Guide to Ecommerce Shipping

When your customers aren’t walking out of your store with their purchase in hand, you need them to feel confident they’re getting what they paid for  on time, exactly as expected, without paying exorbitant shipping rates. For any ecommerce business, it’s important to create a seamless shipping experience to guarantee customer satisfaction.

There’s a lot happening behind the scenes of ecommerce shipping. You may be trying to decide which carrier to use and wondering how to determine ecommerce shipping costs that will satisfy both you and your customers. We’re here to help.

Different shipping methods

When determining how to ship products from your ecommerce store, there are a few considerations. Will you use the postal service, a shipping carrier or local courier? Your shipping method will vary depending on what is being shipped, or where it is being sent.

Carriers like USPS and FedEx calculate ecommerce shipping rates based on destination and origin, the weight and dimensions of a package, and the shipping time.

Timing can be everything. FedEx and UPS offer 100% money-back guarantee on shipping costs if they deliver your package late.

Come up with a shipping strategy

It’s important to strategize your online shipping method by examining the options and picking the best one to fit your needs. Without a strategy, e-commerce shipping can be a time-consuming hassle — you may even lose money. Important aspects of your ecommerce shipping strategy include delivery method (carrier), available countries, tracking and packaging. If you decide to offer free shipping, or ship bulk orders, your strategy becomes even more critical.

Ultimately, you want to streamline your shipping process so it’s something that you do without thinking — your shipping method, rate calculation, packaging and labeling process should become routine and easy. Do your research about shipping costs to find a reliable method and test your ecommerce shipping calculator before launching your store, so you cut down on “trial and error” experiences with your first customers.

Shipping with Ecwid

Ecwid offers a variety of easy-to-use shipping settings, like free shipping, fixed or flat rates and custom shipping calculators. It also provides real-time integration with carrier and postal services, so you can configure your Ecwid store to automatically calculate ecommerce shipping rates from carriers like:

  • UPS
  • USPS
  • FedEx
  • Australia Post
  • EMS Russian Post
  • Canada Postes
  • Brasil Correios

You can easily adjust your carrier-calculated rate settings to account for package dimensions, or handling expenses, like packaging or insurance. Ecwid recently added the option to add product dimensions per product to adjust for items that may be bigger and subject to dimensional charges. The shipping markup option adds a flat fee for handling expenses to the carrier-calculated rate. (Shipping markup is included in the total shipping cost displayed at checkout. You can choose to display this separately using the Handling fee.)

If you prefer to handle shipping yourself, you can set up Ecwid’s Custom Table or Shipping freight options. Custom Table calculates ecommerce shipping rates based on the weight or subtotal of each order, so you can charge for shipping based on the weight of a delivery, or provide bulk order discounts. Shipping freight allows you to set individual rates and conditions per product — one product might have free shipping, another might have different rates based on the delivery location.

How-to

Determine ecommerce shipping cost

The easiest way to determine the most accurate and lowest ecommerce shipping rate is to use a carrier’s automatic calculator. But what if you want to set a flat rate? In this case, it’s best to restrict your shipping to specific destinations. Do some math, and figure out the average cost.

If your products are valuable or fragile, consider including insurance in your shipping costs. The rate may go up, but you and your customer’s peace of mind will pay off.

There are a lot of variables in ecommerce shipping costs: destination, speed, weight, dimensions of the box, fuel surcharges and discounts. No matter how much planning you do with your first shipments the cost will probably not be a perfect match to what you expected or charged the customer. Be prepared to scrutinize the first 25-50 shipments and adjust your pricing accordingly.

Offer free shipping

Free shipping is a huge conversion rate improvement — even though you know that shipping isn’t free to you the merchant. Free shipping removes a major psychological barrier to a consumer buying online rather than at a store and many studies have shown that it will increase sales since many consumers will refuse to pay for it. If you want to offer free shipping, make sure you are reasonably able to absorb the costs. The prices of your products need to cover shipping costs, including packaging and labor.

There is a lot take into account when considering this option, but free shipping is popular with customers. It’s a good idea to restrict free shipping to a basket size that you know you can cover your costs — say $50 or $100. Even Amazon has a $49 minimum for free shipping so customers do expect that they must spend something to get the benefit. With Ecwid you can set up free shipping with a minimum threshold by using the Custom Table setting.

Print shipping labels

For low-volume sales stores it may be easiest to try DIY labeling. Buy some sticker mailing labels can fit in your home printer or you can get a dedicated label printer. Many carriers, like USPS and FedEx, allow you to print labels directly from their website or mobile apps. Third-party services like Stamps.com and ShipStation may be better choices if you handle high-volume sales.

Pack properly

Remember, your packing style not only affects the safety of the items you ship, but also customer perceptions about your store. Instead of wasting material securing products so they don’t get damaged in big boxes, purchase envelopes and boxes in variety packs with different size options. This will also help you avoid dreaded dimensional surcharges from the carriers when the package size is what you pay for rather than just the weight.

Tips

Get it right

Don’t forget to double-check your shipping labels for accurate order information, addresses and products before you send them out.

Keep it sustainable

Keep plenty of packaging options on hand to fit each of your products. Putting small products in bulky boxes is a waste of time and packing peanuts — and it makes your customers feel wasteful and frustrated. Minimal, effective packaging is more consumer- and environment-friendly.

Stand out

Make your ecommerce shipping truly stand out by stepping up your packaging game. Order branded boxes or tape, colorful tissue paper or packing peanuts. Include freebies, stickers or information about your business in the package to make for a personal touch and a fun un-boxing experience for your customers.