Shopify Configuration Audits
Our expert team specializes in setting up the perfect shipping and logistics options, including free shipping and carrier-calculated shipping, to ensure you’re offering the best possible experience to your customers. We’ll also help you navigate the complexities of international shipping and determine whether DDP or DDU is the best fit for your business.
Our Shopify Audits Address...
Delivery issues can be a major hurdle for e-commerce businesses. That’s why we work with you to ensure your packages are being handled efficiently and effectively, with proactive measures in place to prevent costly reshipments. We’ll also help you set realistic shipping deadlines, establish clear communication with carriers, and create after-purchase emails that keep your customers informed and engaged.
Managing inventory can be a challenge for any e-commerce business, but with Ships-a-Lot by your side, you’ll have the expertise you need to keep your stock levels optimized and your operations running smoothly. From SKU’s and barcodes to digital kits and customs descriptions, we’ll make sure you’re on top of it all.
Choice of Technology & Strategy
Technology Choice & Strategy is another area where we excel, with our team leveraging the power of the Shop app and other tools to keep your customers engaged and coming back for more. Our address validator ensures accurate shipping information, while our expertise in various marketplaces will help you expand your reach and boost your sales even further.
1st Step to Solving any Problem is Identifying There is One.
Ready to take your Shopify store to the next level? Contact Ships-a-Lot today to learn more about our comprehensive audits and assessments and how we can help you optimize your e-commerce revenue.
Great company to work with!!
It is very hard to find a good fulfillment company at a reasonable price that is reliable and has good customer service and actually passes on shipping discounts as well. These guys do it all!! Highly recommended.
— Progressive Health Nutraceuticals Inc.
John is excellent. He was very helpful, answered all my questions, and provided a lot of insight. I was also very impressed with their high touch vetting process.
Ships-a-Lot is quick, reliable and professional
The SHIPS-a-Lot staff has always been professional, quick to respond and act with all of our orders and shipping needs. Their quick shipping times keeps our customers happy, our company growing, and gives us peace of mind!
Leona is AMAZING! Her customer service is immeasurable!
— Heather deRijke
Simply the best!
One of the best decisions we ever made was to scale our operations with Zach and the Ships-a-lot team. We picked them and never looked back. Do not hesitate! Pick these guys for your 3PL needs today.
When vetting fulfillment partners, learning about the onboarding process is critical! It is a great test for “fit”– that is the “fit” between your company and the fulfillment partner.
Run away if the onboarding process is unclear, long, complicated, or disorganized! Oftentimes, this means that the fulfillment partner’s focus differs from your company’s focus.
For example, a third-party logistics company might do a lot of pallet shipments to large physical retailers, then get an inbound lead from a Shopify, direct-to-consumer brand. Working with Carts and Marketplaces, picking and packing individual orders, and shipping small parcels is very different from pallet shipments to retailers.
Assuming fit is right, the onboarding process should look as follows:
Step #1 – Day 1. Initial Call (basic facts about your company, etc.).
Step #2 – Day 2. Materials from the fulfillment company are sent to you (qualitative attributes, pricing, etc.).
Step #3 – Day 3. A follow-up call to talk through details.
Step #4 – Day 4. Decision made to a partner.
Step #5 – Day 5. Brand/s grant access to their stores and marketplaces so the software can speak to each other (i.e. warehouse management software). Initial inbound instructions were sent. The brand/s are given an overview of the Client portal and introduced to anyone they will be working with on a daily/weekly basis.
Step #6 – Day 12. Initial inbound receiving and put away. Orders are flowing from Stores/Marketplaces to the fulfillment partner. The first shipment is sent.
Contact us today to talk about your unique onboarding needs (i.e. existing lease in your facility, moving from another fulfillment partner, etc.).
Approximately 30% of our shipments are international (tens of thousands a month), so we have a lot of experience here!
First, we only recommend shipping internationally unless you’re dedicated to growing your brand in a given country. Passively allowing your product to be purchased from any country is not a good strategy. The U.S. is a big place–exhaust this market first!
Second, when you are ready to ship internationally, we recommend restricting sales to large, developed international economies (at least initially). For example, Canada, EU, UK, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, etc.
Third, when you’re ready to start, there are two broad approaches to shipping internationally. 1) ship product Delivered Duties Paid (DDP), meaning the customer pays for the Duties and Taxes (if relevant) at check-out on your store, or ship Delivered Duties Unpaid (DDU), meaning the customer just pays for the product and shipping cost when they check-out and then pays for any Duties and Taxes at the time of delivery. Both approaches have advantages and disadvantages. We have some clients who only ship DDP, some only DDU, and some a combination.
Regardless of the method, you’ll need to ensure you accurately charge your customer for the true cost to ship the product to them.
If you ship DDP (duties and taxes are collected at the time of checkout), you’ll need to set up your store to auto-calculate the duties and taxes due. There are many good Apps out there that we can direct you to.
This topic sounds complicated, but it’s very simple. Contact us today to strategize with our team on how to ship outside the U.S effectively.
There are two broad considerations when determining how to package your product: a) protection, and b) cost.
Protection. When determining how to protect your product with packaging, imagine you’re a fly (an insect). You “land” on your package inside the fulfillment center, stay on during the truck ride to the local UPS/FedEx/USPS terminal, witness it get unloaded from the truck, and enter a massive maze of high-speed conveyors where is routed onto yet another truck for a cross-state/country ride, then enters another final mile terminal before getting on another truck before ending up on someone’s front porch. Phew! Along the way, your dear package is thrown, stepped on, caught in high-speed sortation equipment, and exposed to 120-degree heat (or below freezing cold) in the back of a truck traveling across the country. Would your product and package survive 9 times out of 10? If not, you need to rethink your packaging.
This could include moving from a poly mailer to a box, inserting a small dry ice cube (if temperature sensitive), filling the void in a box with sturdy packaging material (if glass), or getting a custom box made so your product fits perfectly inside and is fully protected.
Cost. However, these precautions all come at a cost (cost of materials and cost in increased postage due to weight or dimensions, etc.). So you will need to determine the cost/benefit of any choice. For example, if 1% of your packages are getting destroyed in transit, it’s probably not worth the increased cost to pursue more protective packaging.
Have a specific product in mind? Contact us today to strategize with our team on how to package your products most effectively.
For purposes of this discussion let’s assume it’s a shipment from a U.S. address to a U.S. address. (International shipments are determined differently.) It’s very simple…
- How much does your product and packaging material weigh together? For example, if you ship a small bottle weighing 6oz inside a corrugated box weighing 2.5oz, your shipment would be 8.5oz–which would be rounded up to 9oz.
- If the answer is less than 16 ounces (1 pound / 454 grams), your shipment is eligible for USPS First Class (approximately $3.50 – $6.50 at the time of this writing). (Other “consolidated” services effectively service these lightweight shipments; however, we’ll just use USPS First Class as an example for simplicity.)
Speed for USPS First Class shipments is usually 3 to 5 days (depending on the time of year and distance traveled). In our experience, while the “consolidated” services might be a few cents cheaper, they are much slower and not worth the headache and increased customer service costs (“Where is my package!?”).
The exact cost of the shipment will be determined by: a) the exact weight of the shipment (1 – 16 oz), and b) the “Zone” of the destination zip code from the shipper’s zip code. (For example, a shipment from New York to California will be a Zone 8 shipment and cost more than a Shipment from New York to Washington D.C., a Zone 3 shipment.) We advise clients to assume a “Zone 5” shipment on average.
- If the answer is equal to or more than 16 ounces (1 pound / 454 grams), your shipment should be “rate shopped” between UPS, FedEx, and USPS Priority Mail. (Any fulfillment center worth talking to will have software that can “rate shop” different carriers on every shipment to get the best rate on a given shipment.)
Generally speaking, USPS Priority Mail will “beat” UPS Ground and FedEx Ground in the “rate shop” on lighter weight, closer “Zone” shipments. As the distance and weight increase, it becomes more likely that UPS and FedEx will “win” the “rate shop.”
As of this writing (2022), shipments that weigh 1 to 10 pounds will cost anywhere from $8.00 to $18.00 (roughly!) – depending on exact weight (which is rounded up to the nearest pound) and Zone of end destination.
Importantly, this price includes the Base Rate + Residential Delivery Surcharge that FedEx and UPS apply + the Fuel Surcharge that FedEx and UPS apply. USPS only has a Base Rate. The Fuel Surcharge changes weekly, and the Base Rate and Residential Delivery Surcharge are reset (increased) annually.
Shipments above 1 pound also have to consider “Dimensional Weight.” Shipments will be priced at the greater of real weight (on a scale) and their dimensional weight (L x W x H in inches / 139 = Dimensional Weight in LBs). (So a massive box of feathers will cost more to ship than a small brick.)
Lastly, this discussion only considered the most efficient method (balancing cost and speed). If speed is the only concern, there are “Express Options” (i.e. Overnight, 2-day, etc. from both UPS and FedEx). If cost is the only concern, there are numerous cheap “consolidated” services. However, in our opinion, the above discussion should cover ~90%+ of your needs, with maybe the occasional expedited shipment. The slow/cheap consolidated services (in our opinion!) are not worth the headache.
Additional shipping cost questions: Contact us today to strategize with our team on how to effectively ship your products.
There is no right answer here. Generally speaking, there are six methods in setting up shipping options on Shopify. The choice between the three has to do more with psychology than finance!
Option #1 – Fixed Rate Shipping Cost, regardless of Order (for example, $9.99 regardless of what the customer purchases)
Option #2 – Fixed Rate Shipping Cost, depending on the Order (for example, $9.99 if the customer purchases XYZ and $5.99 if the customer purchases ABC). (You can get as fancy as you want—change based on weights, cart total, etc.).
Option #3 – Free Shipping
Option #4 – Different Speeds. For example, $9.99 for 3-4 day Ground and $14.99 for 2-day Air.
Option #5 – Combination of two or more of the above. (For example, flat $9.99 on all orders unless X is true, then Free Shipping.)
Option #6 – Carrier Calculated Shipping Cost (for example, the customer is charged an estimate of what the shipment will actually cost based on their address and order details).
Regardless of which option one chooses, we find that the most successful and sustainable privately owned e-commerce brands get compensated for their true postage costs. This can be accomplished by: a) charging the customer equal to or more than the actual postage costs, or b) increasing the retail price of the products to include some average postage costs. Brands that truly subsidize postage mean two things: a) they will burn through a lot of cash (and won’t be around long), and b) they have weak brands, as their customers aren’t loyal enough to pay a few extra dollars for delivery.
The above discussion ignores International Shipments. There are creative ways to set up International Shipping options, whether shipping Delivered Duties Paid (DDP) or Delivered Duties Unpaid (DDU).
Additional shipping set-up questions? Contact us today to strategize with our team on how to set up your shipping options effectively. We can even do it for you!