The Ultimate Shopify Shipping Guide For Online Sellers
Shopify Shipping is an excellent option for many Shopify sellers who are looking for an easy way to manage their order fulfillment. And best of all? It's free.
Online sales have slowed a bit from their peak at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Still, online purchases account for nearly 20% of U.S. retail spending, according to a Digital Commerce 360 analysis. If you operate an online store, you’re don’t need statistics to know that your sales are growing — you can tell by the familiar, never-ending challenge of getting customers’ orders out on time.
Keeping up with an ongoing stream of orders is one challenge. Getting the best possible price on shipping is another. Because managing the logistics of shipping can be incredibly complicated, we often advise merchants to integrate full shipping software into their shopping cart system. Using shipping software can help you streamline your fulfillment process, pick the best shipping options, automate label printing, and prevent headaches caused by incorrect postage.
However, sometimes adding shipping software is just adding another layer of complexity. You may be reluctant to go through the hassle of integrating third-party software, and you definitely don’t want to pay a monthly fee for yet another add-on.
Fortunately, if you’re a Shopify merchant, you have another option. Shopify offers its own shipping software that’s totally free to use and already built into every Shopify account. This service is called Shopify Shipping, and it is an excellent option for many Shopify sellers who are looking for an easy way to manage their order fulfillment.
Keep reading to learn more about Shopify Shipping, how to set up shipping on Shopify, and how you can use it this free tool for your eCommerce business.
Table of Contents
- What Is Shopify Shipping?
- Why Should I Use Shopify Shipping?
- How Much Does Shopify Shipping Cost?
- Key Features Available With Shopify Shipping
- How To Set Up Shipping On Shopify
- Setting Up Shopify Free Shipping To Offer Free Shipping Rates
- Looking For An Alternative? Check Out These Shopify Shipping Apps
- Shopify Shipping FAQs
What Is Shopify Shipping?
Shopify Shipping is a built-in shipping suite that gives merchants tools to calculate real-time shipping rates, purchase and print shipping labels, and track shipments. Although Shopify Shipping is free for Shopify users on every pricing plan, you should note that it’s only available for orders shipped from the United States and Canada.
So how does Shopify shipping work?
Shopify Shipping partners with USPS, UPS, DHL Express, and Canada Post to offer discounted rates on many shipping services. These discounts are often around 20%-50%, but they range all the way up to 88%. Accessing these shipping carriers’ rates allows you to list real-time shipping calculations both on your order processing page and in your customers’ checkout. That lets you charge precise amounts for shipping, reducing the risk of underestimating your shipping expenses.
In addition, Shopify Shipping has many other features that can improve your order fulfillment. You can process orders and print shipping labels in bulk right from your Shopify admin. International shipping tools can be used to create and print customs forms, and pass shipment tracking information along to your customers. And you can pay for all your shipping costs on your monthly Shopify subscription.
All in all, Shopify Shipping offers many of the same features that you can find with third-party shipping software, totally free.
Why Should I Use Shopify Shipping?
The biggest benefit of Shopify Shipping is that it is free and already built into your Shopify account, making Shopify shipping a really easy shipping solution to use for your business. Once you enable Shopify Shipping, you’ll gain access to shipping discounts with a choice of shipping carriers. For example, with the Shopify Shipping USPS partnership, Shopify users can save up to 88% on USPS shipping costs.
Here are the main advantages of using Shopify Shipping:
- Easy to use
- Discounted shipping rates
- Display real-time shipping rates at checkout
The biggest downside of Shopify Shipping is that this service is only available in the US and Canada. If you are a US or Canadian Shopify user, shipping with Shopify could be a great option that can lead to some serious savings.
How Much Does Shopify Shipping Cost?
Shopify Shipping is already built into your Shopify account, and it is totally free to use. You won’t pay any additional monthly fees or per-label fees.
In comparison, pricing for many third-party shipping software apps typically ranges from $0/month to $100/month depending on the number of orders you ship per month and the level of customer support you receive.
One of the main reasons to consider Shopify Shipping is the reduced shipping rates offered through USPS, UPS, DHL Express, and Canada Post. While all Shopify customers can benefit from this discount, the rate you pay for shipping with some carriers may depend on your Shopify plan level.
Take a look below for a more detailed breakdown of the discounted shipping rates available with these shipping carriers.
USPS Shopify Shipping Rates
The United States Postal Service (USPS) is an online seller’s best friend when it comes to shipping small, lightweight products. This affordable shipping service is the cheapest option for shipments under 12 ounces, and the USPS partnership with Shopify Shipping can let you save up to 88% on your shipments.
When you purchase USPS shipping labels through Shopify Shipping, you can skip the line at the post office and go straight to the drop-off box. You can also use USPS’s international options to ship across borders, and you can use their tracking features to allow customers to keep an eye on the status of their orders.
USPS makes a number of domestic and international shipping services available through Shopify Shipping. There are no minimum shipping volume requirements or hidden fees. Take a look at the available services:
Domestic USPS Services
- First-Class Package Service: 2-3 business days
- First-Class Mail: 2-3 business days
- Priority Mail: 1-3 business days
- Priority Mail Express: 1-2 business days
International USPS Services
- First-Class Package International Service: Delivery timeline varies
- Priority Mail International: 6-10 days
- Priority Mail Express International: 3-5 business days
Pricing for all shipping services depends on a variety of factors, including the shipment’s weight and dimensions, as well as the shipment’s starting point and destination. For this reason, it’s difficult to give representative pricing for all available shipping services. However, in an effort to demonstrate some of Shopify Shipping’s available discounts, we’re including a few examples of pricing below.
Take a look at the rates representing the cost of shipping a small box (5 by 9 by 2 inches, 11 ounces) from San Francisco to New York City. Rates vary depending on your Shopify pricing plan:
- USPS First-Class: $4.68 (21% savings)
- USPS Priority Mail: $8.80 (11% savings)
- USPS Priority Mail Express: $39.85 (13% savings)
Cubic pricing is available for users on the Shopify or Advanced Shopify plans. To qualify, packages must weigh less than 20 pounds, measure less than 0.5 cubic feet in volume, and be less than 18 inches in length, width, and height. If you regularly send small but heavy products, such as coffee beans, you may qualify for cubic pricing that’s lower than the regular Priority Mail price. If you’re eligible, Shopify automatically selects the cheaper rate.
UPS Shopify Shipping Rates
Specializing in fast shipments and guaranteed delivery, UPS is often the best option for time-sensitive shipments. UPS offers robust package-tracking features and guaranteed delivery on super fast shipment options like Next Day Air. When you ship via UPS with Shopify Shipping, you can save up to 74% on UPS rates. You can also schedule UPS package pickups from your workplace, so you can keep shipping without having to leave your office.
While UPS offers a huge variety of shipping services, only about a dozen of those services are available with Shopify Shipping. Fortunately, these services include air and ground shipping as well as domestic and international services. Insurance is included when you purchase a UPS shipping label, for maximum coverage of $100.
Here are the UPS services you can access with Shopify Shipping:
Domestic UPS Services
- UPS Next Day Air: Next business day
- UPS Next Day Air Saver: Next business day (afternoon)
- UPS 2nd Day Air: 2 business days
- UPS 3 Day Select: 3 business days
- UPS Ground: 1-5 business days
International UPS Services
- UPS Worldwide Express: 1-3 business days (morning)
- UPS Worldwide Saver: 1-3 business days (end of day)
- UPS Worldwide Expedited: 2-5 business days
- UPS Standard to Canada: Day-definite by date scheduled
Like with the USPS, pricing for each shipment depends on the shipment’s weight, dimensions, starting point, and destination. Take a look at example rates for just a few UPS services below. Notice the discounts that are available with Shopify Shipping compared to UPS’s Daily Rates.
The following rates represent the cost of shipping a 1-pound box via UPS. The first two rates represent pricing for shipping domestically from New York City to Chicago, while the last two rates represent international shipments from New York City to the specified destinations:
- UPS Ground: $8.08 (49% savings)
- UPS Next Day Air: $35.27 (56% savings)
- UPS Standard to Canada: $16.53 (44% savings)
- UPS Worldwide Expedited to London: $36.06 (69% savings)
DHL Express Shopify Shipping Rates
If you ship internationally, you should consider DHL for your fulfillment. DHL specializes in fast, global deliveries and ships to more than 220 countries and territories, reaching 95% of the world’s population. With tools for creating customs forms and guaranteed international deliver (often within 2-3 business days), DHL makes a lot of sense for international shipments. And when you purchase shipping labels through Shopify Shipping, you can save up to 74% on DHL rates.
DHL only offers one service through Shopify Shipping. Take a look below:
International DHL Service
- DHL Express Worldwide: 2-3 business days for most international destinations
As you would expect, pricing for individual shipments varies dramatically depending on package weight, dimensions, origin, and destination. In addition, DHL’s discount rate varies depending on what level of Shopify service you subscribe to. We’re including an example shipment which illustrates shipping rates on each of Shopify’s pricing plans.
These rates represent the cost of shipping a small box (1 pound) from New York City to various destinations:
|Basic Shopify Plan||Shopify Plan||Advanced Shopify Plan|
|DHL Express Worldwide To Toronto||$33.14 (64% savings)||$26.87 (71% savings)||$24.79 (73% savings)|
|DHL Express Worldwide To London||$38.72 (68% savings)||$38.00 (69% savings)||$37.27 (69% savings)|
|DHL Express Worldwide To Sydney||$43.26 (67% savings)||$42.45 (67% savings)||$41.64 (68% savings)|
Canada Post Shopify Shipping Rates
The Canada Post is Canada’s primary mail carrier service, much like the USPS in the United States. For Shopify sellers based in Canada, Canada Post is the only national shipping carrier available through Shopify Shipping. It is also available exclusively to sellers who ship from Canada; sellers in the United States cannot ship to Canada using Canada Post. Canada Post is a great option for sellers shipping domestically within Canada.
When you use Shopify Shipping to purchase shipping labels from Canada Post, you can save up to 53%. Canada Post shipments come with tracking capabilities, so you can give customers notifications on the status of their orders. Only boxes and soft packages are supported; you cannot use Canada Post for envelope-type packages.
Canada Post offers a number of different services with Shopify Shipping. They have domestic services and international services. Notice that Canada Post rates vary by location and rates are differentiated between international shipments to the United States and international shipments to the rest of the world.
Here are Canada Post’s available services with Shopify Shipping:
Domestic Canada Post Services
- Expedited Parcel: 1-7 business days
- Xpresspost: 1-2 business days
- Priority: Next business day
International Canada Post Services: USA
- Small Packet USA – Air: 5-8 business days; for small, lightweight packages under 1 kg
- Tracked Packet -USA: 4-7 business days; for small, lightweight packages under 1 kg
- Expedited Parcel – USA: 4-7 business days; for heavier packages under 30 kg
- Xpresspost – USA: 2-3 business days
International Canada Post Services: The Rest of the World
- Small Packet International: Surface (1-3 months) or Air (6-10 business days); for small, lightweight packages under 2 kg
- International Parcel: Surface (1-3 months) or Air (12+ business days); for large, heavy items
- Tracked Packet–International: 6-10 business days; for small, lightweight packages under 2 kg. Available to 31 countries
- Xpresspost–International: 4-7 business days
Pricing for shipments with Canada Post varies depending on package weight, dimensions, origin, and destination. Take a look below for just one comparison of the rates available at the post office and Shopify Shipping’s discounted rates on the Shopify plan.
These rates represent the cost of shipping a small package (1 kilogram) from Toronto to Calgary, Canada:
|Service||Post Office Rate||Shopify Shipping Rate|
|Expedited Parcel||$19.91||$16.83 (15% savings)|
|Xpresspost||$27.98||$24.41 (12% savings)|
|Tracked Packet USA (To New York)||$23.77||$21.19 (10% savings)|
|Tracked Packet International (To London)||$71.23||$52.96 (25% savings)|
Key Features Available With Shopify Shipping
Shopify Shipping comes with all the features most merchants need to process orders. There are a few areas where Shopify should continue strengthening its existing features, but Shopify Shipping’s current features meet many sellers’ needs.
Here are a few of the features you can find already built-in:
- Integrations With Major Carriers: Ship your orders through Canada Post, DHL, USPS, and UPS.
- Batch Label Printing: You can purchase and print up to 20 labels at a time. You can use a regular desktop printer or a supported label printer to print these labels.
- Shipping Insurance: Shipping insurance through Shipsurance is available only to merchants who are shipping from the United States. Buy up to $5,000 of insurance coverage on eligible shipments. Add shipping insurance and even file claims directly from your Shopify admin. Not all commodities and destinations are covered, however.
- Flat Rate Or Calculated Shipping Options: You can choose to set free or flat shipping rates or calculate rates based on weight and dimensions. Shopify Shipping now allows all merchants to list calculated shipping rates to customers at checkout. There’s only one disadvantage to these calculated rates and it is that Shopify Shipping’s calculated rates use only the dimensions that you enter for your default package. If a shipment differs vastly in size from your default package, your calculated rates may be incorrect during your customers’ checkout process. More on this later.
- Better Customer Service Features: Provide customers with real-time updates and tracking information.
- International Features: Print customs forms with your shipping labels.
How To Set Up Shipping On Shopify
Shipping through Shopify can be an affordable and easy way to streamline your eCommerce store’s shipping. Since the Shopify Shipping suite is already built into every Shopify account, it doesn’t take much work to start using the program. Here are the steps you should take to implement Shopify Shipping:
1. Add Your Shipping Address
You probably have already entered your business’s address during the sign-up process with Shopify. Double-check that your address is correct.
If you ship from a location that is different than your business’s primary location (for example, a warehouse), add that address into the “Locations” section in your settings page.
2. Choose Your Shipping Carriers & Services
Depending on the country you’re based in, you can add shipping services from USPS, UPS, DHL, or Canada Post. Choose which of the available options you’d like to use for your shipments, and click the checkbox to make those services available on your order processing page.
3. Add All Product Weights
In order to calculate accurate real-time rates, your store must include weights for all your products. If you haven’t taken this step already, now is the time!
You can set weights in pounds, ounces, kilograms, or grams.
4. Set A Default Package
Shopify Shipping calculates the weight of your shipments by adding product weight to the weight of your packaging materials. You can set the weight and dimensions of your packaging materials by setting up a “default package.” Shopify will use the dimensions and packaging weight that you enter here to calculate real-time shipping rates to display on a customer’s checkout page.
Unfortunately, you can set only one default package, which means that if you have products that vary dramatically in size, you may end up charging incorrect amounts for shipping. You are able to select another package size during the order processing step, but the rates Shopify displays at checkout are only based on this one default package.
If this doesn’t work for you, Shopify recommends that you use a third-party shipping app to calculate rates at checkout.
5. Set Up Your Printer
Shopify Shipping lets you print labels on a regular desktop printer or on a supported label printer. Desktop printers create regular paper labels, which you can attach to your shipment using packing tape or plastic sleeves, while label printers create stickers labels.
In addition to your desktop printer, Shopify Shipping works with these label printers:
- Dymo LabelWriter 4XL
- Rollo label printer
- Brother QL-1110NWB label printer
6. Adjust Settings For Specific Shipping Zones
Some sellers choose to offer certain shipping services only within specific shipping zones. For example, you might want to offer expedited shipping only to customers near your warehouse. Or you might want to offer international shipping only to a few select countries.
Shopify Shipping allows you to adjust your settings to offer certain shipping services only to some shipping zones. Be sure to look into these features before you launch.
Once you have everything set up — you’ve chosen a few shipping services, added product weights, set a default package, and tested your printer — you can begin fulfilling orders. Head over to your orders page to start processing shipments.
Setting Up Shopify Free Shipping To Offer Free Shipping Rates
The two words that cause online shoppers the most joy while causing online sellers the most headaches? “Free shipping.” Your customers may expect fast (and free!) shipping, but figuring out how to make it happen isn’t always so easy. And although it may be “free” for customers, as the store owner you’ll be left paying the bill.
For many small online businesses, free shipping is a necessity these days, if you want to remain competitive. You may be able to absorb the costs with increased sales, offer free shipping only after a certain price threshold is reached per order, or adjust prices slightly upward to offset the added expense. However you do it, you can adjust your Shopify Shipping setting to make free shipping available to customers. Here are some options. For each, start in your Shopify admin under Settings, then Shipping and delivery:
Free Shipping As Default Option
If you want to make free shipping available on nearly all the products you sell, you can choose Free as your default shipping option.
- Select General shipping rates and then click Manage rates.
- Adjust the rate for each shipping zone. Click Add rate, then enter the name for that rate. make sure the Price field value is zero.
- Click Done, then Save.
Free Shipping With Minimum Purchase
You may want to make free shipping available only when a customer orders a certain dollar amount of products, such as $50. That’s a good strategy for encouraging customers to keep shopping, so you increase your average order value and recoup some of the money you’ll be spending on free shipping. You’ll need to adjust your General shipping rates shipping profile; to make it available only on certain products, you’ll need to add a custom shipping profile.
- Next to the shipping profile where you want a free shipping rate, click Manage rates.
- To add the shipping rate to each shipping zone, click Add rate, then enter a name for the rate and set the Price field to zero.
- Click Add conditions, then select Based on order price, and enter a minimum.
- Click Done and Save.
Free Shipping For Certain Customers
Maybe you want to reward loyal customers — or entice former buyers to come back and shop again. Whatever your plans, you can adjust your Shopify Shipping free offer to fit your needs, by creating a free shipping discount.
- Go to Discounts, the click Create discount.
- Enter a name for the new discount code in the Discount code section.
- Select Free shipping in the Options section.
- Select Minimum requirements to Minimum purchase amount or Minimum quality of items, if you like, and enter the dollar value or number of items needed to qualify a purchase for this discount.
- Select who this discount applies to in the Customer eligibility section, the visit the Usage limits section to limit the number of times a customer can use the discount.
- Set start and end dates under the Active dates section.
- Click Save discount and you’re done.
You can also juice sales on a specific product or category of product, by creating a shipping profile that contains the products and offering free shipping on them. You might also want to tie a free shipping offer for orders that hit a certain weight threshold, like 10 pounds. For information on these types of discounts, visit the Shopify manual online.
Looking For An Alternative? Check Out These Shopify Shipping Apps
For most users, Shopify Shipping is worth looking into. It’s a basic shipping program, with some perks like discounts with popular shippers. Best of all, it will integrate seamlessly with your existing Shopify setup, so you can start using it right away, hassle-free.
However, if you’re not quite sure it’s the right choice for your business, you have quite a few alternatives to consider. In fact, there are hundreds of shipping solutions listed on the Shopify app store. The sheer number and variety of choices can seem overwhelming. To help you make sense of it, we’ll highlight a few good options. Keep in mind, there are many more available on the Shopify app store, so take some time to browse, read the reviews other users have posted, and take your pick.
For starters, you’ll find some well-reviewed third-party shipping software apps. Each of those includes nearly everything Shopify Shipping offers, typically with even stronger features available. You can use these third-party shipping software programs to print shipping labels, manage returns, track shipments, and automate order fulfillment. And they integrate with Shopify to generate accurate real-time shipping rates at checkout and take advantage of the discounted rates that these apps have negotiated with popular shipping carriers.
Here are a few of the best-rated and most popular shipping apps on the Shopify app store:
- ShippingEasy: Easy to learn and easy to use, ShippingEasy lives up to its name. It’s an affordable option for vendors who want a tried-and-true shipping integration for their Shopify store.
- ShipStation: A complete shipping solution, ShipStation integrates completely with Shopify stores as well as USPS, UPS, FedEx, and DHL. A Stamps.com account is included, and users can access USPS discounts.
- ShipRush: For sellers shipping a lot of freight, ShipRush can be an affordable shipping solution. You’ll see rates from multiple carriers displayed together, letting you easily choose the most cost-effective option. And the software comes with a free 60-day trial.
- OrderCup: The more sales channels you’re operating on, the more complicated your shipping needs can become. That’s where shipping software like OrderCup comes in. All paid plans include unlimited channels in addition to discounted USPS shipping rates, discounted insurance, returns processing, and address verification.
Keep in mind, however, that in order to take advantage of these features, you have to pay a monthly fee. Subscription to a third-party shipping software typically costs between $0/month and $100/month, depending on how many orders you ship monthly.
Fortunately, you can find some very good but lesser-known and lower-priced or even free shipping solutions in the Shopify app store, too. If you’re looking for country-specific shipping solutions, you should be able to find what you’re looking for.
Here are some more of the most highly rated shipping apps:
- Pirate Ship: Good for sellers who ship primarily with USPS, Pirate Ship lets you save up to 89% off USPS rates. You’ll also gain access to USPS cubic pricing, meaning you could save if you regularly ship small but heavy packages. Connect Pirate Ship to your Shopify account to print shipping labels and generate end-of-day forms. Pirate Ship works well for vendors shipping identical packages.
- Advanced Shipping Rules: If you sell a variety of products online, with varying weights and package sizes, Advanced Shipping Rules might be a good choice for you. You can set unique rates using many variables and conditions, including advanced package dimension settings, free shipping rules, special shipping rules by ZIP Code, and restricted ground rates for perishable items. Ship via UPS and FedEx.
- Shipping Rates By ZipCode: Do your customers expect delivery in a variety of ways? If you want to offer shipping plus store pickup and local delivery, this app might work well for you. It uses buyers’ ZIP codes to calculate shipping prices at checkout. You can set conditions such as order price, item weight or quantity, product selection, and so on, and add ZIP codes with shipping prices based on the day of the week. This app works in all the countries Shopify supports, so it’s a good choice for international sellers.
- Shipping Rates Calculator Plus: Fight back against abandoned carts by using this app’s geolocation tools to display shipping costs to customers up front. As long as you have your Shopify store configured to display real-time shipping rates, your customers can see accurate delivery information and pricing.
- Advanced Shipping Manager: Complicated shipping rules? Multiple carriers? No problem, if you add Advanced Shipping Manager to your Shopify store. You can set unlimited rules, unlimited origins, and unlimited options, with more than 70 supported parcel and freight couriers. Use dimensional weight, item origin postal codes, and block shipping to restrict inappropriate shipping options from special items like perishable products, heavy items, or items restricted in different states.
If your business model involves dropshipping, you have some additional shipping challenges. Fortunately, you also have access to some great shipping solutions aimed at dropshippers, in addition to a wealth of dropshipping apps for Shopify stores.
Whatever your shipping challenges, you can find what you need in the Shopify app store. Don’t wait. Get started with the suggestions in this post and start shipping!