Among the many considerations that factor into running a successful eCommerce business, order shipping and fulfillment are among the most important.
However, shipping can often become an afterthought—following website management, marketing, and inventory. The heavy frontloading of those sales tasks may cause shipping operations to fall by the wayside. Finding the right shipping solution can also be challenging when you have factors to consider like the costs of residential vs commercial shipping, LTL vs parcel, and more. This can all impact the customer experience you provide as well.
That said, a fine-tuned fulfillment and shipping model can improve customer satisfaction and cut costs. And implementing the right ecommerce shipping software can make all the difference—but what capabilities make for the best eCommerce shipping solutions?
What Does eCommerce Shipping Involve?
The eCommerce processes for order fulfillment and shipping begin when customers submit their orders and continue until the purchased items are dropped off at their final destination (unless they’re later returned).
In between those stages, this involves:
- Selection from inventory
- Shipment scheduling and labeling
- Dropoff or pickup
- Transport logistics and tracking
Throughout each step, numerous considerations and challenges must be navigated to ensure customer satisfaction and curate an experience that leads to return purchases. At a high level, you also need to be able to analyze your various shipping and fulfillment processes to determine greater efficiencies and savings.
Software platforms like enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems will help you track and refine your internal processes with greater control.
When you’re selecting from delivery services, printing labels, and scheduling pickup, there are third-party partnerships and services involved. And software solutions focused on your internal operations can help optimize those workflows.
What eCommerce Shipping Solutions Should Your Platform Integrate?
The parties and partnerships your eCommerce shipping solution must help you manage include:
- Transportation management system (TMS) – This solution (and its vendor) is the central hub for managing all of your shipping logistics. Your TMS is responsible for:
- Automating and managing workflows
- Tracking individual orders
- Analyzing and reporting on supply chain data
- Identifying cost-saving opportunities and refunds
- Optimizing contracts with other partners and vendors
- Logistics management – This platform will help you manage:
- Sourcing and routing transportation according to shipping rates and delivery timelines
- Modal optimization (e.g., the tactical movement between service types—like LTL or parcel shipping—and multiple carriers to achieve savings)
- Supply chain compliance
- Inbound freight (e.g., supply-side inventory, customer returns)
- Recording and tracking electronic bills-of-lading
- Electronic shipment notifications (e.g., pickup, arrival at hubs, or final destinations)
- Third-party logistics (3PL) –These partners manage outsourced inventory and shipping for you. When customers place orders, a 3PL is notified and handles fulfillment. You’ll need to consider whether the advantages a 3PL partner provides support outsourcing none, some, or all of your fulfillment process—so, you may rely on these partners exclusively or alongside logistics management.
- Packaging solutions – They will analyze your use of shipping materials (e.g., box sizes) to help you optimize operations—especially concerning DIM, which is the size-to-weight that significantly affects your shipping spend.
- Parcel spend management – They’re the partners who demystify shipping networks to help you identify the best carriers and make real-time decisions over the delivery options they provide, reclaiming substantial savings.
- Financial and payment services – These platforms centralize and facilitate workflows regarding:
- Billing and invoicing
- Returns payment processing
- Fraud detection
The best eCommerce shipping solutions centralize these and more partnership networks and fulfillment capabilities with actionable, data-driven insight to help you manage all the logistical complexities fulfillment presents.
Is There a Best eCommerce Platform for Shipping?
There’s no one-size-fits-all shipping solution for eCommerce, and different vendors will provide software better suited for each company’s operations and fulfillment needs. For example, Shipware’s 3-in-1 solution addresses many of the above services and capabilities, with an extensive partnership network that allows you to tailor the vendors you work with for the remainder. Finding the best shipping software for your business will all depend on what your business needs.
Each platform is worth evaluating on its own merits to determine which is best suited for you. For partnership network decisions, Shipware can help you conduct operations and contract audits, and connect you with new vendors and service providers to further optimize your fulfillment processes.
What is the Best Shipping Method for eCommerce?
Because varying factors influence the shipping cost (e.g., customer location, DIM, free shipping promotions), you’ll want to implement an eCommerce shipping solution that provides and compares numerous options in real-time:
- Parcel shipping – Small parcel shipping is the most common ecommerce delivery method, with a variety of services ranging from ground delivery to express 3-day, 2-day, overnight, and in some cases, same-day delivery. Your business’s small parcel shipping rates are determined by a number of factors including Dimensional Weight, distance traveled, service used, and negotiated discounts and incentives.
- LTL shipping – Many ecommerce companies turn to LTL shipping for larger and heavier packages. Carriers such as FedEx and UPS assess costly surcharges to large, heavy packages, such as the Additional Handling Surcharge and Oversize Surcharge. Because of these surcharges, it’s often more cost-friendly to ship these items via LTL. Learn more about the benefits of LTL shipping to determine if it’s the right choice for you.
Finding a shipping software that is most suitable for your ecommerce business involves considering more than just shipping rates and delivery timeline. A significant aspect of a shipping strategy is evaluating customer experience and how the new software will service them.
Shipware’s 3-in-1 Platform and Managed Services for All Your eCommerce Needs
When it comes to the best eCommerce shipping solutions, every business will find a unique combination of software platforms that address their fulfillment operations best. But the one eCommerce solution that helps optimize your entire fulfillment ecosystem is Shipware’s 3-in-1 platform of managed transportation services.
Our team’s extensive logistics and freight experience has helped build a solution that helps businesses save 21.5% on shipping expenses annually, no matter the shipping option you choose. Our consultants will perform a thorough audit of your fulfillment operations—from DIM optimization to vendor contracts.
Contact us today and learn why we guarantee a 10-30% reduction on LTL and parcel shipping costs without disrupting your current operations.
- G2. The Top 20 Shipping Software. https://www.g2.com/categories/shipping?tab=highest_rated