Choosing the Right Shipping Method for eCommerce Fulfillment

Fast and dependable fulfillment is critical to the success of your online business. Your top priority is getting your orders to your customers quickly and accurately, but at the same time choose a cost-effective shipping method. This article gives you a detailed overview so you are prepared to select the right shipping methods for your fulfillment business.

Shipping Options: Choose from the widest range of shipping options to make sure you get the most reliable and cost-effective delivery methods for your orders. The choice of shipping companies and shipping methods depends on following criteria:

You have essentially two choices - services offered by USPS or services offered by private carrier such as UPS/FedEx.

In spite of all the bad press, USPS is one of the best and most reliable shipping option for delivering to consumer for home delivery. USPS service is by far the cheapest. There are many shipping choices available. First Class, Media, Priority and Express Mail. USPS also offers Flat Rate Package mailing for one standard price to any part of the USA. The best part of USPS is that it is the only choice to deliver package to PO Box and APO locations. Unlike other carriers, First class mail charge the same flat amount whether the package is shipped to next door neighbour or air shipped to Hawaii or Alaska.

UPS/FedEx usually charge more. These two carries are a good choice if you want very dependable service. If your products have high value and you want an insured and guaranteed delivery then it is OK to justify the high cost charged by UPS/FedEx. These carriers are a good fit for heavier package items. Both UPS/FedEx offer ground and air services. The cost and time to deliver a package based on the zone. The entire country is divided into various zones. Packages shipped to the closest zone gets delivered next day via ground and cost less compared to farther zone which could take up to 5 business days via ground service.

Delivery confirmation and tracking: The terms "Delivery Confirmation" and "Tracking" are often used interchangeably, but they are not the same thing. When UPS or FedEx "tracks" a package, it knows where it is at all time. Delivery Confirmation will usually acknowledge that the package arrived at the destination zip code. It will also note if delivery was attempted but not successful. However, the details are often fuzzy after that. If "delivered", was the package left at the doorstep? Did the postal worker leave it at the neighbor's house? Delivery Confirmation often will not help you in those situations. It is possible to have a lost package with "delivery confirmation" showing "delivered" at the same time.

Another limitation of Delivery Confirmation is that it is often not scanned. There have been reported instances when the package was never scanned, either on the pickup side or the delivery side or both. When you look up the "delivery confirmation" number online, it simply says "Label Printed". Other things to note about delivery confirmation: USPS Delivery Confirmation on "first class" mail is restricted to items which are at least ¾" thick. If the item is less than ¾" thick, you must upgrade to priority mail to use Delivery Confirmation.

Shipping Merchandise to the Fulfillment Center: In addition to selecting the right shipping for outbound shipping; you also need to ship merchandise to the fulfillment center. Most fulfillment centers have negotiated rates for freight shipment via LTL or other shipping methods and you should compare the shipping cost for inbound shipment from your fulfillment company instead of going direct to the freight company. Depending on the nature of your merchandise, and pickup site, there could be a huge cost difference between various freight companies, your fulfillment center should be able to guide in advising the best option.

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