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Developing a shipping strategy for your ecommerce store

You can ship to your customers either from your home or through an order fulfilment warehouse. This post covers some of the things you should consider when you’re managing shipping, how to up your game when it comes to shipping efficiently, and when you should change shipping methods.

Wooing Your Customer With A Shipping Strategy

Abandoned carts. The heartache of abandoned carts. Shipping and handling costs being too high is the number one reason for abandoned carts, and accounts for 44% of them. Here are a few things you can do.

Offer Free Shipping

Free shipping is a great way to attract customers as part of your advertisement, and to prevent abandoned carts. It also costs someone in the end. If your products are unique, artisan, one-of-a-kind or tailored to high earners, it’s probably ok to up the price of your product a bit to cover the costs.

If you’re competing on costs or in a pretty saturated market, it’s unlikely that you should increase your price and you’ll probably have to cover them yourself. You can also of course do a bit of both.

Consider whether you’re going to offer free returns as well. Free returns can help conversion rates for products that often size-dependent, like clothing and shoes. Customers won’t be as hesitant to get something that might not fit if they know they can send it back without a cost.

Offer Flat Rates for Shipping

One advantage of flat rate shipping is that it can encourage customers to fill their cart a bit more because they get a cheaper rate per item (you don’t, of course).

Flat rate doesn’t work for everyone -- if you sell a few items that are all similar weights and relatively small, flat rate could be a good idea. However, if your baseline rate is targeted at the cost of shipping three notebooks, and someone orders one notebook and one pair of boots from you, it’s not going to work. Spend some time calculating what your average item costs to ship, take a look at your data and see how many items your customers generally buy, and figure out a flat rate shipping cost that covers your expenses most of the time but is still attractive to your customers.

Show Your Customers You Are Charging Them Fairly

One way for customers to see you aren’t ripping them off is to have a shipping calculator directly on your site, that shows what the carrier is charging you and having them pay exactly that. This helps build trust with your customers, and is a good choice if you ship bulky items or your product line has a real discrepancy in shipping costs.

You can also use a service like Parcelify to customise different shipping costs, such as charging special rates for large orders or making shipping free within certain distances.

Getting The Bill

When you’re thinking about which strategy to use, make sure you are calculating and recalculating your cashflows. Write down your options and see where you can or can’t go any lower when you change your shipping strategy:

Method 1: Shipping By Yourself

Most businesses start out by shipping themselves. Find packaging that works, print your labels and bring it to the post office or have it picked up by a courier. Here are a few tips to help you through the process.

Your First Date: Making A Good Impression With Branded Packaging

You’ve already met. Your customer ran into you (not so accidentally because you used targeted marketing) and was intrigued. You started flirting with some special offers. They visited your website and were impressed. They click “purchase” and are anticipating the big day when they finally get to meet your product.

Will it be love at first sight? Or are they going to need to warm up a little?

Get Packing

Is your product designed specifically for certain types of shipments? Is part of your sales pitch that it fits right into a mail slot, or that it is meant to look like an exciting gift? What does your customer see when they open the box? Is it simply your sealed product and a generic order slip – or do you go the extra mile to impress your customer?

There are several companies that offer a large variety of packing materials of all types. Remember to try to keep your packaging small and light, as you are almost always charged by weight.

It’s often cheaper to order packaging materials locally, but here are some popular online sites you can order from in bulk:

Standard Boxes

Custom/Unique Boxes




If you’re ready to go the extra mile, you can customise your packaging with branded logos and colours using companies like Arka.

Learn more about branded packaging with this helpful guide.

Showing Some Affection

Don’t forget to include an order slip in your packages, which you can print from your shopify admin with a little help from this order designer. You can also include add-ons like special offer discount codes, product samples, thank you cards or sponsored items. These often make a memorable impression that can help your branding and customer loyalty.

Are We Ready To Label This Yet?

You can write out labels yourself, or have them easily automated. Shippo helps you track inventory and print shipping labels. It also gets you discounts on major shipping services and doesn’t charge for return labels unless they’re used. If you’re in the US or Canada, Shopify Shipping helps you print out cheap shipping labels and keep track of your inventory.

When Will I See You Again?

Offering tracking and shipping support has become standard, especially for online stores. There are several free apps that can help you out, such as AfterShip.

It’s always a good idea to have insurance or seller protection of some sort. Many shipping carriers offer their own, so check out their terms and conditions.

The Shopify App Store has a whole section on helpful shipping integrations. Check them out and see what’s available for your shipping carriers.

Method 2: Choosing A Partner: Order Fulfillment

It’s a ton of work to run a business, and if you don’t have the capacity to do all of the development, marketing, analytics, customer service and shipping yourself, you’re not alone. There are quite a few fulfillment warehouses that you can outsource most shipping and handling to. They’ll manage your inventory and handle all of the shipping to and from your customers. This can be extremely helpful for managing timely deliveries, storing your stock, and getting great shipping rates.

Fulfillment warehouses also cost money, of course, and so you should calculate whether it’s worth it to you or not. One popular choice is Fulfillrite, which integrates with Shopify easily and ships worldwide. Another is Whiplash, which prices per item rather than per month, and can be canceled at any time. 

You can search for more Shopify store fulfillment integrations, or Google ones that serve your area. 

Want To Learn More About Shipping For Your Ecommerce Store?

Check out Shopify’s Guide to Shipping and Fulfillment It’s got loads of information about how to choose a strategy, helpful examples of shipping strategies that work, and a list of extra resources from major shipping carriers and warehouses. 

Elkfox can help get your Shopify store from life raft to superyacht. Learn more about improving your ship strategy by contacting us today. 

Next Up In Our Series

We’re rolling out a series on launching your own ecommerce business. Last time it was DIY Photography Skills. Next up: basic marketing techniques