The Best Seller Shipping Methods: Find the Cheapest and the Fastest Option
As an eCommerce business owner, selling your products is only half the battle. Once you get a purchase you have to find a reliable way to ship the items to the buyer. If you don’t ship orders in a quick and cost-effective way you’re going to get complaints from customers.
So, what’s the best shipping method to use? And how can you save money when shipping orders for your Amazon, eBay, Woocommerce, and Walmart eCommerce businesses?
Table of contents
- eCommerce Shipping Methods
- How Should You Charge for Shipping?
- What are Shipping Carriers?
- The Best Shipping Carriers
- Cheapest Shipping Methods
- How to Reduce Your Shipping Costs
In this guide, we’re going to teach you everything you need to know about shipping so you can keep your customers happy and grow your small business.
eCommerce Shipping Methods
There are many different ways to ship your orders. Here are the six most common shipping methods used by eCommerce sellers:
1. Same-Day Delivery
This is obviously the best-case scenario for buyers, as it’s the fastest delivery option. Of course, this isn’t always possible, as the products need to be located nearby in order to be delivered so quickly. It also takes a great deal of coordination and resources to pull this off.
That being said, over half of consumers are willing to pay extra to change their shipping to same-day delivery, so it’s worth considering.
2. Overnight Shipping
This is the next best thing to same-day shipping, as it guarantees buyers get their order the very next day. Most carriers offer overnight shipping, so you’ll want to look into it to see if it’s doable for your business.
3. Two-Day Shipping
Popularized by Amazon Prime, two-day shipping has become the standard for eCommerce shopping. Buyers expect their packages to arrive sooner rather than later. So, if same-day or overnight delivery isn’t possible for your business try to make two-day shipping an option.
4. Expedited Shipping
This refers to any shipping method that’s faster than standard shipping. Sometimes, due to where your products are located or other delays, two-day shipping just isn’t possible. Offering expedited shipping gives your customers the chance to still get their order faster than standard shipping.
5. Standard Shipping
The above options are great, but they also cost more. For buyers who aren’t in a hurry and want the cheapest shipping possible, standard shipping is a great option. This is why you should still offer it, even if there are faster methods available.
6. International Shipping
For any order sold to customers in other countries you’ll need international shipping. Shipping internationally can be a complicated process, as it involves customs and duties. So make sure to partner with carriers who have experience with this.
How Should You Charge for Shipping?
In addition to deciding on a shipping method, you also need to figure out how you’re going to charge customers for shipping. There are three different methods to choose from:
1. Flat Rates
If you want to keep things simple you can charge a flat rate for all orders, no matter how far they have to travel. This works well if all your products are the same size and your shipping area is relatively small. You would simply determine the average shipping cost for all orders and use that as your flat rate.
You can also have different rates for different order sizes, weights, travel distances, etc.
2. Real-Time Carrier Rates
If your shipping rates vary widely then you’re likely going to want to use different rates for different orders. To do this, you can pull real-time carrier rates from your shipping partner into your customer’s checkout screen. That way, they can see exactly how much their shipping payment will be.
3. Free Shipping
If you really want to impress your customers you can offer free shipping. One way to do this is to simply include shipping into the purchase price of the product.
Adding a price threshold that shoppers can meet to get free shipping also works. For example, if someone places an order over $150 they don’t have to pay for shipping. The threshold needs to be large enough to ensure you still make a profit on the sale.
Finally, you can offer a discount code for free shipping. This encourages people to come to your website and shop with you, meaning they’re more likely to return and buy more.
What are Shipping Carriers?
Shipping carriers are companies that specialize in transporting goods and delivering them to customers. These can be mail services or independent companies. You’ll need to partner with one or more carriers to ensure you have a reliable shipping solution for your customers.
When choosing your carrier make sure to evaluate them based on the following factors:
Speed: How quickly are they able to deliver your orders?
Services: Do they offer options like same-day and overnight delivery?
Reputation: Read online reviews to see what people have to say about them.
Capacity: Do they have the resources to handle all your orders?
Review several different carriers based on the above criteria to ensure you select the right one.
The Best Shipping Carriers
With so many carriers to choose from it’s hard to pick the right one. So, to make things easier we’ve narrowed the list down to the five best carriers:
One of the largest shipping carriers in the USA, UPS is arguably the most popular choice for eCommerce businesses. With a massive fleet of trucks and 200 aircraft, they have more than enough resources to deliver your orders quickly and safely.
Although not quite as big as UPS, DHL is still a trusted shipping carrier. They employ over 500,000 people around the world and are very experienced with both local and international shipping.
When it comes to shipping, few companies have better brand recognition than FedEx. With more aircraft in their fleet than most airlines, FedEx is a leader in shipping by air. No matter where you need to send your orders FedEx can get it there.
Despite the rise of many independent shipping carriers, the United States Postal Service is still the default shipping service used by many eCommerce sellers. The only downside is they only serve the US. So, if you’re shipping internationally (Canada, the UK, Australia, etc.) you’ll need to use someone else.
Based in the Netherlands, this carrier is an excellent option for anyone who does business in Europe. They focus on express delivery, so if you’re looking to deliver parcels fast TNT is an excellent choice.
6. Sino Shipping
Headquartered in Hong Kong, this freight forwarder is perfect for Amazon FBA Shipment. Their tactical services include import/export freight-forwarding, ocean and air transportation, overland transportation, customs brokerage and regulatory compliance, Amazon FBA prep, warehousing and distribution, supply chain management, and information management.
Cheapest Shipping Methods
Unfortunately, the cheapest shipping methods are also the slowest. So, if you want to decrease your shipping costs you’ll need to increase your delivery times. Below are the cheapest shipping methods for a variety of packages:
Very Small: For lightweight items like jewelry, pins, or some socks, the USPS is the cheapest option. Their prices for these types of products start at just $3.80.
Small: For slightly larger items like cups, shirts, and books, USPS is still the cheapest way to go. You can ship products like this for as little as $7.50.
Medium and Large Packages: Once you get to heavier items (30 - 40 lbs) then Priority Mail through the USPS is the right choice, with rates starting at $15.
Very Large: The USPS doesn’t ship anything over 70 lbs, so once you get to that size carriers like UPS, DHL, and FedEx are your best bet. Rates fluctuate based on size, weight, and destination. In some cases UPS will be the cheapest, in other cases DHL or FedEx will be cheaper. So do your homework to determine which carrier to use in certain scenarios.
Prices are always changing, so make sure to compare costs to always get the lowest price.
How to Reduce Your Shipping Costs
Looking to cut your shipping costs? Here are a few tips:
Ship by Ground: While it’s slower than air freight, ground shipping is always the cheapest option when possible.
Ship by Sea: If you need to ship internationally then shipping via boat is much more economical. If you’re buying inventory from Alibaba and having it shipped from China this is definitely the most cost-effective. Just know that it takes a long time so make sure your customers are willing to wait.
Apply for Flat Rate Shipping: Talk to your shipping partner to see if you qualify for flat rate shipping. This means your orders will always cost the same no matter how far you’re sending them.
Include Shipping in Your Prices: By building shipping costs into your prices you can lower or even eliminate shipping fees. Your customers are still paying the same total amount, but it appears they’re getting a deal since they aren’t paying for shipping.
Get Labels Included: If you use certain carriers enough they might start including labels for free, which will help you cut costs.
Ship Multiple Orders at Once: Your carrier might charge you less per product if you ship multiple orders at once.
Offer EMS Tracking: People are usually more willing to accept slower shipping options if they can track the progress of their order.
If you’re concerned about your shipping costs, always talk to your shipping carrier. If they value your business they’ll present you with a few different options to help you lower your expenses.
Shipping is a big part of running a successful eCommerce business. Look into all your options and do your research to make sure you’re offering your customers the best shipping options possible.