9 ways to make your shipping more sustainable

Getting started with shipping on Shopify


Written by Starshipit

Summary: Wondering where to start with Shopify and shipping? Here’s everything you need to know to supercharge your shipping operations.

Back in 2014, the global eCommerce market was worth around $1.3 trillion. Yes, trillion with a ‘T’. In 2021, the forecast had grown to a massive $4.89 trillion, meaning eCommerce had expanded by around 400 percent in just seven years.

If you’re a retailer, then chances are you’re already aware of this statistic. In fact, it could even be one of the reasons you started your eCommerce store in the first place.

However, if you’re new to the world of eCommerce, then chances are you’re still trying to get to grips with everything that comes along with running a business online.

One of the biggest pain points for retailers is often shipping. In this article, we’re going to explore how you can get started with shipping on Shopify and transform this area of your business from a frustration into a reason for customers to keep coming back – again and again.

Overview: Forget what you know about shipping

In the very early stages of your eCommerce business, you’ll probably find that shipping is quite straightforward. You can manage the orders coming in via Shopify and simply print the labels and arrange couriers yourself. But at some point, that changes. There is a threshold for running shipping yourself, and eventually you need to consider shipping automation.

Here are just a few of the reasons why you need to prioritise smarter shipping as you grow your business:

  • You don’t want a shipping bottleneck – The last thing you need as sales start to take off is shipping operations constraining your growth. Fulfilling orders manually is a time sink for you and your staff, often requiring many late nights packing boxes and printing courier labels.
  • You need to protect your brand – When you start to get behind on shipping, whether that’s delays with sending orders out, not offering enough delivery choice to customers or mishandling returns, your brand starts to feel the effects. One study found that 72.5 percent of poor deliveries likely lead to customers no longer recommending retailers.

How do you solve these issues? Smarter shipping, which basically just means shipping automation. In simple terms, shipping (or fulfillment) automation refers to a platform or service which automates the repeatable, manual parts of eCommerce shipping, enabling you to easily scale your business.

Best-practice shipping solutions will also come along with other functionality to elevate your shipping operations even further.

Are you running your eCommerce business through Shopify? Let’s explore how shipping automation might work for you.

What about Shopify Shipping?

Shopify does offer a service called Shopify Shipping, but this is only suitable if you’re shipping small volumes and aren’t planning on substantial growth. You can only get it in certain countries too.

Opting for a more complete shipping solution typically means you’ll gain access to a host of other features, including:

  • The ability to create branded tracking pages and send out custom SMS/email notifications.
  • International shipping automation (Shopify international shipping can be tricky).
  • Ability to use your own courier rates that you negotiate with courier companies directly (instead of pre-set rates).
  • Other features, like autocorrecting invalid addresses, integrations with the other tools you use.
Automate your shipping process

How to find the best shipping app for your business

Opening the ‘Shipping and delivery’ section of the Shopify App Store is probably going to be overwhelming if you’re just starting out. There are dozens of shipping apps available, from fully featured shipping automation platforms through to small tools to help you with various parts of the shipping process.

Given just how many options there are, we thought we’d give you a list of features and considerations you can use to compare any potential shipping app against.

  • Integrations

Every business has its preferred technology stack. This means shipping software must integrate with the software (inventory, accounting, ERP), sales channels (eBay, Etsy, Amazon) and all the couriers chosen by the retailer and their customers.

  • Support

Shipping is complicated, and it can be daunting to set up a new shipping automation platform. What does the support look like for this app? Is it included in every plan? Try and find a company that bundles support.

  • Choice at checkout

Customers prefer delivery options, so ensure the shipping software enables the retailer to display delivery and courier options at checkout - curbside or instore pickup, same day, overnight, 2-3 days.

  • Rules engine

A rules engine saves retailers time by replacing repetitive data entry e.g., predefined box sizes and selecting couriers according to specified criteria e.g., item weight, cheapest & fastest courier.

  • Shipping labels

Print shipping labels, including high-speed, batch printing.

  • Address validation

Does the address validation tool cover domestic and international addresses? Does the software process Chinese characters?

  • Post Purchase Notifications

To deliver a world-class customer experience, customer notifications must be sent at key milestones along the post purchase journey with delivery updates. How often can notifications be sent?

  • Multi-location shipping

How does the platform manage shipments being sent from multiple locations? This is important when scaling your online business.

  • International shipping

How is customs documentation submitted? How often can branded tracking messages be sent to update customers on their delivery along the post purchase journey?

  • Returns solution

Being able to easily return an item is a dealbreaker for many shoppers. Does the software or app enable retailers to email return labels or provide customers via a returns portal?

Wrap up + Next steps

Shipping doesn’t have to be a challenge for your eCommerce business. With the right shipping automation platform, you’ll have all the tools necessary to automate the tedious, repeatable parts of shipping and get back to focusing on the other parts of your business.

What’s more, when you get your Shopify store and your shipping platform working together, you can unlock even more efficiencies.

If you’re interested in trying Starshipit free for 30 days, reach out to our friendly support team and they’ll be happy to talk through options with you.

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Elevate your shipping game with Starshipit. Automate labels, rates, tracking & more for a seamless eCommerce experience. Get started & watch your business grow.

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