eCommerce has become an unstoppable juggernaut among distribution channels. In fact, in 2017, there were over $2.3 trillion in worldwide sales through eCommerce. At the same time, expectations are creeping up. Customers expect their orders to be fulfilled quickly and arrive in mint condition. If you don't pay attention to best practices for eCommerce shipping, your business can easily fall behind!

For the small or medium business owner, eCommerce fulfillment can be intimidating. At Fulfillrite, our whole business revolves around helping people ship online orders because we know how tough it is. With that said, we're going to share the tricks of our trade with you today. We have seven best practices for eCommerce shipping that are sure to make your business run more smoothly.


1. Ship as quickly as you can

Sixty-three percent of online shoppers expect their orders shipped within three days. You may feel that this time frame is unrealistically optimistic, but consider your customer's perspective. They buy products on Amazon and two-day shipping is the norm, at least for those enrolled in Amazon Prime. They're not thinking about how goods have to be shipped to multiple cities night and day to make it to their house. At the forefront of their mind is the simple question of "when will I receive my item?"

For a business owner, fast shipping is a priority. The best practice here is to limit shipping time to three days. While you can do this yourself by priority shipping most of your items, it's often easier to rely on a fulfillment warehouse like ours to do this on your behalf. Fulfillment warehouses ship goods all day, everyday and also negotiate lower rates on postage with common carriers. That means it's often cheaper and easier to meet the elusive three-day timeframe through a third party.

2. Pack light

The necessity of shipping quickly can be expensive. The best way to mitigate these costs is to keep your products as lightweight as possible. The carriers who handle your shipments - the Post Office, UPS, FedEx, and DHL - all charge by weight. Extra weight burns extra fuel and drives their costs up, which they pass along to shippers.

An important best practice for eCommerce shipping is to keep items as lightweight as possible from the very beginning. That includes manufacturing, too. A few extra ounces of weight can lead to an extra dollar or two on postage costs, which adds up quickly.

3. Pack tight

Almost as important as weight is box size when shipping. Packages need to be as compact as possible. Carriers also bill by space taken up on their trucks because prepping trucks for delivery is like a big game of Tetris. Even more so when your mail travels by air. Packages that take up less space need less postage. For that reason, shipping compact packages is an eCommerce shipping best practice.

In addition to shipping cheaply, sending compact packages reduces the negative impact on our environment. As many as 92% of American customers will be more likely to trust a company that supports social or environmental issues. Using smaller boxes means less material per box and less bubble wrap, foam peanuts, etc. For this reason, mindful packing is a great way to get ahead of the curve on environmental issues.

4. Hire help for freight shipping

One of the critical success factors in the eCommerce business is keeping a steady supply of goods to sell. If you lack inventory reserves, people won't be able to buy from you! Unfortunately, arranging large shipments of inventory often involves the complex process of freight shipping. We're talking about entire wooden pallets and cargo containers full of goods loaded onto cargo ships, aircraft, and trucks. This often involves importing and exporting as well.

Needless to say, there is a lot of room for error in the freight shipping process. A lot of eCommerce stores don't need freight shipments at first, but as the business scales, they become a necessity. If you find yourself in this situation, the eCommerce shipping best practice is to contact a freight forwarding company to take care of those shipments for you. Doing so reduces the odds of your shipments being delayed, allowing you to keep inventory stocked and ship on time!

5. Don't forget to label your items

When you're selling items on an online store, it's tough to know everything you need at first. The differences in packaging between a hobby shop making 50 scented candles per month and a full-fledged store shipping thousands of orders per month are substantial. One of the key differences, other than order volume? The big store has to have defined processes for sending items.

If you're going to ship a lot of orders, you need to label your products according to best practices for eCommerice shipping. Every unique item needs a bar code. If your product was manufactured in a foreign country like China or contains hazardous materials (such as lithium batteries), your packaging may need to reflect that to comply with regulations. Failure to apply the correct labels can lead to one of two outcomes:

  1. Trouble with fulfillment and extra charges for applying additional labels.
  2. Customs-related delays.

6. Insert marketing materials into the box

Customers are usually in a good mood when they receive your items. There is something really special about getting home from a long day of work and seeing a box sitting on your front porch, containing something you really want. But should the interaction end there? We say no.

Upselling is a great way to make money. One easy way to do this is by inserting marketing materials into boxes when you ship them. For example, you could add a coupon or cross-promote other products. Many fulfillment centers, including our own, can even do this on your behalf for a marginal extra fee. Increasing the average customer value by using marketing materials is a great way to improve sales without doing a whole lot else!

7. Create kits for easy shipping

Thinking about bundling items together to sell packages? Have you noticed that certain items tend to sell together? If the answer to either of these questions is "yes", there is an opportunity for you to save some money on fulfillment!

Fulfillment centers provide a service called "pick and pack." It basically means that different items are manually pulled from shelves and put into a single box on an ad hoc basis. This is a really great service when you need it, but you can do even better if you know ahead of time what will go into the box.

You can create ready-to-ship kits of different items that commonly go together. This costs less than "pick and pack" and accomplishes the same task. If you know which items you will be sold and packaged together, kitting instead of picking and packing is a best practice for eCommerce shipping.

Final Thoughts

A little forethought goes a long way in eCommerce. The subtlest tweaks to your fulfillment processes can greatly improve your customer experience and cut costs. By sharing these seven best practices for eCommerce shipping, we hope to make shipping a breeze. After all, less time spent shipping means more time spent selling.

Guest Post by Fulfillrite

Fulfillrite offers simple, fast, and easy order fulfillment solutions for your eCommerce business or crowdfunding campaign. We fill orders so you can do what you're best at - creating great products and scaling your business!

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