Shipping Methods and Fulfillment: Everything you Need to Know

One of the most important aspects of the customer experience is the delivery of products. Customers expect to pay the least shipping cost, receive their orders quickly and receive all their goods in perfect condition.

Shipping doesn’t need to be difficult despite the many moving parts. Let’s look at some common terms for shipping: carriers, methods and fulfillment.

Shipping carriers

The person or company that delivers your products to customers is called a shipping carrier. Shipping carriers charge a fixed rate per delivery. This is usually based on distance, weight, and speed. The most common shipping companies for businesses located in the United States are USPS, Fedex and UPS. See a complete list of shipping companies WooCommerce integrates to here.

It is important to choose the right shipping carrier for your products and business. Take into account:

  • Pricing. Customers will end up paying shipping costs, or adding them onto their business expenses. It’s important to compare different providers based upon what they charge for packages. You can get discounts by shipping in bulk, or by using extensions such as WooCommerce shipping to reduce shipping costs.
  • What are your products’ weight limits? You should check that your products meet the weight requirements of certain carriers.
  • International shipping. Choose a carrier that can handle your international shipping needs.
  • Delivering packages. There are some unique services or offerings that carriers offer that can make it more profitable, such as special pickup locations and door access.
  • Considerations Are you selling alcohol, fragile products, or products that need to be kept cool? Make sure your carrier is able to meet these requirements. These are just a few examples of WooCommerce customers that do this exceptionally well.
    • Brown Brothers is a wine company that ships only to areas that aren’t “dry”. It doesn’t allow anyone under 18 to receive their packages.
    • Nantucket Chocolate ships its candy which can melt with ice and insulation.
  • Insurance. You can provide additional protection for your packages by choosing a carrier that provides insurance coverage.
  • Weekend delivery. Are you interested in offering weekend delivery? Some companies only ship weekdays.

Multiple carriers may be useful for different purposes. One carrier might be used for heavy items, while another is suitable for all other types. You could also use different shipping companies for regular and expedited shipping.

Learn more:

Shipping methods

Shipping methods refer to the shipping rates and services customers can select from at checkout. These are often determined by the shipping companies you use and will determine how fast your customers receive their order. These are some ways that you can charge shipping.

  • Variable amount depending on weight, delivery speed, and location
  • No matter how many items you order, a flat rate of $5.00 will be charged
  • Shipping Free

It is possible to request different shipping speeds such as expedited, standard, overnight. You might also offer free shipping if you order more than $350.00. All depends on how you ship.

An extension can be used to connect your store with your carrier to determine shipping costs if you decide to charge variable amounts. This extension automatically calculates shipping costs based on weight, destination, and other factors. Customers will never pay more than they are comfortable with and you won’t be stuck paying higher shipping costs.

View all shipping methods extensions.

Fulfillment solutions

Fulfillment solutions include everything from shipping costs and labels printing to delivering the products. Let’s look at some of the steps involved with fulfillment.

Printing shipping label

Shipping labels let your carrier know where the package should go, when it should arrive and what you paid for it. You can print shipping labels at your business, or from the carrier’s office.

WooCommerce shipping allows you to pay for the label, and then print it from your WordPress dashboard. This makes it easy to drop off your package at your door or arrange for pick-up.

Choosing the best packaging

Product packaging gives you the chance to delight your customers by opening the box. It also ensures that your products arrive safely and sound. You may need to create special envelopes, wrap fragile items in extra material, and ship perishable goods in dry ice. Because packaging is an additional cost, it can also impact the rate you charge your customers.

Standard boxes will not make you stand out but you might be able reduce costs by using free shipping provided by certain carriers. This is offered by the USPS for Priority Mail Express and Priority Mail Express.

Sending packages by mail

You must also get your products to customers. What does this mean for your company? Who is responsible for taking inventory off the shelves How to pack each box How to set up a pickup and drop off packages at the carrier’s address?

The fulfillment process should be seamless. This will reduce returns and speed up shipping times. You might consider investing in an extension or tool that connects to your inventory management software to sync data.

Updating customers

Customers need to know where their package is located and when it will arrive at their door. Tracking information can be used to assist customers in this regard. Customers can access their order anytime, without needing to contact your support team.

Customers can also be emailed whenever their order status is changed. Are they ready to ship their order? Is it shipped? Is it on their front porch? They should know where it is at all stages of the process, from beginning to end.

A fulfillment center is a great option if you are looking to outsource the fulfillment process completely. A fulfillment center houses your products in bulk, packs them, labels them, and ships each order. Amazon Fulfillment is a common example. It integrates with WooCommerce and syncs orders information.

This can be a great way to save time and effort for your team. However, it can also lead to increased costs and the transfer of quality control to another party.

View a complete list of WooCommerce fulfillment extensions.

All the pieces should be connected

You can see that shipping methods, shipping carriers and fulfillment processes work together to create seamless experiences for customers and staff. WooCommerce gives you the tools to connect all of the pieces.