WordPress powers 35% of websites on the internet. As the world’s leading content management system (CMS), it’s also a great platform for ecommerce through its WooCommerce plugin. With over 60 million downloads, WooCommerce grew from a simple WordPress plugin to a fully customizable ecommerce platform. Even more, WooCommerce offers flexible shipping options and settings, including the opportunity to work with tech-driven order fulfillment companies and other platforms that can help you grow your business.
In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about shipping for your WooCommerce store, including WooCommerce shipping setup, available plugins, and ecommerce fulfillment options.
Shipping on WordPress: your top 3 options
Order fulfillment for your WordPress store can be handled in a few different ways. You can fulfill orders yourself, become a dropshipper, or work with a third-party logistics (3PL) company.
Self-fulfillment is mainly used by startups and smaller ecommerce businesses. Since you likely don’t have the funds to pay for warehousing or have massive amounts of products to store, you’re going to store your inventory however you can. It could be anywhere, such as your place of business, your closet, a storage facility, or at home.
For a smaller or mid-sized ecommerce business, you might be able to rent a low square footage warehouse that’s staffed by a few people to help you ship out your orders. There are many benefits to self-fulfillment, but as your business grows, you’ll want to consider working with 3PLs because they can provide the resources necessary to scale.
- It’s cheap (though there are some hidden costs)
- It’s great for starting out
- You have full control over your inventory and how orders are packed
- You have to store your inventory yourself (e.g., in your home or find space that’s not too big and you won’t outgrow right away)
- You have to do all of the work yourself or hire people to help
- You have less time to spend on strategy since your focus goes to logistics
- It can be inefficient (from renting space to reordering packaging supplies)
- It doesn’t scale as you grow
Dropshipping saw a huge boom with the rise of ecommerce. As a dropshipper, you don’t manage any inventory yourself. Instead, you work with manufacturers to help sell their products. It’s set up so that a customer makes a purchase on your site, and the manufacturer ships directly to the customer.
When done well, it’s a high-profit business for sellers, but it’s also incredibly competitive as manufacturers can have multiple sellers selling their products.
- There is very little maintenance
- It’s a low cost option
- You’re at the mercy of your manufacturer
- You never have the inventory in your possession and lack insight into what’s going on with it
- It’s become a very competitive space with a low chance of great success
- Transit times are typically very long and customers become frustrated with waiting
Outsourcing fulfillment to a 3PL involves sending your inventory to a professional fulfillment company’s fulfillment center(s). The 3PL handles warehousing, packing, shipping, and often many other fulfillment services for you.
3PLs are often used by growing ecommerce businesses because they provide the resources and expertise needed to manage storage and logistics without having to devote time, money, and other resources.
- They store your inventory and perform all fulfillment services on your behalf
- Most 3PLs have multiple fulfillment centers to optimize your deliveries and save on shipping costs
- You get access to robust inventory tracking, management, and forecasting tools
- They help you provide fast and affordable shipping to your customers
- They securely store your inventory closer to end customers so it can get to them fast and accurately
- You don’t have to spend time on handling inventory, packing, filing claims for lost packages, and other time-consuming tasks
- You don’t need to manage your own warehouse or hire extra labor
- They provide fulfillment expertise, resources, and partners that can help your business grow
- You give up control over inventory
- It could be more expensive than doing everything yourself
Best WordPress shipping plugins for self-fulfillment
One of the best reasons to use WordPress and WooCommerce is the number of ecommerce shipping plugins available to reduce the amount of manual time spent calculating shipping costs and generating shipping labels.
Here’s a shortlist of the top shipping plugins for WooCommerce to help make shipping easier if you’re doing it youself.
FedEx, USPS, UPS, and DHL shipping plugins
For each of the major US carriers (FedEx, USPS, UPS, and DHL), there are shipping plugins available that let you create shipping labels right from your WooCommerce dashboard. There isn’t a unified solution for these carriers, so you will have to go into each carrier individually to generate labels and calculate shipping costs.
Table Rate Shipping Pro
Table Rate Shipping Pro is a slightly advanced plugin that’s useful for managing shipping costs. It helps you set rules to calculate the shipping rates for a combination of conditions. If a customer’s cart matches the conditions in the rule, the shipping cost you have defined in that rule is applied. You can use variable shipping rates depending on the size of a customer’s cart and they can see what their shipping costs will be.
Delivery Time Picker for Shipping
Customers like flexibility in shipping options. While there is a lot of demand now for two-day and overnight shipping, sometimes customers will want a delayed shipment to save money or because they won’t be home. Using Delivery Time Picker will allow them to select their preferred delivery date to ensure they won’t miss their package delivery.
Why use a 3PL as your WordPress shipping solution
3PLs are the experts for warehousing and shipping. Many fast-growing ecommerce businesses work with 3PLs because they don’t have the internal logistics expertise needed or they want to save time and money on warehouse management.
With a 3PL like ShipBob, you’re able to turn your logistics and supply chain from a cost center into a revenue driver through the best 2-Day Express Shipping options. Merchants save money through bulk shipping discounts and distributed inventory, and make more money by offering flexible shipping options to help improve conversion rates.
Unique packaging makes your shipments more memorable, which can help keep your brand top-of-mind for future purchase decisions. After a positive unboxing experience, your customers are more likely to return for a repeat purchase. Whether you’re doing 200 or 20,000 monthly orders, ShipBob can help your packaging look truly professional and our packaging partners can help you create boxes or mailers that truly stand out from the competition. Best of all, ShipBob’s logo won’t be all over your shipments.
Amazon continues to cut shipping times down to new seemingly impossible standards for ecommerce companies to match. With a 3PL like ShipBob, you can begin to offer 2-day shipping and allow your business to meet customer expectations so customers don’t go elsewhere.
Because shipping zones are used to calculate shipping costs, coast-to-coast warehousing can be a money-saver as it reduces the distance traveled from the warehouse to the customer’s addresses (saving you money). For small business shipping, one warehouse is expensive enough. A 3PL lets you scale up and expand without needing to build the infrastructure yourself. If you’re struggling to fulfill orders out of your house but have a growing order volume, you’ll be amazed by the greater efficiencies achieved when your products are in multiple warehouses near your customers.
Your current storage solution might have worked as you were just starting out (i.e., your closet, garage, or storage unit was probably slightly bothersome but fine at the time). But if you’re shipping hundreds of orders per month, it’s time for a much-needed upgrade. With a 3PL, you get access to best-in-class warehouses that can store your products in the right conditions to prevent inventory damage.
3 factors for the best ecommerce shipping strategy for your WordPress store
Here are a few other factors that impact WordPress ecommerce shipping that you’ll want to think through.
To complete your WordPress shipping setup, you need to create shipping zones, followed by shipping methods and rates. A shipping zone is a geographical area where certain shipping methods and rates apply. Within WooCommerce, these can be as general as entire countries or as precise as specific zip codes (in other words, not necessarily an exact match of the USPS shipping zones). Each customer’s address can only be associated with one WooCommerce shipping zone.
Shipping classes are used to assign different shipping rates to different types of products. For example, you can assign a flat rate shipping cost to different product types, grouped by sizes or weights. Pay attention to oversized shipping or heavyweight shipping costs and surcharges, and understand how dimensional weight affects your shipping costs.
Flexible shipping options
Not every customer wants 2-day shipping if it’s considerably more expensive than other shipping options. Giving customers the flexibility to choose their delivery timelines with appropriate costs (or even experimenting with free shipping) can help increase conversion and average order value.
How to set up the ShipBob plugin on your WordPress site
ShipBob helps WordPress and WooCommerce stores exceed customer expectations with faster, more affordable shipping. ShipBob’s software integrates with WooCommerce to automate order fulfillment and inventory management for a more streamlined process. Here’s how outsourcing WooCommerce fulfillment to ShipBob works.
1. Connect your WooCommerce store in a few clicks
ShipBob seamlessly integrates with WooCommerce, making it possible for you to link your store with the click of a button, then import your products and orders. The backend work is already done for you, so there is no developer work needed, making it one of the easiest options for WooCommerce shipping.
2. Store inventory and ship orders from major US cities
ShipBob has fulfillment centers in major US markets, including Los Angeles, Chicago, Pennsylvania, and Dallas. Storing inventory and shipping orders from multiple fulfillment centers near your customers can reduce shipping costs and time in transit.
3. Have orders automatically fulfilled by ShipBob
When you connect your WooCommerce store to ShipBob, the staff at our fulfillment centers will begin to pick, pack, and ship items as soon as your customer places an order on your WordPress store. ShipBob automatically routes the order to the fulfillment center that can ship it to your customer in the most efficient and cost-effective manner.
4. Install ShipBob 2-Day Express WordPress shipping plugin
ShipBob has a WordPress ecommerce shipping plugin called ShipBob Express Rates exclusively for merchants that use ShipBob’s fulfillment services. This enables a 2-Day Express shipping option to provide an Amazon-like shipping experience. ShipBob’s guaranteed 2-Day Express Shipping Program leverages ground shipping as an inexpensive alternative to expedited air shipping for WordPress-powered WooCommerce stores.
5. Send shipping information back to customers
ShipBob’s technology lets you view the status of each order as it moves from processing to shipping. Once an order ships, ShipBob automatically sends a confirmation back to your WooCommerce store, so your customers receive the order tracking information and stay updated throughout the delivery process.
Want to learn more about how ShipBob can make shipping orders from your WordPress store easier, faster, and more cost-effective? Contact us below to get pricing, learn about WordPress ecommerce shipping, and see how we can help you manage your supply chain and help grow your business.