This article was originally published on June 28, 2019. It has been updated as of June 17, 2020.
Your warehouse is stocked, your products are perfect, your inventory management system is turned on—but now you have to figure out how to get your products into the hands of your customers.
Today, we live in a speedy world of two-day shipping and one-click shopping. Customers are looking for transparency, convenience and affordability. In fact, shipping is considered by many retailers to be part of the customer experience.
Before choosing a shipping solution, there are a few factors every ecommerce Shopify site should consider and understand, or you could end up losing money.
Here’s everything you need to know about getting started with Shopify shipping.
Understand the Basics of Shipping
Regardless if you’re using Shopify as your ecommerce platform or not, it’s important to understand the basics of shipping. We know what you’re thinking. “It can’t be that hard right?” It can be.
A recent Convey, Inc. survey on the customer experience found that shipping plays a large part in ensuring customer satisfaction. Some results include:
- 79% of respondents believe two-day shipping is important
- 98% want a notification in some form if their delivery will be late
- More than 70% of shoppers say they are unlikely to purchase from a brand again after a poor delivery experience
With so much riding on how and when you can get your product from your company to your consumer, shipping involves more planning than meets the eye. Let’s go through each step of the Shopify shipping process.
The first question you should ask yourself is where is your product going? Your answer varies based on your audience.
Some brands need to ship internationally while some only ship domestically. Some brands only ship to the lower 48 states (sorry Hawaii and Alaska!).
After you’ve narrowed down your shipping locations, it’s time to get into a little more detail. Retailers who have a large presence regionally may decide to only ship within a certain area of the country, or zones, to help further reduce costs.
Do you have your shipping regions and zones figured out? Now you get to decide how much you’re going to charge for shipping.
As a consumer yourself, you’ve likely noticed a wide range of shipping cost options depending on which ecommerce site you’re shopping from. Let’s review some of the most popular options:
Flat Rate Shipping
Charging a fixed amount for all shipping based on product weight or value.
An example of this is $5 flat rate shipping.
Shipping your products out within two days of when a customer orders.
Keep in mind this does not mean delivery in two days. It’s important to make that clear to your consumers so you set the right expectations. Charging for this would be dependent on your business.
Pulling Rates from FedEx, USPS and UPS.
This method will charge your customers on dimensional weight, which accounts for the amount of space a package takes up while being shipped to its destination.
If your dimensional weight is larger than your product’s actual weight, your customer still pays for the dimensional weight. It could hurt your overall conversion rate, but your margins will be better.
Charging nothing for shipping products out to consumers.
The timelines for shipments for this option is dependent on your business.
Didn’t see an option here that works for you? That’s fine, too. Finding a shipping method that works for your business model can take some testing. Especially when you consider how many options are available.
Set Up Shipping Within Your Shopify Store
Good news for you, Shopify store owners: shipping is easy to set up! Shopify shipping is simple to set up and simple to maintain.
There are four steps to get your store ready optimized for shipping your products.
1. Enter your shipping origin
It’s not a trick, it’s really that easy. From your Shopify admin section, you’ll need to head to the shipping page and enter in where your products are shipping from. This will help make sure your taxes and rates are correct.
2. Add your shipping zones
Remember what we talked about earlier? This is where zone information will come in handy. A shipping zone is simply where you’re shipping your products.
On your shipping page, you can easily include or exclude any states or countries you would like to ship or not ship your products to.
3. Add your shipping rates and methods
And here’s where those methods come into play.
On your Shopify shipping page, you’ll want to set up what kind of shipping options you want to offer your consumers. You can toggle this based on the shipping zones you’ve set up.
For example, if you want to offer 2-day shipping to customers in one zone but not the other, you can do that here.
4. Buy and print shipping labels
Through Shopify shipping, you can easily buy and print shipping labels. If it’s your first time using shipping labels you can print a test one to make sure it’s right. This way you can avoid fulfillment mishaps.
There are also shipping solutions that help make printing labels easy— ShipStation, ShippingEasy and Shippo are just a few.
Choose your packaging
Ah, the big wide world of packaging. The amount of packaging choices can be overwhelming for most business owners. Between plastic, corrugated boxes, bubble mailers and envelopes, your options run wide.
You’ll have to decide what packaging to use based on what’s the best fit for your products.
A business shipping glassware or ceramics is likely better off shipping in corrugated boxes for added protection. But a business shipping custom socks can likely settle for bubble mailers.
Shopify takes the wide array of packaging options into account. You can save your packaging preferences in your Shopify shipping settings.
Here are the supported types: box, soft pack, envelope, and flat rate.
Once you save the weight and dimensions of your packaging, your calculated shipping rates will be much more accurate.
Shopify makes setting up shipping easy, but make sure you go into your setup with a strategy. Without one, your shipping could end up creating bad customer experiences.
Start with the basics we’ve listed above, then build out and customize your processes based on your particular audience. You want to make sure you’re exploring all shipping options and checking off every box of the setup process.
Happy shipping, Shopify store owners!
For all things related to Shopify shipping, check out this resource.
If you're wondering how you can save money on FedEx or UPS shipping, check out our friends at Refund Retriever.