Ah, the joys of ecommerce logistics and shipping!
At HeapsGood, we get questions all the time about best practices for sending products. Some of the common ones include “what postage system should I be using” “can I send automatic tracking numbers” or “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 have 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 ecommerce shipping, there are now a few options emerging that give retailers more choice.
Probably the best place to start for orders 10-200 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. With the new and more aggressive pricing structure of MyPost, particularly the tier 5 band, the gap has really been closed on what Eparcel offers. Where you send parcels has a big bearing on the final numbers but in our comparisons between MyPost Business and Eparcel you only start to see major savings on 5000+ parcels a year.
One of the newer players on the block trying to take it up to Aus post. The major plus to using Sendle if you use Shopify in Australia is direct integration. No Apps needed and you can print your postage labels directly on site. Pricing is very sharp for metro regions. We have unfortunately heard mixed reviews about delivery reliability depending on the area.
A great place to get cheap rates as a smaller business for some of the major players in the freight game like Startrack, TNT, DHL.
They buy from carriers in bulk and pass on the savings. For large boxed items or international goods they are worth giving a call. We have been using them since our inception and I can personally vouch for the incredible customer service they provide. Not something easy to come by in the transport world!
You could also look at getting rates directly with TNT or Startrack (which are our preferred carriers for bulky items), but unless you are doing serious volume a month Inxpress is likely a cheaper alternative.
Another option that offers a variety of carriers at discounted rates is Interparcel.
Their platform integrates with all the majors like Shopify, Woocommerce, Ebay etc and 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 are just getting started as you can get access to those cheaper rates without any shipping history. They have 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 will 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 is offering a competitive Express rate and 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 recommend trying one.
They can save you heaps of time because services such as MyPost Business, eParcel and DHL do not offer direct integrations with Shopify, WooCommerce or any of the major ecommerce platforms.
That means without one you need to manually enter tracking details for customers; and copy and paste your tracking data into your store’s backend. As you scale 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:
If you are using Shopify and Australia Post this app is worth a look. Setup is simple and we have tested it with our Thermal Printer. At $9.99 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.
As you grow you may start wanting to send parcels with multiple carriers to take advantage of optimal pricing breaks for certain areas or weights. A program like Starship, which can integrate with most of them, is a very handy solution. If you are wanting to use companies other than Auspost then this is where it's at. While it is a little pricey they do have a base pack starting at $40. They also integrate with most of the major players including Shopify, Woocommerce, Neto, Magneto, eBay and let you use your shipping label printer without having to switch programs or windows.
While we cannot speak directly about this software, as we haven't tested it, we have heard good things from the ecommerce community. Nathan, the founder of the company, is very active on the Shopify FB 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.
How to ship 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 would love to hear about them below and if you have any questions, please reach out and we’ll do our best to answer them in full. Happy Shipping!