Choosing a shipping method is one of the most critical parts of an e-commerce business, but how do you know which is the most effective shipping method? Well, that depends on a few factors and how you define “effective” for your business.
First, it’s important to clarify that e-commerce shipping includes three stages – order receiving, order processing, and order fulfillment. The last stage, fulfillment, is where the shipping occurs, but shipping also impacts the previous stages.
During order receiving, e-commerce businesses must ensure they have the necessary materials and products in their inventory. With common issues with supply chains, port congestion, labor shortages, and increasing freight costs, it’s crucial to have reliable shipping methods in place to create, manufacture, or provide your business’s products.
When it comes to order processing, shipping is an active part of what goes on behind the scenes of how an order is processed. The ability to confirm shipping addresses and estimate shipping timelines and costs is part of this stage of e-commerce shipping.
So when discussing the most effective shipping method, there is much more to consider than simply the fastest way to get your products to your customers. What may be the most effective shipping method for one business may not make as much sense for another.
For this article, we will focus on how different shipping methods impact the final stage of order fulfillment, starting with the four leading shipping carriers. Each has its pros and cons, but they offer effective shipping methods for e-commerce businesses.
USPS – The United States Postal Service offers various services to fit your budget and is usually the most cost-effective option for ground shipping within the continental United States. With existing residential delivery systems already in use, USPS is also often used in conjunction with other shipping carriers for the last leg of delivery.UPS – This private shipping company delivers over 25 million packages a day. By providing multiple transit times, UPS allows flexibility in scheduling pickups and deliveries. They also offer shipping solutions that you can tailor to your small business. FedEx – Similar to UPS, FedEx offers more flexibility than USPS in providing services at specific price points. An additional benefit offered by FedEx is the ability to bundle shipping and office needs. The more you ship, the more discounts you can use when printing other materials for your business.
DHL – While other carriers also offer international shipping, DHL is considered the leader in global shipping. They dedicate an entire division of the company to shipping for e-commerce businesses.
Flat-rate – This shipping service charges a standard, fixed rate for each package/parcel that fits within specific parameters for size, weight, and value. The rate is usually calculated as an average of the costs of shipping items in a large category and is discounted based on the volume of that category.
This means that some parcels will ship for lower than what their individual cost may be and some that are shipped for more than their individual price.
As long as the average costs of shipping the items remain the same, flat-rate shipping can be very effective for e-commerce businesses. However, you can lose money if a larger amount of the less expensive items are shipped at the average flat rate.
Real-time Carrier – In some cases, like with UPS, there are ways to incorporate a Shipping Application Programming Interface (API).
This program will calculate the shipping costs for each specific order placed on your site using a customer’s location, delivery preferences, and ordered product(s).
Using an API may come with some higher costs upfront to get started but could be a more effective shipping method as the range of customers widens over time.
2-day – Thanks to modern e-commerce giants like Amazon providing Prime free 2-day shipping, many online shoppers operate under the expectation that their orders should be on their doorstep within a couple of days.
This means that 2-day shipping is becoming the standard for many e-commerce businesses to keep up with. For smaller companies, this usually requires the help of a fulfillment center even to be possible.
Expedited – This refers to any faster shipping method than standard ground shipping. Expedited shipping costs more for both customers and businesses but can significantly improve customer satisfaction. Most online shoppers are willing to pay extra for expedited shipping when placing orders online.
There are two main categories of expedited shipping, but any method that gets orders delivered in less time is considered expedited.
Same-day – Over 61 percent of customers are willing to pay extra for this shipping service to get their order the same day it is placed. Guaranteeing same-day delivery requires excellent coordination and execution of the entire shipping process, as well as clear disclosures for customers to be aware of — i.e., orders must be placed by a certain time of day.
Overnight – The price points for overnight delivery vary across carriers, but generally, this is a more expensive option that allows customers to receive their order the next business day. In the world of 2-day shipping becoming more and more standard, offering overnight shipping can set your business apart from the competition.
International – Navigating each country’s different regulations for the shipping industry, including tariffs, taxes, packaging, and more, can be far more complex and expensive than shipping domestically. Because trade is so influential in the relationships between countries, the Universal Postal Union was established by the United Nations to regulate international cooperation within the global postal sector.
But with the challenges of international shipping also comes the ability to increase your customer base and market share. An essential part of scaling an e-commerce business is analyzing if and when to expand internationally and planning for this shipping method if needed.
Eco-friendly – Many different materials are available to use in the shipping process. Each item includes more than just the products that have been ordered — and not all of those materials are reusable or biodegradable.
However, many eco-friendly products are sustainable and have fewer adverse environmental impacts. Depending on your business’s mission, taking advantage of eco-friendly shipping materials and methods may be something that will help you meet your goals and expand your business’s outreach.
Hybrid – And finally, there are many collaborations between carriers that use multiple shipping methods. These are called hybrid methods and usually work in conjunction with the USPS.
Effective Shipping Solutions with Mintfulfill
Mintfulfill is dedicated to providing fulfillment solutions, including effective shipping methods, that are best for your business and your customers, with a little mint to top it all off. We offer bronze, silver, and gold level plans to choose from that can be customized to fit your needs, starting at as little as $1.
Contact us today to get started improving your business’s fulfillment one mint at a time!