Shopify Shipping Guide: Get It Right With These Simple Tips
Aug 26, 2021

Shopify Shipping Guide: Get It Right With These Simple Tips

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Estimated reading time: 10 minutes, 30 seconds.

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“Around the world, businesses are prioritizing fulfillment to fight rising costs and meet consumer expectations.”

Shopify shipping is essential to get right, now more than ever. 

Nailing your shipping strategies will directly affect how many products you sell, how many customers keep coming back, and how much money your business makes annually.

There are no two ways around it.

In our Shopify Fulfilment Guide, we break down everything you need to be doing to set up for success. Here, we’ll provide a list of tips to ensure it all goes well and you optimize your strategy.

In this collection of Shopify shipping tips:

Let’s get packing. 

Tips by Shopify Shipping Method

Let’s start with the basics. 

How are you shipping your products?

Are you making the most of the method you’ve chosen? How do you know? 

Let’s take a look. 

Third-party logistics (3PL)

Leaving the logistical challenges to a specialist can save you a lot of time and money in the long run, especially if you are unfamiliar with fulfillment for Shopify.

Shopify recommends opting for 3PL when:

  1. You’re selling more than 10–20 products per day.
  2. You’re running out of inventory storage space.
  3. Your existing infrastructure might not be able to handle a surge in demand.

Choosing the right 3PL solution is the most important part when outsourcing your logistics.


You need an option that is reliable, affordable, and well-suited to your specific business needs.

Tips for choosing and managing your 3PL partner:

  • Look for a 3PL with a big network of fulfillment centers in the regions that you want to ship to.
  • Find a 3PL willing to do late cutoff times so you can ship more same-day orders.
  • Prioritize speed, efficiency, and costs when choosing between different 3PL options.
  • Choose a 3PL that will integrate easily with the ecommerce shipping software and systems you have in place.
  • Tell your 3PL which inventory to store at each location based on their regional popularity.
  • Communicate your expectations early and chase up any issues immediately after they occur to prevent complacency.

For more information on third-party logistics and how to choose one, check out Shopify’s 3PL guide.

DIY shipping

If you choose to take care of fulfillment yourself, accuracy is key.

You need to continuously track what’s working and what isn’t. 

Focus on the good stuff, and fix or eliminate the bad stuff.

This process will help you lower costs, increase speed and efficiency, and boost customer experience.

Here are a few key steps to take when optimizing your shipping processes:

  • Plan and develop a shipping strategy that has flexibility for growth.
  • Stick to it until your data suggests improvements could be made.
  • Invest in a few inventory management tools to streamline operations and increase accuracy.
  • Measure key metrics such as percentage of orders fulfilled, average fulfillment time, and products returned. Shopify’s Order Analytics can help with this.
  • Employ people to get all orders shipped on time, if needed.
  • Create custom reports to isolate specific areas for improvement.
  • Explore other shipping methods such as 3PL when it’s time to grow.

Remember, getting the shipping right is a huge part of customer satisfaction and achieving desirable profit margins.

Dropshipping

Dropshipping is an excellent solution for sellers that don’t have storage space and don’t want to go through the effort of managing 3PL relationships.

But only around 10-20% of businesses operating this model succeed. 

So in order to be one of them, you need to make sure you’re doing everything you can to give your dropshipping business the best chance.

Tips for running a successful dropshipping store on Shopify:

  • It’s a good idea to look for trending niches for dropshipping, but this doesn’t always guarantee profit margins. Make sure you experiment, drop what’s not working, and specialize.
  • Dropshippers often see smaller margins and need larger volumes to make money. It’s a long-game, so plan for the long-term and keep adjusting your strategy.
  • Scale your advertising and keep a close eye on it. Keep testing, listen to your market and make changes. With typically lower margins, dropshippers in particular need to reach as many people as possible.
  • Build strong relationships with your customers and your suppliers. Your business depends on both. 

Check out success stories from other Shopify dropshippers here.

Check out Shopify’s dropshipping guide here.

Tips for Your Shopify Shipping Policy

Being transparent with your customers is an important part of building long-term, lucrative relationships. 

Displaying your shipping policy is a great step, but what should be included?

We have a guide dedicated to creating one, but here are some tips. 

What to include in your policy

  • Your shipping zones (and common zones you don’t ship to, so that customers don’t have to ask the question).
  • Your shipping charges.
  • Your shipping methods and carriers.
  • Estimated shipping times by different zones.
  • Any applicable restrictions on shipping - for example, the COVID-19 pandemic may warrant a courtesy warning to customers about delays.
  • Details about when and if you offer free shipping.
  • Tracking information if the carriers offer it. 
  • Duties and taxes information, where applicable.
  • Processing times where possible.
  • The returns process with regards to shipping. 
  • Pick-up options if applicable.
  • Dealing with lost, missing, or damaged items.
  • Cut-off times for changes and cancellations.
  • FAQs are also a great way to minimize common queries.

Check out Shopify’s own shipping policy template here.

And don’t underestimate the importance of making your documents or web pages user-friendly. 

Show your customers you have nothing to hide with a simple, easy-to-navigate policy. 

Tips for making your policy user friendly:

  • Make it easy to navigate your policy by using simple subheadings, bolded text, short paragraphs, direct language, and simple presentation.
  • Display essential details where the customer might need them most.
  • Update your policy whenever there are important changes in your business or external factors that will affect shipping (such as the recent pandemic).
  • Be as transparent and detailed as possible; don’t leave any gaps where a reader might have to guess an answer to their concerns.

Tips for Your Shopify Returns Policy

96% of consumers will shop with a retailer again based on an “easy” or “very easy” return experience. 

And in 2018, nearly 41% of shoppers claimed to purchase products with the intent of returning them.

For these reasons, your return policy should make it super simple for anyone to return unwanted goods. 

It should, like your shipping policy, be clear and easy to find too.

Things to consider for your returns policy

  • Implement an RMA (Return Merchandise Authorization) system so you can easily track, approve, and monitor the financial impact of your returns.
  • Prioritize returns and exchanges resulting from an error on the side of the supplier (you).
  • Make use of the Shopify Returns function to manage returns inside your Shopify admin.
  • Invest in inventory management software to fully automate the returns process.

Having a foolproof returns process is an excellent step towards better customer service.

But it’s not enough just to have a policy.

You need to communicate it.

Tips of what to include in your returns policy:

  • What items may be returned.
  • What items may be exchanged for other items/sizes/styles.
  • What items cannot be returned or exchanged (final-sale items).
  • The timeline in which items must be returned to get a refund approved.
  • The condition items must be in when they are returned.
  • What customers may receive as a recompense for returned goods.
  • How to initiate a return.
  • How to track returns and refunds.
  • Special returns policies from your ecommerce channel, if any.
  • Any location-specific rules regarding returns you may want to have in place.

Getting your policies right is a massive part of customer satisfaction.

Let’s break down a few more ways to keep customers happy with a strong shipping program in place.

Tips for Setting Your Shopify Shipping Rates

Cart abandonment is a big issue for ecommerce sellers. 

49% of carts are abandoned at the checkout screen because of unexpected fees and shipping costs.

The key is finding a balance between your conversion rate and your profit margins. 

You can use the Shopify Shipping Calculator to work out the USPS and DHL shipping costs for different items. It looks like this:

Shopify shipping calculator

This calculator is a great tool for estimating the price of delivery and nothing else.

However, there is more to Shopify shipping expenses than just the delivery service.

What to take into account with your pricing strategy

  • The costs of boxes, envelopes, packing materials, tape, stickers, and other supplies used to send the item.
  • The labor costs to process an item from in-stock and on the shelf to boxed up and out the door.
  • Courier costs for collection and delivery of the item.
  • Importing and exporting fees.
  • Customs and potentially taxes, if shipping internationally.

Undercharging customers on shipping can damage your profit margins and is not the smartest way to do business.

Conversely, charging too much can have a negative impact on your conversion rates. 

You must make your Shopify shipping rates as low and transparent as possible, without taking cuts from your own wallet to do so.

Tips for keeping your shipping costs low and profit margins high:

  • Use corrugated boxes and lightweight packing material to reduce the weight of your packages.
  • Choose the right size packaging for each item.
  • Design custom shipping packages for your products to minimize the required packing material needed to ship.
  • Offer flat-rate shipping with weight and price conditions.
  • Offer minimum spend shipping, to increase the value of consignments being fulfilled.
  • Stay up to date with shipping rate changes from your courier companies and always be looking out for the best deal.
  • If shipping a large volume of goods, request a special discount from your main courier company for being a loyal customer.
  • Offer local delivery and pickup options.

One of the most effective preventions for cart abandonment due to high shipping costs is, of course, free shipping.

Whilst this is attractive to a customer, it’s a tricky thing to pull off for a seller. That cost has to be covered somewhere. 

For this reason, free shipping may not be a viable option - depending on the size of your business and your profit margins.

According to the Shopify team, free shipping with no conditions is ideal for high-margin products where the shipping expenses can be accounted for in the overall price.

Tips for offering free shipping without losing out:

  • Create a free shipping strategy based on your pricing and profit margins.
  • See what your successful competitors offer by way of free shipping to get inspired.
  • Add conditions to your free shipping rates, such as a minimum spend or a location bracket.
  • Measure and test data as you begin to implement free shipping. See where the profit losses are and determine whether they are worth the extra sales.
  • Optimize your packaging using the tips we just mentioned.
  • Offer short-term free shipping promotions to compel buyers to “get in quick”.

Tips for Your Shopify Packaging & Unboxing

“Demand for green packaging must also be balanced with the consumer’s desire for custom or branded packaging.”

In providing a great unboxing experience for your customers, two things matter most in 2021: Sustainability and Branding.

Sustainable packaging isn’t just a great way to boost customer satisfaction; it’s also something you can genuinely feel good about too. 

Just look at how many people are willing to spend a little more money to protect our environment:

Sustainable consumption report graph

Source: WBCSD Sustainable Consumption Report

Achieving a more sustainable shipping process

  • Offer carbon-neutral shipping by offsetting emissions.
  • Use sustainable, repurposable packing materials. (Ditch the polystyrene!)
  • Minimize the size of your packaging to avoid wastage.
  • Offer a returns program for empty product containers.
  • Make it more tempting to buy in bulk, so you can ship in bulk and reduce emissions.
  • Wrap products in biodegradable paper instead of plastic.
  • Ship goods using compostable mailers.

Adding a branded touch to your packaging is what will make the unboxing experience (and ideally, your company) more memorable.

Tips for customizing your brand packaging:

  • Invest in packing tape, stickers, and boxes that have your brand name or logo printed on them.
  • Include a thank-you note inside every package.
  • Consider using holiday-themed packaging around popular holidays like Christmas and Mother’s Day.
  • Add unique touches to your shipment, such as a colored ribbon, tissue paper, decorations or (biodegradable) glitter.
  • Include a freebie with every order, or every order over a certain price.
  • Add illustrations to the inside or outside of your boxes that match the style of your brand.

These kinds of trust signals and extra touches will help you connect with your customers and hopefully, build a rapport with them even from a distance. 

However You Do It, Track It 

In order to understand how much you’re spending on shipping and where you need to make changes, you need an itemized bill.

Sadly, Shopify settlement statements aren’t exactly that. 

By integrating A2X with Shopify and your accounting software, you can see not only what you spend on packing materials and shipping, but on the inventory itself, any taxes you collected, returns reimbursed, and every fee you paid. 

Get calculated journal summaries for every bank deposit automatically, posted to your accounting software for quick, easy reconciliation. 

Plus, any statements that span months are split, and your books are organized via the industry-standard accrual method of accounting.

Get professional, accurate accounting without the fuss. 

Try A2X for Shopify free today.

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