Of the over 2.1 billion digital buyers globally, very few if any will tolerate delayed deliveries. 44% of online shoppers abandoned their shopping cart when they realized delivery time would be too slow. Today’s eCommerce customers want their orders delivered promptly on the same day or within hours when possible. The prevailing mantra is the faster, the better, and expedited delivery is the solution.
If you aren’t offering expedited shipping services in your eCommerce business, you’re encouraging higher cart abandonment rates, lower customer retention rates, and eventual profit decline. In today’s increasingly hypercompetitive eCommerce sector, where customers have a buffet of options, it’s nearly impossible to thrive without offering an expedited shipping service.
You likely have a bunch of questions regarding expedited express delivery such as:
- How does expedited shipping work?
- How much is expedited shipping?
- How fast is expedited shipping?
- How do I roll it out in my eCommerce business?
Here at Rakuten Super Logistics, we understand that you need real-time and turn-key solutions to make expedited delivery work for you. That’s why we have compiled this definitive guide to get you started.
Let’s get to it.
What Is Expedited Delivery & How Long Does Express Shipping Take?
Expedited delivery or expedited shipping delivers customer goods in the shortest time possible, usually overnight or within two days. The benchmark definition of expedited delivery is any shipping method that delivers a customer’s goods faster than standard shipping methods.
Expedited orders are prioritized and ferried from the pick-up point to the delivery point with no delivery stops or layovers, making delivery time much shorter. Order fulfillment companies may use alternative terms like next-day shipping, two-day delivery, or express shipping to mean expedited delivery.
Expedited freight shipping times may vary depending on your customers’ location and the logistics power of your order fulfillment company. At Rakuten Super Logistics, we guarantee 100% next-day shipping for domestic orders within the U.S. Let’s explain what we mean when talking about domestic shipping.
What Is Expedited Domestic Shipping?
Expedited domestic shipping refers to shipping services within U.S. locations. The other option is expedited international shipping, which is shipping to international locations all around the world. If your eCommerce clientele base is within U.S. borders, you need expedited domestic shipping. If you ship to clients outside the U.S., you use expedited international shipping.
How Is Expedited Delivery Different From Other Order Fulfillment Options?
Standard shipping, standard delivery, or regular shipping is the baseline order delivery option for eCommerce stores. Standard delivery typically takes three to seven business days, depending on the shipping company.
For instance, at Rakuten Super Logistics, we ship within two days via our ground delivery network, covering 98% of U.S. locations. Whereas expedited orders are flown mainly by plane, standard shipping orders are shipped via ground, making them slow but way more affordable. That’s why fulfillment providers commonly refer to standard delivery as economy or budget shipping. Here’s how expedited delivery compares to standard delivery.
Expedited Delivery vs. Standard Delivery | Core Advantages & Drawbacks
The main advantage of standard shipping over expedited delivery is the cost. With standard shipping, you pay lower shipping costs than you would with expedited shipping. Also, customers who opt for standard shipping will pay less for delivery. In some cases, especially when shipping bulk orders with high margins, you can offer free standard delivery without tapering your profits.
On the flip side, standard shipping takes longer than expedited shipping. You can lose customers because of the lengthy delivery times. Customers who want their orders sooner may not shop at your eCommerce store if you don’t have expedited shipping options. About 25% of customers will abandon their shopping carts if they don’t see a same-day shipping option on your eCommerce website.
The good thing is that 61% of consumers are willing to pay more for same-day delivery. So, as we’ll see later on, offering expedited delivery services shouldn’t be taxing from a pricing point because customers are ready to pay up. Given that, here's a breakdown of the costs of expedited shipping.
How Much Is Expedited Shipping?
High shipping costs and longer transit times are the two most common challenges of eCommerce retailers, both B2B and B2C. Expedited shipping makes for a great customer experience, but if the expedited shipping costs are too high, they can negate your delivery time gains, hurt your bottom line, and overprice your goods.
An expedited shipping cost can vary based on weight, transit distance, carrier rates, and your fulfillment provider. The bulk of the extra cost comes from air shipping charges, which are typically more expensive across the board. For these reasons, expedited shipping costs are naturally higher than standard shipping costs. But they shouldn’t be exorbitant even though customers are willing to pay more for faster delivery.
Keep in mind that 63% of U.S shoppers abandon their carts because of high shipping costs. So, you must keep your expedited shipping charges fair and sustainable.
Two Ways To Set Up Expedited Shipping Cost-effectively
These two strategies will help you adjust shipping charges reasonably, so you don’t scare off customers who are willing to pay more for expedited delivery services but don’t want to feel ripped off:
Select a Fulfillment Partner With Established Fulfillment Centers Across Your Customer Base
You have to reduce the transit distance and time to cut your shipping costs. The most practical way to do this is by distributing your inventory across multiple fulfillment locations near your customers. With a distributed inventory, you can use more affordable ground shipping to deliver expedited orders instead of the costlier air shipping. Delivery trucks will cover less transit distance, meaning faster delivery time and lower costs.
But without multiple warehouses spread across the U.S., it’s nearly impossible to take your inventory closer to your widely-distributed customer base. That’s why you need a 3PL (third-party logistics) eCommerce fulfillment partner like Rakuten Super Logistics. Leveraging our strategically-placed fulfillment centers on the West Coast, Midwest, South Central, South East, North East, and the Rocky Mountain regions, we can deliver your expedited orders across the U.S. with our 1-2 Day U.S. Ground Delivery Network.
Set a Minimum Spend for Expedited Orders
This is a subtle technique for offering expedited shipping services without curtailing your profits. How do you do it? You set a minimum purchase amount on your eCommerce store that customers must achieve to qualify for expedited services. The point is to ensure that a customer spends more than the Average Order Value (AOV)4. It helps you absorb the extra costs of expedited shipping without slicing your profits.
Using this technique, you can increase your AOV significantly and even afford to offer free expedited shipping services to your big spenders. It goes a long way in increasing customer loyalty and enhancing customer experience. Customers feel they’re getting more value for their money. For instance, your B2B customers who would exceed the minimum spend (even without a requirement) will feel you’re giving them a better deal.
If you apply this technique tactfully, you can pass down the extra shipping costs for expedited services to your customers without charging excessively high prices. Today’s online shoppers want to feel they’re getting the best deal available. So, if you charge them affordable rates for expedited express shipping or offer them free express shipping, they’re likely to be loyal to your brand.
Setting Realistic Expedited Delivery Timelines
A study found that 96% of shoppers consider fast delivery to mean same-day delivery. Shoppers are then likely to interpret express shipping as faster than same-day delivery. You can imagine the reproach your eCommerce brand would attract from shoppers if they expect same-day delivery, but your expedited delivery timeline is 1-2 days.
To manage your customers’ expectations and avoid overpromising, you must set and communicate realistic delivery timelines for expedited orders. When you’ve partnered with an eCommerce fulfillment company, your delivery promise should be guided by the company’s turnaround time.
For instance, at Rakuten Super Logistics, we offer next-day shipping to most U.S. locations. Digital shoppers would rather know upfront that their order will arrive within 3-4 days than expect a same-day or overnight delivery only for it to flop.
This is why you need to showcase your expedited delivery services offer to your customers in real-time, so they’re aware even before they start shopping. You can do this through:
- Website Banners
- A simple banner on your product pages detailing your expedited offers will serve. Remember to indicate the expected delivery timelines, costs, and shipping thresholds requirements.
- Pop-up Notifications
- Program pop-up notifications on your homepage or each product page, reminding web visitors of your expedited offers.
- Shipping Threshold Counter
- Add a shipping threshold counter feature to your website that keeps track of your shoppers’ cart and informs them how close they are to qualifying for expedited shipping.
- Email Newsletters
- Every time you update your expedited shipping offers, send emails to your customers letting them know of your new offers.
- At Checkout
- This is the most common method where you display shipping options to your customers when they’re checking out. However, you should complement it with the other techniques (web banners and pop-up notifications) so customers are aware of your offer before checkout.
When your customers interact with your expedited offers more frequently, they’ll keep your brand’s offer in mind. This is a massive advantage given that digital shoppers are bombarded with tons of ad offers daily. You should also address other key questions your customers may have about delivery.
For instance, many customers may ask, “does expedited shipping ship on weekends?” Ensure you answer such questions precisely so customers don’t expect a delivery timeline you can’t manage. Also, let customers know before checkout if you charge higher rates for delivery during certain times (maybe the weekend or public holidays).
Why Do You Need To Offer Expedited Shipping Services?
These are some top reasons you must offer an expedited shipping option as part of your delivery package, regardless of the goods you sell:
To Match Shopper Expectations
Big eCommerce retailers like Amazon have set high standards for order fulfillment. So high that today’s customers expect every eCommerce retailer to have fast delivery or some form of expedited delivery service. With 56% of online shoppers aged 18-34 expecting same-day delivery, fast delivery is the new normal for modern digital shoppers.
These stats about digital shoppers tell it all:
- 38% will abandon their order if delivery takes over a week
- 16% will abandon their order if delivery takes 6-7 days
- 15% will abandon their order if delivery takes 4-5 days
- 8% will abandon their order if delivery takes three days or fewer
With more players entering the eCommerce sector, you can expect customer expectations to rise. To thrive in eCommerce now and in the future, you must offer expedited shipping seamlessly and on the low to attract and keep digital shoppers.
To Deliver Perishable & Special Products
If you sell perishable items like food and floral products, you must use expedited shipping, or the products will go bad while in transit. Other non-food products that require fast delivery include:
- Seasonal items such as holiday gifts, party decorations, occasion suits, and Halloween costumes
- Medical and pharmaceutical products
- Urgent B2B products
To Save Time, Storage Space, & Reduce the Probability of Product Damage
Since expedited orders take less time in transit, you’ll use less time tracking them and updating your customer on the order progress. Overall, your order fulfillment cycle time is shortened when using expedited shipping.
Expedited shipping companies also save you inventory storage costs because your goods don’t stay in the warehouse or fulfillment centers for long. With less transit time and storage time, package handling is minimal, decreasing the chances of package damage.
Partner With Rakuten Super Logistics & Enjoy Next-level eCommerce Shipping and Order Fulfillment
You need a well-to-do eCommerce fulfillment partner on your side if you’re not the Amazons and IKEAs of this world. But more importantly, you need a partner who empowers you to deliver the best-in-class shopping experience for your customers at a low shipping cost. This way, you can grow your profit margins gradually as you expand to more locations in the world. Lucky for you, Rakuten Super Logistics has got you covered for all domestic and international shipping needs, now and in the future.