How to start shipping in 24 hours (or thereabouts)

How to set up an online store & start shipping in 24 hoursIn this weird economic climate, you might be thinking about moving your business online or adding an online option to your bricks and mortar store.

If you’re already got a website, it’s actually remarkably easy to start shipping products to your customers, even if you don’t have access to a fulfilment warehouse.

1. Set up your couriers

Unless you’re planning on hyper-personalised (contact-less, of course) home delivery, you can’t run an eCommerce business without signing up to a courier or two (or more). In the early days it might be easy enough to pop down to your local post office to drop off your parcels, but as your online store gets bigger (or while you’re in COVID-19 related lockdown) that just might not be possible).

We’ve got to be honest: setting up your couriers is the longest part of the process. However, there are some plug-and-play options out there like Fastway, Sendle and Australia Post so depending on who you go with, it could be pretty quick.

If you have no idea where to start, ask someone who knows (see the next step).

2. Automate your fulfilment processes to make life easier 

Unless you want to stay up until 3 every morning packing parcels, handwriting addresses onto the front of them and hand-delivering them to your customers yourself, you need to think about fulfilment automation.

Automated fulfilment software like Starshipit lets you bulk-print shipping labels, packing slips and manifests at the click of the button, saving you loads of time and money and giving you more time to focus on running and growing your business. If customers have entered invalid address details during checkout, Starshipit will auto-correct them.

If you’re shipping internationally, you can automatically print and submit all customs documentation depending on the part of the world you’re shipping to. Starshipit automatically assigns orders to certain couriers depending on rules you’ve set, and because the system integrates directly with the couriers’, they’ll automatically place an order with the couriers too.

If you’re stuck with the couriers step above, Starshipit makes it easy to connect with domestic and international couriers so you don’t have to start from scratch. Our team has great relationships with some of the best carriers all around the world, which means we can help you get great shipping rates too – and we don’t clip the ticket.

And if you get stuck, we have an expert customer support team that offers free onboarding and support, plus a well-stocked online support centre.

3. Print shipping labels & documentation

If you’re expecting to ship out a lot of orders, investing in a high-quality thermal printer is highly recommended. Your standard inkjet printer will work, but you’ll go through ink cartridges or printing ribbons like they’re going out of fashion, and will cost you truckloads in the process.

An inkjet printer is also problematic when it comes to bad weather, because if it rains, your shipping labels could smudge.

A thermal printer uses heat to print images on special thermal paper. The paper costs slightly more than standard paper but it’s faster and more cost-effective overall, and won’t bleed if the parcel gets wet.

Starshipit is optimised for thermal printing, which is very handy because for every order you get, you’ll need to print a shipping label and packing slip, plus any relevant customs documentation and manifests for your couriers. This all adds up to a heckava lot of printing so it pays to start how you intend on carrying on.

4. Provide delivery options at checkout

Delivery options give customers control over their destiny

Delivery options are important because it gives a customer control over their parcel’s destiny and increases conversion in the process.

For example, if a customer wants to buy a dress and they only have one shipping option (two days), they may decide to shop with someone else that offers next-day, same-day, three-hour, Saturday delivery, twilight delivery, or the standard two-day option. All of these additional options give the customer greater transparency over their delivery, and satisfy their need for speed.

If a customer knows they’re not usually at home during the week, they can select a delivery option that works with their availability. While no one likes to wait, no one likes missing their delivery and dealing with the inconvenience of visiting the post office during working hours or organising a re-delivery either.

5. Keep your customers in the loop

Once their orders have been dispatched, your customers appreciate regular updates on their status. In fact, customers are increasingly demanding greater visibility. CommBank reported in its November 2019 Retail Insights Survey that 80% of customers want updates sent on delivery status and location, but only 32% of retailers offer it.

Every part of the delivery process is an opportunity to engage with customers and capitalise on their emotional openness to your brand.

Branded tracking landing pages keep customers updated at every stage of the delivery process, sending customers back to your website, not the courier’s. This way, you can keep your brand front of mind, rather than just the product that your customer has purchased. Starshipit lets you create branded tracking pages featuring your logo, imagery, brand colours, tone of voice and links to your social channels, plus visual progress indicators that tell your customers where their order is.

Notifications during delivery also keep customers engaged and informed. Starshipit lets businesses send automated SMS and email notifications on label print, at pick-up, when in transit, when out for delivery, and when delivered, reducing “Where’s my parcel?” enquiries and helping meet expectations around delivery timeframes.

Read more about branded tracking pages and notifications

Start your online business adventure today with Starshipit

Launching an online store during this economic climate might seem daunting, but if you do it now you’ll hit the ground running if further restrictions come into play. If you’ve only ever sold instore, going online will also expand your horizons as more customers will enjoy greater access to your products, 24/7, wherever they happen to be.

Managing fulfilment and sorting out your couriers are the trickiest parts of the puzzle. For an award-winning product and world-class support and onboarding to help you every step of the way, you can’t go past Starshipit. Sign up for a free 30-day trial today and start shipping your orders tomorrow.