E-commerce has completely transformed the shopping experience, especially after the COVID pandemic forced traditional consumers to shop online instead of at physical locations. Post-pandemic, many didn’t go back to conventional stores. With ecommerce’s rising preference among consumers, it’s predicted that over 20% of all retail sales will be exclusively through e-commerce stores in 2023.
There’s a massive opportunity in the market for e-commerce businesses, but that opportunity means many more sellers will likely enter the space. To set yourself apart as a quality online seller, you’ll need to ensure your shipping methods are efficient, reliable, and customer-friendly to provide your customers with the best possible shipping experience.
What is E-commerce Shipping?
E-commerce shipping is how online sellers get their products to customers. With e-commerce shopping, consumers purchase a retailer’s product online via virtual payment and get that product delivered to their homes through the mail.
E-commerce is an attractive option for many consumers because it reduces shopping time and cost while increasing choice. E-commerce marketplaces eliminate the need for people to drive to a single physical location for a product. Instead, consumers can hunt for a product across various platforms at their convenience to choose the best product.
E-commerce shipping comes with challenges that can affect a retailer’s bottom line. Some of the significant difficulties online merchants face today are snags in the supply chain, including shipping delays, increased costs, and manufacturer delays.
Consumers also have much higher expectations for the speed and quality of e-commerce shipments. According to Shopify, 60% of consumers believe their products should appear on their front doors with same-day, next-day, or two-day delivery. Retailers should believe customers when they say they’ll shop with a competitor if it means getting that product sooner.
Processes for E-commerce Shipping
You can successfully ship your e-commerce products with the following steps:
Step 1: Determine a carrier for your products
Step 2: Decide who will pay shipping costs
Step 3: Sell the product on your platform
Step 4: Package the product to be sold
Step 5: Make shipping labels
Step 6: Ship your product
Step 7: Provide customers with tracking numbers
Step 8: Customer receives the product in the mail
Keep reading as we discuss strategies and software solutions for these processes in the following sections.
Best Practices for E-commerce Shipping
When choosing a carrier to ship your customers’ orders, ensure it sends the types of products you sell and ships to your customers’ locations. Sometimes shipping carriers won’t transport high-value or perishable items and may be limited to certain geographic areas. Determine whether international shipping is an option for your small business or if that is too costly.
Retailers decide who pays shipping costs—they can choose to pay the entire shipping cost or split it with the customer. Have your customer pay the shipping price by charging for it at checkout or increasing your product cost to absorb shipping costs. Or you can incentivize greater spending on your online business by offering customers free shipping over a certain amount of spending.
When selling the product on your platform, clearly advertise shipping rates. Customers will become frustrated if they check out on your online store only to find unexpected fees tacked onto their purchase. Being honest with delivery times or issues can go a long way with building customer trust, too.
E-commerce Packaging and Shipping Costs
E-commerce packaging serves functional and aesthetic purposes. In terms of functionality, sellers should make sure the package is secure from the moment it’s bundled until it reaches a customer’s door.
In terms of aesthetics, customers are more impressed with a product if the packaging fits the brand. Online-only stores should be even more aware of aesthetics since the only time the customer experiences the brand happens when the product is delivered to their home. Expect to pay more money to create a custom, aesthetically-captivating packaging experience for your customers.
Standard packaging for shipping e-commerce products can be more cost-effective than customized packaging. UPS, DHL, and USPS offer some free packaging depending on the class of mail.
Still, retailers might have to pay for standard packaging themselves. Exploring packaging and shipping options from numerous supply stores can cut costs. Check out suppliers like Uline, Packaging Supplies, Value Mailers, Fast-Pack, and eSupply Store for packaging options and prices.
Be mindful of costs when shipping products since standard shipping rates can add up quickly. For instance, USPS commercial mailing starts at $0.46 on a piece of mail, and their first-class commercial package service starts at $3.37. Retail ground shipping starts at $8.50 and fluctuates with weight.
Retailers can cut high shipping costs using a shipping broker, like eShipper. Boasting a discount rate of up to 70% off standard shipping rates, eShipper compares different carriers’ rates at once, allowing retailers to choose the best rate and services for them. Once sellers pick a carrier, they simply print the shipping label, send out their product, and track it to make sure it arrives to the customer on time.
Tracking E-commerce Shipments
Many popular shipping services offer interfaces that help online merchants and their customers track shipments. UPS has Developer Kit Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) that can help online merchants at any part of their shipping process, including a tracking API that provides real-time shipping statuses to customers. USPS also offers e-commerce retailers its own APIs for tracking packages, all for free.
FedEx offers a full-service e-commerce experience for its customers, including specialized tracking solutions. Customers can follow their packages with tracking numbers, choose a pick-up address, and change their packages’ delivery options.
Solutions to Optimize E-commerce Shipping
Various end-to-end platforms offer shipping solutions to help users throughout the e-commerce process.
WooCommerce is an e-commerce platform that works with WordPress accounts to help sell users’ products online.
WooCommerce streamlines payment systems, allowing merchants to accept credit cards, bank transfers (BACS), checks, and cash on delivery through its site through platforms like PayPal, Square, Amazon Pay, Apple Pay, and Google Pay. The shipping software aims to help business owners manage their stores from anywhere with its mobile app.
ShipStation is a full-service e-commerce platform aiming to increase online retailers' efficiency throughout the shipping process.
ShipStation offers an automated order management system, giving online merchants complete control over the entire order process. The system provides integrations to dozens of popular sales channels, collecting orders onto a single platform and providing everything you need for easy management and insight.
ShipStation also helps merchants save time by creating shipping labels and branding. Additionally, it has an inventory management program to help merchants see their stock levels and alert them when inventory reaches a certain threshold.
ShippingEasy boasts it provides an easy way to ship online along with the best rates for shipping with USPS and UPS. It offers a fully combined shipping solution, providing retailers with an all-in-one platform with integrations for managing, organizing, and tracking product.
In addition to the shipping component of ShippingEasy, it offers a Customer Marketing add-on. This additional service provides marketing analytics so merchants can create effective email campaigns. ShippingEasy also provides template assistance so merchants can create the most on-brand email campaigns possible.
Because shipping costs are likely a recurring cost associated with your e-commerce business, you might be thinking of the best way to pay for it—look no further than dash.fi.
Dash.fi is a financial platform created to help high-growth businesses manage ad sales budgets and other expenditures more efficiently. Users can set up unlimited virtual cards to pay for the everyday costs of operating an online small business.
Dash.fi makes it easy for cardholders to gain the credit needed to scale their business, providing card limit increases in minutes. Users also earn 3% cash back the first 60 days of setting up a dash.fi card.
Start Shipping Today
E-commerce’s popularity is quickly rising, and the trend toward online shopping isn’t going away soon. Online sellers looking to get their products to customers can expect a vast opportunity in the market, and numerous tools with order fulfillment integrations and automation are available to make shipping a breeze.
Still, this increased opportunity creates many challenges for retailers, including supply chain hurdles and jockeying with other sellers to provide the fastest shipping speeds. E-commerce shipping costs can also be expensive—that’s where the dash.fi credit card can help.
Through its 3% cash back rewards and same-day limit increases, the dash.fi virtual credit card can help online retailers fund their marketing and shipping costs, exposing their products to more consumers. Check out dash.fi today to learn more.