So you’ve invested all your energy and expertise into setting up a successful business. You’ve created a strong brand, tweaked your store, finalized your products, created a compelling message–you’re feeling good about your company and its future.  

But the journey isn’t over yet. One of the most important steps in creating a successful eCommerce business begins with a strategic and well-thought-out approach to shipping. 

So, why should you care about the logistics of shipping? According to BigCommerce’s 2019 survey, shipping price and speed are two of the key drivers influencing consumer purchasing decisions. Additionally, an alarming 77% of survey respondents have abandoned their purchases due to unsatisfactory shipping options. 

These stats speak for themselves. Poor shipping logistics can be detrimental to your business and hurt your reputation among customers. So while eCommerce shipping may seem like an intimidating process, our guide will give you the step-by-step process from choosing the right eCommerce partner to packaging and shipping your products out. Keep reading to learn more and become an expert in eCommerce shipping in no time. 

Choosing the right eCommerce shipping solutions

Choosing a reliable shipping partner is essential for your online business. 13% of customers will never place another order with your business if their shipment is late, so it’s important to make sure your business is partnering with the best eCommerce shipping solutions. Below are some shipping software options you may want to consider in the future. 

ShipStation

ShipStation is the most well-known shipping software and the one you’re most likely familiar with. With integrations to Shopify, BigCommerce, and even Squarespace, ShipStation can easily plug right into your eCommerce website. In fact, out of all the possible shipping options, ShipStation can integrate with most eCommerce stores. While they do not offer any free plans, they do offer a free trial to make sure that it works for your business before buying. 

Shippo

Shippo is a great option for small businesses that are just starting out selling online. While ShipStation is designed for a larger volume of orders, Shippo is designed for the exact opposite. If you don’t have a large order volume, Shippo is most likely the ideal fit for you. And they also offer a free plan which is great for businesses that are just starting to sell online. 

Easyship

Easyship is a cloud-based shipping management solution that allows you to automate your shipping process with custom rules. While there are free plans available, the smaller plans are limited in their features.  

ShipEngine

ShipEngine has an API that allows you to compare different shipping rates across numerous carriers and integrations. While there are free options to start, since ShipEngine is a pay-as-you-go model, your costs can (and most likely will) add up quickly. Plus, ShipEngine also has fewer integrations than other platforms. 

How do I calculate my shipping costs? 

Calculating shipping costs is extremely important for your business’ profitability. If you charge too little, you’ll need to pay extra for the shipping fees. On the flip side, if you charge too much, you may drive customers away due to the cost. 

1. Figure out your delivery time. 

As a rule, faster shipping is more expensive; the opposite is also true. If you’re looking at saving money on shipping, the cheaper method is typically the slowest. It is a good idea to have multiple options for your customers, including a faster (but pricier) shipping option. 

2. Pick shipping carriers, and price them out. 

After you’ve sorted out your delivery options, you will need to consider the shipping characters you choose, along with the overall weight or DIM (Dimensional Weight) of your package. No matter which carrier you choose, all of the major ones will have slightly different rates. 

3. Consider extra fees to cover the cost of fulfillment.   

If you’re just starting out, adding extra fees to cover the cost of fulfilling orders, or shipping supplies is a good consideration. As your business grows, the extra fees can include the cost of third-party fulfillment services, inventory management systems, or even a surcharge to offset your credit card processing fees. 

At the end of the day, shipping costs are good to sit down and hash out before diving too deep into order fulfillment. To expand further upon the above, our team put together this helpful post with everything you need to know about eCommerce shipping costs.   

Choosing the right packaging

Before you ship your products, you’ll need to package them to ensure they’re safe during transport and arrive in one piece for your customer. There are many packaging options to choose from, but the most common you’ll find are boxes, envelopes, and poly mailers. Additionally, custom packaging materials such as packaging tissues, tape, and stickers can one-up your packaging while also providing an additional layer of protection.

A great source for packaging can be found through Arka and its Shopify App, which offers eco-friendly packaging materials ranging from custom boxes to custom inserts. Packola is another great brand to check out–you can customize your packaging within minutes through their easy-to-use website. 

Want to think “outside the box?” Look no further than poly mailers–lightweight but sturdy plastic bags designed to ship products that don’t need much structure or cushioning. Its light weight reduces shipping costs and its volume flexibility can accommodate different types of orders. 

Order fulfillment – do it myself or in a warehouse? 

Should you fulfill orders yourself or outsource them in a warehouse? 

Not surprisingly, this is one of the most asked questions in shipping logistics–and for good reason. Deciding to fulfill your products in-house versus outsourcing it to a partner is a major business decision that can either make or break your brand, so it’s important to know the difference between the two.

Self Fulfillment 

Self-fulfillment is when a business is in charge of shipping its own products as opposed to outsourcing to a third-party logistics provider. Essentially, you’ll be in charge of things like storing inventory, order processing, packaging products, shipping, and customer care. There are advantages and disadvantages to this.

  • Advantage: It’s a straightforward process. If your order volumes are low, it’s much more cost-effective to ship yourself than with a third-party provider. If you own a garage or an office, this will help keep storage fees and fulfillment costs down when building up orders. 
  • Disadvantage: There are significant hidden costs. While it may seem low-cost at first glance, as the volume of orders increases, the business will need to hire more labor and purchase more equipment to keep up with product demand. 

Outsourcing Fulfillment 

Outsourcing fulfillment is the opposite of self-fulfillment–businesses will turn to a third-party logistics company to manage the shipping process on their behalf. They’ll typically provide their own storage center, as well as the necessary labor and equipment needed during the fulfillment process. 

  • Advantage: Because third-party providers operate on a vast scale, they can often offer fulfillment services at a better rate than fulfillment done independently. Shipping costs can be more manageable which helps keep overall profits up.
  • Disadvantage: Finding the right third-party provider can be difficult and often time-consuming. It can take considerable effort to figure out your own fulfillment needs and vet potential partners.

Picking the right order fulfillment can be an impactful decision, so make sure you carefully go over the pros and cons of each. 

Tracking/returns are important. 

One of the most commonly held expectations by consumers is the ability to know exactly when their package will arrive. It’s important to have a system of order tracking that will allow you to monitor all of your online orders and shipments. This way, you’ll be able to communicate a customer’s order status at any point in time. There are several advantages to this:

  1. Reduces overall cost

With eCommerce tracking, customers will inquire less about the order of their status, putting less of a burden on your customer support team. It will reduce the overall cost of maintaining a bigger customer support system and help to invest that extra money in other resources. 

2. Will help to meet customer expectations

Over 97% of customers expect the ability to track their order throughout every step of the shipping process, so it’s important to their expectations head-on with a strong tracking system. If their expectations are met, customers are more likely to give a good review or repurchase a product. 

  1. You’ll have more control over fulfillment 

With tracking, you’ll have better control over the shipping process and be able to address any issues or concerns that arise. 

Ship and send your products out!

Lastly and most importantly, ship your products out to customers! The bottom line is, that figuring out a way to ship products out to your customers may not seem like the easiest task. Every online business will have its own unique set of challenges which will need to be overcome with the best shipping solutions. 

The bottom line 

Understanding all of the factors that go behind shipping your products will not only help you prepare for any issues that may arise in the future but help deliver quality value to your customers. Once you have the logistics figured out, don’t be afraid to reevaluate every six months to ensure you’re delivering the best quality service to customers. 

Need more tips, advice, or suggestions on how to manage your eCommerce store? Check out the 121eCommerce blog – it’s full of helpful information that can help you improve your metrics, bring in more customers, and build a better eCommerce business.

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