We're often asked if our shipping matrix can handle "Highlands and Islands", as many of our customers use couriers that charge extra to reach the more "further flung" areas of the United Kingdom. Of course, our answer is a resounding "YES" - our shipping matrix can handle banded shipping right down to an individual street level for the UK - but we're very much aware that the days of charging more to customers based on their postcode are seriously numbered.
In recent months there have been a number of high profile cases, including complaints about Halfords and Lloyds Pharmacy, that have prompted a response from Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon in First Minister's questions
"The level of charge that Richard Lochhead has outlined today is shocking. Certainly, based on what he has said today, it seems vastly out of proportion and, yes, I am in full agreement that excessive charging for parcel deliveries is unacceptable."
It certainly feels like shipping is becoming a "postcode lottery" with little more than a few miles separating standard and exceptional areas in terms of pricing and some courier treating the "Highlands and Islands" like a trip "North of the Wall". Shipping isn't just about postcodes though - here are some tips from the Gravit-e team on making your shipping matrix better reflect the real costs of shipping.
Use a Weight Matrix
Your Gravit-e system can calculate the total weight of an order and you can create multiple shipping bands based on weight. Light parcels may not attract the same charges as larger items with your courier and you can reflect these lower charges in more competitive shipping for customers.
Use a sliding scale for charges
If you don't want the hassle of maintaining a fine-grained set of weight bands, think about using the "Scaling" option in your Gravit-e shipping matrix instead. With Scaled shipping charges, you can start with a lower initial charge and then increase the charge based on weight up to a ceiling value. Some customers may still receive higher charges, but you guarantee that you are only charging what is required.
Offer Free Shipping On Larger Orders
Everyone loves free shipping - consider offering free shipping on larger orders even if they are heading to one of the more outlying regions of the UK. Your Gravit-e shipping matrix can be configured to offer free shipping based on a variety of factors including order value.
Improve the accuracy of your postcode matrix
As we mentioned above, sometimes it is a matter of just a few miles between what is considered "Highlands" and what isn't. You aren't restricted to working with just the first part of the customer's postcode - consider using the full postcode in your shipping matrix to make shipping costs more accurate and make sure you're up to date with what charges your courier has in each area.
Take the shock out of shipping costs
One of the most common places to lose a customer during the checkout process is when you add shipping charges to their basket. When charges are high, you're at extra risk - customers hate the "bait and switch" routine.
Gravit-e lets you pre-select shipping rates that are previewed to your customer in their shopping basket, fully calculated based on the customer's basket contents. There's no reason for the customer to get a nasty shock during checkout and no reason for you to risk losing their order.
Overall, whilst there's nothing we can do from behind our desks at Gravit-e to change the shipping costs for customers in the Highlands and Islands of the UK, we're definitely doing all we can to make sure our customers can treat their customers as fairly as possible and make sure that shipping charges are calculated fairly.