If you run an online store, you're familiar with the fact that customers have varying needs. To provide the best shopping experience possible, it's important to anticipate these needs and have systems in place to support them. If your customers begin requesting a feature you don't have, you should look into it right away and determine what it would cost for you to implement it— if anything— and weigh that against the potential cost of getting a new customer. Remember, customers who feel they're being ignored or dismissed may stop buying from you, so it's vital that you listen to their input.
One feature frequently requested all over the eCommerce world is the ability to ship a single order to multiple addresses. This is something that many online store owners don't even think about until the first time someone asks, but countless customers have a need for it and will request it. Most of the time, multiple shipping destinations are a simple time-saver for your customers, but in some situations, the lack of this capability will be a huge inconvenience to them. But why? What's so great about multiple shipping destinations?
1. Shipping to multiple destinations will simplify holiday gift giving
Customers prefer to shop online, and that goes double when they have a lot of shopping to do. During the holiday season, time (and money) is of the essence. A gift shopper may groan at the idea of needing to buy gifts for 17 out-of-state friends and ship each one off to its recipient. It would be so much easier and cheaper to have the items sent directly from the online store! Allowing multiple shipping destinations lets your customer do exactly that, without the hassle of having to choose between placing 17 different orders or placing one order to their own home and re-shipping the items themselves. By giving them this convenience, you've saved them a lot of valuable time.
2. Your store can supply corporate gifts and rewards
Part of being an effective seller is putting yourself in the shoes of different buyer personas— basically, representations of types of customers. Imagine yourself as a corporate employee who has been given the task of buying and shipping out an annual gift for dozens of executives. Does the idea of spending the entire day placing one order after another appeal to you? It probably makes you break out in a sweat. Save this type of customer the headache, and let them place one single order and have each of those dozens of gifts mailed to a different address. And this type of gift purchase isn't limited to gift baskets, chocolate, or wine, either— although those are all common choices, pretty much anything can be chosen for a company-wide gift event, as corporate culture can be very different from one business to the next.
3. You'll be able to handle unexpected situations
There are many other situations, large and small, that can result in the need for multiple shipping destinations. A wealthy customer may want to buy two of the same item for their home and second home. A principal may want to surprise all the teachers at their school. A division of law enforcement might want to buy several items to distribute to various stations. A lawn care service might need to buy the same product for multiple locations. Endless other situations can come to mind, and if your store allows multiple shipping destinations, you'll be able to cover the unexpected.
How to implement multiple shipping destinations
If you're convinced by now that your store needs this feature, the next step is to set up your online store to allow it. Unfortunately, some popular eCommerce platforms don't come with built-in support for multiple shipping destinations, requiring store owners to pay for extra apps or pass the burden along to their customers by requiring them to use clumsy workarounds like uploading address lists. Avoid limitations like these by ensuring that you use a platform with complete multiple shipping addresses capabilities. If you can connect directly to your shipping carriers and print shipping labels for these multiple addresses, even better. That type of workflow enhancement is a huge time-saver for you, and is another reason to choose your platform carefully so as to implement this important feature in a way that's truly convenient for you and your customers alike.
Multiple ship-to will help optimize your store for gift shopping, but there are a lot of other great features you can add to make your online store a popular destination for gift shoppers. To find out more, download our free Gift Shopping Guide for eCommerce Stores and learn how to build a gift-shopping paradise.