1) A Look at the eCommerce market in Canada
The eCommerce market in Canada is in the blooming stage when compared to its neighbor, the USA. In a population of 38 million, less than 40% shopped online weekly in 2021.
However, the pandemic-induced lockdown has initiated a digital turning point with more than half of the population turning to desktop or mobile eCommerce. Since 2020, the online sale has exploded for furniture, home decor, electronics, appliances, sports goods, and food.
It is also interesting to note that Canadian consumers prefer domestic eCommerce brands and heartily support local small businesses over cross-border trade. This is especially the case since the pandemic days. Consumers are willing to opt for longer delivery dates and pay an extra shipping fee if it supports the eCommerce brands in their communities.
However, it has also been found that over three fourths of Canadian consumers also favor free deliveries. In Canada, the population is spread across urban, semi-urban, and rural areas. In fact, almost 19% of the population lives in sparsely populated rural areas. But most fulfillment centers and warehouses are located in urban settings.
Hence, eCommerce brands in Canada have a lot of factors such as languages, topography, payment options, cross-border competition, and taxes to consider while setting up their order fulfillment and shipping strategies. This is exactly why eCommerce shipping solutions are all a bloodline for the eCommerce industry in Canada that every eCommerce entrepreneur should know.
2) eCommerce shipping solutions for Canada
2.1) Shipping Partners
Shipping partners are companies who are legally entitled to carry orders from the warehouses or fulfillment centers to the customers. Shipping partners are a decisive component in providing an affordable and convenient delivery service to customers. Therefore, choosing the right shipping partners and offering multiple shipping options are the key to unlock business potential and create a loyal customer base.
Shipping partners are an important eCommerce shipping solution for Canada, especially when eCommerce brands choose to offer fast shipping services. The most popular shipping partner in Canada is Canada Post. This is just a snippet, we will describe in detail in the later sections!
2.2) Shipping Software
Shipping softwares work in tandem with shipping partners. Basically, they are programs that connect with eCommerce websites or sales channels to give information about shipping estimates and shipping calculations in real-time.
There are a wide variety of shipping softwares, such as multi-carrier software, shipment tracking software, freight management and shipping label softwares. While each of them have specialized functions, many of the basic features of a shipping software overlap. These can be selecting carriers, printing shipping and return labels, calculating shipping costs and extracting delivery estimates from shipping partners.
3) How to Choose an eCommerce shipping solution for Canada
Now that we know about the two types of eCommerce shipping solutions for Canada, let’s discuss some pointers on how to choose the right shipping solutions for your eCommerce business.
The shipping solutions you choose must integrate with your eCommerce platforms and available sales channels to consolidate your orders in one place. Integration not only syncs your order data but works in real-time with IoT devices to fulfill orders in the physical warehouse or fulfillment centers. Ideally, your shipping solution should also integrate with other softwares for validating customer addresses, shipping partners and inventory management.
3.2) Order manifestation and label creation
Order manifestation creating labels can be a tedious process when done manually. Therefore, choosing an eCommerce solution that automatically generates both these crucial documents will save you tons of time and speed up the shipping process for fast deliveries.
The real-time shipment tracking feature is a must-have for every eCommerce business. It’s not only important for you to monitor the location and state of your shipment but also to keep your customers informed of their order status. In fact, keeping customers updated of the delivery dates, time and any exceptions will add brownie points to your business.
3.4) Multi-Carrier channels
Most eCommerce brands, if not all, partner with multiple carriers to ship orders across Canada at competitive rates. But instead of visiting each of their carrier websites separately to place orders and create shipping labels, an effective eCommerce solution consolidates all of them into one single dashboard. This will easily allow you to place orders, generate shipping bills in batches and track shipments across carriers from a single window.
3.5) Inventory Management
Having an inventory management eCommerce solution can be a boon for a country like Canada. With it you can easily locate inventory across distribution centers and warehouses while maintaining an optimal amount of stock at all times.
3.6) Shipping Rates
Manually calculating shipping rates based on product dimensions, shipping zones and delivery address is a troublesome task. This is why having an eCommerce shipping solution that pulls up-to-date shipping rates and calculates shipping costs is a savior. Choosing an eCommerce shipping solution that offers discounts on shipping rates will help you reduce costs as an added bonus!
Managing returns is a burdensome priority for all eCommerce businesses. Most. if not all customers, except a hassle-free returns experience. This is why having an eCommerce solution that expertly manages the reverse logistics journey is a key to retaining customers and avoiding unexpected losses in your business.
3.8) Customer Support
Another parameter to choosing your eCommerce shipping solutions for Canada is excellent and round-the-clock customer support from them.
4) Top 5 eCommerce Shipping Partners for Canada
4.1) Canada Post
Canada Post is the topmost shipping partner in Canada by order volume. It operates as a network of post offices and primarily provides parcel deliveries. In fact, It has a vast network of over 6200 post offices across the country and serves a huge proportion of rural Canadians. This makes it a top choice for shipping partners for most eCommerce brands operating in Canada.
It has three parcel delivery services and offers discounts based on different levels of business accounts. Their three services are: Priority, Xpresspost and Expedited parcel.
Canada Post is best suited for shipping small parcels under 4,5 kgs and covers even the remotest regions of Canada. While it also offers negotiated rates to eCommerce businesses but based on mileage covered, you may have to pay additional surcharges and fees for parcel tracking.
The next best shipping partner in Canada is the United Parcel Service. UPS shipping is based on the seven shipping zones in Canada and offers almost six shipping services based on the business days required for delivery.
For deliveries within Canada in one business day, UPS has three services: Express Early, UPS Express and Express Saver services. All three guarantee fast and same-day deliveries. Alternately, UPS offers the UPS Expedited delivery service for next-day and two day deliveries.
Apart from these, it has also has a number of add on services such as pickup from origin warehouses, offering delivery notifications, cash-on-deliveries, returns services and handling of hazardous goods.
4.3) FedEx Express
FedEx is a one-in-all eCommerce shipping solution that works equally well in Canada as in the US. FedEx extends a range of shipping methods from overnight deliveries (NextFlight option) to standard shipping within a week (FedEx Ground).
FedEx also handles a large volume of shipments from the USA to Canada. In fact, it offers lucrative discount options to new business account holders estimating between 45% and 20% for FedEx Express and FedEx Ground services respectively. FedEx also has competitive shipping rates that allow eCommerce brands to avail of affordable shipping services. The cheapest shipping rate for ground delivery is less than $50 Canadian dollars.
Apart from this, FedEx is well equipped to handle shipment tracking, adding delivery instructions, redirecting parcels and delivery notifications.
Purolator is a domestic shipping partner in Canada with over 176 operations facilities across the country. For shipping within Canada, Purolator has two services. First is Purolator Express for same day and next day delivery across major Canadian cities and Purolator Ground for deliveries more than 1 business days. Purolator is well known for on-time delivery to customers.
Like other shipping services, Purolator too provides discounts based on order volumes, though its shipping rates are higher than Canada Post. Purolator partners with UPS for international shipping, especially to the USA.
Based in Ontario, Canpar is another domestic shipping service from Canada. Canpar is well regarded for small parcel deliveries within the country. It has three tiers of shipping services: Ground, Select and Express deliveries.
Express shipping is ideal for urgent shipments and next-day deliveries. Select shipping is typically for handling documents and envelopes. Ground shipping an economical option for intra Canada shipping and usually takes around 1 to 4 days for the final deliveries. It also has a reliable shipment tracking system.
Canpar also offers specialised services the pickup tag service for picking packages from your door, collect service for an authorised third party to ship from your account and premium services.
5) Top 5 eCommerce shipping software for Canada
ClickPost is a multi-carriers web-based eCommerce solution. Its robust API structure seamlessly integrates with over 250 carriers in the world. For Canada, ClickPost has partnerships with carriers like DHL, UPS and FedEx.
It’s an one-in-all solution to handle integrating your sales channels with multiple carriers, receiving real-time data on shipping rates, delivery estimates and managing failed deliveries promptly. ClickPost is equipped to greatly improve your delivery, reduce SLA breaches, and get accurate information on zipcode serviceability in case your carrier changes them.
ClickPost’s returns management feature automates the returns process allowing your customers on your website directly according to your pre-set conditions. With its smart API in place, ti automatically allocates carriers for reverse pickups and prints all required documents such as the AirWay bill and shipping bills for the journey. It also tracks the returns orders and alerts you of any exceptions in the in-transit phase.
ShipStation Canada is mult-channel shipping software. It has over a hundred integrations with popular courier services, eCommerce marketplaces and platforms in Canada like Amazon, FedEx, eBay and Canpar.
ShipStation has a host of services for order fulfillment, returns and delivery options. The software seamlessly integrates with sales channels and consolidated order into one channel. With its automated workflow feature you can set up a self-service returns portal, customaise business workflows and manage orders for sorting, splitting and combining into single or multiple shipments.
You can view all your courier partners from one dashboard and select the best rates that ShipStation pulls from carrier websites in real time. It also offers discount rates, in-cart options for ease of customer’s purchase and generates shipping labels for all orders.
eShipper is a Canadian eCommerce shipping solution for order fulfillment and delivery. eShipper integrates with all the major eCommerce platforms like WooCommerce, 3dcart, eBay, Magento, Squarespace and Shopify in Canada. It syncs all your sales channels across marketplaces to a single channel for an automated order processing.
Like any standard shipping software, eShipper too provides a seamless process t generate shipping ables, print them in batches and attach logos on them. With its partnership with multiple shipping carriers, it gives discounts on shipping costs. It also has inventory management system that keeps a track of inventory stock to notify you when inventory is low or when there is a risk of over-selling products.
Shipvista is another popular eCommerce shipping solution in Canada. It is a web-based multichannel software that manages order fulfillment for eCommerce brands. It gives brands access to carrier rates from carriers in real-time, print shipping labels with one click, and integrate them with carriers to manage order creation efficiently.
Shipvista also has a reliable order tracking system in place as well as a returns management feature that generates returns labels free of charge.
ShippyPro performs all the elementary tasks one expects from shipping software with great accuracy and reliability. From generating and printing labels for order creation to tracking packages for customers and notifying them via SMS or emails, ShippyPro executes all. ShippyPro also easily integrates with your CanadaPost account for easy order placement and parcel tracking.
It also has a returns portal for a streamlined returns process. You can set your returns rules, share the returns page url for easy access, and send returns instructions to customers via emails.
There is a lot of scope for eCommerce brands in Canada with ever-increasing sales over the past few years. However, like every emerging market, eCommerce in Canada is riddled with shipping difficulties. This is where an eCommerce shipping solution comes into play. With automation and technology as driving forces, eCommerce shipping solutions have improved the ease of doing business, carrying fast deliveries and satisfying customers’ expectations across the country.
7.1) What is the best eCommerce solution to manage shipping costs in Canada?
The best ways to reduce shipping costs in Canada are thoughtful packaging and choosing carriers that offer affordable shipping rates.
7.2) How to get the best rates for eCommerce shipping in Canada?
You can get the best shipping rate in Canada by choosing ground shipping, saving on packaging and using shipping solutions for optimized shipping rates.