So, you’ve decided that e-commerce is going to be your primary business model, you’ve decided what type of product you want to sell and you’ve set up your online store. All set, right? Not so fast. Deciding who is going to carry the product to its destination and in what way is going to make or break your business, so it would be prudent to take care of which shipping service you decide to work with.

First, let’s cover the factors which should be taken into account when choosing the best carrier for your product.

Domestic or international

Your choice of shipping service is largely dependent on who your clients are, or, more precisely, where they are located. Is your target clientele primarily from your country or are overseas shipments a requirement for your business to run smoothly? If your customers are domestic, a local shipping service may be a good option to start with, but take into account your plans for the future. If they include expansion and eventual shipping overseas, finding an international carrier is going to be desirable. There are also services that offer to cover both eventualities, so doing your research and being aware of the needs of your customers is essential.

Do the research

Whether you choose a domestic or an international carrier, doing a background check on whoever you decide to work with is paramount as not all carriers provide the same quality of service and are able to fulfill your shipping requirements. Take into account reviews, previous experiences, their accountability, and their range of services. Once the shipping service takes over the package, not just the product but your reputation is in their hands as well, so simply performing the task might not suffice. You’re going to have to take the needs of your customers into account as well and check whether the shipping service also provides customer support and how quickly they are able to transport your package from the pick-up point to the intended destination. Is the speed at which the product arrives going to be a primary concern for you and your customers, or are your customers more likely to choose free shipping at the cost of speed? But doing the research on your shipping partner is not enough. It’s crucial you also do an internal analysis of the quality and quantity of your products so that you are able to adequately present your needs to your carrier. More on that in the next paragraph.

Not all shipping services are created equal

When choosing a reliable shipping partner, besides the bundle of services they provide, you’re also choosing the mode of transport for your package. It would be wise to consult with your carrier and check whether they provide insurance for your package and if there are any materials (such as chemicals) they are not willing to transport or which might incur additional expenses. Whether the transport is performed by truck, ship, or airplane is going to dictate the cost of the service as well as the speed at which it is provided. Also, check if they provide free packaging for your products. Choosing a cheaper option might be costlier in the long run if the cost of packaging is yours to cover and the process might prove more time-consuming than it needs to be. On that note, time is money, so if your carrier requires you to personally show up at their office to make a request or provide your signature (or worse still, wait in line) every time you need their services, then choosing a partner with a more automated approach might be a better alternative. Streamlining the process is key and definitely worth your while. The quantity of your products is also going to influence the price of the service, as smaller quantities are generally going to be shipped at a higher cost.

Final thoughts

In the process of choosing the shipping service which best fits your needs, know that infidelity is not a sin. Keeping your options open and potentially combining the services of multiple shipping partners is also on the table. For example, you could choose to work with one company when it comes to domestic shipping and another when you require international shipping. If done right, this can offer you a whole range of services and benefits at a fair price.

Posted by Elaine Bennett

Elaine Bennett is an Australian-based digital marketing specialist focused on helping startups and small businesses grow. She writes hands-on articles about business and marketing, as it allows her to reach even more people and help them on their business journey.