There are dozens of frequently asked questions about holiday e-commerce shipping. This is understandable considering that shipping is central to e-commerce order fulfillment, moreso during the holiday season.
During Amazon Prime Day sales in 2019, Amazon Prime members purchased a whopping 175 million products generating over $6.9 billion in sales. According to eMarketer, revenues north of $10 billion are expected from the just concluded 2020 Amazon Prime Day. This is just a precursor to the much anticipated holiday season.
10 Frequently Asked Questions About Holiday E-commerce Shipping
With revenue from mobile commerce projected to exceed $420 billion in the US alone, the 2020 holiday shopping season will witness a beehive of activities in the e-commerce supply chain as suppliers and retailers race to fulfill all inbound orders before or by New Year’s Day.
Already reports indicate that 75% of US shoppers will conduct 50% of their holiday shopping online, with 64% as excited about the 2020 holiday shopping season as they were last year.
As opposed to your neighborhood supermarket where buyers simply walk in, pay and pick up their packages, online shoppers have to wait for their items to be brought to them. This is where shipping comes in.
In this post, I’ll be addressing ten (10) frequently asked questions shoppers have about holiday e-commerce shipping, such as
1. What really is shipping?
Most new online shoppers often think of this when they hear the word shipping. While not entirely right, they’re equally not entirely wrong.
Shipping is part of the e-commerce supply chain process responsible for transporting products ordered online from the manufacturer or supplier’s warehouse to the customer’s address.
So, shipping in e-commerce simply means transportation of online orders whether by land, sea or air, from within or across the borders.
2. So, why does my neighborhood (brick n’ mortar) retailer still charge me for shipping when I shop online?
As mentioned above, shipping in e-commerce simply means transportation. Except you’re using buy-online-pick-up-in-store (BOPIS) or click and collect, your orders would have to be brought to you.
This will usually involve transportation from the store to your address. It will therefore attract a shipping fee or if you like transportation fee. This is why they charge you a shipping fee.
3. How many shipping companies (carriers) are there?
There are several shipping companies or carriers you can select from, especially when shopping from overseas.
For instance, when shopping on AliExpress you will notice that certain products ship from different locations and carriers to different destinations. This often affects the listed price.
Also, faster shipping times often come at an extra cost. With Amazon Prime subscription, you can get free and fast shipping for eligible products, among other benefits.
4. What is the standard shipping fee?
As mentioned above, several factors contribute to the final shipping fee. Factors like carrier, destination, duration, weight, dimensions, and customs fees are all taken into account when determining shipping fees for international orders.
Meanwhile, a good shipping rate calculator can help you to get a rough estimate of your expected shipping fee. USPS, DHL, FedEx and several other shipping solutions offer such calculators.
5. How can I get shipping discounts or free shipping this holiday season?
Most online stores offer sitewide or product-specific shipping discounts to encourage buyers to buy more, thereby increasing basket size or average order value (AOV).
Stores like ASOS offer free delivery for orders above a certain price level which differs from country to country. For instance, US shoppers can get free delivery for orders above $40.
6. How can I reduce shipping fees this holiday season?
Retailers will usually offer shipping discounts or incentives to encourage shoppers to buy more, especially during holiday sales. You can find shipping discounts by visiting your favourite online store and looking around. They’re usually displayed on the homepage.
FreeShipping.Com is another great resource for shipping discounts across thousands of leading online stores. This can help you save money on shipping, so you can shop more.
You can also do a simple Google search using your favourite store’s name and free shipping, e.g, ASOS free shipping.
7. What is the standard/average shipping time?
Shipping times vary widely depending on the country where order originates from, destination country, and method of shipping. For instance, a product with free shipping on AliExpress may take twice the time to arrive.
Basic shipping will arrive faster, and shipping with DHL for instance, will arrive much faster but at a much higher cost too.
8. I placed several orders during the holidays, how can I keep track of them?
It is very important to track your orders, whether ordering single or multiple items. This is in order to avoid confusion, missing, and undelivered orders.
Most retailers offer tracking only for paid shipping. However, apps like Parcel Arrive allow you to easily track orders for free and in real-time from different retailers and carriers across the world.
This will help you organise your holiday shopping, know where your items are per second, and when they will arrive, so you can plan to be around on the day of delivery.
9. I got a defective product, how do I return it and who pays for the shipping?
Sometimes, products bought online are defective because you can’t touch or try them physically before buying. Returns allow you to return such items and either get a refund or replacement.
Returns or reverse logistics also involve shipping with its associated shipping costs. Thankfully, most online stores offer a free, no questions asked return policy. Others may require you to pay a small fee.
Returns are usually time bound and good for a certain period, e.g within 30 days after purchase.
10. Can shipped packages from overseas transmit COVID-19?
Although last on the list, this is by far one of the most important questions online shoppers ask or should be asking this season, considering COVID-19’s impact on our collective lives and livelihoods.
Research has been conducted which proves that the Coronavirus may not be viable or survive long enough on e-commerce packages in order to be transmitted or be able to cause harm.
For instance, research has found that the virus can only survive up to 4 hours on copper, 24 hours on cardboard and 72 hours on plastic or stainless steel. The ambient conditions under which international packages are shipped will prevent COVID-19.
However, it is still important to observe all known safety guidelines like constant handwashing and social distancing.
Got other questions about Holiday E-commerce shipping? Let us know.