1) Introduction to eCommerce shipping apps
Ask any eCommerce business owner about their daily operations, and you’ll be surprised to know that there's more to running a company than just picking, packing, and shipping. Though these three operations act as pillars for your organization, they aren't as simple as they look, especially the shipping aspect.
If you take a walk back in time, earlier, people visited shipping docks and went through tons of paperwork to send goods from one place to another. But now, with access to the internet and the introduction of eCommerce shipping apps, it's just a matter of a few clicks, and your product gets picked up and delivered hassle-freely.
If you’ve always wanted to acquire detailed information related to shipping apps, their uses, features, and the best shipping apps to pick from, you have landed at the right article. We are going to cover all that and a lot more in this post, so stick with us till the end.
2) The Hows and Whys of Shipping Apps
Up until a decade ago, eCommerce logistics operations weren't as simple as they are now. People were new to the online selling environment, and business owners often struggled with managing websites and handling customer issues. But with the launch of dedicated eCommerce shipping apps, things simplified a bit, and eCommerce business owners got a new life.
If you ask us, shipping apps are no different from other apps available on popular marketplaces. They are basically pieces of software designed to simplify the process of transporting goods from a source to a destination.
Thanks to the launch of such apps, people didn’t need to visit shipping docks, stand in long queues, and fill up thousands of forms to get their goods transported anymore. They could do everything in a matter of minutes through their smartphones. Moreover, they could stay updated and notified about the goods’ location and condition throughout the transit, which is why they could even complain in case of a mishap.
eCommerce shipping apps thus not only proved to be convenient for customers but also helped eCommerce business owners compete better in the market. It saved their time, money, and effort and made them more comfortable with the digital era.
Moving on, if you are thinking of selecting a shipping app to better manage your eCommerce goods’ transportation, there are a couple of aspects you should keep in mind.
3) What to look for in eCommerce shipping apps?
Small business owners face a lot of problems; from hiring the right people to building a brand to developing a customer base. They have numerous loose ends to tie for the smooth running of their businesses. On top of that, there's constant pressure to provide quality service to keep the loyal customers onboard. Plus, they also need to manage their expenses and make sure their operations don't exceed their budget.
With so many things to look upon, nobody wants an additional burden in the form of a poorly built app managing operations. That's why people should choose shipping apps wisely. These are a few of the criteria you should keep in mind when looking for a good shipping app.
Important Note: Different shipping apps focus on different aspects. For some, fast delivery means everything. For some, product safety and care are the most important, and for others, it's a mixed bag. It is your responsibility to differentiate them according to your preferences. Check which one offers you the most discounts, which one provides more services at less cost, and don't forget to go through the shippers' past performance.
Once you've done your research, go ahead and ask for a quote from the company, and then decide which one you are going to use for your product. Though you may have your preferences, some basic services and features must be present in every shipping app.
3.1) On-time delivery
Shipments can indeed get delayed, but if a company is consistent in not delivering them on time, it's a big NO-NO for you. Timely delivery matters a lot. Many eCommerce companies lose customers by failing to fulfill their promise of on-time delivery. So be very careful about who you are hiring for your eCommerce company.
3.2) Safety of products
Many courier services deliver products on or before time but fail to maintain their real form. Frankly, nobody likes waiting for a week and getting a product that is damaged or faulty. So associate with a courier partner who delivers products safely and provides insurance for expensive or fragile ones.
3.3) Real-time tracking
Having access to your product's location is vital. Many eCommerce companies use this data to bridge gaps in their services. If you don't have any idea of how your product reaches the customers, how will you take action in case of any contingency?
3.4) Sending updates and notifications
Notifying customers is a crucial aspect too. When customers are aware of their product's location, they neither contact the eCommerce companies constantly nor get worried. Instead, they're in the loop throughout the delivery process.
Most eCommerce business owners have their own websites. Therefore, they need to check whether or not the shipping app they are using is compatible with their platform. If it allows you to do everything in one place, from receiving the purchase order to printing the shipping label to end-to-end tracking, then it's a good one. But if you have to go through multiple pages to fulfill one sales order, you must look for better options.
Regardless of how big or small your business is, how many orders you process in a day, or at what scale your operations are, if you can't minimize your cost, you're eventually going to fail. So while choosing shipping apps, pay close attention to the cost. Address questions like, "will this company offer me any discounts," "are there different plans depending upon the size of the business, “are there extra charges for integrating the shipping app with my platform”, and so on.
Now coming to a critical question - is it really worth spending so much time, trust, and money on a shipping app?
4) How do shipping apps help small business owners?
Ask any small business owner about their prime focus, and you will be surprised to know that instead of choosing profits first, they are more concerned about building a strong customer base. And why not? To survive longer, you need loyal customers; only then will you be able to garner profits.
Here's how eCommerce shipping apps can add to that goal:
4.1) Shipping apps save time
Don't you feel irritated when a product you have been waiting for for a week gets even more delayed? At times people get so frustrated that they make it a point not to shop from that website ever again. If you don't want your business to meet that fate and lose out on customers, connect with good shipping services.
A good shipping app has the ability and speed to manage operations smoothly. It allows you to book, monitor, modify and update products within a few clicks. It also gives you access to real-time data and keeps you updated about the product and its location so that in case of any mishap, you can notify customers. Some apps even allow you to store this data for analyzing purposes.
4.2) Shipping apps conserve money
When you are connecting with online freight shipping companies, you can get the quote directly compared to calling up freight brokers and waiting for their response. The task is much easier and requires you to enter the correct information about your shipment and location on the carrier's website. Once you've done that you can compare shipping app costs and choose the one with more benefits.
4.3) Shipping apps allow optimization
Most shipping apps record data for analyzing purposes. Everything from pick up to delivery and the process in the middle is stored in the app's history. You can use that data to identify supply chain gaps and optimize the process. You can even observe the change and how it's impacting your business to continue or eliminate it.
5) Looking for the best shipping app? ClickPost is the answer
ClickPost is an eCommerce logistics intelligence software that works on improving customers' post-purchase experience. It offers endless shipping and tracking services to eCommerce owners without neglecting the ideal post-purchase period.
The company has been working with some of the greatest eCommerce giants and has proved to be the best in the eCommerce logistics industry. Some of the key services it offers include:-
i) Data-driven carrier selection
ii) Single API for creating orders across 120+ carriers
iii) Unified tracking to reduce WISMO calls
iv) Proactive resolution of delays and SLA breaches
v) Failed Delivery Intelligence to reduce last-mile delivery exceptions
vi) Returns solution to accept, process, and track returns
There are a lot more services that ClickPost offers to deliver a stellar shipping experience. However, if you are looking for an alternative solution, the next section covers 10 great shipping apps.
6) 10 shipping apps you must check out
With your busy schedule as an eCommerce business owner, you might not find enough time to check out different eCommerce shipping apps and their offerings. But worry not, we can lend a hand with that.
Below are the 10 best shipping apps on the market with their features and cost.
Founded by Divey Gulati and Dhruv Saxena in 2014, ShipBob helps customers in shipping products by storing inventory and delivering them. When vendors connect their online store to the company's software and send their products to a ShipBob fulfillment center, the company picks, packs, and ships the product. The company offers the following features:i) Doesn't charge any pick and pack fees
ii) Offers a flat receiving rate
iii) Provides batch fulfillment
iv) Offers outstanding returns management
v) Allows in-depth reporting
Pricing: ShipBob charges are quite nominal. Unlike most fulfillment providers, it doesn't ask for a pick and pack fee. Instead, it completely drops that charge. When working with ShipBob, eCommerce business owners usually have to pay a $5/month storage charge per unit or $40/ month per pallet for too many products, along with the shipping fees. You even get a flat receiving rate of $35 per delivery instead of charging per pallet or other unit received.
6.2) Spark Shipping
Spark Shipping is a unique shipping app that bridges gaps between eCommerce merchants and the various vendors they work with. It provides numerous facilities, including inventory management, order processing, and package tracking, with ease and gives customers a seamless experience. Some other features offered by the organization are:i) Automated inventory management
ii) Auto tracking
iii) Automated order routing
iv) Full product data integration
Pricing: Though the app is admired for its services, it is one of the costliest on the market. You need to pay $249/month to avail of its professional services, which include the first 1000 orders, one site integration, three vendor integrations, phone and email support, access to all prebuild vendor integrations, and 250k SKUs. There are additional charges for crossing that limit of orders and SKU. Again, as you go towards better plans, the amount increases to $499/month and $999/month.
Based in Austin, Texas, ShipStation is an affordable shipping app with top-quality services. It offers all kinds of facilities from generating picking and packing lists to automatically printing return labels to supporting individual brands, and last but not least, offering great discounts. Its other features include:i) People-friendly dashboard
ii) Best carriers for each order
iii) Excellent inventory management
iv) Great tracking and return options
Pricing: In terms of cost, you can rely on ShipStation blindly. The organization offers a first 30-day free trial post which you need to pay $9/month for a single user and 50 shipments.
Another great shipping app, Shippo provides an independent space to eCommerce business owners. They can sign up for free and compare shipping prices and discounts between major carriers and secure the best deal. Once the carrier is selected, they need to print the shipping label, including the return label Shippo provides in the order, and ship it. Shippo's prominent facilities include:i) API access
ii) Global carrier discounts
iii) Unlimited platform integrations
iv) Email and live chat support
Pricing: There are three plans under Shippo's umbrella. The first one includes fewer features but is free till you use Shippo's default carriers. The rest start from $10/month for 60 labels all the way up to $200/month for up to 10,000 labels.
A UPS-ready program, EasyPost offers flexible rates, great discounts, quick fulfillment, and simplified carrier comparing services. It allows eCommerce business owners to create their own shipping labels and insure shipments against damage. Some benefits of the API include:i) Tracking with webhooks
ii) Address verification
iii) Customs for International shipments as well as Paperless Invoices
iv) Batch shipping
Pricing: EasyPost offers two plans, the developer and the enterprise. Under the first plan, you can use its services for free for the first 120,000 shipments per year, but for the developer plan, you'll be charged a custom price.
A 2-in-1 shipping app, AfterShip handles both shipment tracking and returns. It has an association with over 700 carriers and offers customers flexible plans as per their needs. The best thing about the app is it notifies and updates your customers regardless of which carrier you choose to send it through. Some of its features are:
i) Delivery date predictions
ii) On-time delivery
iii) Shipment visibility
iv) Branded tracking page
Pricing: The app charges no fees for 50 shipments per month with its basic facilities. But as you move up the charts, charges increase along with better features.
Unique among its peers, Route offers both package tracking and insurance. Once eCommerce business owners have integrated their app with their website, they are asked to choose shipping insurance which is at a fraction of the items in their cart. This saves them from paying out of pocket in case of any mishap, such as damaged or stolen, or lost goods. Given below are some additional features provided by Route:i) Automatic package tracking
ii) Quick issue resolution
iii) Real-time shipping updates
Pricing: The Route app is free of cost. The merchant only has to pay for the insurance, and they can enjoy the services without any charge.
A great app if you have international customers, Easyship allows you to deliver shipments internationally at a reasonable cost. It even gives you access to their global network of 3PL partners. Other features of the app include:i) Full-time customer support
ii) Managing and monitoring courier pickups
iii) Keeping an eye on your shipments on your mobile phone
iv) Streamlining warehouse operations
Pricing: Easyship comes with three plans, the first being free for 100 shipments. The other two plans are $29 and $49 per month each.
If you're looking for a high-end shipment solution Ordoro is your best bet. It offers a lot of features from label printing and tracking to multi-channel and multi-inventory sync to drop shipping options and more. Here are some more facilities offered by the organization:i) Seamless shipping
ii) Support on every step
iii) Consolidated orders
iv) Real-time inventory tracking
Pricing: Again, Ordoro also has three plans like Easyship. The first 15 days are free, wherein you can make up to 1000 orders. But from there onwards, you have to pay $59/month for the express plan and $499/month and $999/month for the Pro and Enterprise plan.
An exceptional shipping app, Parcelify delivers shipments quickly. It asks users to create zones and then calculate the price of their shipments accordingly. The app even gives access to the following features:
i) No limit on rates, shipping areas, or product types
ii) Fast response times
iii) Supports product tags, product types, and collections
Pricing: The first 14 days on Parcelify are free of cost, after which you're charged according to your shipment size, weight, and delivery location.
7) Can shipping apps be used for free?
Some eCommerce business owners who have just begun with their operations might look for free-of-cost shipping apps to lessen their costs. But unfortunately, only a few apps offer services for free, and even if they do, they limit the features. That means if the company is offering real-time tracking or 24*7 customer support or provides updates, it won't give you access to everything without any charge.
Some smart organizations even put business owners on 15 days or 30 days of a free trial, after which they start charging a standard amount and push merchants to take up better plans for a seamless experience. So, in short, free shipping apps are a momentary thing. Once the zero charge periods are over, you have to pay for using the services.
8) In Conclusion
Freight and shipping are an important part of any business. If not for the freight and shipping industry, people would still be relying on camels and horses for transporting goods from one place to another. But thankfully, we are past that age and have access to great technology and a transport system that enables us to receive and send products without any complications.
The introduction of eCommerce shipping apps has been a cherry on the cake and has simplified the whole process (and it's only going to grow in the future). But with all this ease, it's our responsibility to bridge the gaps and inconsistencies in the way and create a full-proof and reliable shipping environment. Hopefully, we will achieve that soon too. Till then, let's work on our flaws and keep improving.