How Do You Ship Products? An eCommerce Shipping Beginner’s Guide

Need the lowdown on how to ship products with eCommerce?

You put a ton of effort into improving your customers’ experience. You customize your store, tweak your images, and write your emails. You want to satisfy your customers’ needs, and you deserve to make a profit from your efforts.

But then you have to deal with shipping.

It feels like their only motivation is to bleed you dry. Their prices cut into your bottom line, and you’re uncertain why they’re gouging you. With over 1.83 billion metric tons of packages shipped overseas each year, you can’t be the only small business feeling the strain, can you?

Well, take a deep breath. we’re here to help.

Though we may not be able to change your shipping prices, we can help you map out a strategy to reduce your shipping overhead. When you’re ready to revolutionize your eCommerce business, read on.

Shipping Strategy Overview

You have four main categories to consider when you map out your strategy.

  1. Your shipping methods
  2. Your shipping rates
  3. Your product weights
  4. Your preferred packaging

You need to make calculated decisions in each category based on what’s most convenient and cost-effective.

You also need to keep in mind how your choices will affect your customers. After all, they despise shipping costs too. A full 18% of survey respondents cite shipping costs as their least favorite part of shopping online.

If you save on costs, will you pass the savings on to your shoppers?

What about branding? How will the size and shape of your boxes affect your customers’ perception of your business? Will you use your logo on the outside of the box or on the inside?

All these choices will affect your business and your customers’ perception of your business. If you map out your strategy and avoid going with your gut, you’ll guarantee an improvement to your bottom line.

Ship Products Through Qualified Couriers

E-commerce shipping demands a ton of strategic planning up front. We’ll get into shipping rates in the next section. First, let’s talk about Courier options.

If you live in the US, you’ll likely choose 1 of the big 3:

  • UPS
  • USPS
  • FedEx

Each is reliable, maintains insurance for lost or damaged packages, and their prices are comparable. That doesn’t mean they’re well suited for your business. When we say comparable, we mean when you ship one or two boxes.

As you know, small differences in price add up quickly when your box count rises to 100,000 annually.

Other, less known courier services also exist. Some offer unparalleled customer service while others offer lower prices for expedited shipping. All must offer a unique feature or service to stay in the competition.

Make your final choice based not on the merits of these courier services, for they have excellent records. Base it instead on how much your packages will cost. To figure that out, you must have a firm grasp of shipping rates and your packaging process.

We’ll visit both in the following sections.

Calculating Shipping Costs

You need to know what factors affect your shipping costs. They aren’t many.

  • Your package size
  • Your package weight
  • The departing address
  • The destination address
  • What kind of shipping insurance is included

Courier services use these variables to calculate your price. UPS, USPS, and FedEx offer free, online calculators, so you can calculate your cost down to the penny. If you’re still stumped after using one of these calculators, get on the phone and get a quote for your shipping costs.

You’ll need these numbers later to evaluate your shipping strategy.

Packing and Presentation

Whenever you deal with business shipping, you must think in 3 dimensions:

  • Length
  • Width
  • Height

Your courier charges you for the size of your box (length x width x height), as well as the weight of your box. They use these factors to determine what they can ship on their planes, trains, trucks, and vans. For most eCommerce businesses, the hardest part is fitting your products in the smallest possible box.

You also need to make sure the box has enough packaging material inside (foam balls, paper padding, etc.) to ensure your items arrive unharmed. The other half of the battle involves presentation.

What is your package going to look like when your customer gets it?

Is the box stylish? Is your logo on the outside front and center? Or did you choose a free box that one of the larger carrier services provided?

Are the contents orderly? Or were they tossed in willy-nilly? Did you wrap each item individually with paper bearing your logo?

How you wrap your shipping products is paramount. It’s the element that you have the greatest control over, and it can easily cut 15% off your shipping costs. Pay it the attention it deserves.

We recommend grabbing an assortment of free boxes from each of the large courier services. Then grab a dozen other boxes of varying shapes and sizes from vendors. Now it’s time to pack things up and see how they fit.

Customer Shipping Options

Big shipping costs are a big turnoff to customers. If you charge them high shipping costs, they’re less likely to buy. Let’s check out some of your options.

Your customer pays: You increase the price of your merchandise to cover your shipping costs.

You pay and customer pays: You increase the price of your merchandise to cover half your shipping costs. You cover the rest.

You pay: You cover the cost of shipping, either out of pocket or by increasing the price of your merchandise.

You can also include other incentives for your customers, such as free local shipping or free shipping for frequent customers. You can also provide free shipping for your high-ticket items.

Customs Declaration and Duties

If you’re shipping your products internationally, you also need to think about these two factors. The first is the customs declaration form which informs the destination company exactly what’s in the box. The second is the duties charge which is the tax the destination country charges you for sending goods into the country.

What’s Next?

Now that we’ve demystified the process, you should know how to ship products. Start by packing your products and determining which box or boxes work for you. Next, take the dimensions and weight and shop around to see which courier service offers the lowest prices.

To learn more about the world of shipping, pop over to our library full of other shipping articles.