Manufacturing eCommerce

Split Shipping on Manufacturing eCommerce Sites and Portals

August 31, 2022  |  7 min read

In manufacturing eCommerce, split shipment is a vital component to a successful business. Customers often order in bulk, and they may want shipments to go to different warehouses to serve customers in various locations.

split shipment

Letting your customers split ship will improve their perception of your manufacturing eCommerce platform, thus increasing your customer retention. It’s also a good way to let them self-serve. This removes the potential for miscommunication between customers and sales team members, thus reducing errors in shipping addresses and lost items.

That said, user-friendliness is key to achieving your goals with a split shipping option. If your shipping options are confusing, difficult to choose, or take too many steps to get anywhere, your customers will give up on your site and order from your competitor.

Who Uses Split Shipping for Manufacturing eCommerce?

Even if you think your split shipment options are fine, there are always ways to improve. Think about what you would want when you go to make an order. Would you use the manufacturing eCommerce portal with a beautiful UI and intuitive layout, or the platform with mediocre UI and a layout that takes you several minutes of clicking around to find what you want?

Every part of your manufacturing platform should make placing an order as easy as possible. When a customer goes into your platform, they should already know that it’ll be a simple matter to place the order and ship each part to its designated location. Since many organizations interact with manufacturers, it’s important that the split shipping feature can be customized to meet the needs of your business and clientele. Now we’ll discuss three common split-shipping scenarios.

using split shipping in manufacturing ecommerce
b2b split shipping

B2B (Business to Business)

It’s important to remember that split shipping doesn’t just make life easier for you; it also makes life easier on your customer. They’re looking for the most efficient way possible to do their job. Price can be a secondary concern if ordering is easier and saves them time.

Split shipping works so well in B2B eCommerce because of the way that many businesses are set up. Multiple offices are common for businesses, whether they need toner and paper clips split across the country or across town. Franchises will also use this feature to order products on behalf of their franchisees, and this might be the only way that franchisees have access to the items.

Buying Group

A buying group is a collection of businesses within the same industry that have pooled their resources in order to increase buying power. One hundred bookstores buying at the same time will have more power to negotiate better prices than each individual bookstore.

Buying groups may place orders on behalf of each bookstore, and each order will be shipped to a different address. It is more likely, however, that each bookstore will order by themselves as part of a goal to reach a discount on a particular product. It is a single order for the group but requires separate billing and shipment for each store.

buying group split shipping
B2C split shipping

B2C (Business to Consumer)

This could be considered the “lightest” version of split shipping, but it can still stop you from losing sales. A common scenario involves a person ordering items for themselves from a vendor (toothpaste, paper towels, pet food) and a wedding gift for a friend or family member (an air fryer).

Split shipping must be easy to locate so that customers are made aware of the feature. Otherwise, they might place the order for a personal item and then, feeling “free” from the idea of having to order everything from a single retailer, decide to order the gift from a different store.

What If You Don’t Have Split Shipping?

No matter what business model your business employs—B2B, B2C, C2C, or some alternate model—not offering split shipping can cause customers to skip out on doing business with you. Here are the biggest problems you might experience if you forgo a split shipment option.

  • Customers Expect It – Customers have come to expect split shipping, especially in the realm of B2B shipping. If they don’t see it as an option, they might not even engage with your website in the first place. For many corporate buyers, it’s not their money they’re spending, but it is their time that they’re spending on the site. Many will choose to pay a bit more if it lets them catch up on other work (or take a longer lunch).
  • Customers Could Abandon You – “Will they really abandon their cart just because I don’t have split shipping?” Think of all the reasons you have abandoned carts over the years. Was shipping too high? Would the items get to you too late? What we’re saying is, just because a customer has taken the time to put items into their cart doesn’t mean they won’t find a reason to abandon the cart...and maybe your site entirely.
  • Customers Might Split Companies – Imagine a company that needs 10 reams of paper sent to Albuquerque and 5 printers sent to Chicago. If they’re on your site and just need to pick a different shipping address on your checkout page, it’s likely they’ll just go ahead and order. Maybe your paper costs less than a competitor's but your printers cost more; it’s a wash in their minds. But if they have to complete one order for the paper and then another for the printers, they might decide to go somewhere else looking for printers since they have to do another checkout process anyway.
  • What if it’s bad? – It's likely you’ve abandoned a site—or never gone back to it again after a purchase—just because the experience was so bad. It can happen at any point, but people get increasingly upset when they have their credit card in hand and think, “I’m trying to give you money, why are you making it so hard?” A bad experience with a lackluster or frustrating split shipping method can chase a customer away from your site for good.

How Split Shipping Can Help Manufacturing eCommerce Thrive

As we mentioned above, split shipping is something most customers have come to expect. While split shipping is incredibly versatile and can be designed around the needs of your business, here are some tips that can improve customer engagement and performance.

How split shipping Can Help
clean web design

Keep It Clean

Your entire website should be streamlined and easy to use, but it’s worth mentioning the importance of a clean split shipment experience. It’s one of the newer parts of the checkout experience, so some developers don’t have the experience to put the proper care into creating it. We’ve found that the easiest place to incorporate it is as part of the checkout screen. The mini cart on the checkout page can even go away while they’re splitting their order so that they have more room and less clutter.

Find the Best Place to Stop Changes

It’s important that you don’t get in the way of customers clicking that “Order Now” button. In general, you should allow them to make changes while at their shopping cart, while the split shipping option is saved for the checkout screen. You don’t want to inundate them with confusing options just before they finalize their order.

checkout options
split shipping information

Let Them Know You Can Split Ship

Most customers expect you to have a split shipping option, so make sure that the information is somewhere on your site that they can reference before they even start shopping.

Make the Split Option Obvious

The multiple address option can be hidden behind a toggling button or always appear on the checkout screen. This will be determined by your business model and how many of your customers are making use of the option.

obvious split shipping options
address form for split shipment

Default Addresses or Blank

When you present the customer with a list of their items and give them split shipping ability, you can decide whether it defaults to their standard address or if each should start off blank. Again, this may be determined by your customer base.

Add Address in the Moment

Once again, you never want your customer to move away from their cart when they’re about to purchase. Make sure they can add an address during checkout so that they don’t have to navigate away to their account details to add one.

add address in the moment
split shipping quantities

Quantities Don’t Have to Be the Same

Split shipping gives your customers the chance to change the number of each item they’re sending to each location. In other words, they might be ordering 20 items, but it doesn’t have to be split evenly. 14 can go to Brooklyn, 6 to Queens.

split shipping for your workflows

Split Shipping for Your Workflows

When it’s time to install or upgrade your split shipping options, remember that it can be completely customized to your current business workflow, instead of changing your workflow to accommodate the shopping cart and checkout. Integrating with your back-office software and getting the design your customers look for could draw them back again and again.

Clarity Ventures is ready to offer you a no-obligation, complimentary discovery process. It’s not a sales call, it’s more of an opportunity analysis that you can use whether you work with us or not. We’ll bring tech folks and business analysts to bear on your problems, and we can also point you to a number of free resources and guides.

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Stephen Beer is a Content Writer at Clarity Ventures and has written about various tech industries for nearly a decade. He is determined to demystify HIPAA, integration, and eCommerce with easy-to-read, easy-to-understand articles to help businesses make the best decisions.