Shipping Speed Guide: Strategy + Benefits of Fast Shipping Speeds

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Whether you’re new to the world of ecommerce or a seasoned veteran, one of the most important ingredients to finding success online comes down to getting your products to your customers as quickly and efficiently as possible. Unfortunately, navigating the waters of shipping speed can be challenging for even the most experienced entrepreneurs. Which shipping services are best? How can you ensure delivery deadlines are met?

This post is all about shipping speeds, and specifically how you can get ahead of the delivery race through improving your company’s processes and delivery times.

What is shipping speed?

Shipping speed is the time it takes for a package to travel from warehouse or place of origin to its final destination. Often, ecommerce shipping speeds are determined by distance and delivery routes—for example, domestic or international shipping.

In general, shipping speeds are communicated as timelines: for example, two business days, etc.

💡 Tip: Shipping speeds within Shopify allows businesses to provide their customers a range of days at checkout that reflect the estimated transit time of their purchase.

Shipping vs. processing time

Shipping speeds account for how long it takes the carrier to carry the order to its destination. Your processing time is the amount of time it takes for your business to prepare an order after it’s received. Once that order is handed off to your shipping carrier, it’s no longer being processed. As with most things in business, communication is key here.

Customers may be aware of this, but it’s better to give specifics on the distinction between processing and shipping times than to assume they know the difference. This is especially important if your products take more than several business days to process. 

As each product at Waist Beads by Fatou is handmade, the company provides detailed information on processing times and delivery dates at the top of its shipping policy. It lists the different processing times for different products. Notice it also calls out that processing times change if there’s a sale around the holiday season.

How improving shipping speeds can help your business

There are few things more important to your customer’s experience than shipping. This study reveals that 73.6% of shoppers believe shipping is key to their overall shopping experience. So much so that 83.5% are unlikely to shop with a brand again after a poor shipping experience. This is why it’s critical to use the right shipping services for your specific business.

Consumers have increased expectations for clear and transparent communication, with one study finding 60.7% of customers are more likely to make a purchase if they see delivery times in their shopping carts. Forty-seven percent will avoid re-ordering because of a lack of delivery transparency.

Adding shipping speeds at checkout is one way to communicate your delivery promise to customers. Including those sought after estimated times of arrival will help establish trust with your customers, reduce cart abandonment, and help you improve fulfillment operations.

Increase customer confidence and brand trust by providing clarity and transparency

Providing clear and transparent details helps your customers feel more confident shopping with you. Accurate estimated delivery times set clear expectations and work to establish trust. 

Clear communication means three things: 1) letting customers know how long it takes for an order to be processed, 2) how long it will take for the order to be shipped, and 3) how much everything will cost, shipping included.

You can see how loungewear retailer Smash+Tess communicates all three elements at checkout. Its customers are able to decide how quickly they want to get their product and how much it will cost them to get it to them faster. Even before money has left the customer’s account, they trust that the retailer they’re buying from will deliver.

Reduce customer cart abandonment—while increasing sales and revenue

Cart abandonment can happen for many reasons, ranging from unexpected shipping costs to site errors. But we know that checkouts with shipping rates and delivery time estimates have higher conversion rates than checkouts that omit this information. At the very least, you can mitigate any ambiguity about when it will be delivered. 

Adding shipping speeds to your checkout will help to reduce cart abandonment because it adds a level of certainty and initiates trust. Providing this information upfront sets expectations for your customers and provides them with a clear sense of when they can expect their purchase, making them less likely to back out of the order if they do not agree with the shipping terms. It’s the first way you can encourage customers to come back, and how you can initiate more sales and more revenue.

Improve customer service and experience

Customers have come to expect up-to-date information at their fingertips, and that goes for knowing all the details of their online purchases. Why are customers so keen to know when their package is going to arrive? It ties back to the fear of missed delivery and out of fear of stolen packages (especially high value items), fear of packages lost in transit, or even fear that someone else in the household picks up the package that may have been meant as a surprise (think birthday gifts!).

Providing merchants with shipping speeds at checkout, combined with tracking capabilities and an integration with Shop or another package service, will arm your customers with information and clarity. They will be less likely to contact your customer service department with questions about their orders and delivery status. Fewer delivery questions means a better customer experience, which also means a lower impact to your customer support team. A better customer experience means happier customers, which means they’ll be more likely to come back to your store for repeat purchases.

How shipping speeds fit into your shipping strategy

The first two questions customers will ask when they have made a decision about purchasing your products are: “How much will it cost to deliver?” and “When will I get it?” 

Whether you’re developing a new shipping strategy or revisiting your existing one, it is a lever that can influence your business as a whole. Adding shipping speeds should be a key consideration for your shipping strategy—just as important as which methods you make available and how much you charge. 

You might decide to pass the cost of shipping on to your customers, or offer free or flat-rate options. Showing shipping speeds will give your customers clarity on what they’re paying, even if shipping is free, and how long it will take to receive their package. You will want to do the same for any alternative shipping method you offer, such as curbside pickup or local delivery. It can mean the difference between a sale and an abandoned cart.

The checkout is an obvious place for you to communicate your shipping speeds and costs but you can also add these key points wherever you communicate your shipping policy to minimize any hesitations your customers may have about making a purchase.

Sneaker brand Koio communicates its shipping speeds for each delivery method and the respective costs on its shipping page. It also includes processing time on that same page.

Customers expect a communication after their purchase is complete confirming when they will receive the things they buy online. Traditionally, this is managed with an email post-purchase summarizing the purchase, the cost of the product, any shipping fees, and estimated shipping speeds or delivery times.

What to do when shipping delays happen

Shipping delays happen. Peak periods, inclement weather, and more can all lead to overwhelming volumes for shipping carriers, causing packages to be delivered later than expected.

What can you do in such a situation? It goes back to clear communication. The more you share about what’s going on, the better your customers will feel about purchasing from you. 

Customers need to know what’s going on and if any delays will impact them. Once you take the step to communicate shipping speeds to your customers, it is necessary to continue sharing information about their purchase, including delays. Failing to do so will work against you and risks the brand trust and loyalty you built with your customers pre-purchase.

Communicate proactively. Be specific about delay information, which regions are impacted, and any information on when the delay will end, if you have it. Consider also adding a notification on checkout pages to let shoppers know of potential delays before they buy.

Use your communication channels.Your customers are busy and have a lot going on, so oftentimes a message on the website will go unnoticed by customers who don’t visit regularly. Share delay information on your site, email list, and social channels to cover all of your bases. 

Check with other retailers. If you’re experiencing delays that are completely outside of your control, keep an eye on what other stores similar to yours are doing to handle similar problems.

Add shipping speeds to your shipping rates in Shopify

When you add shipping speeds to your shipping rates in Shopify, your customers see a range of days at checkout that reflect the estimated transit time of their purchase. This is automatically estimated—you will avoid relying on inaccurate information or manually estimating delivery times when you create manual rate names.  

Ethical apparel retailer Good for Sunday displays its shipping speeds at checkout. You can see how the customer is presented with shipping options, related costs, and how long shipping is anticipated to take, all from the checkout and all without the retailer having to do any manual calculations. The customer can make an informed choice and can plan for when they’ll be able to get their cozy new work-from-home outfit!

Learn how to add shipping speeds and whether your business is eligible.

See our guide on epacket for exporting to China.

Add shipping speeds

Shipping speed FAQ

What are delivery speeds?

Delivery speeds refer to the amount of time it takes for a product or package to be transported from its origin to its destination. This can vary based on factors such as the shipping method chosen, the distance between the two locations, and any potential delays or issues that may arise during transit.

Different delivery speeds are often offered by companies in order to give customers options for how quickly they want their items delivered. Common delivery speeds include standard, expedited, and same-day delivery.

What is the fastest shipping speed?

The fastest shipping speed available can vary depending on the company and shipping service chosen. However, in general, the fastest shipping speed offered by many companies is same-day delivery. This means that the package or item is delivered to the recipient on the same day it is shipped, often within just a few hours.

However, same-day delivery is not always available for all locations or items, and may be subject to additional fees or restrictions. Other fast shipping options include overnight or next-day delivery, which can typically deliver packages within one business day.

How can I increase my delivery speed?

There are several steps you can take to increase your delivery speed and provide faster shipping to your customers. Here are a few strategies to consider:

  1. Streamline your order processing: Simplify and speed up your order processing system to reduce the time between when an order is received and when it is shipped.
  2. Use automated shipping software: Implementing automated shipping software can help reduce manual processing errors and speed up your shipping process ultimately helping you hit those tight delivery deadlines.
  3. Optimize your inventory management: Maintain the right amount of inventory to avoid back orders or delays in fulfilling orders.
  4. Offer multiple shipping options: Provide your customers with various shipping options such as standard, priority mail express, or next-day delivery to give them flexibility in their purchase.
  5. Partner with reliable shipping services: Work with reliable carriers to ensure on-time delivery and reduce the likelihood of delays.
  6. Utilize local fulfillment centers: Having multiple regional or local fulfillment centers can help reduce shipping time and costs for your customers.