Saturday, June 5, 2010

What are Your Thoughts on Speed of Shipping?

There has been a recent discussion on Facebook about the speed in which sellers in the e-commerce world are expected to get things shipped. It seems the single person do-it-all business is supposed to work as instantaneously as the big multi-employee business who has a shipping department where that is all they do!

Now don't get me wrong, I think shipping should be timely, and I myself ship almost instantaneously when something is purchased and paid for, but there have been times where this wasn't possible, and my stated policy is 2 days handling to allow for such things that come up from time to time.

So is this stated handling time hurting sales? Do people really look at this before they purchase or only after the fact when they are leaving stars on eBay? Personally I think if I get the item in a timely fashion that's what matters, within a 5 day window works for me if I have paid for Priority rate.

Is it even fair of a customer who takes a week to pay, to then expect instant shipping turn around time? EBay still lets them rate me on how quickly I ship no matter how slowly they paid. I don't know about you, but I am a mom of two small children, one of which is autistic. I do the laundry and dishes for our family of four, I handle all of life's little emergencies around here and run the household while my husband works. I manage my time as well as I can, but most buyers don't realize what goes into selling online.

First there has to be time to go find the merchandise. In my particular field that means scouting thrift stores, yard sales, auctions and wherever else treasures may be lurking. This takes usually about 10 hours minimum of my week. Then the items have to be cleaned up, photographed, the photographs have to be cropped and re sized as needed, the listing needs to be written up and launched. Oh and sometimes some pretty extensive research goes into my items as well. So you can see even before an item is sold there are many hours of work involved.

So the item sells, I am usually prepared for the closings and ready to ship the items paid for promptly, they go right out! But then come the stragglers. So keep in mind in order to ship those items quickly I have to stop the process of what I'm doing getting ready for the next batch of merchandise - so I think it's pretty fair to say shipping within 2 days is reasonable... don't you?

What are your expectations when shopping on the web, particularly EBay?


Kat Simpson said...

Is it even fair of a customer who takes a week to pay,

*** that's from your post, Danni and you _know_ me so you know how I'll respond to that. FAIR is a ride at the carnival - it has nothing to do with business.

It's about pleasing, even 'delighting' in eBay speak - the customer. That is how businesses grow and flourish and that is how I try to run my biz. I think you do too but we gotta stop that 'fair' word out of it, IMO

Mr.Bigfoot said...

Excellent questions!

My opinion is that shipping is THE TOP priority when selling online. It comes before sourcing, listing and everything else.

When selling anywhere it is not just about meeting a customers expectations, it is about EXCEEDING them. Granted certain categories of merchandise have less of an urgency when it comes to fulfillment. But reasonableness of delivery time is quantified by a buyer not a seller. A buyer may be empathetic about a sellers schedule and situations, but quite frankly, buyers have busy lives as well. Oftentimes it is the reason for the online purchase. They just don't have the time to go out and find themselves. They really don't care about a sellers personal life and problems. It doesn't make the buyer bad to pay money and then expect prompt courteous service.

Also, it shouldn't matter when a buyer pays for an item, a properly prepared seller should be able to swiftly process an order as soon as it is paid. That may mean partially preparing the order if possible while waiting for clear payment. Quick shipping paves the way for wowing a buyer before they even open a package. Buyer thinks 'WOW this can't be that widget I ordered' AMAZED at how soon it arrived, they open the package in a MUCH better mood than when the package is at expected time or later 'Gee it's about time that widget showed up' (growl).

Unlike fees, postage costs and weather, shipping time is one of the few variables you can control. It should be seen as an opportunity to give you an advantage over other sellers.

Another reason fast shipping is important, it can help thwart buyer's remorse. When a package is later than expected, a buyer may start looking for the same item again, find it for less money and now me remorseful for having purchased in the first place.

With Ebay, fast shipping often can increase future sales as a sellers feedback with glowing mentions of the speed of shipping build confidence in potential buyers. Which of course translates into more sales which means more time to ship!! A vicious circle.

All the Best,

Rick Hamrick said...

I agree with Kat and Mr Bigfoot that blitz-fast shipping (and wowing) is vital to the success of any online business.

Where I often see online sellers fall short is in communicating what is going on. I can easily live with it taking two days to get my order out the door, but TELL ME when it ships! It is frustrating to wonder, and that frustration is only partly relieved when the item shows up, even if it is within five days after order (I agree that getting something to the buyer within that magic window will satisfy most).

So, WOW is not just quick shipping, but good clear notification to the buyer. Besides, if you are able to ship the same day as the order came in, it can be a matter of pride to get that email off to the customer!

Dream-Adventures said...

I am in complete agreement with Kat, Mr. Bigfoot and Rick.

Dazzle your buyers any way you can to set yourself aside from the competition. One way you can do that is to ship quickly; they will remember that.

You have to remember what it is like to be a buyer, how excited you are for the item you ordered to arrive, how you check the mailbox/door daily hoping it will arrive today, etc. Now imagine that buyer waiting for your item and how they feel when it takes a bit longer to arrive. They begin to get anxious, sad and even frustrated--not good words when they are then asked to grade you. The buyers don't care about your life; in reality you are just one of 1000's of seller they chose to do business with. Dazzle them.

In my opinion--shipping is a priority.

Much success,

Beth Cherkowsky said...

Ok, So again I'm the weirdo. NONE!! NONE of the major sellers notifies me when they ship. NONE of the major sellers' emails me 4 times about "your payment has been received". And NONE of the major sellers I've surveyed so far offers "stop what I'm doing and ship instantaneously" shipping. NONE Of them and they are all still in business (Amazon, Zappos Barnes & Noble and are the ones I have looked at).

And if you ship and don't source, or ship and don't list, pretty soon there are NO orders to ship so that argument if fallacious.

I think 2 days is reasonable and should be considered "immediately".

Until teleporters are perfected most of the delays will be on the SHIPPER'S part NOT mine.

And if you all think 2 days is bad, wait til the USPS stops ALL Saturday services including the back room processing the goes on now 7 days a week and 24 hrs a day.

I think people who focus on "what date is on my package" need to get a life. Remember the first 3-4 years at eBay (when AMAZON didn't Let us sell there & eBay was almost the only game in town) when the buyer sent you a check or money order (and we had standard term that say "Payment within 10 days"? And when that check arrived you put it in the back and waited 7-10 days for it to clear? And then you mailed it parcel post which being GROUND transportatin took a minimum of 7 days almost everywhere? So you're lookat a month then.. ??? And you people are objecting to 2 day handling time?? GET OVER YOURSELVES


UdderlyGoodStuff said...

I do get what you all are saying!
But as Beth says, it's a chicken and egg thing, which comes first? Well sales equal shipping = more stuff = more sales = more shipping, no one piece is more important.
Yes I ship as soon as humanly possible yes!
My question though was is stating a 2 day handling time affecting sales do you think? Mind you most of my feedback comments say things about blazing fast shipping!

kdmoretti said...

I don`t think "stating 2 days" is hurting your business as long as you can actually ship that item before the 2 days is up and of course most times most of us can ship faster than that anyway. For me the only exception would be weekends and Holidays. If an item is paid for after 11 am on SAT there is NO way I can get it mailed before 11 am on Monday, And if it`s a MON Holiday it can`t go out till TUES. The only way to get it to the customer any faster than that is to fly or drive it there myself.
Personally MOST of my items are out the door within 24 hours BUT sometimes circumstances cause it to go out a little later,
AND like Danni, many of my feedbacks quote "lightning fast, Very Fast shipping"