Running an e-commerce aquatics store can be a challenge when shipping livestock such as invertebrates, fish, and plants. Putting policies and procedures in place for packing, preparing, and shipping your orders helps streamline the process and keeps customers happy.
Fish and invertebrates are fragile, so it is important to avoid too much movement within the box to ensure your customers’ orders arrive alive and healthy. You can’t control how the postal system handles the box, but you can take precautions to keep your live animals safe inside. A few tips include:
Use plastic bags for fish and aquatic invertebrates (such as shrimp and snails).
Include 25% water, 75% air to maximize oxygen intake.
Close bags tightly with rubber bands and double-bag to avoid leaks.
Put non-aquatic invertebrates into a closed deli cup with a damp paper towel and holes in the lid.
Fill any empty spaces in the box with eco-friendly packing peanuts to minimize impact. Use the smallest box you can fit items into – empty spaces tend to encourage shifting and movement during shipping. Using lightweight packing materials and small boxes helps keep costs down for both you and your customer.
Make the shipping process as quick as possible by using an economical express shipping service such as Xpresspost. Your orders should never be in transit longer than three days, and during extreme weather, they should never take longer than one day.
Sudden temperature changes can lead to orders arriving ill or dead, which results in unhappy customers. Always use Styrofoam padding to insulate the four sides of the box from the inside, which results in better temperature regulation.
During the winter, add a few hand warmers or heat packs to keep the contents of the box warm. If you’re shipping in the summer, add cool packs instead. Both are lightweight solutions that cost relatively little, making them a good investment that protects your customer’s purchase and doesn’t drive up shipping costs.
Plants tend to be more resistant to temperature changes, although you don’t want them to freeze. Use heat packs when shipping plants in the winter, but you can avoid cool packs in the summer, saving a few dollars per order.
Potential customers may be initially wary of buying live aquatic animals and plants online. Make it clear to them why it’s worth buying from you instead of from the local chain pet store. Make the benefits part of your branding. When your customer buys live aquatics from you, the benefits can include:
A larger selection.
High quality, hand-picked livestock.
Livestock that’s shipped once, not twice (pet store fish often travel thousands of miles before they even reach the store).
Great customer service.
You can help seal the deal by offering a live-arrival guarantee, which isn’t too costly as long as you’re packing and shipping your livestock carefully to minimize stress.