Online business is the buzz at the moment. Everyone wants to take their business online and start making sales, yet there are a few things you need to know before you start selling online.
This is a 3 part series about selling products and services online.
This post I will focus on managing shipping and distribution.
Shipping Physical Products
Nothing causes shopping cart abandonment more often than a ridiculously expensive shipping cost.
With online stores that need to calculate shipping there are a couple of options.
Table Rate shipping
Table rate shipping is a calculator that works out shipping from a third party supplier (eg. Australia Post) based on dimensions and weight.
A word of warning – it will never be 100% accurate as the variables that involve volume and weight with multiple products can be infinite.
Integrating Table Rate shipping into your website will also add additional cost to development depending on what shipping provider you use, it also can cause a higher rate of shopping cart abandonment as the user can become ‘shocked’ at the price of shipping once they get to the shopping cart.
Flat Rate shipping
Flat rate shipping is a single fee to ship regardless of weight, quantity or dimensions.
As long as the customer knows how much the shipping is (I advise to keep it quite visible on your site) you will lower your shopping cart abandonment rate.
The disadvantages for flat rate shipping comes into play if you are selling bulkier items you are likely to take a hit on postage. I suggest to clients to try to work this into the cost of the product to cover your expenses.
Make sure you turn around your orders really fast. To get repeat buyers you need to ship those goods quick sticks!
Digital distribution is a tricky one, and an entire post could be dedicated to this particular subject, but I will just cover it quickly.
Most shopping cart systems come inbuilt with automatic email distribution of digital assets after payment has been processed. Generally this will just be a link to a location on your website. The file can be downloaded and potentially forwarded on, also the link is likely to be insecure.
If you’re selling eBooks you can use systems such as eJunkie that will distribute your link for a select period of time. It still doesn’t solve the problem of what happens to your digital IP once it has been downloaded.
The record industry has been dealing this for a long time, but unless you get your digital assets such as ebooks and magazines through aggregators such as iTunes or Kindle it’s very easy for people to share your content around. Even then it’s not 100% rock solid. If this is a concern to you I suggest you look into the services of ‘brokers’ such as Book Baby.