Choosing a shipping carrier for your Shopify store is a big deal because they’re the company that is responsible for actually delivering your products into the hands of your customers. It’s one of the big decisions you’ll make as a company, with more than a few criteria you’ll need to consider.
1. Weight limits
Each carrier has weight limits on parcels. Many of them have a weight limit for each class of shipping they offer, as well. If you go over the weight limit with a package, you’ll generally face a pretty hefty additional handling surcharge. If you’re likely to be shipping very heavy packages frequently, you may not be able to use certain carriers at all.
2. Where are you shipping to/from?
The major carriers like FedEx and USPS ship more or less all over, but depending on where you’re shipping, you may find using a local carrier to be more inexpensive, have faster local shipping times, or fit your branding better. For instance, Sendle is an Australian carrier who not only saves customers $5-20 on their packages but is also completely carbon neutral, making them ideal for eco-friendly Aussie brands. Other local carriers to check out include Spee-dee Delivery Service in the American Midwest, OnTrac on the U.S. West Coast, and LoneStar Delivery & Process in Texas.
3. User reviews
94% of consumers blame retailers for poor delivery, so you need to make sure the carrier you use makes you look good. The best way to learn how reliable, capable and service-oriented a carrier is is to read reviews from other merchants who use the carrier. There are a variety of locations you can find reviews on carriers, but Trustpilot is a wonderful resource for review-seekers.
4. Shipping times
The world’s carriers provide a vast array of shipping times from several hours to several months. Most carriers even offer an array of shipping times within their class options. Some carriers offer weekend delivery, others do not.
These days, 63% of consumers expect a standard delivery to arrive within three days of ordering. However, slower shipping tends to be cheaper, so price and shipping times are a delicate balancing act for merchants.
5. Available tracking services
Package tracking services are paramount to providing a good post-purchase experience. Given that customers see your brand as being responsible for the entire purchasing experience, we recommend that you provide tracking services right on your website.
However, if you choose not to run your own order tracking, you’ll need to make sure that your chosen carrier has a user-friendly interface. Some carriers’ interfaces are multistep or not clearly demarcated and can become highly frustrating to customers.
Your chosen carrier’s pricing will directly influence your bottom line and prices. Pricing is about finding a carrier who provides the services you trust for a price that makes your customers (and your bottom line) happy.
Be aware that the sticker price is not necessarily the whole price. For instance, both FedEx and UPS have surcharges for delivering residential addresses.
Many carriers offer flexible pricing for companies shipping high volumes. Even small businesses can negotiate better pricing by talking with multiple carriers or using hybrid services. Small businesses can also work with a service like Stamps.com that can negotiate excellent shipping prices for their users by leveraging the shipments of multiple businesses.
7. Unusual conditions or perks
Each carrier offers perks or unusual conditions, so it’s important to read the fine print. For instance, USPS is also the only shipping service that delivers to U.S. mailboxes and PO boxes. By and large, other carriers must leave packages at a customer’s door unless the customer uses a third party locker system.
Choosing a carrier may be a big decision, but it doesn’t have to be permanent. It’s not uncommon for businesses to switch carriers if they’re unhappy with the service. So don’t feel locked in if your first choice doesn’t work out the way you wanted it to.