You must have carriers added to your PrestaShop installation – that is, a clear indicator of who will deliver your products. It might be just yourself or your shop (for instance if you are selling downloadable products, or only work locally), but as soon as you are actually sending packages using stamps and a third-party delivery such as your local postal service, then you must have their details added to your shop's database. This will enable your customers to better choose which carrier to use, based on their delivery ranges, fees and dates.
The choice of shipping solutions for your products is a key stage in the online sales journey. This stage is too often overlooked, and not discussed much when an e-commerce platform is set up.
This "Last Mile" between your products and your customers will define your image, customer satisfaction and therefore the success of your e-commerce business going forward.
PrestaShop Ready includes the feature “UPELA”, a solution that aggregates several carriers and therefore helps you to manage them.
Which delivery zone should I choose?
This is without doubt THE question that is most often skipped. The tendency is to want to deliver internationally, and then think about it and only then want to reduce the catchment area.
The wiser approach would be to choose to do the exact opposite, to reduce your risks and maximize customer satisfaction, and therefore your reputation as an online seller.
Not just because your site's SEO has only just started, but also because your brand identity, the reputation of your company is primarily local.
But you shouldn't choose too small a zone either, because after all, the aim of your e-commerce is to win over new customers, rather than shift your local customers to the web. Unless that is part of your corporate strategy of course.
It is therefore better to target France to start with (if you are in France), but watch out because mainland France and Corsica have different shipping costs.
As well as making it simpler when it comes to language, it is the best market for testing out the reliability of carriers without having to deal with the customs restrictions and red tape involved with destinations farther afield.
Once your selling process is running smoothly and you have had positive feedback for your first few sales, you can look to neighboring countries, overseas departments and territories and the Schengen area.
What delivery methods should I offer my customers?
The biggest mistake you can make is to offer a wide choice of delivery methods. It's tempting and it may seem easy, but:
- You have to manage multiple contacts with different restrictions
- You have to configure your e-commerce depending on the zones specific to each carrier and their respective tariffs
- And, above all, customers may spend too long wondering which carrier to use, end up changing their mind and delay their purchase
This final point may seem illogical but consumers are extremely volatile. Never forget that they have already:
- Searched for your product using a search engine
- Sometimes clicked on an advertisement or sponsored link (costing you money)
- Taken the time to look at several competitors (don't be overconfident, you're not the only one selling these products online)
- Added products to their cart
- Opened an account
- Entered or confirmed their personal data
- Chosen their delivery address. They are therefore keen to finalize their purchase. Having too many choices with different pricing options, specific and multiple delivery conditions (home, collection point) will make them think, and sometimes even cast doubt on your efficiency and reliability. And that's the opposite of what you want
Keep it simple, your aim is to sell, so choose an efficient and consistent distribution network for your customers.
What about international shipping?
Selling abroad may be tempting, appealing even, but this is the real world. You are not Amazon, well not yet anyway.
And in most countries you need to translate your catalog (people often think about it) but also translate the whole pre-sales and customer relations part. You also need to provide customer service in English at least, unless you operate exclusively in the French-speaking world.
Rough translations would come across as unprofessional and could lead to misunderstandings in your exchanges.
Depending on your products, study the market and, as a bare minimum, find out about the following points:
- Current legislation (e.g. sending foodstuffs to the USA is heavily regulated)
- Carrier reliability
What tariffs should I apply?
This is a tricky question. Basically, there aren't a huge amount of options:
- the actual carrier price
- the actual carrier price with free delivery above a certain amount or weight
- a fixed price
- free delivery
In the end, the question is more straightforward, either you show the actual costs, or you include your costs in the price for all customers.
Offering free delivery from a certain threshold will encourage shoppers to spend more. This will not really eat into your margin because you will save time on order preparation.
Offering free delivery (if the costs are high) will make you less competitive.
This stage must reflect your economic model.
There are not really any hard and fast rules for all e-businesses, but here is some food for thought:
- The size of your packages: create batches so that the shipping cost is always lower than the batch price (progression is not linear)
- Calculate your average cart to protect your profitability and competitiveness
- Choose realistic carriers for your products (do tins always need to be delivered within 24 hours?)
- For delivery to overseas departments and territories, remember that shipping costs are very high, so orders will be very rare if carriage affects the end price too much (especially for inexpensive but bulky or heavy items)
Think big but start small.
Start off by delivering your products nationally. Ensure the quality of your services before you look further afield. It's better to miss out on a sale than ruin your reputation with poor service.
We recommend starting with no more than 2 carriers for a given zone, with the option of collection points or home delivery.
Be transparent, display the prices on a dedicated page, and show your carriage costs from the shopping cart stage.
Stick closely to delivery times. Customers will not accept delays associated with your carrier, because their contract is with you and not the carrier. They will exercise their right to cancel, but more than that, they will have a negative opinion of your service and will not hesitate to let other people know. Negotiation should be your joker and should only be used occasionally.
Before you think about selling internationally, look at where your visits come from, and study your language and geographical statistics to grow your business gradually and when there is genuine demand.
Make sure you are able to deliver to these new destinations, and ensure that orders can be followed up and that customer relations can be managed.
Familiarize yourself with all of the legal requirements for these new destinations.
Have up-to-date Terms & Conditions appropriate to your business.
This way you will reduce your initial costs and perhaps even your operating costs, making you more profitable.