What is shipping automation?

2022-11-21

Written by David Renwick

When it comes to getting orders out to your customers, there’s no sense in wasting time and money. With shipping, the inefficiencies start to add up.

This is where shipping automation comes into play. With a single software platform, you can manage everything to do with shipping from one dashboard. Manage your different couriers and platforms (like Shopify), eliminate the manual admin tasks that suck up time every week and use rules to automatically assign orders to the right couriers.

In this article, you’ll learn what shipping automation is, the benefits, how retailers use shipping automation now and how you can get started.

What is shipping automation?

Shipping automation is the process of using a single, centralised software platform to manage all the different parts of your shipping operation. Shipping automation allows you to plug all your various platforms – like your eCommerce platform, warehouse management systems and different courier services (Australia Post, FedEx DHL etc) – into one dashboard, empowering you to manage shipping from one dashboard.

What’s more, shipping automation also enables you to eliminate the manual parts of your fulfilment, like printing shipping labels, select courier services, dealing with customs documentation and generating packing slips.

Sounds too good to be true, but shipping automation is how leading retailers scale their businesses efficiently and quickly. Let’s explore the benefits in more detail.

Prefer a video?

Join our very own Sofia Newcombe as she talks us through shipping automation – including what it is, how to get started, helpful tools and more.

Watch the video on YouTube

What are the benefits of shipping automation?

A recent Australia Post study found that of the $323 billion in retail spending in 2021, online goods made up $62 billion. In a world where more and more people are buying online, the shipping demands on businesses continue to grow.

Typically, increased shipping volumes means bringing on more staff, dealing with higher volumes of customer enquiries and fixing human errors. Introducing shipping automation can be one of the most effective solutions, and here’s why:

1. Reduce your fulfilment time

Shipping automation helps you to eliminate the repeatable manual tasks that typically suck up time when shipping. For example, you can automatically print shipping labels, fix invalid addresses, manifest orders in bulk and assign courier services to orders based on shipping method selected, location and more.

Overall, this means you can save hours every week, not to mention money on every order.

2. Cut down your labour costs

Shipping automation is a great way to make your warehouse operations as efficient as possible. It's easy to see why. When you can automatically generate shipping labels and picking and packing slips, your warehouse staff can focus on the core parts of their job. There’s no need to waste time on repeatable admin tasks.

Shipping automation can also help keep your support team numbers in check by reducing the number of “where’s my parcel?” queries you get on a daily basis. Thanks to automated shipping notifications (linked to branded tracking pages), your customers will be kept in the loop throughout the shipping process, and less likely to call through to you!

3. Increase your shipping accuracy

When you're running an eCommerce business, some human error is unavoidable. People make mistakes! But it’s important that you’re not making the same mistakes twice or letting those errors snowball into larger problems.

Shipping automation can increase the accuracy of your shipping operations and reduce human error. Starshipit, for example, flags any invalid addresses and can auto correct them, giving you peace of mind that customers will receive their orders. It also writes back all the relevant details about your shipping to your eCommerce platforms, so you don’t have to copy and paste.

You can also use shipping rules as a way to centralise your decision making. Instead of having staff constantly refer back to guides and resources, simply set up the rules to make decisions automatically.

4. Manage multiple couriers

When you use one centralised platform for your shipping operations – one which integrates directly with your couriers – you no longer need to spend time jumping between different courier portals. This is a huge time saver, but there are other benefits.

For example, you can easily remove courier services if they’re not performing and add couriers to gain access to new services (like on-demand delivery). You can also auto-assign orders to different couriers based on your unique requirements.

How retailers use shipping automation to save time and money

What about some real-life examples? How do retailers use shipping automation to eliminate repeatable manual tasks and save money? Let’s look at some examples from Starshipit customers.

Oz Hair & Beauty

Cosmetics giant Oz Hair & Beauty use Starshipit to automate their shipping. Before Starshipit, they had 12-15 warehouse staff. After integrating with Starshipit – three years later – they still have the same number of staff in the warehouse.

“With Starshipit and the way it integrated with our business, the orders came out quicker, easier and it made our pick and pack process even faster. It ticked all the boxes.”
“I recommend Starshipit to everyone, and every person I meet that sells online. I tell everyone how well it works for me and I even allow them to come into the warehouse and see how it works. I know if I was given that chance, I would’ve picked Starshipit far sooner.”
Read the case study

Lorna Jane

Global activewear retailer Lorna Jane use Starshipit to manage a global shipping operation, all from one dashboard.

“Starshipit is a global solution for us. I’ve got one shipping platform that I use across the globe now. I can see all my orders, track any order. All my teams are all using the same platform. Training is easier, because it’s one platform we’re pushing out there. It’s a simple, cost-effective solution because it’s a global solution for us.”
“Black Friday was a breeze this year. It was an absolute pleasure. The fruits of all the work that we did really paid off in our busiest time. We pretty much cruised through – but pumped out significant amounts more.”
Read the case study

Urban Plant Growers

Urban Plant Growers is an online store that sells indoor smart gardens that enable people to grow herbs and fresh vegetables from their living rooms. They’ve used Starshipit to manage the entire fulfilment process from checkout to delivery, including returns.

"It’s easy for the warehouse team to use and fits well with a Shopify-based store and syncs perfectly with all our other platforms, and is scalable for growth. It’s an effective platform with a lot of automation when you look at all the features."
Read the case study

Starshipit: The shipping automation platform designed to help you do more

As we’ve seen, shipping automation is the most effective way to streamline your eCommerce business and scale more effectively. Let's take a look at why you may want to consider Starshipit as your shipping automation platform of choice:

1. Starshipit is an enabler, not an aggregator

Most fulfilment automation platforms are freight aggregators, meaning they offer set courier prices to customers and clip the ticket with each order.

We’re a freight enabler, meaning we help you build your own relationships with courier services (which means you can negotiate your own, more competitive rates). Over time, this approach helps you scale and provide better customer experiences.

2. Generate all your shipping documents

With just one click, generate packing slips, shipping labels, customs documentation and manifests. Print them all at once – or one at a time. You can also use a barcode scanner to scan your packing slip and automatically print a label.

3. Ready to go integrations with your platforms and courier services

Plug in and start shipping immediately with integrations for eCommerce, IMS, WMS online marketplaces and accounting software – plus the world's leading domestic and international couriers (like DHL, Australia Post, FedEx and more).

Then, use your own negotiated rates and rules to automatically allocate orders to couriers you select. Assign parcels to couriers when orders come in and use our plain label feature to generate labels for ad-hoc orders.

4. Automatically import orders and update tracking

Import orders from multiple channels, automatically. Use Starshipit's write-back feature to automatically update the order status and tracking number in the source platform.

5. Use Starshipit to create delivery experiences

Post-purchase, send your customers shipping notifications and branded tracking pages at key stages of the delivery journey, keeping them informed and reducing the number of enquiries your support teams have to manage.

Reduce time spent processing returns using the returns portal. Starshipit lets you set up a dedicated branded returns portal, relieving staff of a significant time administration task.

Wrap up

And that’s shipping automation! Interested in seeing how Starshipit can help you to save time and money on every order? Try our platform for free for 30 days (no credit card required) or book a demo with one of our helpful team members.

You can also check out more of our case studies to see how other retailers have used shipping automation to grow faster and deliver better experiences for their customers.

David Renwick

David Renwick

David is Starshipit's Content Marketing Lead. When he's not whipping up a fresh new product update or chatting to customers for an exciting case study, you'll typically find him scoping out coffee spots and talking about what's on at the movies.

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