Think about the last time you visited a retail store. You walked in because it looked inviting from the outside, the interior was well-lit, and things were organized in a way that made sense. It probably smelled nice, too.
In the early days of direct-to-consumer (DTC) sales, most retailers forgot about the customer experience portion of their sales. They likely had beautiful websites (thanks, Shopify), but when the product left the warehouse it was just placed in a boring, nondescript box.
ECommerce sales in the United States is expected to exceed $1.1 trillion in 2023, and with less customers visiting retail establishments in person, more effort than ever has to be placed on ensuring customers experience something special when they open that box they ordered online to keep them coming back.
Additionally, there’s an efficiency factor. It’s very easy to go to a store and pick up an item off the shelf to take home, but with the busy ways we live these days, there’s just not enough time to go around. The companies that do DTC really well have made beautiful packaging and quick and painless shipping operations a central part of how they do business to ensure a customer feels like buying off the website is the next best thing to picking it up in store.
But how do you make shipping easy and painless, when it’s definitely one of the most complicated parts of the operation? Well, you use a shipping integration, of course! There are several shipping integrations that make it easy to streamline shipping order and fulfillment with your Shopify store. In this article, we’ll discuss why you might want a shipping integration in your DTC store, factors to consider when choosing which integration to go with, and some of our favorite options for taking your shipping operation to the next level.
When a customer visits an online store, they’re coming to buy a product. It’s your job to make the experience as seamless (and entertaining) as it would be to enter a physical location to make that purchase. By using a shipping integration, you can:
Not every shipping integration is exactly alike, and there are a few factors to consider when choosing which one will integrate best with your online store:
Compatibility: You’ll want to ensure the integration works with your ECommerce platform, of course - otherwise you’re not choosing the right solution! For many merchants, Shopify is the platform of choice; luckily, several shipping integrations are built to function optimally with Shopify (see the list below)!
International Shipping: As DTC businesses often have a global reach, your shipping solution must accommodate international shipments. Don’t leave money on the table! It also makes it really easy to calculate shipping costs at the time of purchase (when the customer is checking out) - this way, the customer pays the available rate and you aren’t surprised with a more expensive cost at time of fulfillment.
Cost-effectiveness: While you want the best features, it's also essential to get value for your money. There are a variety of options for businesses just starting out or huge operations; choose one according to your needs at the start.
Scalability: Your chosen solution should be able to grow with your business, so make sure it has the necessary capabilities to keep growing as you grow.
Customer Support: Ensure there's reliable support when things go awry. Read reviews and maybe even test out their customer service before committing.
As we mentioned, Shopify is a leader in ECommerce software management for your store. If you’re choosing an integration that works with Shopify, here are our top suggestions:
With centralized order processing, branded tracking pages, batch label creation, and up to 68% off carrier prices, ShipStation helps ECommerce businesses save money, print faster, and spend less time shipping. The ShipStation Shopify integration starts as low as $9.99/month, making it a low barrier to entry for startups.
Similar to ShipStation, Shippo offers real-time shipping rate comparisons, easy label printing, and hassle-free international shipping documentation. It features a user-friendly interface, which is a bonus for entrepreneurs new to the shipping side of things. Their Shopify app integration is free to install with no monthly fee, meaning you can get started shipping with Shippo right away. Their professional plan starts at $10/month, and pricing increases after that depending on your shipping volume, so it’s a great option to grow with your business.
ShipBob takes shipping another step further by offering a full fulfillment service, creating those memorable unboxing experiences and providing best-in-class supply chain solutions to fulfill orders globally from the US, UK, EU, Canada, and Australia. If you have your own warehouse, you can still use ShipBob’s proprietary warehouse management system to improve your backend operations. The ShipBob integration with Shopify is free to install, but the total cost depends on number of orders shipped, warehouse storage, receiving inventory, and other custom projects that depend on your business’s needs.
An advanced Warehouse Management Software (WMS) option, ShipHero is designed to help ECommerce brands run their warehouses using industry-leading technology and powerful tools. Used in their 8 owned and operated warehouses throughout North America, ShipHero understands the pain points that clients face on a daily basis, and works to make shipping easier for everyone! The integration with Shopify starts at $1995/month, and includes unlimited SKUs and orders, along with 10 store connections.
As trusted by some of the world’s biggest brands, AfterShip’s tagline is “the journey begins after the checkout”, and brands themselves as a loyalty and engagement platform that delights after the buy button. By integrating shipping, tracking, returns, and warranty, AfterShip’s suite of tools make all of the touchpoints along the customer journey seamless. AfterShip’s starter plan is free and includes 50 shipments a month, and the $119/month Pro plan includes 2000 shipments per month.
When entrepreneurs are building a business, they often focus on product development, cost of goods, and factors related to creating and storing those assets. Without a focus and understanding on shipping and packaging, you’re missing an important piece of the puzzle, as well as a giant portion of what could impact your bottom line.
With Triple Whale, you can track your average shipping cost by calculating the standard rate per order, per country. This can be calculated as follows:
As the number of integrations with Triple Whale continues to grow, we will soon see direct information from shipping partners to pull their data directly into the Triple Whale dashboard, so you can record all of the relevant information about your company from one location. That’s another way to make running your ECommerce business just a little easier!
The evolution of the DTC model underscores the imperative shift from merely selling products online to curating holistic, delightful customer experiences. In today's digital age, where the tactile allure of brick-and-mortar shopping is absent, the importance of a seamless online shopping experience—right from browsing the website to the thrill of unboxing—cannot be overstated. As ECommerce sales continue to grow, standing out in this competitive space demands that brands place paramount importance on every touchpoint of the customer journey.
A reliable, efficient, and integrated shipping solution not only simplifies backend operations but also ensures that the brand promise is consistently delivered to the doorstep of the consumer. With several options available, from Shipstation to AfterShip, brands have the liberty to choose an integration that aligns with their operational needs and budgetary considerations.
In the DTC world, it's evident that a robust shipping integration isn't just an operational asset - it's a pivotal tool for telling your brand’s story. Ultimately, the goal is to remember that it’s not about the product, but rather about the journey.
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