Monday, August 24, 2009

Today's Dirty Word - AbandondedShoppingCarts (And How to Stop Them)

Want more orders from your online store? Of course we know the answer to that. Shopping cart abandonment is up to 25% higher than previous years - now estimated as high as 59%. This trend matches the estimate that on each shopping trip, brick-and-mortar shoppers choose and then leave at least one item in their cart. With the year's biggest order season coming, right now is the time to get your strategy in place to keep the most orders possible.

Why this rise in abandoned carts? There are several reasons, but the top reasons always include surprise charges at the end of the transaction. Technology problems and consumer confusion also contribute. Once you are sure your shopping site is competitive, consider if your buying process is competitive. A surprise charge, such as an unexpected handling charge or a shipping charge too high, will make a buyer just say "Bye!" What else can help? Another strategy that has been successful is requiring fewer steps during checkout.

A number of experts and Internet entrepreneurs find that it is very important to display shipping charges before checking out to avoid shopping cart abandonment. It's clear that flat rate shipping, strategically mixed with "free" shipping offers, combats this problem. Now, how to do this?

Free shipping is very easy to calculate but figuring out the right amount for flat-rate shipping takes a little more effort. If your company's actual carrier rates are in your shipping system, then use historical reporting directly from the shipping system. Our CPS shipping software goes a step further by providing a report showing average shipping cost per package and average shipping cost per pound. With just a few mouse clicks you can keep tabs on your shipping costs for any period of time by carrier and service to accurately manage a flat rate shipping offer.

You can get these same numbers from the carrier bills, but its so much easier if you can just "Click" and see them. This example is for CPS, but look for similar reporting in your shipping system. Monitor your costs monthly and make adjustments for changes in average charges. You might supplement flat rate shipping with free shipping offers for special times of the year like holidays when competing for consumer dollars.

A number of experts and Internet entrepreneurs say it is very important to display shipping charges before checking out. Remember, no surprises! Flat rate charges let you give shoppers shipping cost information before you collect any information about them. This simplifies their shopping experience and gives you the best chance at a successful order. Make the process easy and help your customer click "Buy" instead of "Bye".

For more on this subject visit and read the free white paper entitled "Mail Order and Internet Retailer's Guide to Handling Shipping Costs".

Monday, August 3, 2009

USPS Flat-Rate Box 101 - Beating the Fuel Surcharge

At just one price and no matter the weight, you can save in several ways using US Postal Service flat-rate boxes. First, put in as much as will fit and pay just one price for shipping. Next, you can count on that price since there is no fuel surcharge for USPS shipping. Finally, the boxes are FREE. That's a really reasonable price!

Shipping cost is more than just how much the carrier charges to deliver a package. You also have to include the cost of the shipping box and materials. How do the carriers help? If you use the carriers' air services, each carrier provides boxes and envelopes at no cost to you. The USPS goes a step farther by providing shipping boxes for their air (Express) and their Priority Mail services. Another bonus, there is no dimensional weight to consider and no fuel surcharge to compute with USPS flat-rate boxes. For each of these services, the packaging is free - you pay only the postage. In contrast, the other carriers' air delivery boxes are subject to dimensional weight rating.

With a recent survey ( showing that 46% who abandoned carts did so because of high shipping fees, better shipping prices for your customers can mean more sales. USPS Priority Mail gives a wide choice of flat-rate envelopes and boxes. Choose from a flat-rate envelope as well as small, medium and large flat-rate boxes, each with a flat-rate price for domestic shipping and international shipping. More information about USPS supplied packaging materials is at

Will these boxes be right for every package? Maybe not, but whenever you can use them it's money you keep. Between the actual cost of the box, using flat-rate services and avoiding a fuel surcharge, smart use of these can sometimes save you up to $20 dollars per package! The important thing is to do the math and check the rates between all the carriers before you ship. Many shipping software packages like CPS do this all automatically for you.

Until next time…