Ah, the joys of ecommerce logistics and shipping!
At HeapsGood, we get questions all the time about the best practice for sending products. Some common ones include: “What postage system should I be using?”, “Can I send automatic tracking numbers?”, and “What is the cheapest and best way to send parcels?”
Although we can't give you the lowdown on every delivery service, app, or carrier, we've summarised the most popular ones to help you navigate this important aspect of ecommerce operations.
To kick us off, let's take a look at the major carriers in the industry. These are the people that get your parcels from A to B.
While traditionally Australia Post has dominated ecomm shipping, there are now a few options emerging that give retailers more choice.
Probably the best place to start for 10-200 orders a month, MyPost Business gives you volume-based savings in 5 tiers. Your cap is updated weekly, and the discounts really do start to stack up the more you send. Setting up an account is totally free, so you're not losing anything by giving it a shot either.
Starting at 2000 parcels per year, Eparcel is the business arm of Australia Post. But with the new and aggressive pricing structure of MyPost, particularly the Tier 5 band, the gap has been closed on what Eparcel offers.
Keep in mind: where you're sending your parcels has a big bearing on the final numbers. However, in our comparisons between MyPost Business and Eparcel, you only really start to see major savings on 5000+ parcels a year.
One of the newer players on the block trying to take it up with Aus Post. If you're in Australia and using Shopify, one of the major pluses to shipping with Sendle is the direct integration. No apps needed, and you can print your postage labels directly on site.
A great place for a small business to get cheap rates with some of the major players in the freight game like Startrack, TNT, and DHL.
They work by buying from carriers in bulk and passing on the savings. For large boxed items or international goods, they're worth giving a call. We've been using them since our inception and I can personally vouch for the incredible customer service they provide. Not something that's easy to come by in the transport world!
Another option that offers a variety of carriers at discounted rates is Interparcel. Their platform integrates with all the majors like Shopify, Woocommerce, and Ebay. It essentially functions like an aggregator, letting you get bulk rates from all of the big carriers without having to set up multiple accounts.
This is very handy if you're just getting started, as you can get access to those cheaper rates without any shipping history. They've been around for over 15 years and pride themselves on excellent customer service.
In our experience and also from discussions with other online retailers, DHL is the best option for ecommerce brands that want to ship internationally. There are two separate divisions of DHL (Ecommerce and Express), so you'll have to contact them separately.
DHL Ecommerce is the economy option, with very competitive rates due to their huge worldwide network of local carriers. We would recommend starting with them so you can offer a low price point (e.g. $10-15) for your international customers.
DHL Express is a premium service that enables you to offer 2-7 day shipping times to basically anywhere in the world. The caveat is that it is quite costly, so it’s a service best suited to businesses that have very high gross profit margins (upwards of 60%), such as fashion and beauty brands. If you’re in either of these categories, one strategy that you could use is to offer a competitive Express rate, while absorbing it into your product costs.
Okay, so this is where things get a little tricky.
Shipping integration platforms make printing labels, sending your customers an automatic tracking number, and dispatching a simple process.
Do you really need a shipping integration app? Honestly, they’re not 100% necessary, but we would really recommend trying one.
They can save you heaps of time, because services such as MyPost Business, eParcel and DHL don't offer direct integrations with Shopify, WooCommerce or any of the other major ecommerce platforms.
That means that without one you need to manually enter tracking details for customers, as well as copy and paste your tracking data into your store’s backend.
As you scale up this becomes a chore, and quite frankly you've got better things to do than copying and pasting tracking numbers!
Here are the best shipping integration platforms we’ve found:
This integrator's been our ride or die since day one.
As you grow, you may to take advantage of optimal pricing breaks for certain areas or weights by sending parcels with multiple carriers. A program like Starshipit, which can integrate with most of them, is the perfect solution. If you're looking for an alternative to AusPost... this is where it's at.
They have a base pack starting at $40, meaning you can get started without paying an arm and a leg. They also integrate with most of the major players including Shopify, Woocommerce, Neto, Magneto, and eBay, and they let you use your shipping label printer without having to switch programs or windows.
Simply put, they rock and we highly reccommend them.
If you're using Shopify and Australia Post, this app is worth a look. Setup is simple - we've already tested it with our Thermal Printer. At $14.99 with a month's free trial, it's easy to give it a shot and see if it increases the speed of your workflow.
The function of writing back to Shopify and attaching customer tracking details automatically is a huge time saver, versus the back and forth involved with MyPost Business or eParcel.
While we can't speak directly about this software, as we haven't tested it, we've heard good things from the ecommerce community. Nathan, the founder of the company, is very active on the Shopify Facebook forums and the customer service updates they provide on Auspost API outages are timely and insightful. The product itself provides many of the features that Starshipit does, including creating postage labels and managing multiple carriers.
Shipping ecommerce parcels in Australia can be tricky without the right information. We hope this blog helps you to make an informed decision, and get on top of your logistics.
If you have any experiences to the contrary or handy tricks that work for you, we'd love to hear about them below. Please also reach out with any questions, and we’ll do our best to answer them in full.