How to choose the right shipping integration for your retail or wholesale business

In today’s super competitive online arena, with Amazon and eBay offering free and fast delivery options, retailers and wholesalers need to be even smarter with their order fulfilment and shipping processes.

Speed of delivery is fast becoming a point of difference for some and a sticking point for others.  Once you have streamlined your fulfilment processes, such as removing bottle necks with automation, you will need to think about how you get your orders out the door.

A shipping integration (also called a plugin or app) allows you to offer your customers a more flexible range of shipping options when they checkout. This could be order tracking options, priority delivery, international delivery or faster delivery. It’s well known that some customers are willing to pay more for shipping & handling if they want the product quick, such as next day!

 

retailers need to streamline fulfillment processes

 

Evaluate the shipping integrations that work with your eCommerce store

There are a number of eCommerce shipping solutions available, so it comes down to evaluating and selecting the one that integrates with your existing eCommerce store, other apps such as inventory management systems and your preferred carriers.

If there is more than one shipping app that appears to tick all the boxes, it is a good idea to evaluate the reviews that other customers have left online – specifically on the eCommerce platform that you are also using, as this will be a good indication of what your own experience with that service provider will be.

Take the time to read through testimonials and look for prominent, successful brands who use the same eCommerce store and your preferred choice of shipping integration to see which shipping app stands out from the rest.

Find out which region the shipping integration was first designed for

Another tip is to see which couriers that shipping integration was built for.  Is it one that originated in the US or UK and then added in ANZ at a later point?  Chances are they have a support team that is more comfortable and knowledgeable in terms of supporting carriers from that side of the world versus the smaller (and often added later) carriers of Australasia.  Support can take a lot longer and answers slower when it comes to specific issues with Australian and NZ carriers versus using an integration that specialises in Australasian carriers such as StarShipIT.

Shipping app versus freight aggregator?

Some shipping integrations are freight aggregators (freight forwarder) which means they manage the shipping on your behalf, using a selection of carriers and clip the ticket on each shipment, while providing you with access to competitive shipping rates.

StarShipIT is a purely a software provider (SaaS) which means you can bring your own shipping accounts with you and manage the mix of carriers that best suit your business.  If you have negotiated great rates with your courier partners, you can simply bring your account with you and enjoy the benefits of a full shipping integration that offers live rates at check-out (Shopify, Magento and WooCommerce), branded tracking and shipping notifications, address validation to reduce delivery errors and speedy label printing.  Think seconds, not minutes to fulfil an order.

If you are still sitting on the fence as to whether or not to take the plunge and integrate a shipping app with your eCommerce store, work out how long it takes to manually fulfil an order and multiply that by the number of orders over a week or month.  Then work out what value you place on your time (hourly rate if you will) and that will give you a true cost of manual fulfilment.

By automating fulfilment you can process orders quickly in a matter of seconds or a minute or two, so calculate the time saved and multiply that by the hourly rate and that will reveal your savings per month.

Example:

E.g. 100 orders per week at 8 mins per order = 800 mins or 13.3 hours @ $25 per hour = $333.00 per week.  For a plan that allows up to 4000 shipments per month, it is only $80 per month.  That’s a savings of $253.00 of your time, as well as reducing delivery errors and customer complaints when deliveries go awry due to incorrect delivery addresses.

Here is an unbiased round-up from integration partner TradeGecko, who have summarised the pros and cons of the most popular shipping integrations, including StarShipIT.  And check out this great article highlighting the Top 10 Shipping Apps for Shopify.

Check out our article on how to speed up order processing for more great tips and recommendations you can action straight away in your business.

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