The role of salespeople is changing rapidly as customers rely on online self-service options. Savvy buyers often know more about company products than the salespeople assigned to their accounts--about 82 percent of B2B buyers feel that salespeople are unprepared.  That’s why offering customers the ability to order and manage their accounts through self-service features is so important. Salespeople can nurture leads and call on customers who don’t follow through by placing an order, but they’re no longer there at the make-or-break point during the checkout process.
One of the biggest reasons for cart abandonment is shipping, whether not offering free shipping, shipping costs, or confusion finding a suitable shipping option. Some customers don’t like a company’s limited shipping options. Others don’t like the costs of shipping large orders to multiple locations. Some companies might not like the packages in which products are shipped. These reasons--and many others--are why custom shipping options are so important for B2B eCommerce solutions.
Shipping Rates Affect Sales
Shipping and handling charges should ideally be separated. Customers can choose their own shipping options based on their needs. Some people prefer cheap shipping even if shipments are delayed. Others place a priority on fast deliveries and product turnover. Offering customers options lets them decide, so they usually won’t complain about shipping costs. However, there are some customers who don’t want to pay any shipping costs. That’s why many companies offer free shipping. Free shipping doesn’t really have to be free. It’s easy to add the shipping costs into product prices--especially for luxury goods, handmade items and custom products.
Studies have shown that offering free shipping for domestic orders grabs the attention of B2B buyers more effectively than any other regular incentive. Although this will usually cut into profits, there are ways to compensate--such as increasing product prices or setting minimum orders. It’s a great perk to attract new customers for their first wholesale buy from a given company. Free shipping can also be used as an incentive to move poorly selling products or encourage customers to order products early before the season begins.
Custom Shipping Options for Complex Delivery Needs
B2B customers have complex delivery needs--such as shipping to multiple locations. B2B companies often ship products from other manufacturers and warehouses using drop shipping, and this strategy can increase the speed of deliveries and expand product inventory counts. Integration makes managing complex delivery scenarios simple to do using self-service. Companies can set options for flat rate shipping, free shipping or shipping by weight. Carrier-calculated shipping prices can also be provided using direct onsite connections to carrier websites. High-value shipments might require insurance, and integrated platforms can offer product insurance and other special features for their customers.
It’s important to have an integrated platform to manage customers, warehouse technology and the ordering process. Adapting to customer needs is crucial in today’s competitive online eCommerce world, and an integrated system displays shipping rates automatically in real-time so that there are no surprises. Automated order fulfillment speeds shipments, provides tracking numbers and delivers products to multiple locations without a hitch.
One benefit of an integrated and efficient system is that it automates complex logistical decisions such as determining the costs of LTL, or lighter-than-load, shipments, which normally weigh between 151 and 20,000 pounds. Many carriers charge handling fees for providing delivery notifications, using Liftgates and adding delivering products across international borders. When these charges are calculated automatically in real-time, there are fewer complaints from customers because they were taken by surprise.
Custom Packaging and Bundling
Another benefit of integration is offering customers custom packaging options. Statistics show that only about 11 percent of customers are happy with product packaging.  However, some customers want simple bubble packaging and generic packages if these options save money. Offering customers a choice is the best way to eliminate complaints from either side--those who want custom packages and those who want the cheapest shipping.
How to Automate Self-service Shipping Options
Full platform integration enables automated self-service features such as connecting to carriers onsite, choosing complex strategies for global shipping and automating custom address books used to schedule shipments to multiple sales locations. Drop shipping, split shipping, custom packaging and other features are readily available to customers 24/7 from custom sales portals and buyer interfaces. Without integration, companies need multiple staff members to manage complex shipping and multi-channel selling.
Making Your Shipping Options a Top Priority
How your company handles shipping can be a key factor in your success or a big vulnerability where sales are slowly drained by competitors offering more extensive shipping options. As B2B sales platforms expand their market share with marketplace platforms, custom catalogs and cross-channel selling, it becomes increasingly important to integrate your site to offer a favorable buying, ordering and shipping experience to each client. That’s why it’s critical to update your technology, choose the right systems and process orders strategically. Clarity eCommerce is a highly-customizable eCommerce platform that can provide all of the custom shipping options your customers have been asking for. Give us a call today, to discuss how we can help.
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