Our iThemes Exchange ecommerce plugin has gone physical. We rolled out Exchange earlier this summer but it was limited to digital products. Now we’ve released our Shipping Add-on and you can start selling real world products.
Let’s be upfront: This is a simple shipping tool that enables flat rate shipping. We’ll be rolling out more features later, including add-ons for USPS, Fed-Ex and UPS. You can have your headache-inducing shipping soon enough, but for now it’s super simple.
What does flat rate shipping mean? You can set a shipping price for each individual product. But that’s as fancy as it gets. There are no discounts for multiple products, basing the shipping on total order price or weigh-based pricing. That’s complicated—think simple.
Here’s how you can make flat rate shipping work:
1. Simpler is Better
When you’re selling stuff online you want to avoid any roadblocks that cause customers to abandon their carts. Complicated and surprising shipping can be that kind of a roadblock. That’s why flat rate shipping is a good idea. Yes, it’s simplistic. It’s not a good solution if you’ve got lots of products with varying sizes and weights. But if you’ve got basic offerings it keeps things simple for customers, and that’s what matters. Whenever you can remove variables you reduce complications.
2. Flat Rate Boxes
Flat rate shipping and flat rate boxes: what a perfect combination. Flat rate boxes are the most economical way to ship. They keep you from guessing on your shipping costs and that means you won’t have to fleece your customers or worry about losing your own shirt on shipping.
3. Specialty Shops
Flat rate shipping works best for shops that sell just a few products in low quantities. With a per product shipping price, the shipping costs can skyrocket when customers order lots of stuff, scaring them off. But if you’ve got a specialty shop that only sells a few things or focus on one or two items, flat rate shipping can be perfect.
4. Free Shipping
You can always make your flat rate free. Free shipping is becoming more and more common—52% of ecommerce sites offered it in 2011. Free shipping also leads to lower cart abandonment (75% are likely to abandon their cart without free shipping) and customers buying more (93% buy more with free shipping).
If you do offer free shipping, be sure it’s advertised on your product pages. Free shipping helps close the sale, so it’s no good if you don’t mention it until halfway through the checkout process.
5. Single Item
If customers always order one product then shipping costs are flat and the flat rate solution is ideal. This can be perfect for small stores or organizations just starting out. Start simple. If you’ve got a simple store, simple shipping will work just fine.
6. Simple Estimates
If you’ve got simple shipping you should give simple estimated delivery dates. 24% abandoned their cart when no estimated delivery date was given. But with flat rate shipping you’re not dealing with the complications of multiple delivery speeds. So let people know when they can expect to get their goods (remember to under-promise and over-deliver).
7. Go Fast
While flat rate shipping is simple, it doesn’t have to be the miserly approach. What if your only shipping option was express? Stick with simple technology, but then offer top-notch service.
8. Bulk Orders for Authors
Most authors these days aren’t selling and shipping their own books. They usually point customers to Amazon, with one exception: bulk orders. Many authors will sell bulk orders of their books and simple shipping is perfect. Create products for common bulk quantity purchases and set the flat rate price. Give your biggest fans a bulk discount and make the process simple.
9. Get Real
If you primarily peddle digital goods then simple shipping offers an easy way to experiment with physical goods. Maybe it’s a print version of your ebook or a poster version of your latest design. Shipping can add all kinds of hassles, so keep it simple.
10. Going Global
Don’t forget about the ‘world’ in World Wide Web. You need to figure out what to do when international customers show up and you’ve got flat rate shipping. That can be a bad combination. You may need to say no to international sales or be prepared to swallow some pricey shipping costs.
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