July 26, 2018

Understanding E-Commerce Shipping: Software, Services, and Solutions

The world of e-commerce is vast, complicated, confusing, and filled with shipping solutions that don’t, on the surface, appear to be all that different. Managing your distribution channels requires enormous...

The world of e-commerce is vast, complicated, confusing, and filled with shipping solutions that don’t, on the surface, appear to be all that different. Managing your distribution channels requires enormous amounts of information that aren’t exactly easy to come by. Yet, ignoring your logistics networks will only raise your overhead – often needlessly. Between E-commerce shipping software options, shipping strategies, and third-party fulfillment firms, the options available for optimization are about as complicated as the problems they seek to solve.

What Is E-Commerce Shipping?

E-commerce shipping refers to the variety of solutions and options available to e-commerce vendors for shipping their products. It is everything encompassing the shipping model, down to the specific carriers used. E-commerce shipping services operate within global shipping networks to provide optimized shipping for digital vendors.

There are a variety of models for an e-commerce shipping strategy. Many of these are consumer favorites, such as free shipping, or two-day arrival. Carriers and service providers offer a range of solutions to match vendor and customer needs. These include the multitude of time frames UPS or USPS, for example, are able to deliver.

An e-commerce shipping firm works to provide the most effective solution to their clients, and allows companies to offer more than one shipping option to their own customers.

E-Commerce Shipping Strategies

The end goal of an e-commerce shipping strategy is to meet customer needs, increase your market, and – most importantly – decrease costs. The exact shipping model for any one vendor depends on their product, customers, and needs. This is why it is important to select the right strategy for your business. These are a few of the most popular solutions for e-commerce shipping models:

1. Free Shipping
The free shipping model is endlessly popular with customers. It is, however, also costly for the vendor. Fulfilling expectations with the cheapest way to ship a package while maintaining fast shipping speeds requires investment of time and money for smaller vendors. It is, however, very much an achievable goal with the right strategy.

2. Flat-Rate Shipping
Charging a flat rate for shipping allows a vendor to recoup some shipping expenses. The exact amount of return depends on how much the customer orders, and can vary as more – or less expensive than the actual cost of shipping.

3. Table Shipping
Table shipping is a method of charging for shipping depending on proximity to the vendor’s origin point. This allows the shipping price to reflect the actual cost of moving goods, making for a solid strategy for the business itself.

Software Solutions

Shipping software for e-commerce is a growing technological solution to the difficult task of organizing a shipping network. Shipping programs often integrate directly into e-commerce platforms like Amazon and eBay.

Many e-commerce shipping companies make extensive use of technology in order to manage your shipping strategy. These include cloud-based data management, multi-carrier shipping, and improved tracking.

Some of the most popular e-commerce shipping software solutions include ShipStation and ShippingEasy. Many regional solutions specialize in the international marketplace – often focusing on their local regions, such as UK or AZN shipping.

Most good business software solutions provide, at a minimum, the following features:

  • Printing labels
  • Label customization and branding
  • Package tracking

Technology can also improve the customer-business relationship. Video surveillance, for example, makes verifying damaged goods significantly more straightforward. Package tracking is another integral aspect of e-commerce shipping, and is a major factor to consider when establishing a partnership with an e-commerce shipping service.

Choosing a Service

With all these considerations, it can be difficult to select a reliable e-commerce shipping service. As a digital vendor, selecting the right provider means placing the front-end of your customer’s experience in another’s hands. A level of trust and professionalism must be earned by a service to show that they can handle your e-commerce needs.

Enter FirstMile

FirstMile offers optimization services for most common shipping scenarios. The FirstMile network reaches almost anywhere on the globe, and provides solutions for dropshipping, order fulfillment, and multi-carrier shipping situations. Our e-commerce shipping options make use of shipping networks worldwide and bring your business directly into these international channels.

FirstMile integrates with some of the leading software providers, including ShipStation, and is scalable to your business. With USPS negotiated rates, as well as the infrastructure to enter the best international channels, FirstMile has the expertise in e-commerce to manage your logistical operations, all while passing the savings on to you.