With news that Amazon has expanded its Prime benefits to include free one-day deliveries, fast shipping is now more crucial than ever for meeting customer expectations. But, rising costs, complicated logistics, and limited time make meeting those customer expectations a challenge for any online seller.
We’re here to guide you through the best fast shipping fulfillment strategies for your marketplace, budget, and size.
Why fast shipping matters
Fast shipping hasn’t always mattered. In fact, the mere ability to order something from your sofa instead of going out to the store was a benefit in itself – regardless of having to wait a whole week for delivery.
But life and technology have advanced, consumers expect fast shipping as standard, and shipping speed is now one of the biggest online purchase drivers, thanks to:
The Amazon effect
63% of shoppers expect fast delivery as standard, and we have Amazon to thank for that. Amazon has created a world where fast shipping is possible, and it’s free – and customers expect the same service everywhere they shop. If you’re not offering fast shipping, you (and your customers) can be sure that a competitor is.
Fast shipping programs
Online marketplaces’ fast shipping programs, such as Amazon Prime and Walmart Free 2-Day Shipping, place eligible sellers at the top of the search results, lands them the buy box, and puts them in front of their most loyal customers.
Failure to deliver items quickly and get on these fast shipping programs drastically limits your potential audience, chances of being seen, and ongoing profits.
Finally, fast shipping makes customers happy, and happy customers leave outstanding reviews. With positive online reviews producing 18% more sales and negative reviews losing businesses customers, this can be the difference between the success and failure of your online store.
The importance of tailoring your fulfillment strategy
But, fast shipping requires more than simply putting all of your items on express delivery. To make fast shipping successful, profitable, and manageable, you need to tailor your fulfillment strategy according to:
- Where you sell – different online marketplaces have different fast shipping program requirements, fulfillment options, and customer expectations.
- What you sell – the most cost-effective fulfillment solution depends on the type and volume of items you sell.
- Your goals – the most efficient fulfillment strategy for a part-time seller who wants to stick to Shopify will be hugely different from that of a multi-channel brand who wants to grow.
Fast shipping fulfillment strategies
So, let’s take a look at which fast shipping fulfillment strategy is best for your business, by understanding that different options for each marketplace.
No matter how big your business is or who you’re selling to, Amazon Prime is a must for anyone selling on Amazon. Prime pushes you to the top of the results page, includes you in fast-shipping filtered searches, and gives you better visibility across the entire platform. The best fulfillment strategy for achieving Amazon Prime status depends on what type of seller you are.
High-volume, high-profit sellers
Amazon’s own fulfillment service, Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA), is ideal for those selling small, light, and fast-moving stock – offering competitive pricing and a worry-free way to ensure that your deliveries meet Prime’s standards.
Low volume, seasonal or heavy item sellers
Those selling slow moving, seasonable, or heavy products via Amazon will find FBA both restrictive and expensive. Instead, the ideal fulfillment strategy is qualifying for Seller Fulfilled Prime (SFP) by either fulfilling these orders in-house using your own warehouse and staff or outsourcing to a fulfillment provider that supports SFP.
Whether you’re using eBay as an alternative to, or alongside Amazon, eBay customers still expect fast shipping as standard. The best eBay fast shipping fulfillment strategy for your business largely depends on the number of orders you shift.
Low volume sellers
Low volume eBay sellers will find it much easier and more cost-effective to fulfill orders in-house, whether that’s from your own warehouse, garage, or spare room. With fewer orders to handle, you can quickly pick, pack, and ship items yourself, using an express shipping service and minimal space.
High volume sellers
If you’re a high volume eBay seller (or aiming to be one), then your fulfillment strategy should strive to achieve the eBay Fast N’ Free shipping tag by using an outsourced eBay fulfillment partner to deliver your items within four days or less, regardless of how busy you are or how limited your space is.
Boasting more than 110 million unique visitors per month, with only around 15,000 sellers, Walmart is a highly attractive marketplace for online sellers. What’s even more attractive is the increased visibility, customers, and conversions generated by their fast shipping program Walmart Free 2-Day Shipping. The best fulfillment strategy for being accepted onto the free 2-day program depends on your existing fulfillment operation.
Low volume sellers with fulfillment set up
If you have a good fulfillment process and network that can handle two-day shipping while still generating a profit, then you can continue using self-fulfillment to qualify for Walmart’s fast shipping tags. Should you experience a jump in sales (i.e. around the holidays) then you can use instant access marketplace financing to pay for the services of outsourced fulfillment help.
High volume sellers who want instant access
If your amount of orders makes it challenging for you to meet Walmarts fast shipping requirements while still making a profit, or if you want instant access despite Walmart’s strict standards, then your fulfillment strategy should utilize the expertise, speed, and locations of Deliverr, as all Deliverr sellers are pre-approved for fast shipping tags.
Those that have ventured onto their own eCommerce platform will be all-too-familiar with Shopify. But, just because Shopify isn’t an online marketplace doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t adopt a fulfillment strategy that offers customers fast shipping options, while still generating you a profit. With Shopify, you have two main fulfillment strategy options:
Those preferring control over the entire fulfillment process, branded packaging, and using their own staff and shipping carrier should opt to fulfill their orders in-house. While this requires a little more investment, it can be financially beneficial for low-volume sellers who have the time and space to spare.
High-volume Shopify sellers who have little time, manpower or fulfillment budget, should opt for an outsourced Shopify fulfillment strategy – using an external fulfillment solution to pack and ship orders in the quickest and cheapest way possible.
But what if you use all or a mixture of these sales channels – should you adopt a different fulfillment strategy for each, or one single strategy?
Multiple fulfillment solutions
While using a mix of FBA, outsourced fulfillment partners, and in-house fulfillment might initially sound like the best way to avoid excessive fees and meet individual marketplace requirements, in reality, it results in confusion, duplication of effort, ring-fenced stock, and, ultimately, slow orders and missed deliveries.
One-for-all fulfillment strategy
The ideal strategy for someone selling on multiple sales channels is to use a one-for-all fulfillment strategy, by outsourcing to a fulfillment provider who supports multi-channel selling and inventory syncing.
Not only do gain inventory efficiency by consolidating to one partner, you could also get cheaper fulfillment rates, more available stock, and delivery consistency across all of your sales channels – pleasing your customers and your accountant in one go.
Fast shipping strategies – final thoughts
Fast shipping is essential for anyone selling online – but the success of your fast shipping strategy depends on whether you’re using the quickest, most cost-effective, and reliable solution for your marketplace.
While FBA might be great for high-volume Amazon-only sellers, it will fast become a financial drain for those selling on multiple sales channels.
Use this guide to help understand and build the best fulfillment strategy for your business and, don’t forget – just because it’s right now, doesn’t mean it’s right in the future.