There are countless reasons companies from all over the world and across almost every industry are drawn to selling on Amazon.
With more than 310 million active customers, there's no doubt that the platform is the premier online marketplace.
Amazon caters to these shoppers through personalization and on-the-spot product recommendations, making it even more likely that they’ll buy. They also offer companies Seller Central, making it easy to get started selling right away and to build success over time.
Unfortunately, all of these advantages mean that many companies overlook certain elements that require their attention. It can be easy to take a “default” approach to selling on Amazon, given all the advantages the site offers.
One essential element that far too many companies don’t focus on enough is shipping.
Steps to shipping success on Amazon
Given how important shipping is for sellers, it should come as no surprise that Amazon’s Seller Central makes it as easy as possible to:
- Review Shipment Contents
- Track Shipments
- Monitor Shipping Status
- Receive Notifications of Any Problems
All of this information and more is available in your Seller Central Summary page. This is also where you can review any pending shipments.
Still, despite how user-friendly the interface is, there’s still a big difference between Amazon sellers who optimize their shipping practices and those who settle for lackluster solutions. Given how competitive Amazon is, you can’t afford to be anything less than an expert when it comes to your shipping practices.
Start by following these three steps:
1. Decide what you’ll charge for shipping
Even if your company already has preferred shipping providers, it’s worth reconsidering your options now that you’re selling on Amazon (including Amazon Logistics). It’s probably a safe bet that you’ll be selling a lot more in the near future, so there may be opportunities to cut overhead by going with other companies.
That increase may not be across all of your products, though. You may find that larger and/or heavier products start selling more, which could dramatically affect how much you need to budget for shipping every month.
Finally, remember that free shipping has become the standard on Amazon. So, while you may not offer it from your current site, if you want to compete on Amazon, start thinking about it.
2. Consider international markets
Amazon gives you the option of marketing your products to customers from all over the world. This might be the first time you’ve ever considered these kinds of international markets before. They could become a valuable source of revenue.
In Seller Central, you can decide which countries you’ll sell to, but be sure you adjust your shipping practices accordingly, as well, or you may begin losing money quickly.
3. Pay attention to returns
Seller Central makes it simple to manage your customer returns. This includes reviewing the reason your customer decided to send their product back.
Of course, a certain number of returns is normal. Still, you never want to get complacent. Always review the reasons. It could be that a customer returned a product they otherwise loved simply because of a problem with shipping.
43% of the time a product is returned it’s either because the item was damaged, or it wasn’t what they ordered. If you notice this keeps happening, consider the role your delivery company could be playing.
The three steps above are fairly straight-forward, but they can't be ignored.
It isn't until you have a solid grasp on some form of a custom-tailored shipping solution that fits your business needs, that you'll be free of unnecessary overhead and unforeseen complications.
Follow these next three steps, and you’ll become the kind of shipping expert who enjoys an enviable edge over competitors.
1. Automate as much of the process as possible
Initiating the shipping of your company’s products isn’t something you should be doing manually.
It carries the risks of human error and extended lag time. Similarly, you need a straightforward process for tracking your packages once they’re shipped.
Fortunately, automated order management tools make both of these vital requirements extremely easy.
These platforms will sync your Amazon orders from Seller Central with your shopping cart platform, CMS, or other product source. This way, you’re able to track all of your shipments from order to fulfillment, all from one place. Not only that, an order management tool also ensures that your inventory is always updated, accurate, and organized.
2. Factor shipping price into overall costs
As we mentioned earlier, free shipping is now the norm on Amazon.
Unless you sell to a very niche market where this isn’t the case, you most likely need to offer–or will significantly benefit from shipping free-of-charge, as well.
Many companies understand this and simply factor the average cost of shipping into their product’s price tag. This way, they can still offer “free shipping” without taking on extra overhead.
Other companies simply accept the extra overhead knowing that they’ll still come out on top because of increased sales.
You’ll have to study your competition on Amazon and consider your company’s unique costs before deciding which choice makes the most sense. Obviously, there’s a lot more to success on Amazon than just charging the least amount.
However, offering the lowest price will help you win the incredibly valuable Buy Box.
Furthermore, if you try increasing your price to make up for shipping costs, you might not only lose the Buy Box. You could have it replaced with a message to shoppers that reads, “see all buying options.” This means Amazon thinks you’re pricing the product too high.
3. Regularly review your shipping practices
Pricing is just one reason you should regularly review your shipping practices. At first, it will take some time to optimize them for your entire inventory. It could require a number of different shipping companies or even utilizing FBA for some of your items. As time goes on, you’ll still want to check back to make sure a competitor isn’t edging you out with something better.
Leveraging smart tools will help with this. You can use them to review your company’s entire supply chain and find any opportunities where your logistics can be improved.
Treat shipping as a priority from the beginning for long-term results.
Fully consider the scope of your business and what your competitors are doing, and decide on what works best for your unique needs. Remember to consider free shipping, international shipping options, and be sure to review returns.
Once you’ve begun seeing success with your shipping practices, you can largely leave your process alone (especially if you're automating the majority of it) and focus on other elements of improving your Amazon presence.
Take the time to implement these tips and you can look forward to better results selling on Amazon.