Hands of young woman scanning barcode on delivery parcel. Worker scan barcode of cardboard packages before delivery at storage. Woman working in factory warehouse reading and scanning labels on the boxes with bluetooth barcode scanner.

Mastering Ecommerce Shipping: The Ultimate Guide for Brands

It’s fascinating, isn’t it, that with just a few clicks, shoppers can purchase goods and services from anywhere in the world. The rise of ecommerce has completely transformed the way we shop and do business. And, with that, ecommerce shipping has been put in the hot seat.

Almost everything we consume has been shipped at some point, from the food we eat to the clothes we wear. Yet, despite its importance, shipping is often taken for granted. Many shoppers are unaware of the complexities of logistics. There are a lot of challenges that can come with transporting orders to their final destination. 

So how do you deliver stellar ecommerce shipping and give shoppers the ultimate experience? In this blog, we’ll look at everything you need to know about ecommerce shipping to ensure your brand thrives.

In this article we’ll cover:

What is shipping? 

In simple terms, the process of shipping involves moving goods from one location to another through various modes of transportation such as air, land, and sea. The process can be complex, involving multiple parties and steps. 

What is ecommerce shipping?

Ecommerce shipping is the process of delivering goods purchased online to shoppers. It involves packaging, labeling, and delivering orders from a warehouse or fulfillment center to the shopper’s specified address. 

Ecommerce shipping plays a critical role in the overall shopper experience. Because of this, and the complex nature of shipping and logistics, many brands rely on professional services from third-party logistics (3PL) providers and shipping carriers.

Types of ecommerce shipping methods

Now let’s talk about how to get your products into the hands of your shoppers. There are a few different shipping methods to consider. The right one(s) for your brand will depend on multiple factors, including where you’re shipping your products from and to, and how quickly you want your orders delivered.

International shipping

If you’re shipping products overseas or across borders, you’ll be utilizing international shipping. This shipping method typically involves customs clearance, documentation, and compliance with international trade regulations. Working with a 3PL or shipping company that deals with international shipping is your best bet, as it can become costly if you’re not familiar with the ins and outs of each country’s taxes and duties.

Freight shipping

If you’re importing your goods from overseas, or have a significant number of shoppers in other regions or countries, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with this type of shipping. Freight shipping is the transportation of large quantities of goods or cargo by land, sea, or air. It most often involves pallets, containers, or trailers, and requires specialized equipment, documentation, and logistics management.

Less than truckload shipping

Less than truckload (LTL) shipping is a mode of freight transportation used for relatively small shipments that don’t require a full truckload, where multiple LTL shipments from different shippers are consolidated into a single trailer to share transportation costs.

Zone skipping

Zone skipping is a shipping strategy where packages destined for the same region are batched and shipped together to a fulfillment center closer to their final destination. As a result of using this method, you can bypass individual local delivery centers. This strategy reduces your in-transit shipping times, shipping costs, and your brand’s impact on the environment. 

Drop shipping

Drop shipping is a fulfillment strategy wherein your brand doesn’t keep your products in stock but instead houses the products with a wholesaler or fulfillment center. Once your shoppers make their purchase, then the products get shipped directly to your shoppers. This fulfillment and shipping strategy is popular among DTC (direct-to-consumer) brands.

Standard shipping

The most affordable and typically the most widely used method of shipping by brands is standard shipping. This option usually takes between three and seven business days for delivery.

Expedited shipping

When you want to offer your shoppers an option that gets them their orders relatively quickly, this may be your best solution. Expedited shipping is faster than standard shipping and usually takes two to three business days for delivery. 

Same and next-day shipping

Same- and next-day shipping are the fastest shipping options available. However, they can almost always be the most expensive option. 

Overall, the shipping method your brand chooses will depend on your budget, your shoppers’ needs and expectations, and your delivery goals. By selecting the right shipping service, you can improve your shipping operations, reduce costs, and provide excellent customer service.

4 shipping strategies to attract more shoppers

Today’s shoppers are in control of conversions, and free shipping still reigns as one of the top purchase drivers. Yet, free shipping isn’t the only shipping strategy that inspires shoppers to hit the checkout button. Here are a couple of options to consider, along with their advantages and disadvantages:

1. Offer free shipping

Free shipping is a popular shipping strategy that brands can use to attract shoppers. By offering free shipping, brands can increase sales and shopper loyalty. However, brands need to be careful when using this strategy as it can eat into your profits.

2. Use flat rate shipping

Flat rate shipping is a simple and transparent shipping strategy that involves charging a fixed rate for all packages, regardless of size or weight. This approach is popular with shoppers as it’s easy to understand and easier for them to predict the total cost of shipping.

3. Provide multiple shipping options

Providing shoppers with a variety of shipping options allows them to choose the delivery method that best suits their needs. Some shoppers may be willing to pay more for faster shipping, while others may be happy with standard shipping. Offering multiple options can increase shopper satisfaction and loyalty.

4. Sustainable shipping

Today’s shoppers are practicing values-driven shopping. They want to spend their dollars with companies whose corporate values align with their own. In this sustainable ecommerce study, 78% of shoppers said their spending decisions are influenced by a brand’s environmental practices. In an effort to attract eco-conscious shoppers, brands can offer sustainable shipping, such as utilizing electric vehicles for deliveries, or off-setting carbon emissions.

How much does shipping cost?

There are several factors that can affect the costs of ecommerce shipping rates. Here are a few factors to keep in mind:

Size and weight of the package

One of the most significant factors is the size and weight of the package. Big and bulky items, such as furniture and oversize items, require more effort and resources to ship. They may also require a more hands-on delivery approach, such as white glove service. As such, some shipping carriers may charge more for these shipments. 

Destination and distance

The destination and distance are also crucial factors as shipping costs can vary based on the delivery location and distance traveled. 

Working with a third-party logistics provider with a strong distributed network strength allows you to store your products closer to your shoppers. This ecommerce fulfillment strategy helps to keep shipping and delivery costs down, and as a bonus, decreases your scope 3 emissions. 

Last mile carrier and shipping method

The last mile carrier you select and the shipping method you use can also impact costs. Carriers have different pricing structures, and shipping methods such as expedited or same-day shipping may cost more than standard shipping. 

Delivery timeframe

Finally, delivery timing can affect shipping costs. For instance, if a shopper wants a package to be delivered on a specific date or within a shorter timeframe, this may incur higher shipping costs. This is often seen with larger items, such as household furniture, appliances, and fitness equipment.

Brands need to carefully consider each of these factors when planning their shipping strategies. It’s important to balance affordable and reliable shipping services while also maintaining profitability.

Packaging options for ecommerce shipping

How your products appear when they arrive at their final destination is a large part of your brand image. Packaging is a critical component of ecommerce shipping as it plays a crucial role in ensuring that your products arrive at their destination in good condition. 

The following are some essential factors to consider when selecting packaging for your ecommerce shipments:

1. Durability 

The packaging material should be durable enough to withstand the rigors of transportation. It should be able to protect your products from any minor disruptions during shipping, handling, and delivery.

2. Size and weight 

No one likes excess packaging, especially in today’s eco-conscious world. The packaging you choose should be appropriately sized to fit your products without leaving a great deal of extra space. Using oversized packaging can lead to increased shipping costs and waste, while using undersized packaging can lead to product damages.

3. Branding

The packaging you use can also be used as a great branding opportunity. Selecting the right custom packaging that aligns with your brand can help increase shopper loyalty

4. Sustainable packaging

According to this Global Sustainability Report, sustainability will continue to become the expectation rather than the exception. Brands should strongly consider using eco-friendly packaging materials throughout the shipping process, if you’re not already. These can include materials that are biodegradable, recyclable, or compostable. Using a green shipping approach can help reduce your environmental impact and promote sustainability.

5. Labeling

For an order to make it successfully to its final destination, proper shipping labels are essential.  Packages need to be labeled correctly, including the delivery address, return address, package weight, shipping class, and routing number. Proper labeling can help prevent delivery delays, missed deliveries, or lost packages.

Overall, investing in high-quality, sustainable packaging materials and using best practices help to ensure your products are packaged correctly and safely for shipping. Not only that, but proper packaging can help reduce product damage, increase shopper satisfaction, and build brand loyalty.

Cross-border shipping

Cross-border ecommerce shipping can be a complex and challenging process, but with the right approach, brands can successfully expand into new markets and reach shoppers around the world. 

Here are some tips for cross-border ecommerce shipping:

Understand customs regulations

Cross-border shipping involves navigating complex customs regulations, which can vary by country. It’s important for you (or your 3PL provider) to understand customs regulations for the countries you plan to ship to and ensure you’re complying with all relevant requirements.

Consider taxes and duties

Taxes and duties can significantly affect the cost of cross-border shipping. Brands need to understand the tax and duty requirements for each country they ship to and factor these costs into your pricing and shipping options. As an example, when shipping from Canada into the U.S., brands can make use of Section 321 to save on taxes and import fees.

Use a reputable shipping carrier

When shipping cross-border, it’s essential to use a reputable shipping carrier with experience in cross-border shipping, such as GoBolt. A reliable shipping carrier can help ensure smooth and timely delivery while minimizing the risk of issues such as lost or damaged packages.

Provide accurate and detailed product information

Providing accurate and detailed product information is critical for cross-border shipping. Customs officials need to know what’s in the package, its value, and its country of origin to clear the package through customs.

Offer localized payment and shipping options

To succeed in cross-border ecommerce, brands should offer localized payment and shipping options. Shoppers in different countries may prefer different payment methods and shipping options. Brands should spend some time researching these options so you can offer them to your shoppers in order to remain competitive.

Communicate clearly with shoppers

Clear communication is critical for cross-border ecommerce shipping. Providing shoppers with accurate shipping tracking information and estimated delivery times helps to keep them up to date. Adding to that, it can also help you to respond quickly to any issues that may arise during shipping.

Overall, cross-border ecommerce shipping requires careful planning, research, and attention to detail. By following these tips and partnering with a reliable shipping carrier, brands can successfully expand into new markets and reach more shoppers.

Tracking and delivery

We all know that feeling of anticipation you get. You’ve just ordered something and can’t wait for it to arrive! This emotional connection to an order has become such an integral part of the entire shopping journey. As part of this anticipation, today’s shoppers have come to expect updates on the status of their orders. They want clear communication as to when their order will arrive. 

With tracking and delivery being an essential aspect of the buyer’s journey, brands need to manage these touchpoints and communicate them effectively to ensure shopper satisfaction. 

Here are a couple of key considerations to keep in mind when it comes to tracking and delivery in ecommerce shipping.

1. Importance of tracking packages

Delivery performance

In addition to providing your shoppers with a positive shipping experience, tracking delivery performance regularly can help identify areas for improvement. Brands can use metrics such as on-time delivery, delivery accuracy, and customer satisfaction to evaluate their delivery performance.

Delivery exceptions

Sometimes even the best-laid plans can go sideways due to elements outside of your control. This is especially true in shipping. Brands and their shipping and logistics companies should have a plan in place to handle delivery exceptions, such as failed delivery attempts, address issues, inclement weather, or damaged packages. This proactive approach can help you address any issues that arise promptly in order to resolve the issue and ensure the order gets delivered successfully.

2. How to track packages

Real-time tracking

With today’s advance technology, shoppers today have come to expect a lot from last mile delivery tracking. Just like they can track their meal order to their house, they want that same experience when it comes to other items they’ve ordered, like furniture or clothes. Enter: real-time truck tracking. This technology allows shoppers to track their packages, from the moment they are shipped until they are delivered to their door. 

Brands and their 3PL or last mile carrier should provide shoppers with a tracking number and a link to track their package online. This open communication can reduce shopper anxiety, increase transparency, and improve the overall shopper experience.

Delivery notifications

Just as much as shoppers like to receive updated communication about their packages being shipped, they also want to know when that order has been delivered to their door. Look for a 3PL that can keep your shoppers up-to-date with delivery notifications, informing them of the package’s delivery status. These notifications can include delivery date, delivery time, delivery location, and even better if the delivery can be captured with a photo. 

Delivery notifications are a huge asset. They can help shoppers plan their schedules and also help to reduce missed deliveries. On top of that, providing shoppers with clear updates on delivery timelines can greatly reduce the pressure on your internal customer support resources.

3. Shipping and delivery options for customers

As mentioned earlier, brands and their shipping carriers should provide shoppers with a variety of shipping and delivery options to appeal to different expectations. This can include expedited shipping, next-day delivery, or scheduled delivery. Offering a variety of shipping and delivery options can help cater to different needs, preferences, and budgets.

Shipping insurance

From the fulfillment center to your shopper’s doorstep, there are a number of occurrences that could happen. While this isn’t the norm, shipping insurance provides a safety net for those times when something does go wrong. In basic terms, shipping insurance covers loss or damage for your products during transit. 

Here are a few benefits that shipping insurance can offer:

Protection against loss or damage

Shipping insurance provides financial protection against lost or damaged goods during transit. 

Peace of mind

By purchasing shipping insurance, you’ll enjoy peace of mind knowing that your products are financially protected. 

Competitive advantage

Offering shipping insurance to your shoppers can be a competitive advantage. It can provide them with added confidence when purchasing from you, knowing that if something were to happen, their order (and dollars spent) would be protected.


Shipping insurance can be relatively inexpensive, especially when compared to the potential cost of replacing lost or damaged goods.

Reverse logistics shipping

Returns have become a large part of the buying cycle. Let’s face it, we all change our minds at times. But without proper attention and management of your returns, they can become a huge problem. 

Reverse logistics shipping refers to the process of handling and managing orders that need to be returned to their point of origin or another specified location. This process is typically associated with the management of returns, repairs, recalls, and end-of-life products.

Reverse logistics shipping can help brands save money, improve shopper satisfaction, better manage inventory, and reduce your environmental impact.

Some of the benefits of reverse logistics shipping include:

Cost savings

Reverse logistics shipping can help brands recover costs by reselling returned products, recycling and reusing materials, and reducing waste and disposal expenses.

Improved shopper satisfaction

No one wants to deal with the headaches caused by an inefficient return policy or process. This can spoil the entire experience for your shopper. 42% of shoppers have stated that they prefer to shop from brands with a straight forward return policy. 

Having an efficient process for handling returns can truly enhance shopper satisfaction, leading to increased customer loyalty and a more positive brand image.

Better inventory management

By understanding the reasons behind returns and monitoring the process, brands can better identify and mitigate issues in their supply chain. This can assist with more accurate demand forecasting and inventory management.

Environmental sustainability

Reverse logistics shipping can help companies reduce their environmental impact by recycling and reusing materials, and minimize waste and pollution. Take this a step further and find a 3PL partner who can give returned products a second life by diverting unsellable items from the landfill.

Regulatory compliance

Proper handling of returns and end-of-life products can help brands comply with legal and regulatory requirements, minimizing the risk of penalties and negative publicity.

Ecommerce shipping is constantly evolving, with new trends and technologies emerging to meet shopper demands and improve delivery speed and efficiency. Here are some of the latest trends to keep your eyes on:

Same-day and next-day delivery

Shoppers now expect faster delivery times, with same-day and next-day delivery becoming increasingly popular. Brands and their shipping carriers are continually investing in faster delivery options to meet shopper demand and gain a competitive edge.

Contactless delivery

The pandemic accelerated the trend towards contactless delivery, with shoppers preferring minimal contact during delivery. Many shipping carriers are implementing contactless delivery options such as doorstep delivery or pickup lockers to ensure a safe and convenient experience for both shoppers and delivery personnel.

Sustainable packaging

Eco-friendliness has become a priority for many shoppers, with brands adopting sustainable packaging options such as biodegradable materials or recyclable packaging. Not only does this boad well for the brand’s image, it also reduces a great amount of waste.

Increased automation

Shipping and logistics companies are investing in automation technologies to optimize the next era of logistics. Technology advancements such as robotics and machine learning vastly improve shipping speed and efficiency. Automation, such as last mile route optimization, can help reduce delivery times, increase accuracy, and cut costs.

Improved tracking and transparency

As discussed earlier, shoppers now expect real-time tracking and transparency throughout the entire shipping process. Ensuring you’re working with a shipping and logistics company that utilizes technologies that enable real-time tracking and notifications will provide your shoppers with more visibility and control over their deliveries.

Brands need to stay abreast of the latest trends in ecommerce shipping to remain competitive and meet shopper expectations. Partnering with the right 3PLs and shipping carriers that are adopting new technologies and best practices can improve delivery speed, efficiency, and sustainability.

Final thoughts

With customer-focused and technology-enabled ecommerce shipping in place, brands can provide an exceptional experience for their shoppers. 

And one thing remains evident. There’s a growing importance for brands to consider the impact that their shipping has on the environment. By taking action you’ll make a positive, sustainable contribution while also differentiating your brand and appealing to socially responsible shoppers.