Packaging and shipping your product may not sound like the most glamorous part of running a business, but it’s one of the most essential aspects of your customer’s experience. When a customer sees the product they purchase from you, it’s the closest physical experience that customer is going to have with your brand. The rest of your relationship will be through online browsing, customer support, and marketing.
But when your customer receives your product it’s the first time they have your brand in their hands. It’s a critical moment and an exciting opportunity for you to make a lasting impression. E-commerce business owners often find shipping to be one of their biggest challenges at any stage of their business.
So if you find this challenging to navigate you’re not alone. With different carriers package types, shipping strategies, shipping times, and more, this is an aspect of your business that will constantly evolve. As a Shopify business owner in the US and Canada, you have access to Shopify Shipping, which has everything you need to make decisions and manage your shipping right from within your admin. Shopify Shipping provides you with pre-negotiated rates and labels based on your Shopify plan.
These rates are available to small business owners in the US and Canada. Though international rates may be available soon, if you’re located outside of Canada or the US you can still use carrier calculated rates and take advantage of your local carrier’s discounted rates. You’ll just need to use a third party app from the App Store to create the integration with your carrier.
More info can be found at the link below. Beyond discounted shipping rates and labels, Shopify provides you with tools to simplify your shipping process. For example, you can create and send return labels and schedule pickups from carriers within your Shopify admin. I’ll provide a link below for more details on how to do this.
Note that before you set up your shipping, be sure to add your product weights and package sizes for each of your products. This will help you manage your shipping costs and will ensure all of your shipping labels are accurately printed. Let’s set up your shipping together. From your Shopify admin, click “Settings,” then click “Shipping.” Shipping profiles allow you to set shipping rates for specific products based on where the products are shipping from and where they’re shipping to. Each Shopify store comes with a general shipping profile. By default, the general shipping profile is likely to be sufficient as you’re just starting out. For businesses that may have multiple shipping locations or even different shipping costs or regional availability for certain products, shipping profiles help you manage shipping costs and ensure they’re accurate.
One of the benefits of using Shopify is that as your business grows, you can ship from multiple locations. That means, that depending on your Shopify plan, you can ship from up to 20 different locations. A location could be a warehouse, your brick and mortar store front, or anywhere you hold inventory.
It can even be in your own basement. You’ll be able to manage your inventory more efficiently, keep shipping costs to a minimum, and deliver products to customers faster. For those of you who will be shipping from multiple locations right away, I’ve added a link below to a quick tutorial in the Shopify help center.
Now let’s take a look at what the customer actually sees when it comes to shipping options. That starts with shipping zones. You use shipping zones to define the regions where you’ll ship your product to. You’ll use shipping rates to define how much customers pay for shipping to those regions.
Let’s set up a new shipping zone together. Choose “Manage rates.” By default your own country will appear as a domestic zone and Shopify shipping will be enabled if you’re located in Canada or in the United States.
If you’re outside of North America your default rates will be weight-based. Let’s say I’ll be shipping to the United Kingdom. I’m going to create a new shipping zone and add in the name United Kingdom and choose the countries and regions I need.
Let’s take a moment to talk about your shipping strategy. Setting up your shipping rates is an important part of setting up your business. Before you take your first order, you need to decide what shipping strategy you want to use and then set up how your customers choose a shipping method. There is no one-size-fits-all shipping strategy and your shipping strategy will evolve as your business grows.
Here are a few strategies you can consider when deciding on your shipping prices. Let’s start with free shipping. As e-commerce becomes more popular, businesses are competing for more sales. One of the more popular ways of attracting potential customers is to offer free shipping.
You can offer free shipping on every order or free shipping over a certain dollar amount. For example, free shipping for orders over $100 is a great way to entice people to spend a little bit more. The obvious downside is that you as a business still have to pay for shipping. Offering free shipping to your customer means you’re paying for it, so it could reduce your profit margin.
You can avoid this by increasing your product prices. Another option is flat rate shipping. Your customers are charged one amount for shipping regardless of the products and the quantities they order. While customers love free shipping, flat rate can also be a really positive experience as it manages the customer’s expectations and they know exactly what they’re getting charged for shipping, regardless of what they purchased.
This can help offset shipping costs, though beware it may affect your profits on some large orders. Weight-based or price-based shipping is your third option. Your customers are charged a specific rate based on the value or weight of their cart. Again while customers will always prefer free shipping, a shipping rate based on what they buy is an honest and transparent way of doing business.
The last shipping strategy to consider is carrier-calculated shipping. Your customers are charged the exact cost of shipping with your preferred carrier based on the weight of their cart. This is generally the most cost effective and easier strategy to setup and it ensures no losses for you.
This option becomes available to you on the advanced Shopify plan. Of course, if you’re charging customers shipping based on the products they’re purchasing, you need to make sure the weight is accurate for each product. Those details are managed on the product page. Let’s go back into shipping settings.
First I need to find the zone I created earlier. I can either create a flat rate based on order price or weight or I can enable carrier-calculated rates available in my area. Let’s add in a price-based rate. I’ll name it “Standard shipping” and set it at $5.
Then I need to set the conditions. I’ll select “Based on order price” and set it for orders between zero and $100. I can set up a second rate for orders over $100. Let’s also add in a calculated rate I will add another rate and select “Use carrier or app.” By default, Canada Post is available to me as I’m located in Canada but you’ll see appropriate options based on your business’s location.
Note that you won’t need to set up both of these rates. You’ll select a rate based on the strategy that works best for your business. As a Shopify merchant, you benefit from steep shipping discounts with various carriers. You can see an up to date list of discounts available in the link below. Shopify is committed to making shipping easier for you, so if you don’t see discounted rates in your region yet there’s a good chance we’re working on it. Now let’s go back to settings.
As I scroll down, you’ll see a section on packages. We recommend creating a branded packaging experience to deliver your product to your customer. Branding your packaging is one of the most underutilized marketing methods. A branded packaging experience is a thoughtful selection of shipping and packaging materials.
This provides a positive first impression of your product and may encourage the customer to share about it. It doesn’t have to be incredibly expensive to do this well. Besides the box or soft packaging you ship in, you can also consider adding branded tissue paper, tape, stickers or promotional materials to your packages.
Other options could include discounts for future purchases or a handwritten note to say thank you to your customer. Again, this is the one time your brand gets into the hands of your customer, so make it count. Let’s add the product details of a sample package. Click “Add package.” For my tea tins, I need a box that is 3 by 3 and 6 inches tall.
The weight of the box when empty is 1.8 ounces. I’m going to name it “Standard single tin” and hit “Add package.” Note you can add multiple package types if you’re located in Canada or the United States. If you’re outside of North America you’ll need to select a standard package size.
You can create and print shipping labels from within the Shopify admin. These labels include all the information carriers need to ship and deliver your packages. This helps speed up shipping. The cost of a shipping label depends on the weight of your product and the dimensions of your package.
Next step, we have packing slips. These are the printed lists of order items that often go inside a package. You can make changes to your packing slip template by clicking “Edit.” Lastly, we have carrier accounts and fulfillment. You can use this when you’re on the Shopify Advance plan or higher.
It allows carriers to do the real time calculations for each customer’s order. Definitely a great feature but not absolutely critical for day one of your business. If you’re ready to set this up just click “Manage integrations” and you’ll be taken through the process. Shopify’s shipping team continues to work on making it easier to ship your products to your customers.
That’s why we created the Shopify Fulfillment Network. Qualifying merchants can house their products at our network of fulfillment warehouses strategically spread out around the world. That way when a customer in Madrid purchases a product from California, the warehouse closest to Madrid can ship the product so that it arrives to the customer faster and for a lower cost.
This service will help Shopify merchants continue to compete with larger retailers by offering small businesses cheaper and faster shipping options. The Shopify Fulfillment Network continues to evolve and we hope to offer this service to more and more merchants around the globe. Now your shipping is set up.
You’re one step closer to launching your store. In the next lesson, I’ll show you how to set up your store policies and legal documents.