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If you run a Shopify store, you need to ensure the customer experience is seamless even after checkout. Between the time a customer places an order on your site and the moment a shipment arrives at their doorstep, a lot can go wrong.
Not only is the customer experience on the line when it comes to shipping, but so are your profitability and margins.
How can Shopify merchants ace shipping and fulfillment? This guide walks you through your options to determine your ideal process and pricing strategy to help you understand the best way to ship your products to your customers.
Check out how easily ShipBob can take your Shopify fulfillment to the next level.
Shopify shipping rate options
Before Shopify merchants ship any orders, they need to have their shipping rates and options configured. This includes understanding how much you will pay for shipping and how much you will charge your customers.
Here are the most common ways to charge customers for Shopify store shipping.
Exact shipping cost
An exact shipping cost is when you charge a shopper the same amount that carriers like USPS or UPS will charge to ship the order. When using exact shipping cost, you’re breaking even on shipping costs.
- Avoid over-charging customers by providing the true cost for each order
- You won’t have to worry about losing money
- Can seem expensive or like an unexpected cost at checkout and lead to shopping cart abandonment
|Shipping Type||Shipping cost|
|USPS Priority Mail||Prices start at $8.70|
|USPS Priority Mail Express||Prices start at $26.95|
|USPS Retail Ground||Prices start at $8.50|
|USPS Media Mail||Prices start at $3.49|
|UPS Flat Rate Shipping||Prices start at $9.45|
Free shipping means that you don’t charge customers an additional cost for shipping. This can be site-wide, for orders over a certain amount of money or weight, or through a promotion code.
- Reduces shopping cart abandonment and encourages shoppers to complete their purchase
- Helps you stand out from the competition
- Seen as a value and can be used in your marketing
- You can lose money if you haven’t calculated how it will affect your margins
- If you ever change your offering, repeat customers may not buy from you again because they expect to receive free shipping
Weight based shipping
Weight-based shipping refers to charging customers for shipping based on how much their order weighs.
- Keeps shipping costs for each order more accurate (or at least closer to the cost you will incur), since shipping rates are calculated based on the weight of the products you’re shipping
- You can charge different prices for different weight ranges
- Doesn’t take the total cost of the order into consideration
- Dimensional weight can be a confusing concept for customers to grasp
- You’ll need to know the exact weights of each product and have them recorded in Shopify
Here is a break down of what items of different weights cost to ship:
|Order item weight||Shipping rate price|
|0 – .99 lb||$4.99|
|1 – 4.99 lb||$9.99|
|5 – 9.99 lb||$19.99|
Flat-rate shipping is when you charge a fixed shipping rate for every order, regardless of weight or value.
- Offer a consistent price for everyone
- Keeps shipping options simple and easy to manage
- You can charge one shipping rate for all orders going to a certain country
- While it should be a calculated average across all shipments, Shopify flat rate shipping may not end up completely covering your costs for some orders
- Flat rate shipping can also seem too expensive for smaller order values, which in turn can cause shopping cart abandonment
Price tiered shipping
Price-tiered shipping refers to charging customers a delivery cost based on the total cost of the entire order. For example, a $10 order would have a different shipping price than a $100 order.
- Provides a more tailored shipping rate based on how much the shopper spent
- Prevents shopping cart abandonment for shoppers who spend very little (and wouldn’t want to pay more for shipping than the actual order)
- Must be calculated strategically
- Doesn’t take order weight into consideration (not always a good option for cheap but heavy items)
Here is a break down of what items of various values cost to ship:
|Order value||Shipping rate price|
|$0 – $100.00||$24.99|
|$100.01 – $200||$9.99|
How to set up shipping costs on Shopify
Now that you have a better understanding of the various different types of shipping costs, you’re ready to get started on Shopify.
We’ll outline the key steps that you need to take in order to properly set up shipping costs in Shopify shipping.
1. Specify your packaging and product weight
It’s important to set up your preferred packaging in your Shopify admin. Shopify supports various package types such as packages, soft packages like bubble mailers, padded envelopes and plastic sleeves.
Additionally, it’s crucial to set up your products’ weight so you’re correctly charged for shipping. Best practice is to weigh each item on a scale for accurate measurements.
In general, this is what various items weigh:
|8 – 16 oz.||Jewelry, phone cases, shirts, and accessories like socks, scarves, and undergarments|
These items are usually shipped in a poly mailer or bubble mailer.
|1 – 3 lb.||Small electronics and clothing such as jeans, jacket, and outerwear|
These items are usually shipped in a small box.
|3 – 5 lb.||Shoes, larger electronics, several paperback books, and bed sheets|
These items are usually shipped in a small or medium box.
|5 – 7 lb.||Cookware, small appliances, and sporting equipment|
These items are usually shipped in a medium box.
|7 – 9 lb.||Cookware sets, medium appliances, and larger electronics|
These items are usually shipped in medium or large boxes.
|9 – 10 lb.||Item sets such as several books or pieces of clothing, large appliances, and home decor|
These items are shipped in medium or large boxes.
Lastly, you’ll need to set up dimensional weight based on your package’s size. Dimensional weight is relevant to some shipping services when packages exceed a total length x width x height of 1 cubic foot.
2. Create shipping zones
The first step to setting up shipping costs is to create shipping zones. A shipping zone is an area or region that has the same shipping rate. For example, if you’re located in New York City and orders are being sent from that location, NYC is considered your point of origin and the 50 mile radius from the city is Zone 1. Zone 2 is the 51-100 mile radius from New York City, and so on.
It is important to set up your shipping zones so that customers can order products from your store. Customers can only order if they’re located in one of your shipping zones.
You can create shipping zones in the Setting section of your Shopify admin. Within the dashboard, you can also edit zones, delete existing zones, and create shipping zones based on postal codes or zip codes.
3. Add shipping rates
Once you’ve created your shipping zones, you can set up your shipping rates. Free, flat, or calculated shipping rates can be set up so they appear for the customer during checkout.
Each of the different shipping rates are set up slightly differently in your Shopify admin. For example, free shipping is set up in the dashboard by marking the value of the price field as 0. Alternatively, if you choose to offer a certain shipping rate for items of a specific size, you can add a condition based on the item’s weight.
4. Set transit time
Customers value quick shipping so setting up your transit time is a great way to appeal to shoppers. When you set up transit times in Shopify, an accurate transit time will display during checkout.
By setting transit times, your customers can better understand which shipping speed is most relevant to them. While some shoppers may opt for a cheaper, but slower shipping option, some customers may be willing to pay more to get their products in less time. Giving customers various shipping options at checkout can reduce cart abandonment and increase customer satisfaction.
5. Create shipping profiles
A shipping profile is a set of rules for specific products and locations. Within Shopify you’re able to create a default shipping profile or customize it for your needs.
Creating shipping profiles helps you charge accurate shipping rates through shipping rules. By adding products to a shipping profile, you can choose the products’ shipping zones and shipping rates. For example, if a product is being shipped to an area outside of the continental U.S., like Alaska or Hawaii, you can set the shipping cost to higher.
Shopify shipping carriers
Shopify partners with top carriers to ship orders. Currently Shopify utilizes USPS, DHL, UPS and Canada Post. When using these carriers you’ll only charge your customer the exact cost of shipping for their item.
Each carrier has its own benefits. For example, USPS is usually the ideal carrier for smaller items because it has the cheapest costs for small items, whereas UPS is typically the fastest carrier and is best for time sensitive deliveries. DHL has vast coverage across the globe and is the preferred carrier for international shipments. Canada Post is the primary carrier for Shopify customers in Canada.
As a Shopify customer, you have access to various discounted rates when using a preferred Shopify carrier.
|Carrier||Basic Plan||Shopify Plan||Advanced Plan|
|USPS||Up to 64.5%||Up to 88.5%||Up to 88.5%|
|DHL||Up to 71.5%||Up to 73.9%||Up to 76%|
|UPS||Up to 66.5%||Up to 66.8%||Up to 67.2%|
|Canada Post||Up to 17.7%||Up to 23.5%||Up to 30.5%|
How Shopify shipping works
Shopify merchants have several options for shipping orders. Without using any additional third-party shipping apps or order fulfillment services, there are a couple ways to handle shipping through Shopify alone.
Shipping settings in Shopify
When referring to shipping in general in Shopify, we are talking about the built-in feature for all Shopify merchants where you manage your store’s shipping settings via the Shipping page in your Shopify admin.
To start shipping products from your Shopify store, you need to complete the following tasks:
- Set your address as the shipping origin
- Add product weights
- Choose your preferred package types
- Add shipping zones to choose the regions your store will ship to
- Define shipping rates for each zone that will show up during checkout (free shipping, cost by order price, or cost by order weight — all with the ability to set certain conditions)
Shopify Shipping is available to Shopify stores that are based in the US, providing rates for USPS, DHL Express, and UPS, as well as Canada, which exclusively uses Canada Post.
When referring to the add-on feature called Shopify Shipping, we are talking about the shipping suite that gives merchants access to calculated rates to process orders and print shipping labels in bulk without using a third-party integration.
Here’s how it works:
- List dimensions and weights for all of your products and product variations
- Set up carriers
- Buy shipping labels from Shopify
- Pack your box and put the label on it
- Ship your orders from your post office of choice
Shopify Shipping features
The Shopify Shipping suite has several features to help merchants manage shipping costs and the overall process.
Bulk order management
Shopify merchants have the ability to prepare several orders at once with bulk ecommerce fulfillment and label printing. This feature works out of the box to help fulfill and ship orders to customers faster and on time.
Shopify tracks every part of the customer order, so merchants don’t have to copy and paste customer info and addresses, duplicate effort, or integrate any third-party systems.
Shipping option management
Shopify merchants can show exact rates from carriers or offer flat rate shipping to customers. Either way, merchants get to maintain control at checkout while offering various shipping speeds to customers.
Shopify merchants can print labels from their phone or computer using a thermal label or desktop printer. Then it’s ready to be affixed to the box and shipped to the customer.
By purchasing shipping insurance, you’re able to protect your orders. Shipping insurance protects against loss, theft, and damage. You can purchase insurance for up to $5,000 in coverage.
Users that have the Shopify, Advanced Shopify, or Plus plan have $200 worth of insurance automatically included on eligible labels at no additional cost.
International shipping features
Shopify has made it even easier for merchants to operate internationally in recent years. New tools have been added to Shopify Market Pro to make the global shopping and shipping experience easier for businesses and shoppers. Shopify Market Pro users can manage compliance, tariffs, and more. Recently, Shopify rolled out tax and duty being calculated at checkout.
And as previously mentioned, Shopify has a relationship with DHL which offers better international shipping at a lower rate.
Integration with major carriers
Today’s most popular carriers integrate directly with Shopify, making it easier for businesses to ship their products. USPS, UPS, DHL, and FedEx all integrate with Shopify. International carriers like Canada Post, Hermes, Sendle and Colissimo also integrate with Shopify.
Benefits of using Shopify Shipping for your store
Shopify is one of the leading platforms for ecommerce businesses. There are various perks to using Shopify. These are some of the advantages:
No matter where you are in your ecommerce journey, Shopify has a plan for you. Shopify’s free trial gives you 14 days to explore the Shopify platform and set up your ecommerce store. After your trial, there are multiple plans to choose from, with the cheapest starting at $29/month.
Simple to use system
Whether you’re tech savvy or not, Shopify’s system is easy to set up and use. The interface is clean, intuitive, and simple to navigate. And if you have questions, Shopify has a robust help center so you can find the answers you’re looking for.
Insight into real-time shipping rates
Shopify offers real-time shipping rate information to give you extra insight.
Rates are automatically calculated for shoppers at checkout which gives them options and improves their shopping experience.
Global shipping features
As international shipping becomes more and more popular, global shipping features are important for scaling ecommerce businesses. Shopify has a wide range of international shipping features to take advantage of so your business can thrive.
Discounts for major carriers
Shopify has partnerships with top carriers USPS, UPS, DHL, and Canada Post. As a result, Shopify is able to offer businesses discounts, saving up to 88% on shipping costs.
Downsides of Shopify’s default shipping
There are a few limitations of the default shipping settings within Shopify. This prevents ecommerce businesses from doing much beyond the basics and requires some manual intervention.
Calculating the right rates
Your Shopify store must be based in the United States or Canada to use Shopify Shipping and display calculated rates to your customers. Otherwise, flat rate shipping is your only option. You must be on the Advanced Shopify plan or higher to set up your own account credentials with USPS, Canada Post, UPS, or FedEx. Other courier options are limited.
Calculating the right rates gets even more complex if you’re shipping internationally as you need to complete the Customs declaration form. Shopify doesn’t automatically calculate tax and import duties for international shipping. You will have to manually update the rates yourself at the country-level.
“We partnered with ShipBob to scale up operations in the United States. We’ve seen a reduction of 70% on shipping costs in the US, which helps keep conversions high. It makes it a lot easier to spend marketing dollars when we know exactly what shipping costs are going to be.”Greg MacDonald, CEO & Founder, Bathorium
Although you can (and should) set up product weights for each item you sell, you can’t add product dimensions. Because dimensional weight is used by many carriers, basing a shipping rate on the order weight alone may not reflect the ultimate shipping cost. When it comes to packing, if you end up splitting shipments, you may also end up paying more.
Managing shipping and logistics is a big undertaking for any ecommerce business. When you’re spending time packing boxes and running to the post office, that’s valuable time that’s taken away from more strategic tasks.
“It’s a pain to pick, pack, and print the labels, and manage the storage. It would be a huge stress for us to do it ourselves, but the fact that ShipBob takes care of it all, both the savings in costs and time, is invaluable to our business.”-Nikolai Paloni, Co-Founder of Ombraz Sunglasses
Difficult to scale
Managing Shopify shipping yourself is possible to do until you reach a certain point. As your business grows, it’s inevitable that you’ll need to incorporate new systems, shipping options, markets, and sales channels.
You will want to offer a consistent customer experience and find the best shipping rates, services, and speeds to compete with top brands. As they grow, many Shopify merchants will turn to external providers and expand into multiple fulfillment centers.
“It was kind of like magic — my orders were imported into ShipBob from my Shopify Plus store and started getting fulfilled right away. I didn’t have to do anything. And since then, we’ve grown 115% and experienced 2.5 times more order volume — all fulfilled by ShipBob.”– Noel Churchill, Owner and CEO of Rainbow OPTX
How to optimize Shopify Shipping rates
Setting up the right shipping options and charging the correct amount on your Shopify store is a make-or-break factor for all ecommerce businesses. If you want to be accurate with charging each customer the true shipping cost of their order, what’s displayed for one customer can be very different for another customer buying the same item.
Shopify shipping rates will vary for customers depending on where your inventory is located, the product weights and prices, shipping destinations, service selected, and much more. Here are some tips to optimize your Shopify shipping rates.
Use a real-time shipping app
Shopify’s real-time shipping is an advanced and accurate method of calculating shipping costs to display to your customers at checkout. It’s done automatically for any product and is based on the customer’s location and delivery preferences.
Shopify grabs the exact rates from its carriers so you can charge customers the amount you incur to ship the order. You need to be on the Advanced Shopify plan to use real-time carrier rates shipping.
A common reason for spending too much on shipping is when packing mistakes occur. Using too large of a box may end up costing more, while shipping an order in a box that’s too small may damage the goods inside. The size of your box should allow for little buffer room to add protective fillers.
While not always a direct line item of the overall shipping cost, the cost of packaging should also be considered. Using custom branded boxes is a great way to provide an in-person extension of your Shopify store, but it’s an expense that doesn’t work for every business.
Use DDP shipping
Utilizing Delivered Duties Paid (DDP) shipping could be a safer way for Shopify retailers who are making international shipments. When using DDP to deliver products, the seller takes on the responsibility of the product’s transportation until it’s delivered. This way customers feel more comfortable making purchases outside of their home country since they don’t have to incur high fees or take on the risk of being scammed.
Manage your inventory
Where you store your Shopify inventory is a key factor that impacts shipping costs. Understanding where your orders are shipped to can help you distribute your inventory to areas that will reduce shipping costs and transit times.
If your customers reside in several geographic regions across the country, splitting your inventory would be a financially viable option. That way, each time an order is placed on your Shopify store, the fulfillment center that is closest to the shipping destination will fulfill it.
To understand where your ecommerce business should distribute its inventory, download the free Inventory Distribution Calculator.
Top 3 Shopify Shipping apps
The shipping category of the Shopify App Store has countless third-party options to help with everything from saving on shipping rates to automating the shipping process. Here are some of the top Shopify shipping apps.
ShipStation makes importing, managing, and shipping your orders exceptionally efficient. Whether your monthly shipments total 50 or 500,000, every merchant can take advantage of their discounted rates. ShipStation lets you choose from nearly 40 different carrier services across the US, Canada, Australia, and the UK.
Shippo provides cheap and convenient shipping to help you succeed, including access to discounted shipping rates and the ability to print labels and send tracking info to customers from one place. Shippo helps you streamline your shipping, so you can focus on growing your business.
3. Order Printer
Shopify’s very own Order Printer app is free and easy to set up. You can quickly print custom packing slips, invoices, labels, or receipts for all your orders. Print documents in bulk or one at a time depending on your needs.
Using a third-party to fulfill Shopify orders
Unlike the third-party options we listed under Shopify Shipping apps, using a third-party to fulfill Shopify orders involves physically sending your inventory to a company that eliminates many tedious tasks for ecommerce businesses.
A third-party logistics (3PL) company provides not only shipping rates and labels, but a multitude of order fulfillment services. These include the warehousing and storage of inventory, picking and packing orders as they are placed online, managing ecommerce returns, and more.
Benefits of 3PLs:
- Save time by taking care of packing and shipping for you
- Provide more sophisticated shipping options
- Are shipping and fulfillment experts
- Hold inventory and handle operations for you
- Have the ability to ship from different geographic regions
- Get better rates from carriers
Downsides of 3PLs:
- They don’t know your product as well as you
- You hand over control of inventory management and packing
- Some have a confusing pricing structure and/or expensive fees
Each Shopify merchant must evaluate their order volume, shipping costs and speed, special requirements, and various 3PL options to understand if outsourcing fulfillment is right for them.
ShipBob works with major US carriers like DHL, USPS, and UPS. Given the incredibly high volume of orders they fulfill daily, ShipBob has been able to negotiate bulk discounts with each carrier, and those savings are passed on to our clients.
5 benefits of integrating with ShipBob
ShipBob is a tech-enabled 3PL that helps Shopify merchants fulfill orders as quickly and cost-effectively as possible to meet their customers’ expectations every day.
Learn why ShipBob’s fulfillment solution is the ideal fit for Shopify merchants.
1. Connect your Shopify store in 30 seconds
If you sell on Shopify, you need a tech-enabled 3PL like ShipBob that can handle the order fulfillment and technological piece for you as well as deliver on your customer experience.
ShipBob seamlessly integrates with Shopify, making it possible for you to link your store with the click of a button, and then import your products and orders. The backend work is already done for you, so it’s very easy to get started without any developer work.
This two-way flow of information lets you combine data sources for a more cohesive view of your orders, inventory tracking, fulfillment centers, shipments, and customers.
If you sell on any marketplaces, you can just as easily connect those to ShipBob for integrated fulfillment and inventory management across all sales channels.
“We researched several different fulfillment providers before choosing to partner with ShipBob. We were impressed with the transparency of pricing and services provided by ShipBob, as well as the easy onboarding and tech integration with our Shopify store.”
Nicole Humphreys, Founder, August Effects
2. Ship orders from fulfillment centers in largest US markets
ShipBob helps clients distribute inventory across our network of fulfillment centers, which are all located in major US cities and various regions of the country: the West Coast in California, the Midwest in Chicago, the South in Dallas, and the East Coast in Pennsylvania. This helps reduce shipping orders to the highest, most expensive shipping zones.
Instead of having to ship all of your orders from a single location, you can reduce time in transit and save money by automatically shipping from the fulfillment center closest to your customer.
Storing inventory near your customers reduces the shipping zones or distance your orders have to travel. The higher the shipping zone shipped to, the more expensive it typically is to send an order from Point A to Point B.
“We love that ShipBob actually operates its fulfillment centers. ShipBob having multiple locations was also huge for us. Keeping our inventory in Chicago and Los Angeles has brought cost savings since we ship from the locations that are closest to the customer.”-Courtney Lee, founder of Prymal
3. Offer affordable 2-day shipping and implement 2-day shipping badges
ShipBob offers 2-Day Express Shipping which allows you to reach all of your customers in the continental US across all of your platforms.
By offering guaranteed 2-day shipping, you can significantly reduce cart abandonment.
“With ShipBob’s 2-Day Express Program, we’ve seen an 18% reduction in cart abandonment.”Founder of My Calm Blanket
As a part of our 2-Day Express Shipping program, ShipBob offers 2-Day shipping badging for your Shopify store. These badges appear directly on your product pages which helps you build trust and convert more customers. In addition to being displayed on your Shopify store, the ShipBob 2-day shipping badges are available for online marketplaces like Walmart, Facebook, Instagram, and Google.
“We worked with ShipBob and introduced a Prime-like badge showcasing 2-day shipping on our product pages and immediately saw a 230% increase in customers using 2-day shipping!”Larissa Jeanniton, Operations at The Wrap Life
4. Have orders automatically sent to ShipBob to be fulfilled
When your Shopify store is connected to ShipBob’s technology and we have your inventory, staff at our fulfillment centers receive a picking list to retrieve items, then pack boxes and ship items as soon as your customer places an order on your Shopify store.
ShipBob’s software automatically routes the order to the fulfillment center that can ship the order to your customer in the most efficient and cost-effective manner. This means no manual steps or extra data entry required for you.
If you need to make changes to a customer’s order post-purchase, you can easily edit or pause the order up until we start fulfilling it.
“Speeding up deliveries and keeping them affordable for customers is a top concern for us. With ShipBob, we can comfortably assign a shipping cost to each order by pinpointing the product weight and destination zip code.”Greg MacDonald, CEO & Founder, Bathorium
5. Send shipping information back to customers
ShipBob’s technology lets you view the status of each order at any time as it moves from processing to shipping, along with a time-stamped history.
Once an order has shipped, ShipBob automatically sends confirmation back to your Shopify store, so your customers receive their ecommerce order tracking information and stay in the loop throughout the delivery process without you lifting a finger.
Interested in hearing more about ShipBob’s integration with Shopify? Check out the case studies below to hear Shopify merchants share their experience with ShipBob.
Skincare brand, Hero Cosmetics, launched their first product, the Mighty Patch, on Amazon to see if consumers would take to the idea of hydrocolloid acne patches. Turns out, customers couldn’t get enough of the miracle patch and Hero needed a home base for their product. As a result, they created their Shopify store and continued to grow.
Later, as they sought out a new fulfillment partner, they turned to ShipBob. Needing to get onboarded quickly before the holidays, Hero connected their Shopify store and ShipBob.
Read what they had to say about the process:
“It took less than 3 days to figure out the ShipBob system and configure our products in the dashboard. We connected to Shopify and I crossed my fingers. Without a hitch, ShipBob started sending out orders. I didn’t have to follow up about any issues. The orders were picked up automatically and customers got their packages. It was seamless.”Dwight Lee, Co-Founder and COO of Hero Cosmetics
Aquatic safety technology brand, Sharkbanz, quickly became popular and as a result, outgrew their mom-and-pop fulfillment provider. They knew they needed a trusted partner that could offer user-friendly technology that would help them scale.
“When we first started the company, we only sold direct-to-consumer through our Shopify store, so fulfilling orders wasn’t a huge issue — but once we started to gain traction and then expanded to selling through retailers, we realized that we needed to outsource fulfillment. Finally, we found ShipBob, which gave us the best of both worlds and offered a true fulfillment platform.”Nathan Garrison, Co-Founder and CEO of Sharkbanz
Get started with ShipBob
Ready to connect your Shopify store with ShipBob? Connect with our team today to get started.
Shopify Shipping FAQs
Here are answers to the most commonly asked questions about Shopify shipping.
Where is Shopify Shipping available?
Shopify Shipping is available through carriers like USPS, UPS, DHL, and Canada Post in the United States, Canada, Australia, France, Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom.
How to change shipping costs on Shopify?
Within the Shopify admin, you can change shipping costs. When you login to the Shopify app, you’ll navigate to the Settings section and complete these steps: Store settings > Shipping and delivery > Shipping profile > Manage > Add rate > Select carrier or use app to calculate rates > Services section > Select shipping methods you want to offer to customers.
How to calculate shipping costs on Shopify?
You can calculate shipping costs through Shopify’s preferred carriers: USPS, UPS, DHL, and Canada Post.