Article > eCommerce Shipping and Handling Guide

eCommerce Shipping and Handling Guide

A calculator and a notepad laying on top on different money bills.

Welcome to our guide on eCommerce shipping and handling – the backbone of your online business. Let’s face it, your customers want their orders delivered faster than pizza during the Super Bowl halftime show. But fear not, fellow eCommerce warriors! Whether you’re new to eCommerce or looking to improve your shipping and handling process, this guide will provide you with valuable insights and tips to take your business to the next level.

Shipping vs. Handling: What’s the Difference?

Shipping and handling are two distinct terms often used interchangeably, but they actually refer to different aspects of the delivery process. Shipping refers to the charges incurred by businesses to send packages to consumers. This cost includes postage, location, and the number of packages being shipped. Handling refers to the cost of services provided by businesses to prepare packages for shipment such as labor, packaging, and staff. In some cases, handling fees are included in the overall shipping costs, while in others, businesses may offer free shipping and charge handling costs separately. The difference between shipping and handling costs can impact the perceived value of a product, and therefore, businesses must carefully consider their shipping and handling strategy to ensure customer satisfaction and minimize costs.

How is Shipping Calculated?

Shipping costs are calculated based on a number of factors that vary depending on the company and the items being shipped. For example, the amount and weight of the goods being ordered, the destination of the customer, and the carrier being used are all factors that can impact the overall cost. Companies may also charge handling fees to cover expenses related to packaging and inventory management in the warehouse. For each item being shipped, the cost is calculated by adding up the expenses incurred by the company, such as employee salaries and delivery expenses, and then adding a markup to arrive at the final price for the customer.

How is Handling Calculated?

Handling costs are calculated by the business in a similar way to shipping costs. While shipping costs are associated with the actual delivery of the product to customers, handling costs are associated with the preparation of products for shipping. This includes expenses such as labor, packaging, and warehouse management. For example, if a business needs to package a product for shipping, they will need to factor in the cost of the packaging materials and the time it takes for an employee to package the product. Additionally, businesses may need to manage their inventory in warehouses and allocate costs to handling based on the way the products are stored or the frequency of orders. 

Shipping and Handling Strategy for eCommerce

A beneficial shipping and handling strategy for eCommerce involves creating a seamless and efficient process that enhances the brand and satisfies clients. One way to achieve this is by offering free shipping for certain purchases or providing discounted rates for bulk orders. Businesses can also utilize technology to streamline the process by using automated shipping labels and tracking tools to ensure clients receive their purchases in a timely manner. You should consider the weight and size of products and offer multiple shipping options that cater to different needs and budgets. Another helpful strategy is to provide helpful resources such as articles, podcasts, or FAQs to answer common questions about the shipping and handling process. Businesses can optimize their shipping process by using zip codes and state data to more accurately estimate shipping costs and reduce errors. Finally, businesses should ensure that they have enough stock and supply to avoid delays or backorders, and use the post office or other carriers who offer reliable and affordable shipping rates.

Need help creating a stellar shipping and handling strategy? ShipHero can help! 

5 Factors to Consider in Your Shipping Costs

Shipping costs can make or break your business, affecting both your profits and customer satisfaction. Here are five key factors you should consider when calculating your shipping costs: carrier selection, packaging materials, shipping destinations, order volume and frequency, and customer expectations and preferences.

1. Carrier selection

One of the most important factors in determining your shipping costs is carrier selection. Different carriers offer different types of transport options and shipping rates. By comparing the rates and services of various carriers, companies can determine which option will offer the best balance of cost and quality. You need to consider factors such as the carrier’s reputation, reliability, and responsiveness to customer needs.

2. Packaging materials 

Another important factor that can affect shipping costs is the packaging materials used to protect the package during transport. Packaging materials should be sturdy and protect the contents of the package during transport. The size and weight of the package can also affect the cost of shipping. Companies should carefully choose the packaging materials based on the size, weight, and fragility of the items being shipped, while also considering the cost of packaging materials in relation to profits.

3. Shipping destinations 

Shipping to different locations can require different shipping fees and resources. Companies should also consider the time and resources required to ship products to different locations, as well as any additional taxes or import fees that may apply. 

4. Order volume and frequency

Large volumes or frequent orders may qualify for bulk discounts, but it may also require additional resources such as more storage or additional picking and kitting. Careful management of order volume and frequency can help companies to maximize revenue and minimize costs.

5. Customer expectations and preferences

Some customers may require specific shipping options or packaging materials, and companies should consider the importance of meeting these requests in order to maintain customer satisfaction. Companies should also note free shipping or other shipping incentives may be necessary to remain competitive in a crowded eCommerce marketplace.

Key Takeaways

Calculating and managing shipping costs can be compared to building a house. Just like a house, shipping costs require a solid foundation of carrier selection, packaging materials, shipping destinations, order volume and frequency, and customer expectations and preferences. Each of these factors work like a brick that supports the overall structure, and without any one of them, the entire structure could crumble. By carefully considering each factor, you can create a solid and reliable shipping strategy that will keep your customers happy and your profits growing. So, put on your hard hat and get to work building the foundation for your successful eCommerce business.

Shipping and Handling FAQs

What is Dropshipping?

Dropshipping is a business model that allows online stores to sell products without holding inventory. Instead of keeping products in stock, stores take orders from shoppers and send those orders directly to the manufacturer or supplier who then fulfills the order and ships it directly to the customer. The store owner does not handle the product or the order fulfillment process. In other words, the manufacturer or supplier acts as a fulfillment center for the store. This model allows store owners to focus on marketing, customer service, and other aspects of running the business without the overhead costs of storing and managing inventory. Some manufacturers or suppliers may even handle shipping and tracking through carriers like FedEx, making it even easier for store owners to manage their businesses.

What is the basic handling fee?

A basic handling fee is a fee charged by a seller to cover the cost of preparing and packaging products for shipment. Handling fees can vary depending on a number of factors, such as the number of items being shipped, the size and weight of the boxes, and the amount of labor required to prepare the items for shipment. The fee is typically added to the total cost of the order and is used to help the seller cover their costs and make a profit. Some sellers may also use handling fees as a way to offset the costs of shipping, which can be a significant expense for online businesses.

Does shipping and handling include customs?

Shipping and handling typically do not include customs fees. Customs fees are charges imposed by a government on goods that are imported into the country. These fees can include taxes, duties, and tariffs, and they are separate from shipping and handling fees. While some shipping carriers may offer customs brokerage services to help manage customs clearance, the fees associated with customs are typically the responsibility of the buyer, not the seller. Therefore, both buyers and sellers should be aware of the potential customs fees associated with international shipments.


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