The decision for or against specific delivery methods is enormously important for your shop. According to a DHL survey, 46 % of German online shoppers cancel a purchase if they do not like the delivery company offered. We have interviewed an expert with extensive experience who knows all about delivery and what it comes down to. Dietmar Hölscher is Managing Director of MCC Shop and has been successful in e-commerce for eight years.
Mr Hölscher, what’s the most important thing to bear in mind when selecting delivery method?
Dietmar Hölscher: The three most important factors are size, weight and destination country of the order. Every seller should begin by asking themselves this question: Are my products all roughly the same size and weight or are there significant differences? If you sell only shoes, you have it very easy. You can agree a fixed delivery price applicable to all parcels up to a certain weight – the upper limit often being 31.5 kilos – with major logistics providers like DHL or UPS. In this case, you need only offer one delivery method for delivery in Germany. Only offering products of the same size and weight has other advantages for the seller: having fixed delivery costs makes it very easy to calculate and include the delivery costs in the price of the product if you offer free delivery to your customers. It’s practical too if you can calculate the same packaging costs for each parcel. Things get a little more complicated if you offer products of various sizes and weights. In our shop, we sell different products, like cookbooks and fridges. We set up specific delivery methods for individual product types: for books we set up “Maxibrief”, for fridges it was parcel service. In the administration area of the shop, you can establish which delivery methods can be chosen for this product on the page Products >> [Product] under Delivery details. In our example, you should therefore exclude the fridge from the “Maxibrief” delivery method. As a seller, I can therefore control the delivery methods available to customers.
An important tip: If a customer orders a book and a fridge in your shop, the delivery method approved for both products is automatically chosen in the shop. You should therefore allow books to be delivered not only by “Maxibrief”, but also by parcel delivery, for example.
Our shop software offers a wide range of interfaces to delivery providers. How do you find the right provider?
This also depends on the products. Research which provider is suitable for your products and speak with representatives from this company. After you’ve compared offers, it’s time to negotiate good conditions with your favourite provider. Significant savings can often be made. One thing is clear: the more parcels you send, the better your negotiating opportunities. Don’t focus merely on the price per parcel, but remember to consider factors like express surcharges and returns handling.
Would you advise restricting oneself to one provider per country? Or is it generally more sensible to use several providers?
The savings are often enormous if it’s just one provider. In our shop we always have exactly one provider for different regions: within Germany we send everything by DHL and for the rest of Europe by DPD. Outside Europe, we use UPS exclusively.
Do you have any tips for sending deliveries abroad?
The shop software enables delivery methods to be offered only for specific regions. Regions can be defined under Settings >> Country settings. Then you can restrict the availability of this delivery method to specific regions under Settings >> Delivery >> [Delivery method]. Some delivery providers offer fixed prices for the whole of Europe. If you deliver to all European countries, using a pan-European rate is recommended in any case – also for the sake of clarity.
It’s also important to understand that as soon as you offer products on a Europe-wide basis, there may be problems with the Spanish islands, as delivery to these destinations can be very expensive depending on the provider. Parcel prices of 600 euros for a delivery to Gran Canaria, for example, are not unusual! It’s also the case that people who live on these islands make a targeted search for online shops that deliver to these destinations at attractive rates. So consider whether you may even want to exclude delivery to these islands completely. The same also applies to German islands like Heligoland.
Almost every customer is delighted if there are no delivery costs to pay. Many online shops offer free delivery above a certain order value. What advice can you offer sellers who are just starting?
It’s often sensible to send everything free of charge – without levying any delivery costs at all. A great many customers expect this today and some make their order dependent on it. Ideally, the delivery costs are calculated in with the price of the item. Better still if every product fits into the same box and you have only one delivery price.
The shop’s product strategy has to fit here too. If you offer only low price products, which are large and heavy, free delivery is certainly not recommended for the seller. The shop software also enables you to offer free delivery to regular customers. In this way, you can retain your customers.
If you have attractive delivery conditions, you should naturally make sure that your customers are aware of this – by mentioning free delivery in the header, for example.
Another promise that many sellers make to their customers: order before a certain time and the goods are sent the same day. Would you advise sellers to advertise in this way?
If you’re able to keep your promise, it’s certainly a good idea. But only if you can. A situation may arise, for example, where the delivery provider collects the parcels earlier than usual – and keeping your promise is untenable. It’s possible, especially in the run-up to Christmas, that a seller is barely able keep up with the packing. In which case they run the risk of unhappy customers who may rate the shop badly.
According to a survey by DHL, German online shoppers expect speed and reliability most of all from a delivery company. What are your experiences in this area – what’s important to your customers when it comes to delivery?
Most customers now in fact expect prompt delivery. Ideally, every order should be with the customer on the day following the order and multiple attempts should be made to deliver the order. It’s also often important for private customers to be able to redirect orders themselves. This is why they have the option to change the delivery address at short notice and to have their order delivered not to their home address as originally requested but to their workplace. Tracking is also becoming increasingly important – customers want to be able to easily trace where their parcel actually is.
Mr Hölscher, thank you for talking with us.