eCommerce Shipping & Order Fulfilment For Growing AU/NZ Retailers: Must-Read Tips, Stats & Software

Online shopping sales multiplying? Read this to make educated decisions on your growing biz with useful stats & tips on eCom fulfilment & software.
min read
Retail Express Team
September 2, 2022
Retail Express Team
September 2, 2022

Table of contents

When your retail business grows, it can feel like there’s an insatiably hungry monster with very bad manners constantly demanding to be fed. Sure, it’s great that you’re finally getting those sales (woo-hoo). But now that you’ve finally climbed that mountain, there’s another one ahead (not so woo-hoo). This one’s a mountain of order fulfilment, packaging and eCommerce shipping solution decisions to cloud your brain. 

In this guide, we’ll make the task of climbing this mountain a little easier for you. 

We’ll help you make the right order fulfilment choices for your growing retail business by giving you the latest data and best practice tips — so you can make your decisions based on facts, not hunches.

Whether you have one store or several, you need to check your systems when your business grows. Are your order fulfilment processes super-efficient? Do you know the industry best practices for shipping, and are you closely watching consumer trends? Or are you haemorrhaging profits by making bad business choices? 

We’ll help you with all of this.

We’ll also discuss shipping apps and cloud-based omnichannel retail software because things become a lot easier whenyou go digital and centralise your data. 

Retail Express cloud-based software can make your online order fulfilment seamless. You’ll slash admin time, enjoy real-time stock and fulfilment visibility — and delight your customers with outstanding delivery experiences.Get a free 1-hour demo to find out more today.

Make eCommerce shipping decisions based on data{Why you should make eCommerce shipping decisions based on data, not hunches}

Pay less attention to hunches and more to data & industry best practices.

As your business grows, you must pay less attention to hunches and team members’ opinions (no matter how right Rodney from dispatch thinks he is). Instead, focus on learning and leveraging data-based facts on consumer demand and industry best practices. That way, you can act on what’s been tried and tested, not what might be a cool idea at the time.

Retail has changed. It’s no longer good enough to dispatch orders without doing your homework and hoping for the best. 

IMPORTANT: When customers receive their order, it may be the first time they physically experience your brand. So you must make that experience memorable — magnificent, even. This magnificence just requires a little thinking and planning, though.

Today’s eCommerce customers want all info up front, plenty of shipping options, choice of where and how they pick up the goods, constant communication, tracking numbers, delightful (preferably sustainable) packaging, easy returns processes and follow-up communication. Loyalty points don’t hurt, either.

It sounds like a lot. 

But a good fulfilment experience is very possible and not that hard. Which is lucky, because you must take this seriously if you want to compete in today’s hyper-competitive retail market.

After all, your business may be nothing without sales, but your sales are nothing without successful order fulfilment. 

And the bonus? Happy customers share the love. They tell their friends and become walking, talking brand ambassadors. They write positive reviews, bolstering your brand with vital social proof, so newcomers trust your brand. 

Bottom line: The more love you put in, the more you get back.

Let’s dive in and see what’s essential for your online retail business success right now.

Your business may be nothing without sales, but your sales are nothing without successful order fulfilment.

12 Facts on eCommerce, shipping solutions & packaging — latest info{12 of the latest facts on eCommerce, shipping solutions & packaging}

Knowledge is power. So power yourself with the latest retail stats and facts, and you’ll the in a position to make more informed business decisions.

1. eCommerce is big business-

Online sales take up 16.3% of retail spend, according to Australia Post. eCommerce is now a vital part of Aussie Retail — and not to be underestimated.

TAKEAWAY: retailers must embrace eCommerce; it’s a large share of the market. To ensure you get your share, invest in the appropriate POS software to make the digital transformations required so that your order fulfilment process is seamless.

2. The shift to online looks permanent (It’s not just a Covid thing)-

Shopping online became the main channel for non-grocery retail goods during the pandemic, and many plan to continue using this channel. 

In the ABS Household Impacts of COVID-19 Survey, a third of respondents indicated they prefer to shop online now more than they did before the pandemic. And, Australians said after the pandemic (when Covid-19 is no longer a health risk), approximately 50 % would prefer to continue home delivery or Click & Collect, according to ACRS at Monash Business School.

TAKEAWAY: Although some industry professionals predicted that online orders would abate once Covid passed, numerous studies show the contrary. It’s likely eCommerce is here to stay, so prepare yourself.

3. eCommerce shipping prices matter more than product prices-

More online orders are influenced by shipping prices than product prices, according to Jungle Scout Consumer Trends Report Q4 2021. 

TAKEAWAY: Offering free shipping is a winning strategy if you can do it. (We discuss this further below)

4. Shipping-related promos are the most important in online business-

According to ACRS at Monash Business School, shipping-related promotions trumped competitions, product bundles, promotion codes and price discounts as the most important promotions when deciding to make an online purchase.

TAKEAWAY: Consumers invest a LOT of value in free or discounted shipping. Retail Express POS software gives you the functionality to easily create shipping-related promos. You can set them for certain products, minimum spend thresholds, date ranges and more. They can be set to be automatic (the customer receives the free shipping just by placing the order on the promoted product), or give customers discount codes to incentivise activity.

5. Speed is not always the dream — standard delivery shipping is most popular (but it’s retail industry-specific)-

According to ACRS at Monash Business School, standard delivery was the most frequently used method to deliver online purchases (65 % of Australian shoppers most frequently used standard delivery (3+ days) to deliver their online goods). Additionally, various studies consistently show that consumers often, but not always, value communication over speed.

TAKEAWAY: Make communication a priority. It’s okay to wait, say (most) customers, providing you keep them informed. A great way of excelling with communication is using an omnichannel fulfilment app like Shippit. This app thoroughly communicates with your clients while also performing a mountain of time-saving fulfilment tasks. We discuss this in more detail below.

6. Certainty can matter more than same-day delivery (but again, it’s retail industry-specific)-

According to Australia Post data, 60% of customers value delivery time certainty over speed. Their data suggests that getting the delivery date right can positively impact how customers rate their experience, even if the order is delayed.

However, don’t take statistics for granted, as these figures vary depending on the industry. Says Australia Post, “Customers do prioritise delivery speed in certain purchase categories. For example, 42% of fashion shoppers choose a faster delivery speed — yet when it comes to buying books, as a subset of the Media category, this report just 9% of shoppers opt for faster delivery.”

TAKEAWAY: As above, communicate with your customers regularly. But keep in mind the data indicates outcomes are industry-specific. E.g., fashion customers often want goods quickly while furniture or book customers are happier to wait a few days.

Omnichannel POS software indicating furniture products available in stock

7. Shopping local matters to Aussies-

According to ACRS at Monash Business School, shopping for locally produced products was important to 65% of surveyed Australian shoppers. 

TAKEAWAY: Consumers are becoming increasingly concerned about their carbon footprint and sustainability issues. Think about how you can incorporate this into your business model and marketing strategy. Perhaps apportion part of your marketing budget to target local customers specifically. Run social media campaigns targeted to your surrounding suburbs. Sponsor local events, get involved in the local community or start a loyalty program for locals.

8. Sustainable packaging matters-

According to Inside Small Business, Aussies care about sustainability in retail and sustainable packaging, citing research by international consumer intelligence platform Toluna. Of the Australian shoppers surveyed, 69% said they care that packaging is recyclable, and 55 % care that there are biodegradable elements. (Further, 54% were keen that the products themselves were made sustainably)

TAKEAWAY: Consider sustainable packaging options provided by companies such as HeapsGood eco-mailers, Hero Packaging or noissue compostable mailers and boxes.

9. Many customers would prefer consolidated packaging-

63% of consumers stated they would gladly pay more for an environmentally friendly delivery service, according to a report titled Sustainability and the Australian Retail Supply Chain.

60 % of the consumers surveyed indicated they often receive their online orders in multiple shipments, with 81 % saying they felt this was an inefficient or unsustainable way of delivering goods.

Additionally, “81 % said they would prefer to receive their order at a later date if it meant that it would arrive in one consolidated delivery”. A further 64 % said they’d be even more motivated to wait for a consolidated order if the delivery fee was free or discounted.”

TAKEAWAY: Offer a consolidated delivery option at checkout. It will save you money, help lighten the carbon footprint and please your customers. This option requires agile inventory control software that gives you the real-time visibility and control to transfer stock most economically and seamlessly. 

“It’s no longer online or offline retail. It’s just retail.”

10. Omnichannel is virtually a necessity-

Today, consumers want it all. It’s no longer online or offline retail. It’s just retail. 

If a customer orders online, they may prefer to pick up the goods via Click & Collect in-store. Or, if they are unhappy with their purchase, they may like to return the product in person. To accommodate these increasing demands, you must integrate all your data into one unified, cloud-based system using agile POS software that gives you the visibility and capabilities required.

As highlighted in KPMG's Australian Retail Outlook 2021 report, critical trends for a retailer’s success include a “strong online presence, improvement in customer experience through an omnichannel retail strategy, and robust infrastructure (such as inventory storage, order processing, shipping and returns processing) to ensure speed of delivery and customer satisfaction.”

TAKEAWAY: Invest in cloud-based omnichannel POS software. It will help in myriad ways, not just with your inventory and fulfilment and customer delivery experience. By centralising all data and having complete visibility for all staff across all operations in real-time, you’ll accelerate your business growth and success across many facets of your business.

11. Click & Collect (aka BOPIS) is a competitive fulfilment advantage-

Now that most savvy retailers have embraced omnichannel, Click & Collect or BOPIS (Buy Online Pick up in Store) is rapidly growing in popularity. Research by Australia’s Inside Retail revealed that 41% of consumers prefer Click & Collect as a primary means of fulfilment in various impulse categories (non-grocery/medicines).

Click & Collect benefits both retailer and customer. It usually gets items to a store or fulfilment centre more cheaply and efficiently than mailing products to a customer’s residential address.

And there’s another benefit: when customers arrive at the store to ‘collect’, they often indulge in impulse purchases, leading to more significant basket sizes and healthier profits for the retailer.

A survey of US consumers by reflected these benefits. It revealed that customers liked not having to pay shipping fees and not waiting for an item to be shipped. Parcel theft was also a consideration for a smaller percentage of those surveyed.

TAKEAWAY: Click & Collect is convenient and economical for both retailer and customer and often leads to more sales for the retailer -and its popularity is growing. If you can, cash in on this option ASAP by implementing agile inventory control software.

12. Be clear about costs-

The Australia Post Delivery Experience Report 2021 said of their February 2021 survey: “89% of respondents said clear, upfront information about postage and delivery charge was important to them”. 

Australia Post added, “The 2020 International Postal Corporation (IPC) shopper survey found the vast majority (90%) of shoppers want to see clear information about delivery charges upfront — this has been the most important delivery factor for five years running.”

TAKEAWAY: Be crystal clear to customers about costs before they purchase. See below.

No more nasty surprises: display your shipping policies & prices

Asking customers to pay for shipping can be problematic. And it’s always worse if you don’t inform them before checkout time. The unwelcome surprise can feel a little rude, like they’ve been tricked. So whatever shipping or postal fee you decide, clearly display your shipping policies on your website in several places so customers know what they’re in for.

Priorities for the future: suggestions from ACRS, Monash Business School-

Monash Business School’s ACRS 2021 Retail Adaption Report has some valuable recommendations on what retailers should prioritise in the future:

  • Add humanised touches to online channels to show customers you care

  • Strive for seamless omnichannel experiences to meet increasing online expectations

  • Invest in a digital shopfront to attract customers and compete for screen time

  • Reflect and review plans and processes to increase efficiencies in operations

  • Engage and target locally by connecting with online communities

The delivery experience: Australia Post’s suggestions for retailers-

Australia Post also has helpful suggestions regarding new retailer priorities, as offered in their eCommerce Industry Report 2021:

  • Meet evolving customer expectations

  • Provide a more personalised and seamless experience across multiple channels

  • Provide a clear and uncomplicated checkout and returns process

  • Get purchases to shoppers where and how they want and as quickly as possible

Today’s retailers now need to work out how to deliver these suggestions and expectations in a way that’s appropriate for their business. Offering an omnichannel experience by installing the right omnichannel POS software for your business is a strong start.

Retail businesses must ensure that their service doesn’t end at checkout but goes right through the fulfilment process. Getting goods to the customers easily, on their terms, and allowing an easy returns process is now a must. 

Retail Express omnichannel software can make your online order fulfilment seamless. You’ll slash admin time, enjoy real-time stock and fulfilment visibility, reap the benefits of Click & Collect — and delight your customers with outstanding delivery experiences. Get a free one-hour demo today.

Inventory & Fulfilment in 2022: Tips for doing it right{Inventory & Fulfilment in 2022:  Tips for doing it right (and putting plans in action)}

Now that we’ve armed you with plenty of facts and recommendations from reliable sources, let's go through the essentials to ensure you’re on track to satisfy customer demand. 

Check your eCommerce shipping strategy{Check your eCommerce shipping strategy – are you doing the best you can?}

We’ve included this section for online retail newbies. So if you’re not so new, perhaps just give it a quick scan, then move on to the next section. 

  • Shipping rates, shipping companies & methods: Free shipping is preferable for most, but it is not suitable for your business, you may choose flat rate shipping or a special price for local customers—more on how to decide that later. 

    If you’ve been with the same shipping companies for a while, review their services and prices. Organise a meeting with each shipping company and check they haven’t accidentally ‘overlooked’ better prices or services on offer. Then, investigate any emerging new players — and negotiate the best deals for your business needs.
  • Product weight and sizes: Weigh and measure each product and enter the details into your product descriptions. This will allow for accurate costing, determined automatically at checkout.
  • Packaging: Choose the type and size of your packaging based on the product you’re selling. Include the package weight to ensure accurate shipping prices.

81% of Australian consumer surveyors said free shipping was an important online purchase decision. Further, 57 % said that free return shipping was an important factor in their online purchase decision.” – ACRS at Monash Business School

Shipping fees for eCommerce customers{Shipping fees for eCommerce customers – how important are our free shipping and shipping-related promotions?}

Think there’s no big deal in slapping customers with $10 freight? Think again — if you want to follow the latest data. Paying for freight is not just about the money. It’s that you’re asking customers to pay a fee for a service that others don’t always charge. And this can ring all sorts of psychological bells. 

Again, Monash Business School’s ACRS reports that shipping-related promotions were among the most critical promotions when deciding to make an online purchase. 

81% of Australian consumer surveyors said free shipping was an important online purchase decision. That’s considerably larger than the sizeable 73 % who (more predictably) chose price discounts. Further, 57 % said free return shipping was an important factor in their online purchase decision.

Our advice? If you can, offer free shipping. Just offset the cost by structuring your offering in any of the following ways:

  • Inflate the product price to absorb the shipping fee – you’ve just covered your costs
  • Don’t inflate the price – but offer free shipping with the understanding that free shipping sells more, so you’ll make more profit 
  • Meet them halfway – increase the price by 50 % of the shipping fee (both you and your customer pay, but as above, budget for the fact that you’ll still sell more)
  • Offer conditional free shipping – e.g., a discount for loyal or local customers, basket size over $200, etc.

And when it comes to free returns, think through the same options similarly – and do your sums.

eCommerce shipping calculators{How to calculate eCommerce shipping rates}

Shipping companies calculate your shipping rates based on:

  • Package size
  • Package weight
  • Distributor address
  • Recipient address

Ensure your packaging is as small, snug and lightweight as possible. Small items in large packages are wasteful — and consumers are becoming increasingly aware of this. So stick to our advice, and you’ll keep costs down for you and your customers — and lighten your environmental footprint. 

To calculate your shipping rate, you’ll need a shipping calculator.

eCommerce shipping calculators{eCommerce shipping calculators – where to get them}

Retail Express POS software integrates with popular eCommerce websites such as Shopify, WooCommerce, Magento and BigCommerce. These websites have shipping integrations and internal shipping calculators that will show quotes from various eCommerce shipping companies. For example, you can get quotes from domestic carriers such as Australia Post, DHL, Star Track Couriers, Sendle, or FedEx for international services.

Packaging for eCommerce deliveries{Packaging for eCommerce deliveries – what’s hot right now}

As your packaged delivery may be the first physical experience customers have with your brand, getting the details right matters. And as sustainability matters to most consumers, why not explore some of the sustainable packaging options available? You can choose soft, compostable mailers or tough, recycled paper boxes. Ensure you have them branded, too. 

Check out Melbourne-based HeapsGood eco-mailers, Hero Packaging, or noissue compostable mailers and boxes to get started with ideas.

If you don’t feel sustainable packaging is suitable for your business, keep exploring options. Put some effort into creating good design, branding and even taglines or value propositions that can be printed on your boxes and packages. Once again, the idea is to delight your customer with a memorable delivery or unboxing experience. 

Unboxing experiences. It’s a thing.-

Yes, ‘unboxing experiences’ is a thing. No longer a fad, unboxing is a powerful eCommerce marketing tool — just ask Google. Or, if you’d prefer us to do the honours: the unboxing experience is that moment when a customer opens their package or box, takes out what’s inside and is delighted by the memorable experience provided. It’s also a moment often shared on social media, with the customer stepping in as a marketer, free of charge.

Unboxing is an excellent way for retailers to increase branding by word-of-mouth — and a brilliant way to get influencers on board.

It makes sense that unboxing is taking off, especially since we’ve all been a little ‘boxed up’ working from home during the pandemic. A knock on the door from the courier can be the highlight of the day, and unboxing — the cherry on top. We all crave that treat, that surprise. And we all love that feeling of being cared for — that people have gone the extra mile.

Shippit integrates with Retail Express for seamless order fulfilment experiences

Shipping automation solutions{Shipping automation solutions}

Online shoppers now want multiple shipping options and a seamless fulfilment experience. Try to do this manually, and you’ll be in for headaches. That’s where shipping apps come in.

Shippit is a shipping automation solution for modern retailers that slashes admin time and gives outstanding omnichannel fulfilment experiences. This app is a beauty — and highly popular with retailers of all sizes. Plus, it integrates brilliantly with Retail Express POS software.

Of course, you must have our POS software or something similar, but it enables employees to fulfil in-store and online sales. You simply send the order automatically to Shippit without any double entry.

Once in the Shippit portal, your staff can print address labels and manage the order for delivery. Shippit then picks the best carrier in terms of rates. Sorted.

And another huge benefit? Shippit provides excellent communication. Customers receive beautifully branded tracking info and notifications via SMS or email. So they’re constantly informed, giving them the service they demand — and alleviating you from the arduous task of replying to anxious requests for updates or dealing with angry customer complaints.

Shippit is a shipping automation solution that gives updates to customers

Communicate, communicate... (with your customers){Communicate, communicate... (With your customers)}

If you want to excel at eCommerce delivery, keep your customers informed. Never leave them feeling that they should call to discover what’s happening. Eliminate nasty surprises. Be clear about costs, delivery time, and returns. And connect with them in a personalised way, so they keep coming back for more.

Here’s how: 

  • Give customers regular shipping updates: Integrate your software with a shipping app such as Shippit, as mentioned above or perhaps StarShipit, another app that integrates with Retail Express. This way, your customers will be automatically updated. No stress needed.
  • Use loyalty and marketing software to continue to connect with your customers with personalised email campaigns regularly, and develop brand advocates, not just one-off sales. Retail Express has excellent marketing, CRM and loyalty tools to increase sales and retention. Because it’s not just about getting that first order to your customer, it’s about developing a relationship with your customer, so you entice them back for more. 
  • Be clear about costs: Display all shipping and returns information clearly on your website in several places and on all social media channels.

When retailers are packaging and shipping, they must give delivery info

What sort of delivery info is required? Australia Post offers a helpful delivery information checklist:

“For domestic deliveries include:

  • Number of items being shipped
  • Where the items are being shipped from and to
  • Tracking links
  • Whether they need to show ID on delivery
  • Delivery costs
  • Collection point options
  • Returns policy
  • Free shipping threshold
  • An estimated delivery date (in conjunction with your logistic partner)
  • Contact details for customer queries”

Invest in cloud-based retail inventory control software{Invest in cloud-based retail inventory control software}

Meeting evolving customer expectations while managing your growing business can be hard work. Choose Retail Express inventory control software, though, and business can get a lot easier. And profitable. Look forward to offering:

  • A more personalised and seamless omnichannel experience across multiple channels 
  • Live, centralised cloud visibility of all stock available to any designated staff member
  • Automated store replenishment to eliminate errors and slash admin time
  • Multi-warehouse and 3PL integration for seamless operations, enable Ship from Store and faster deliveries and transfers 
  • Click & Collect for added customer convenience, lower shipping fees and larger basket sizes
  • Automated delivery processes, including easy returns to free up time
  • Outstanding communication and customer service thanks to shipping apps and CRM software allowing personalised email campaigns loyalty programs 

Next steps{Switch to Retail Express software and be up and running in weeks}

Retail Express cloud-based software can make your inventory control and order fulfilment seamless. You’ll centralise all data, automate dozens of processes, slash admin time, enjoy real-time stock and fulfilment visibility — and delight your customers with outstanding delivery experiences.Get a free 1-hour demo to find out more today.

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