Get Packing: A Beginner’s Guide to Ecommerce Shipping

ecommerce shipping

Deciding on a shipping strategy for your business might be low on your list of fun things to do.

However, how you ship is a key part of how profitable and successful your business will be. There are a lot of moving parts. Will you offer free shipping? How will you pack your items? What carrier will you use?

Here’s some information to help make shipping your goods slightly less overwhelming.

Who Foots the Bill?

First things first. You’ll need to decide who’s paying for shipping.

If you offer “free” shipping, you’ll need to build the cost of shipping, handling, and packaging into the cost of your product.

If you can afford to structure it this way, it’s the best option. Customers want to feel like they are getting something tangible for their money. If you can remain competitive, build shipping into the cost of the item.

Flat rate shipping is another option that some ecommerce sites opt for, but it’s only a viable strategy if most of your items are very similar in shape and size.

You can also have your customer pay shipping. This can be ideal if you’d like to offer your customer the widest array of options as far as carriers and shipping speeds go. This option will also allow you to price your products lower.

A word of caution, though — a surprise shipping cost towards the end of a transaction is a great way to end up with abandoned carts, so weigh your options.

Is the Price Right?

An important aspect of determining a solid shipping strategy is to make sure you’re pricing the service right. This can be easier said than done, however — there are a lot of moving parts.

UPS, FedEx, and USPS all have great online calculators. Use these to determine the cost of shipping a package based on size and weight and to determine the best carrier for your needs.

However, there is much more to shipping costs than the dollar amount the carrier charges.

Here are some additional points to consider when determining shipping costs.

  • Packaging type. Consider your product. Does it need refrigeration while shipping? Is it fragile? Is it hazardous? Will you need bubble wrap or packing peanuts? Certain fragile or irregularly shaped items might need custom foam packaging — take a look at Armstrong Brands if you think your product could benefit from a layer of styrofoam cushioning.
  • Shipping supply costs. These add up! Consider the cumulative costs of ecommerce shipping supplies: boxes, packing tape, poly mailers, bubble wrap, labels, ink, and printed packing slips or invoices. Build all these costs into your shipping fee structure.
  • Tracking or insurance. Insurance is optional. If you ship high-price items, we recommend it. As for tracking, it’s virtually required in this day and age. Your customers will appreciate having that information.
  • International shipping. Will you ship internationally? If so, don’t forget to account for customs fees and tariffs.

Other ECommerce Shipping Considerations

Here are a few other considerations to make when planning your ecommerce shipping strategies.

  • Fulfillment services. Some businesses use a fulfillment service for shipping. This can be a valid option if you ship at a high volume. The drawbacks are that it can be costly, and there’s less opportunity for your branding to be reflected in your packaging.
  • Presentation packaging. Consumers love getting a package that feels like a gift. Depending on your item and the cost you are willing to sink into packaging, this can be a great way to set your business apart.
  • Buy quality. You source quality materials for your products. Why skimp on shipping supplies? Quality, durable supplies may cost a bit more upfront, but they will pay for themselves when you have few complaints about damage in transit.

Check Out our Other Business Advice

Ecommerce shipping is a small part of running a successful online business. It can be tricky to nail down, but once you have a sustainable strategy in place it becomes second nature.

The business section of our blog maintains great resources for business owners and entrepreneurs. Check it out and see what other helpful tips you can pick up!

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