Please don’t tell me, “I’m not doing anything. Why should I cut into my profit margin when people are going to buy from me anyway.”
That is an actual quote from an eCommerce store owner I talked to the other day. She followed it up by telling me that, “One thing I’m doing is raising my rates for express shipping. If they need it fast, let them pay more for it.”
After an incredibly pregnant pause, I didn’t know what to say other than, “Whoops, I have another call coming in and unfortunately I need to take it.”
I needed a moment to recover and try to rationalize the thinking behind what I just heard.
For one, Cyber Monday is the biggest shopping day of the year for eCommerce merchants, and the one day these guys and gals look forward to every November. For many online merchants, the weeks leading up to the Christmas holiday is “make-it-or-break-it” time, so they need to be on top of their game and ready to handle the orders coming in.
I don’t know of any merchant, besides this one, who isn’t going to be offering some type of Cyber Monday deal. Whether it be discounted or free shipping, BOGO offers, store-wide discounts or a free gift with an order, your site visitors on Cyber Monday are going to be expecting something. If you’re not offering some type of incentive to get a visitor to turn into a customer, that visitor is going to click over to your competitor. I guarantee it.
I wish I had a business where “people are going to buy from me anyway.” Unless you’re selling something so unique that you’re the only one selling it, get that notion out of your head. This particular store owner had commodity items at commodity prices. Nothing special and certainly nothing unique.
As far as raising express shipping rates are concerned – bad move number two.
Consumers already look at shipping rates as the eCommerce store owner’s profit center. Mary Jane from St. Louis has no idea what UPS or FedEx charges to get her 5 pound bag of jelly beans from the distribution center to her front door. When I started out in business, a 5 pound package from PA to CA cost a mere $4.16 to ship. Today, that same package costs $13.86. How much more can you mark up shipping and have the customer believe they’re still getting a deal?
Most eCommerce stores are adopting free shipping, flat shipping models to combat the sticker shock most consumers get when they start the checkout process. By jacking up your express shipping rates you’re not doing yourself any favors and are probably turning potential customers away.
I understand that last-minute shoppers are a pain in the doopa, but they’re customers. They’re people you want buying from you in the new year, so why tick them off now?
I don’t encounter many eCommerce store owners with this type of thinking, but when I do I’m amazed that they’re able to survive when online competition is so fierce. I’m making a note to check in with this store owner in a few months to see how she’s doing.
If she’s still in business.