In e-commerce, shipping is not merely a logistical process but a vital customer experience component. Whether you’re a small online boutique or a global e-commerce giant, how you handle shipping can make or break your business. This is because shipping is the final touchpoint between your brand and your customers, and it’s the stage where expectations meet reality.
Choosing the right ecommerce shipping solution is no small task. There are many options, each promising to streamline your shipping operations, reduce costs, and keep your customers smiling. But with so many choices, how do you know which is the perfect fit for your e-commerce business? Don’t be disturbed, as this article will guide you in carrying out an effective e-commerce shipping solutions comparison.
Comparing e-commerce shipping solutions can be complex because the best option for your business depends on various factors such as your shipping volume, budget, specific needs, and location. However, this article will guide you on how to go about it.
What is E-commerce Shipping?
E-commerce shipping is delivering products purchased by customers through online retail platforms. It encompasses all the activities and logistics of getting products from the seller’s location (typically a warehouse or fulfillment center) to the buyer’s doorstep.
One of the notable things about e-commerce shipping is that it plays a crucial role in the overall online shopping experience, as it directly affects customer satisfaction, shipping costs, and the efficiency of an e-commerce business.
What are E-commerce Shipping Solutions?
E-commerce shipping solutions are services and tools that help online retailers and businesses manage and streamline the shipping process for their products. These solutions help to ensure efficient order fulfillment, cost-effective shipping, and a positive customer experience.
The E-commerce Shipping Process – Explained
The e-commerce shipping process involves a series of steps after a customer places an order in an online store. Here are the processes that are involved in shipping. This helps to give you an overview of how e-commerce shipping works:
- Order Placement: The shipping process begins when a customer visits an e-commerce website, selects products they wish to purchase, adds them to their shopping cart, and proceeds to checkout. The customer provides shipping information at checkout, including their address and preferred shipping method.
- Order Processing: Once the order is placed, it is received by the e-commerce retailer’s system. This system may be connected to the online store, inventory management, and order processing software. The order is processed, and the system verifies product availability, pricing, and shipping details.
- Picking and Packing: The e-commerce business proceeds to the fulfillment stage if the ordered items are in stock. Warehouse staff pick the items from inventory and prepare them for shipping. The items are carefully packed in appropriate packaging materials to protect them during transit.
- Shipping Label Generation: A shipping label is generated through an e-commerce shipping solution or carrier’s platform. The label contains shipping information, including the customer’s address, the shipping method, and a unique tracking number.
- Shipping Carrier Selection: The e-commerce business selects a carrier based on shipping method, delivery speed, and cost. Some companies offer customers multiple shipping options during checkout.
- Package Handoff to Carrier: The packaged items are handed off to the selected shipping carrier. This can occur at the retailer’s fulfillment center, a third-party logistics provider, or the carrier’s drop-off location.
- Tracking and Notifications: The customer is typically provided with a tracking number, allowing them to monitor the progress of their shipment. The buyer can get an automated email notification confirming the order has shipped and providing tracking details.
- Transit and Delivery: The shipping carrier transports the package to its destination. The time it takes for delivery depends on the chosen shipping method. Some carriers offer signature confirmation or delivery notifications to ensure secure delivery.
- Customer Receipt: The customer receives the package at their designated shipping address. Depending on the delivery method and specific instructions, they may need to sign for it.
These are the basic steps involved in shipping. Customers unsatisfied with the product can contact customer service for assistance or return the parcel.
E-commerce Shipping Solutions Comparison – Types
Here are the major types of e-commerce shipping solutions in the global market:
1. USPS (United States Postal Service)
The USPS is a government-owned postal service in the United States that offers various shipping services, including Priority Mail, First-Class Mail, and Media Mail. It is widely known for its affordability and accessibility, especially for small businesses. However, the limitation is that it has limited international coverage, and package tracking may not be as detailed as other carriers.
2. UPS (United Parcel Service)
UPS is one of the best package delivery companies offering extensive eCommerce shipping solutions, including UPS Ground, UPS Air, and international shipping options.
A significant advantage of this carrier is that it offers various shipping options, good tracking, and is suitable for international shipping. However, it can be expensive for small businesses, especially international shipping.
3. DHL Express
DHL is a global logistics company with a strong international shipping network that offers international express shipping and freight services. It is globally known for its international expertise and fast delivery times.
Its international shipping capabilities are excellent and coupled with fast delivery times and reliable tracking. The only disadvantage is that its shipping rates for domestic shipments are higher than USPS if you live in the United States.
FedEx is a top international courier delivery company providing domestic and international shipping services, including FedEx Ground, FedEx Express, and FedEx Freight.
It is fast and reliable and greatly respected for its international shipping expertise. Its limitation is that it might not be budget-friendly for small businesses as it might charge higher costs than other carriers.
ShipStation is a widely used shipping management platform and e-commerce shipping solution that integrates with multiple carriers to offer automation rules and customizable packing slips. It includes order processing, batch shipping, label printing, and real-time order tracking.
ShipStation aggregates multiple carriers in one platform and is suitable for batch processing and managing high shipping volumes. However, it comes with a monthly subscription fee, which might be too complex for small businesses.
Shippo is a user-friendly e-commerce shipping solution that provides access to multiple shipping carriers through a single interface. It is one of the top shipping solutions that supports custom integrations via its API.
Its rate is competitive, and it offers features like rate comparison, label generation, and tracking. To access some premium features here, you might require a subscription, and a disadvantage is that it might not be as feature-rich as ShipStation.
EasyPost is one of the best e-commerce shipping solutions that offers a robust API for businesses to build custom shipping solutions. It supports real-time tracking and gives you access to multiple carriers.
An advantage of this shipping solution is that it offers access to multiple carriers, is scalable for businesses of all sizes, and has robust API for custom integrations. Features such as label printing, address verification, and rate shopping can be accessed.
To access this shipping platform, you must have the technical knowledge to implement it, and as such, it might not be suitable for non-developers.
ShipBob is an end-to-end eCommerce fulfillment and shipping platform that offers a network of fulfillment centers for faster shipping and warehousing, order fulfillment, and inventory management.
ShipBob is more suitable for mid-sized to large eCommerce companies and might be too pricey for small businesses.
ShippingEasy is a comprehensive shipping platform aggregating multiple carriers, including USPS, UPS, FedEx, and DHL Express. It is suitable for businesses of various sizes.
Additionally, it provides rate comparisons, label printing, order management, and reporting, making it a good choice for an e-commerce shipping solution if you want to aggregate multiple carriers.
One of the best international shipping options that integrates eCommerce shipping solutions is ShippyPro. ShippyPro integrates with multiple carriers and eCommerce platforms, which aids it in offering international shipping options.
The beauty of this platform is that it is for both small and large businesses and offers features that include label printing, tracking, and return management.
E-Commerce Shipping Solutions Comparison
Carrying out e-commerce shipping solutions comparison can be complex; factors such as your business’s specific needs, the shipping volume, the destinations you serve, and your budget can influence your comparison factors.
There is no one way to compare these solutions. However, you can use the criteria below in your e-commerce shipping solutions comparison. Some tools and platforms help you compare rates of various e-commerce shipping solutions.
The criteria include:
- Cost: Compare pricing structures, including monthly subscriptions, transaction fees, and volume-based pricing. Ensure that the solution aligns with your budget. Also, consider the cost your customers will pay for using it. Research has shown that 93% of customers consider e-commerce shipping costs before burying goods or products from them.
- Carrier IntegrationConsider whether the shipping solution integrates with carriers, including significant platforms like USPS, UPS, FedEx, and DHL. A comprehensive carrier network can provide flexibility and choice in shipping options.
- Rate Comparison: Look for solutions that offer rate comparison tools, allowing you to compare shipping rates from different carriers in real-time. Rate shopping helps you find the most cost-effective shipping options.
- Label Printing: Ensure the solution offers label printing capabilities, making generating shipping labels and packing slips easy. The ability to print labels in bulk can save time.
- Order Management: Evaluate whether the solution provides features that help you streamline order processing, track shipments, and manage returns efficiently.
- International Shipping Support: If you ship internationally, check if the solution offers comprehensive international shipping support, including customs documentation, duty and tax calculations, and compliance with international regulations.
- Customization: Consider the level of customization the solution allows. Custom shipping rules, branded packing slips, and shipping method selection based on your business needs are valuable features.
- Inventory Management Integration: For businesses with inventory considerations, integration with inventory management systems can help synchronize inventory levels with orders and prevent overselling. So you can compare different solutions and see which offers this feature.
- Scalability: Compare different shipping solutions to check the one that can scale with your business as it grows. It should accommodate increased shipping volumes and evolving requirements.
- Customer Support: Evaluate the quality of customer support the shipping solution provider offers. Responsive and helpful support can be invaluable when encountering issues or needing assistance.
Note that your business’s best eCommerce shipping solution depends on your requirements and needs. Taking advantage of free trials or demos offered by shipping solution providers to test their suitability for your business before committing is advisable.
E-commerce Shipping Rate Comparison Tools:
Shipping rate comparison tools are software solutions or online platforms that help businesses compare shipping rates and services offered by different carriers. They include the following:
Easyship is an e-commerce shipping rate comparison tool that offers comprehensive shipping rate comparison, provides real-time rate quotes, and allows businesses to compare shipping options based on delivery times and costs. Additionally, it gives you access to a global network of carriers.
2. Parcel Monkey
Parcel Monkey is a shipping rate comparison tool that provides quotes from various carriers, including domestic and international options. It allows businesses to compare rates based on package weight, dimensions, and destination. Also, it offers label printing and tracking services.
FreightPros primarily focuses on shipping for LTL (Less Than Truckload) and FTL (Full Truckload). It offers a rate comparison tool for businesses comparing freight shipping rates. Additionally, it is a user-friendly platform for shipping quotes and booking.
2Ship offers a rate shopping platform integrating multiple carriers and providing real-time rate quotes. It allows businesses to compare rates and delivery times based on specific shipping criteria. Also, it is suitable for eCommerce businesses of various sizes.
RateQuotesNow is a rate comparison tool that focuses on LTL and truckload shipping and provides quotes from multiple freight carriers to help you find cost-effective shipping solutions.
Conclusion – E-Commerce Shipping Solutions Comparison
In carrying out an e-commerce shipping solutions comparison, note that there’s no one-perfect-fits-all solution to shipping. Your choice should align with your unique business needs, shipping volume, customer expectations, and budget. So, take the time to assess your requirements, experiment with trials and demos, and, most importantly, listen to your customers’ feedback.