How To Handle Shipping & Fulfillment
Hello and welcome back to how to sell online. In this lesson. We're gonna be talking about how to handle shipping and fulfillment. So I don't want you to let the fear of shipping and logistics keep you from launching your online store. I know that there's a lot to get nervous about when it comes to shipping, especially when you're starting to think about shipping internationally. There is a lot to deal with. But I don't want you to let those fears keep you from launching because really shipping doesn't have to be that scary. Now. Shipping looks different for every type of business and it would be impossible for me to cover all the shipping and logistics scenarios that you might experience right? As a jewelry designer. What what and how I ship looks very different from my friends who have candle companies. It looks very different from an artist shipping one of a kind work. You know if you are a bricks and mortar store where you're selling from the same inventory that's on your shop floo...
r, you're gonna have a slightly different process than I do as someone who just makes and fulfills from my studio. So it looks a little different for every business and it would be impossible to cover all of that in this lesson. But what I want to do is just sort of give you a brief overview so that you can stop being scared of shipping. I know that it's just another part of your business process that you really can do. All right? So first of all, it's important to remember that you get to decide where you want to ship to and what options to offer. So if you're nervous about international shipping, don't offer international shipping, at least not to start if right now, you only want to do local pickup, you can do that. If you're like, oh, customers are asking for a local delivery, but that's a step too far, then don't offer delivery. You get to decide what's best for your business and you can always evolve that over time, but think about what's gonna be easiest for you and quickest to help you get started. Now, this is one of those things where I'm going to just put in another plug here for Shopify because if you are nervous about shipping and fulfillment, Shopify is gonna make your life so much easier because it really is such a robust platform on the back end when it comes to shipping. So, Shopify lets you as the business owner set your shipping options by location, by product type, by weight, by order, value and so much more. So you can see here, here's just a little glimpse into my Shopify back end, where I've got different shipping options based on what people are spending or even what a product ways. And then Shopify also lets you generate shipping labels directly in the platform. So when you go to place an order, here's an example here. Um It actually gives me the options based on weight, package size for a location for how I can ship and I can go ahead and purchase and generate a shipping label right in there. This is a big deal because it means you don't have to reply, rely on third party shipping platforms. So honestly, if you are nervous about shipping and fulfillment, Shopify is gonna make your life so much easier again, I promise you they didn't pay me to say that. It's just it's true that is the biggest win for them. Um And that's the best place to go if shipping makes you nervous or if you know, you're gonna have a lot of complex shipping scenarios like needing to have local delivery or local pickup. Because Shopify also gives you that option. So you can give customers in a certain geographic region the option to have local pickup to set things like that. So really you have a lot of choices that you can set up all inside the back end of your Shopify shop. Now I do want to answer some kind of basic shipping questions that I think are really important to kind of think about going forward. And the first one is that should you set shipping options by value or by weight. So what I do in my online store is that I have free shipping over a certain dollar amount for me, setting shipping by value. Absolutely makes sense because I sell jewelry, it's small, it's lightweight and so one piece of jewelry is not gonna be that much bigger or multiple pieces of jewelry are not gonna be that much bigger or much heavier than someone buying one. So for me, it makes sense to just set value by set it by order value. The other advantage of not setting it by weight is that I don't have to actually enter product weights in for all of my items. I don't have to enter it in for my skews. I can just do it when I'm shipping. So if you have a product that's kind of lightweight, that's pretty easy to ship, I would say just set it by order value, it'll make your life a lot easier. But if you are selling things that are heavy that are bulky. I have friends who have candle companies, I work with a lot of ceramic artists, anything where every time someone adds something to their cart it's going to add both weight and mass to a package. Then I would set your shipping options by weight. You'll have to enter wait in for each of your products as you're putting them in your online store. But if you're selling things that are big and bulky, definitely worth setting options by weight instead of just by value. Alright, another question that comes up is where to order shipping supplies in bulk. There are lots and lots of options. You can certainly google. Um but a couple that I like. I order most of my shipping supplies from echoing clothes. I like that. They're super sustainable. They have good customer service. You can do custom printed things. So this is what I use pretty much exclusively for my shipping. Another company, if you're looking for again sustainable and personalize herbal. So customizable you can put your brand, they can put your logo. No issue is another option. These are just too that, you know, I've not used no issue. But every time I see someone use them, I'm like, it's gorgeous. So these are two options that you can use. Like I said, there are plenty of others. I do recommend once you're getting started buying in bulk because you're gonna you're gonna spend a lot of money if you just like run out to your local office supply store to buy envelopes. Every time you have to ship something, it's worth getting a small bulk order. Even if it's not custom, I don't get things custom printed. I just buy in bulk. All right, So let's talk about what you should include in an order. Again, I can't get into like how exactly to pack and ship because how you pack and ship a piece of jewelry is very different from how you pack and ship, ceramics or glass or even clothing. All of those things are different. So we're not gonna get into that here. But there are things that you want to think about making sure you include with every order, first and foremost. The product obviously most important, I like to include an invoice with return information. So that's another great thing about Shopify. It automatically generates a pack slip that you can print out. So it says what's included, but it doesn't include the price, which is great if someone is gifting, but it does include your contact information. Thank you. Note that you can put in there and what their return policy is. So this is really helpful for customers to see and know if they want to return their their product, they can do that if you have any care or use instructions, you should also put those in the package even if they're on your website. I think it's really helpful, especially if something requires special care. Maybe it's you know, cleaning, maybe it's how you should use it. You know, whatever that is. I would include that in your packaging and then you can also include other marketing materials. This is a great opportunity to build your brand. So thank you cards, marketing materials cards that someone can hand out if someone like complements their necklace, like that's beautiful. I got it from mechanism and here's her card, right. Things like that. That can help encourage word of mouth, brand loyalty, all of that good stuff. I would definitely include with an order, the easiest way to figure out what's best for you in terms of shipping is just to do a test run or two or three or five in order to get a feel for shipping your products. You really don't know what, you don't know until you sit down to pack an order. So in Shopify you could create a test order and it will let you go through the whole process. Usually, you know, like pick a friend, a family member, someone who kind of lives far away from me if you want. But you can literally go through this process and test it out before you've ever actually sold a product. The other thing that I recommend and this is true, whether you're working from home, whether you have a store in bricks and mortar, I highly recommend creating a designated area for packaging and shipping. There is nothing worse than having an order come in and realizing, grab where my scissors. Where's my tape? Where's my packaging materials? Where's all that stuff? It will seriously stress you out. And so I absolutely recommend creating a designated area for packaging and shipping. Here's a little image of my packaging and shipping area and you know what? I was going to tidy it up before I uh put this picture, took this picture and put it in my presentation and I realized, you know what? This is real life. The high shipping area is messy, but everything is where I needed to be. I've got my padded mailers, I've got my ribbon, my boxes, living a little jewelry boxes, living a little container off to the left or off to the right that you can't see. But in general, everything that I need is right there at my ship station. It's standing height so I just stand and pack orders. Definitely make your life easier. Doesn't have to be pretty. But I would recommend giving yourself a ship station. If you're serious about e commerce. The other recommendation I would make if you are serious about selling online is to invest in a label printer sooner rather than later. I use the Dymo label writer for Excel. That one's definitely compatible with Shopify. You can do some googling and find other ones. This is the thing that I waited a long time to get and as soon as I got it, I was like, what took me so long and everyone else I know who waited to order a label maker. Same thing what took me so long by like the fourth or fifth or 50th time that you have to packing tape on a label. You're gonna wish you had a label maker. So I know it's a little bit of an investment, but if you're serious about e commerce, it will make your life a million times easier. All right. So when it comes to shipping, don't be afraid to learn and improve as you go and ordering from other small businesses is a really useful way to learn. If you're curious what people put in their orders or how they package things order from businesses, order from a local company, order from that artist or maker. You love. This is actually like a really good way to research and get cool stuff at the same time. So use that and don't be afraid to ask other people how they're shipping to. Alright, so your action step for this lesson is to create a test order and ship something to a friend or family member as if they were a customer, go through the whole process. Have it go to someone else so that they can open it and tell you this looked great or this, this was a train wreck and it came all smashed and ruined. It's helpful to know that and doing that and practicing that will take a lot of the fear out of shipping and fulfillment for you. And then I would also recommend making a note of where the packaging and shipping processes frustrating or inefficient and come up with ways to improve it if you're tired of walking around the room. If in doing that took me 20 minutes because I had to walk around the room and find things figure out if there's a way to put it all in one place, look at your process and really looking for ways to make it more efficient. But at the end of the day, you don't have to be scared of shipping and fulfillment. It's just another process that you can learn and it gets easier, the more you sell online. So that's it for this lesson. In our final lesson, we'll be talking about how to make sure that your website is easy to use and customer friendly to really encourage people to buy, so I'll see you in the next lesson.