You’ve got the products. You’ve got an ecommerce website with a finely tuned checkout process. But…

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By Susan Ward

All right. You’ve got the products. You’ve got an ecommerce website with a finely tuned checkout process. But you don’t have the kind of conversion rate you would like and shopping cart abandonment is an ongoing problem. Maybe visitors to your site just don’t trust you.

While the cost of shipping and handling has long been the number one reason that people abandon shopping carts, fear also makes the list.

The increasing prevalence of phishing scams, malware, and just plain shoddy customer service makes consumers more wary with their clicks than ever before – which means that trust indicators on your website are more important than ever before. Here are five things you can do to soothe your potential customers’ fears and make them more likely to follow through and buy your products online.

1.Make it Personal

People don’t trust pages or websites. They trust people. So it’s crucial that your website has a human factor.  One way or another, you want to present your prospective customers with faces and names. Use  an about us page to present not just information about your company, but a message from your company’s Founder or President (with an accompanying photo, of course) or a Meet Our Team section (with photos and names)  - or both.

And if possible, add a personal twist to the information you provide on other sections of your website and in your marketing. Online bookseller Chapters Indigo features a Heather’s Picks section of items “specially chosen and loved” by CEO Heather Reisman. You might do a similar thing on your website or have a specific person present a deal of the day or best buy of the week. These, of course, could then be featured in your email marketing, newsletter etc.

2. Look Professional

Show that you’re a “real” company with all the things a real company would have, such as an easy way to contact the business (a fully developed contact page, not just an email form) and customer service (a fully developed customer service section on your website, including a returns policy and a FAQs section). This Future Shop Customer Support page is a great example of what a customer service section of an ecommerce website should be. I’m not saying that yours has to be this big but it does need to be as easy to navigate and present all the relevant information your customers might look for. Remember, the more complete your customer service FAQs, the more confident an online shopper will be buying one of your products.

3. Show that Others Trust You

"What others say about you and your product, service, or business is at least 1000 times more convincing than what you say, even if you are 2000 times more eloquent," says marketing guru Dan Kennedy of GKIC (Glazer-Kennedy Insider's Circle). So you want to make sure that you feature customer testimonials on your ecommerce website. Text testimonials are great but today, when YouTube reigns, video testimonials are even more powerful. Brian Tracy explains how to create video testimonials here.

Another way to “prove” that other people trust your company is by displaying the positive press about your products in an In the News section on your website. If your company has been lucky enough to be featured in some well-known media, build some immediate trustworthiness with your site visitors by displaying the logos of the media your products have been favorably mentioned in on your homepage as Shopify does. You’ll notice that the Shopify home page prominently displays customer testimonials, too, another great idea you should borrow.

4. Prove That Your Website is Secure

Today’s online shoppers are savvy people, trained to look for the additional “s” in their browser address bars, https rather than http, and padlock symbols that tells them that a website is secured – an absolute necessity for an ecommerce website.

Websites secure their servers by using secure sockets layer (SSL), a standard security protocol that encrypts data between a web server and a browser. To do this, the web server needs an SSL Certificate. Any full featured, worth-the-price ecommerce solution will provide the SSL certificate(s) you need so you can provide your customers with a secure checkout when they buy your products online. For your part, if your ecommerce solution doesn’t automatically display a notice to customers upon checkout that they are using a secure server as Shopify does, you’ll want to be sure you let your customers know your website is secure by displaying your SSL certificate symbol or a notice informing them of the fact.

5. Mitigate Customers’ Risks

Think about your ecommerce website from a potential customer’s point of view. What’s their biggest risk? That they won’t like your product – and be stuck with it and unable to get their money back. So increase the credibility of your site (and increase the chance that they’ll buy something from you) by addressing the concern up front, spelling out your shipping and returns policy. For instance, Darling Starling Gifts’ Shipping and Returns page informs customers that domestic shipping is free for orders over $50.00 and that items may be returned or exchanged within 30 days of ordering, and then goes on to explain the details of the procedure. Darling Starling also does a great job of addressing customers’ potential fears that they’re going to get slapped with high shipping charges in addition to the cost of the product(s) if they order anything. Their Shipping details state that orders $49.99 and under ship for a flat rate of $7.

And both Darling Starling’s $7.00 priority shipping and free shipping policies are visibly promoted on their home page, assuring customers of a low-risk buying experience as soon as possible.

The Bottom Line

When customers first encounter your ecommerce website, they do exactly the same thing they do when they walk into an unknown traditional storefront – look around, size up the place, and decide whether or not they trust the merchant enough to buy something from them. If you want them to buy something from your website, you need to do everything you can to make sure they find you trustworthy enough.

By Susan Ward, Writer at Small Business: Canada

5 Quick Tips to Get Your Ecommerce Store Holiday Ready

The holiday season is swiftly approaching, and online store owners should start planning and executing their marketing campaigns…

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The holiday season is swiftly approaching, and online store owners should start planning and executing their marketing campaigns now. Black Friday and Cyber Monday mark the start of the holiday shopping season for millions of  shoppers - and they're just around the corner.

Here are 5 quick tips to get you started: 

1. Create a Gift Guide

The holiday season is all about purchasing and giving gifts. We're all expected to purchase items for loved-ones, friends, and even co-workers, but how do we know what to buy? Not everyone makes a wish-list anymore, so many online shoppers are starving for gift giving advice. Take a look at Amazon's Gift Central below - this is a smart way to suggest items to purchase for every type of person.


This is called a holiday gift guide, and they can take the form of lookbooks, blog posts, or even magazine-like articles. Amazon does a great job at suggesting gift ideas, but also check out RedEnvelope's Christmas Gift section, or the holiday gift guide I published last year on the Shopify blog.

2. Offer a Shipping Calendar

Not only are consumers rushing to buy presents for everyone on their shopping lists, but they also have to manage the logistics of getting those presents to their destinations on a deadline.

If a shopper orders a pair of slim fit organic denim jeans from the Hiut Denim Company (awesome Shopify store), when will the jeans arrive in San Diego, California? Will the order arrive before Christmas? 

Include a holiday shipping chart somewhere prominent in your ecommerce store. Let your visitors know exactly what type of shipping is required to ensure that an order will arrive on time. Take a look at Net-A-Porter's holiday shipping cut-off chart:


It's well designed, clear, and has all the information a hesitant shopper needs to know. Also check out this Holiday Shipping 2012 Infographic from ShipStation will help you put together a shipping calendar for your online store.

3. Offer Black Friday & Cyber Monday Discounts

Shoppers expect to see sale prices during the holidays, and this is especially true on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Not offering a discount on either of these days is the retail equivalent of Santa dropping a lump of coal in someone's stocking. You don't need to discount every product, but make sure you run some type of promotion. 

Also, it's a good idea to start early. Tell customers on your mailing list about your sales early on to get people excited early. Amazon already has a live countdown to Christmas and Black Friday and Cyber Monday: 

It's all about anticipation. If you're going to send an email blast before Black Friday and Cyber Monday- don't reveal all your discounts. Give them details on a few of your juiciest deals, and encourage them to visit your store to find out the rest. That way, they'll be more inclined to actually visit your site, rather than deleting the email after digesting all of the information. 

4. Add Live Chat

In 2012, holiday shoppers have lots of choices, and ecommerce retailers need to standout, particularly in the areas of customer service and responsiveness.

Offering live chat, gives online store owners an opportunity to connect with interested site visitors as they are making buying decisions. Live chat can significantly boost conversion rates and help to identify bottle necks in a site's sales funnel.

Check out how Shopify store Vielle & Frances has a "contact us" live-chat tab on every page: 


The Shopify App Store has several live chat integration options, including Olark, LiveChat, and UserPulse. Remember, you don't have to offer live chat year-round, it's okay to simply offer it during the busiest shopping season.

5. Collect Emails For Year-Round Customers

November and December are usually the best months for selling products, but they're also a great time to acquire long-term customers. With the influx in traffic to your online store, it's the perfect opportunity to start collecting emails so you can market to them all year-round. 

Shopify store HOLSTEE collects emails with a stylish field in their footer: 


Include a signup field on your home page. You might want to offer visitors an incentive by way of a free ebook, downloadable report, or a discount on goods purchased. If you integrate with Mailchimp, it's super easy to cut and paste the liquid code into your theme. For more tips on email marketing, check out MailChimp's awesome "Email Marketing Field Guide" - a comprehensive guide that will teach you all the basics.


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