The Complete Guide to Ecommerce Shipping Solutions

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E-commerce has become the prominent retail experience for millions of consumers. While there are many facets to a successful E-commerce businesses, the most important is shipping. The costs and time it takes to get orders dispatched and delivered in the shipping process is what shapes the customer experience, making Ecommerce shipping services incredibly important for any online shop.

In this guide we will look at what E-commerce shipping is, why it matters, what the shipping process involves and how you can make the right choices when developing your ecommerce shipping strategy.
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What is ecommerce shipping?

E-commerce shipping, in its simplest form is the process of delivering a product to a customer after a purchase from E-commerce stores. While for the customer this can seem like a simple thing, in reality it can be a complex process, from product packaging to calculating shipping costs, shipping insurance and more, there is a lot to consider when building an E-commerce shipping service. For consumers, the important parts are the overall fulfilment cost to get their orders and the shipping time, or how quickly they get those orders. Things like expedited shipping are popular options for consumers when offered, with consumers happily paying more for faster delivery. To have consistent E-commerce success means developing shipping solutions that provide the service that the customer expects, while seamlessly fitting into both budgetary and operational needs of the business. A range of shipping software solutions, such as Calcurates, can be easily integrated into workflows to ensure that customers experience the very best E-commerce shipping possible.

The ecommerce shipping process explained

How does ecommerce ship products? How does ecommerce shipping work? E-commerce shipping includes several elements that can be broken down into three separate systems. These are placing orders, processing orders and fulfilling orders. Once an E-commerce site receives an order, it passes into the shipping process, which is where we transport products purchased online to customers. To illustrate the overall shipping solution for ecommerce most effectively, we should look at each process in turn.

Placing Orders

During order placement, customers are presented with options for shipping. In many surveys, free shipping has proven extremely popular, and can even be the difference between purchasing from one company or a competitor. However, while consumers like the idea of free delivery, they also want their products quickly, with same day dispatch something 54% of younger consumers under the age of 25 actively look for in their choice of supplier.

With E-commerce shipping now part of everyday shopping, many consumers also a preference for delivery providers too. They may know their local UPS guy and trust that person for instance and look for that option during the order process. Having several choices and price points allows for a flexible approach to shipping that caters to all needs and expectations, and a business that offers this tends to see better outcomes.

The ideal order receipt solution would give options for:

  • International Shipping
  • Delivery Speed – From free but slow to next day paid for, customers have a choice to suit every need.
  • Carriers – Including USPS, FedEx, UPS, DHL, DPD and Royal Mail, depending on location

From here, the shipping process moves on.

Order Processing

Processing the order involves picking the ordered products and packaging them for shipping. This can be an important factor for overall costs for consumers, with packaging costs varying considerably the larger they get, and dimensional weight impacting carrier costs too. Using space-efficient packaging boosts sustainability for the business and lowers costs for consumers, while also minimizing logistical costs for the entire shipping process. This is especially true for international shipping, where dimensions of the package have a significant impact on shipping costs.

However, there is a balance to be considered here, as the purchased products need to be in one piece after shipping too. So, while minimizing packaging E-commerce shipping must also provide adequate protection. From electronics to pottery, there are many fragile products that require proper protection, failing to do so can result in too many returns as product arrives at their destination damaged. After packaging, shipping labels must be printed for the chosen carrier, and the carrier notified of the delivery requirement. This can all be automated with E-commerce shipping software such as Calcurates. Once packaging is sorted, we move to order fulfilment.

Order Fulfilment

Fulfilment is the entire process of the carrier picking up the parcel, transporting it and finally delivering to the customer at their stated address. This can take one day or several days, even a week or more for international shipping, and one of the elements customers repeatedly state a preference for is that they are kept informed. Tracked carrier services provide regular updates on the progress of the parcel. Many even include real-time location information for the final part of the journey. These are accessible by the customer on the carriers own app or website, and are a very useful option that keep customers informed. In many cases customers will pay for the feature. However, if a business has profit margins that allow a tracked service to be included at no additional cost that can be a tangible benefit for all.
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Why ecommerce shipping is more important than ever

E-commerce sales accounting for over 20% of all retail sales globally, and are growing each year. Every business in almost every industry has customers expecting to be able to use the convenience of E-commerce options to buy their products. While it is possible to differentiate a business online through branding and clever web design, for most consumers it is the price and service that matters the most. E-commerce shipping is at the heart of that experience, ensuring that product arrives quickly, safely and affordably. Getting the shipping solution for ecommerce right can help a brand build a reputation for excellent service, get it wrong and the opposite is true. In the digital world, brand reputation is key to long-term success, and so for both current and future customers, business growth and more, having the right E-commerce shipping services can define a business as an online entity.

What Does Shipping Software Do?

With so many aspects to consider, shipping software like Calcurates can help automate much of the process. This includes everything from choosing shipping options at the checkout, calculating overall logistics costs to packaging and labelling. Think of shipping software as the link between your E-commerce website and your chosen carrier. With effective software, you can offer more shipping options, manage more carriers and do so while saving money.

Ecommerce shipping methods and strategies

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There are a number of shipping services and strategies you can adopt. Free shipping remains the most popular option consumers want for their orders but depending on the business it could be impractical. However, it is an essential where viable, alongside a number of other options, these can include:

  • Next Day Delivery. Place your orders today, get your goods tomorrow.
  • 2-Day Shipping. The default option for many businesses, blending performance and cost.
  • Same Day Delivery. In some situations, a business can offer same day delivery for their orders. This is usually restricted to specific areas to make it practical, within 20 miles of the business location or something similar.
  • Expedited Shipping. This simply means faster shipping than normal. Customers in every market have proven they will pay for faster delivery of orders when offered, this is one of the most popular.
  • International Delivery. We do business in a global market, providing options for international consumers is essential. This offers the most complex shipping service, dealing with customs and potentially additional import fees for packages.
  • Hybrid Shipping Services. Solutions that use more than one carrier through the transport process. In general, this usually involved carriers leaving the last mile delivery to another entity, with USPS in the United States and Royal Mail in the UK usually taking on that last mile delivery duty.

Ecommerce shipping costs

Shipping costs for any orders depend on the size and weight of the package, destination and speed. With so many options, not just different types of shipping and packaging, but even different carriers offering similar delivery solutions for ecommerce, shipping costs can present a complex challenge to calculate. From shipping zones to packaging size and the differing logistics costs from each supplier, packaging costs and more, there are so many variables. This is where shipping software solutions like Calcurates can excel. Calcurates connects directly to carriers to ensure delivery is calculated accurately and in real time. It can even include hybrid shipping services that cover more than one carrier within the shipping process, often necessary for some destinations, including many international shipping solutions for ecommerce.

Ecommerce shipping rates

There are three options that a business can present to consumers in terms of E-commerce shipping for their orders.

US ecommerce shipping carriers

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What is the best shipping company for ecommerce? There are a number of leading E-commerce shipping carriers in the US, these are:

  • DHL – global shipping specialists with door-to-door solutions for most major countries.
  • FedEx – flexible delivery solutions for ecommerce covering most price points and delivery needs with dedicated small business services.
  • UPS – another carrier with a myriad of services and a dedicated small business offering to suit most budgets.
  • USPS – already running the US postal delivery service, it offers the most economical solution for US delivery, and is in fact often used by the other carriers for last mile delivery of their packages.

UK ecommerce shipping carriers

With the exception of USPS, the leading US E-commerce shipping providers are also available in the UK market too, but in addition there are two UK specific carriers to consider.

  • DPD – owned by France's national postal carrier, DPD is the largest carrier in Europe and offer a full complement of shipping services for local and international delivery.
  • Royal Mail – As with the USPS, Royal Mail is the provider of daily mail deliveries throughout the country, and is in position to provide the low cost solution for UK deliveries. They also operate a dedicated parcels solution including international shipment, and are often the carrier of choice for international parcels arriving in the UK for last mile delivery.

Ecommerce packaging

Packaging is essential to ensure your products arrive with your customers intact and undamaged, but there are other things to consider too.

The size, as well as weight of a package contributes to the overall carrier cost, so if possible, custom packaging for specific products can be cheaper overall than standard solutions. Smart Packaging options allow for an adaptable approach that deliver the balance of cost and protection needed. When packaging orders, a business should always find the right sized packaging, with both too large a box, that costs more, and too small packaging, that leaves products vulnerable, leading to problems.

Shipping labels and insurance

Shipping labels are essential for getting an order to the right address, but also to ensure if there is an issue it finds its way back to you for resolution. Calcurates shipping software creates shipping labels automatically for all packaging. This includes the return address and other crucial information to make sure that the destination is clear and easy for the carrier shipping the package to see. Shipping insurance provides reimbursement for your business if one of your parcels is lost, stolen or damaged, or any combination of the three. If your business regularly ships expensive items, having shipping insurance is essential. You can add the cost into your overall shipping calculations.

Ecommerce shipping solutions from Calcurates

Calcurates covers checkout aspect of the shipping solution for your business. Covering real time price calculations during checkout. This streamlines the process, but also allows flexible shipping options depending on order type, helping your business to save on shipping costs while also providing the best value for customers.


With ecommerce on the rise, shipping and delivery strategy is the key way to offer customers an improved service over the competition. More efficient shipping solutions can be lower cost, faster and even both, giving customers an improved shopping experience.
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