What Is Shipping Software?
Shipping software is a broad term referring to applications that make eCommerce order fulfillment easier. These applications are typically available as integrations within an eCommerce platform’s marketplace.
Shipping software is integrated with your eCommerce software to retrieve orders as they are placed. It then uses connections with shipping carriers (and rules set by the seller) to calculate shipping expenses for that order.
You can use shipping software to:
- Purchase shipping labels
- Print shipping labels and packing slips for shipments
- Create and print picking lists for gathering products within a warehouse
Shipping software can save your business valuable hours, while simultaneously reducing loss related to human error.
In addition, shipping software companies often work out agreements with major shipping carriers which may give you access to lower shipping rates. It’s a win-win!
How Much Will It Cost?
Popular shipping software solutions follow the SaaS (Software as a Service) model, meaning merchants pay a monthly fee for access to the software.
Shipping software is typically priced in levels. Those levels are often configured depending on how many orders merchants ship per month. Each step up in pricing also tends to include additional advanced features.
Most popular software options provide a free plan for merchants shipping fewer than 50 orders/month. Basic plans start around $25/month and increase from there (usually in increments of $25/month) all the way up to around $200/month. Sellers who ship higher volumes may have to set up an enterprise-level plan, which will be more expensive.
Common Features To Look For
As you browse for a shipping solution, you’ll want to keep your eyes open for a few key features.
Ease of Use
Any software program is useless if you can’t figure out how to work it. You should look for a solution that fits your technical skill level. You’ll want a tool you can easily implement in your daily operations.
In particular, you should look for strong organization within the admin. Common features should be readily accessible in your toolbar, with more complex features nested within categories.
It's important to ensure that your shipping solution integrates with any other software your business uses. Specifically, shipping software should integrate with the following:
- Your eCommerce Platform
- Popular Shipping Carriers
- Large Marketplaces
In addition, you’ll want to read up on customer reviews to make sure these integrations are reliable. Data should transfer easily between your software systems, without any bugs or errors.
Top shipping software solutions let you print several hundred shipping labels at a time. Look for a solution that can handle your order volume.
Customizable Packing Slips and Shipping Labels
Shipping solutions often let you customize your print-outs. You should be able to add your logo and contact information to your packing slips.
Return Management Features
Look for solutions that let you print and send return labels in your shipments. Only pay for those return labels if your customers use them.
International Shipping Features
If you ship across borders, you’ll need to check for a few additional features. Make sure your software connects with international shipping carriers and can calculate international shipping rates. You’ll also want to check to see if you can print out customs forms from your admin panel.
View stats on average shipping costs and common shipping destinations. See where your customers are buying from, and how much they’re willing to pay to ship your products.
Discounted Shipping Rates
Shipping software vendors often establish agreements with major carriers that allow them to offer lower shipping rates to their customers. Look for a vendor that offers a significant discount with your favorite shipping carrier.
Reliable Customer Support
No matter how user-friendly your software is, you will inevitably run into a few snags. Make sure customer support is helpful and responsive before you commit to a software.
Integrations You May Need
We mentioned integrations in the previous section. Shipping software only works if it connects with your other software solutions. At this point, you likely know which software programs you need to connect. It may be helpful, however, to know which companies offer integrations. Here’s a brief list of the most common integrations:
- Walmart Marketplace
- Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA)
- Canada Post
Try Before You Buy
You wouldn’t buy a car before taking it for a test drive. Take advantage of any free trials and free plans a shipping solution offers!
Spend as much time as you can becoming comfortable with the software. Finding the best shipping software takes time. Connect it to your other accounts and test out the quality of those integrations. Make sure you really take the software through its paces. Try fulfilling real orders. Test complicated shipping requests. Contact support with any questions you may have.
Only sign up for a paid plan when you feel absolutely certain of the shipping software you’ve chosen. Then, you can sit back and enjoy the free time that automated shipping can provide.
To read in-depth evaluations of the top shipping solutions on the market today, check out our comprehensive reviews above; take a look at our shipping software comparison table if you want a quick, reliable way to evaluate the competition.