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How fast can you get your orders out of your warehouse and into the hands of your customers?

Now more than ever it is important to meet customer expectations on how quickly they can receive their order from your e-commerce store. This is why so many brands make expedited shipping a priority when setting up the USPs of their business.

So, if you are wondering whether your customers are waiting too long to get their hands on your product, and want to know how to get it there faster, read our guide explaining everything you need to know about expedited shipping…

What Does Expedited Delivery Mean?

The meaning of ‘expedited shipping’ is a little vague, but essentially it refers to any method of delivery that is guaranteed to arrive at its destination faster than ‘regular’ delivery methods.

Think of expedited delivery as an umbrella term for things like express delivery, next-day delivery and same-day delivery. They are all an upsell on standard delivery, which usually takes around three working days to make it from your warehouse to your customer’s door.

How Long is Expedited Shipping?

Typically, expedited shipping services promise to have the order arrive within 1 to 3 days. Expedited shipping orders are prioritised over standard orders, so as long as it is faster than your regular delivery method, you can class it as expedited shipping.

Some courier companies break down their expedited shipping offering into things like ‘next day’, 2-day’ and ‘3-day’ delivery options, so you can begin to weigh up faster delivery times with shipping costs more specifically. Others have a general ‘1-3 day’ service.

However, be aware that customers do now have a certain level of expectation when it comes to expedited shipping. If you call a delivery option ‘express’, but it doesn’t arrive after 3 days, they probably won’t be satisfied that they received value for money from your shipping service.

Amazon Prime Expedited Delivery

Of course, Amazon has always been on the forefront of offering the fastest, most convenient delivery service for customers. So, it won’t be a surprise to Amazon sellers that free expedited shipping is a huge part of running a business on the platform.

For FBA merchants, one of the benefits of using Amazon fulfillment centres is that expedited shipping is applied to all your Amazon Prime eligible products. Amazon’s fulfilment network spans Europe at a low cost, meaning you can ship items quickly across the continent while maintaining your Prime Badge.

More information: The Advantages & Disadvantages of Amazon FBA

For Amazon’s Seller Fulfilled Prime (SFP) merchants, you are responsible for maintaining your own reliable expedited delivery service from your warehouse in order to display your Prime Badge. This means you have to ensure your e-commerce fulfilment process is fast enough to meet Amazon’s standards.

Amazon gives a huge priority to any seller offering expedited shipping. The Prime Badge is key to attracting many buyers, plus both FBA and SFP sellers have the chance to ‘win the buy box’ – making you the default seller for your product.

Why Do Companies Offer Expedited Shipping and Delivery Options?

So, just how important is it to offer an expedited shipping service? Why are so many e-commerce businesses offering it?

The truth is, we as consumers are getting more and more demanding. A huge 62% of customers expect an online delivery to arrive within two days, with 53% saying delivery speed is an important factor when choosing where to buy from. In addition, 46% of shopping cart abandonments were down to unsatisfactory delivery times.

It’s not just next-day delivery that is growing, either. A 2019 report showed that the next step is same-day delivery. A survey across the UK, Germany, France and Sweden revealed that up to 50% of respondents would be willing to pay up to 7 Euros to have an order arrive the same day. This could be a huge opportunity to online stores who are losing business to brick-and-mortar stores – which are still the most convenient for getting your hands on an item immediately.

Competition to provide the fastest, most convenient and cheapest service to customers is only growing. And, with companies like Amazon dominating the market with their fast and free shipping, companies are doing their best to keep up or get left behind.

Expedited Shipping vs Standard Delivery – Which is Best?

We’ve established that fast shipping is important – but, is your business ready for it? Is it really worth racing ahead of the competition if it is going to eat away at your profit?

When deciding between offering expedited shipping and standard delivery, you need to put some thought into your strategy…

How Much Does Expedited Shipping Cost?

An expedited shipping service will inevitably be of a higher cost than a standard shipping service. Companies such as Amazon can offer this to customers for free as they have such a high turnover, but this might not be realistic for you.

There are a number of factors that can affect how much expedited shipping costs such as the weight of the item, how quickly you want it to arrive, the destination, whether it will be shipped overnight and the courier service you use.

You will also need to consider whether you will pass this additional cost onto the customer. Free expedited shipping might attract more customers, you will have to ensure this translates into more profit. Setting a minimum order value for free expedited shipping is a popular strategy.

What is your competition doing?

Look at similar scale businesses who you compete with and see what their delivery options are. If they offer free expedited shipping, it could be that you need to work towards this too. If they don’t, is this a competitive advantage you want to take?

Do you have the capacity for multiple delivery options?

The best way for most e-commerce stores to offer expedited shipping is to make it one of a number of options the customer can choose from. This allows flexibility and gives you the ability to control the costs of different areas of business better.

But, to do this, you need to be sure that your business has the capability to handle a variety of orders, shipping methods and even courier services to meet each demand.

How to Offer Expedited Shipping for Your E-Commerce Store

Are you now thinking about adding an expedited delivery service to your e-commerce store? There are a few things you need to get in place, first:

  • Order cut off time – decide when is an achievable time you can receive orders until to be able to ship them out the next day.
  • Order processing time – delivery times are usually considered to be from the time the item dispatches your warehouse to when it is received by the customer. But, if your order processing and pick-and-packing time is too long, customers may get annoyed if this extends the delivery time too much.
  • Can you prioritise expedited shipping orders? – if you have multiple delivery options available, it’s important that those who have chosen expedited shipping are prioritised over other orders. Can your fulfilment process do this?
  • Cost effective courier services – whether you are offering expedited delivery for free or are asking the customer to pay for it, you want to make sure it is as low cost as possible. Can you find a reliable courier to fit your budget?
  • Are you prepared for extra orders? – expedited shipping can be a draw to customers, especially if it’s free. If business does pick up as a result of it, are you ready to meet demand?

This can be a lot for a growing business to handle for themselves. The set-up of an expedited delivery process can affect all areas of your supply chain as well as your warehouse. One of the best ways to get support for this is through a third party logistics provider. As experts in e-commerce fulfilment, a good 3PL should have everything already set up for you to be able to offer reliable expedited shipping options – from inventory management software to low cost courier relationships.

You can read more about the advantages of working with a third party logistics provider here.

PS, would you like a chat about how you can start offering expedited shipping and delivery for your e-commerce store? Contact 3PL for our expert advice.

More e-commerce business advice from the 3PL blog

How Do I Choose the Right Order Fulfillment Partner? | What Are the Essential Requirements for Inventory Management Software? | Which E-Commerce Order Fulfilment Strategy is Best For Your Business?