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Today, consumers expect their orders to arrive fast.

Next-day delivery has become the norm for a lot of people, and same-day shipping has grown in popularity, too.

In order to meet the needs of your customers and stay competitive, it’s imperative that customer orders reach their doorstep fast.

Offering expedited shipping is one way to guarantee the promptness they expect, even though it almost always comes at a premium.

In this article, we’re going to take a look at what expedited shipping is, the pros and cons, and compare it to other shipping methods.

What is expedited shipping?

While there is no exact meaning of expedited shipping, the phrase is used to refer to shipping methods that are guaranteed to arrive faster than regular delivery services. Depending on the distance an expedited shipment is travelling, it can generally take 1-3 days for the shipment to arrive at its destination.

At its quickest, expedited shipping can result in items being delivered same-day. This can almost always be achieved if the end destination is within the same region as the sender or fulfilment centre.

For longer distances, e.g the USA to the UK, expedited shipping may take three days. That’s still a remarkable speed given the size of the Atlantic ocean!

Types of expedited shipping include:

  • Same-day delivery
  • Overnight shipping
  • Two-day shipping
  • Time-specific shipping
  • International expedited shipping
  • Express freight

Should I use expedited shipping?

There are many reasons why a sender might want goods to arrive quickly, or a buyer want to receive items quickly.

Urgency

Items like medicine or time-sensitive legal documents might necessitate the need for expedited shipping. Indeed, it’s very common in a range of industries, including healthcare, automotive, tech and law

Some disorganised folks might also rely on expedited shipping for clothes to wear on a night out, or last-minute essentials for a holiday. Likewise, they may use the service to buy a last-minute birthday gift and avoid getting in trouble!

Customer service

Some eCommerce businesses offer expedited shipping to give their customers the flexibility to pay more for quick delivery. They can also use free expedited shipping to incentivise their customers to make bigger purchases.

If a business makes a mistake, like sending out the wrong order or a damaged item, they might offer expedited shipping to send a replacement, earning good faith and making the most out of a bad situation.

Perishable goods

Some products, particularly ambient foods, may require expedited shipping so they remain fresh while in transit. Customers will also expect a best-before date of at least a few days when buying fresh food, which further incentivises the requirement for quick delivery.

Advantages of expedited shipping

Using expedited shipping – or at least having it as an option for your customers – brings a range of businesses for both you and your customers.

Meeting expectations

As we alluded to in the introduction, fast shipping has become the norm in eCommerce. While many customers will be happy to wait a little longer, you should have the capacity to meet the expectations of customers who prefer a quicker delivery time.

By having expedited shipping as an option at check-out, you can cater to the needs of customers who are happy to pay more to ensure a prompt service.

We’d argue that having the option is a requirement in today’s eCommerce environment, especially if you want to stay competitive and improve sales and retention.

Improved average order value

Average order value (AOV) is the average amount of money a customer spends with you each time they make a purchase.

One way to increase AOV is to incentivise customers to spend more, and offering free expedited shipping when customers reach a certain threshold in their basket can be an effective way to encourage those higher spends.

Cheaper inventory costs

Businesses who rely on expedited shipping can generally pay far less for storage and holding costs.

It enables them to run a leaner inventory model and utilise the Just-In-Time (JIY) inventory management technique to control the amount of stock they’re holding in their warehouses, and only replenish when absolutely necessary. Furthermore, having expedited shipping solutions means you’ll need less safety stock, and thus pay less storage fees.

Disadvantages of expedited shipping

Expedited shipping might be a super-speedy way to send parcels, but that does come at a cost, both financially and environmentally.

Cost

The big reason why brands might be apprehensive about expedited shipping is because of the high cost. It’s especially expensive when you’re sending goods across long distances or into different countries.

This cost will ultimately have to be passed on to the customer, which can make the service less appealing to them, too.

Environmental concerns

Speed often comes at the expense of cargo optimisation. For the sake of time, expedited shipments are often sent less-than-load (LTL), which means the use of space within the cargo is inefficient. Partially full planes, trains, boats and trucks means that more trips are necessary to transport the same amount of goods, increasing total emissions.

How to offer faster shipping (without the cost)

Relying on expedited shipping isn’t ideal when you’ve got customers across the world. Most of the time, customers who live far away would rather do business with a local company because they’ll receive their order much quicker, and at a lower cost.

Rather than sending orders across the world as and when they come in, it’d be far better to keep stock closer to your end-customers. For example, if you’re a UK business and have demand from US customers, holding stock in the USA would be far smarter than offering expedited shipping.

By localising stock, you can improve your market position in overseas territories by offering far more competitive rates and times on shipping. This will enable you to better penetrate overseas markets, and grow your sales and presence anywhere there is a demand for your products.

Localise your brand with James and James

Here at James and James, we specialise in helping eCommerce brands grow overseas. We achieve this through our international network of fulfilment centres, where we’ll store, pick, pack, and ship your products on your behalf, giving you the time and head-space to grow your business in new markets.

With sites in the UK, Europe, United States, Australia and Canada, our international network can act as the foundation upon which you can build a global eCommerce company. Whether you’re operating in one or all of our sites, you can track and manage orders and inventory from our award-winning platform, ControlPort™, all in real time.

To learn more about our fulfilment services, or to book a demo of ControlPort™, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

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