5 Components to Mastering eCommerce Shipping & Fulfillment

5 Components to Mastering eCommerce Shipping & Fulfillment
Written by
Richard Emanuel
Published on
October 6, 2020
Read time

Perfecting your shipping practices is a fantastic way to increase customer retention.

A recent Ampersand survey indicated that 64% of consumers would prefer next or same-day delivery and research by PCA Predict found that 57% of people are reluctant to use a retailer again if delivery is late.

This means that the sooner you get an order to a customer correctly, the happier they’ll be and the more likely they are to buy again (and refer others).

That’s why we put together this post with five key strategies you need to know for mastering your eCommerce shipping.

1) Get your picking process sorted

Shipping isn’t all about speed – you need to be accurate too.

Getting orders to customers the next day is no good if most of them are mixed up with incorrect or missing items. Making sure you have a quality order management process and use the best picking method for your business is essential.

The four main options retailers generally choose from are:

  1. Single order
  2. Batch
  3. Zone
  4. Wave

Each one suits different types and sizes of business. Here’s a slideshow we put together covering them in more detail:

2) Go Digital

The large majority of shipping mistakes come as a result of a simple human error.  Someone reads a picking list wrong or packs together the wrong orders. Human nature means it’s bound to happen but investing in a digital system that uses scanners and barcodes near eliminates the risk of things like this occurring. With the growth in eCommerce dropshipping in recent years, it only makes sense to have a digital platform on hand.

Here’s what incorporating a digital system could look like:

  1. The picker uses a mobile device to receive a batch of orders to be picked exclusively by them.
  2. The mobile device then directs your picker around the warehouse on the most optimal route to pick items for all orders in that batch.
  3. All items are then returned to the packing desk for a packer to consolidate and pack into their respective orders.
  4. Each item’s barcode can then also be scanned as it gets packed to ensure every order is perfectly accurate.

3) Optimize your box sizes

It’s now common practice for shipping companies to incorporate package dimensions into their prices – not just weight alone.  This means using a larger box than needed could drive up your shipping costs unnecessarily.

But this poses a dilemma:

Too many different box sizes can cause confusion and chaos for your packers. Definitely not something you want when shipping hundreds (or even thousands) of orders a day.

We’ve found having between 3-5 different box sizes to choose from strikes a perfect balance.

Of course, this is totally dependent on your business and the physical size variations of typical orders. But having the option to use a smaller box with certain orders could help steady cash flow in the long run.

4) Choose the best packaging for you

Packaging your orders correctly can be tricky.

You want to ensure nothing gets broken, but the more effective packaging is, the more expensive it tends to be.

There’s no point going crazy on the packaging if all you ship is pillows. Then again, scrimping on the cheapest stuff could cause monumental problems for a Fabergé egg dealer.

Choosing the right one for your business strikes the right balance between reducing costs and getting orders to customers in one piece.

Here’s a list of the typical packaging eCommerce retailers use:

Depending on the variation of item fragility in your business, you may not want to limit yourself to just one of these. Stocking up on the most appropriate ones and then training your packers to use the right packaging for the right orders could be the way to go.

5) Set up a quality printing system

Printing is one of those things you never envisage being an issue.

That’s until you’ve experienced shipping hundreds of orders a day and needing to print multiple labels and invoices over and over.

Here are the typical printing systems used by retailers:

  • Manual printing system. In this system, printing is all down to the packer. It’s their job to find an order in your system and manually print any relevant shipping labels, slips and/or invoices.
  • Previously printed system. This is a much quicker system but leaves a lot more room for error. All labels and invoices will have already been printed beforehand with the packer needing to then match everything together and ensure it physically goes in the correct order.
  • Digital printing system. This tends to strike a perfect balance between the two previous options. A packer would use a mobile device to scan a pre-printed invoice and relevant shipping label would then automatically print for that order.

Having a system that also allows you to set different documents (labels, invoices, packing slips, etc) to auto-print on specific printers is also a huge benefit. Check out how Veeqo does that here.

Of course, there’s a lot more to this subject than what’s in this post. But these five ideas should help you start mastering your eCommerce shipping and getting orders out to your customers quicker and more accurately.