ShipTop Fulfillment

How to Choose the Best Shipping Carrier for the Order Fulfilment Process?

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The growth of eCommerce has led to an explosion in the parcel shipping industry. The parcel shipping industry is a 485 billion U.S. dollar business worldwide. More than 161 billion parcels had been shipped in the year 2022 alone. With more consumers shopping online and businesses needing to fulfill orders, choosing the right shipping carrier has become crucial. 

Selecting the best shipping carrier for your needs can impact customer satisfaction, shipping costs, delivery times, and more. However, with so many options to choose from, making the optimal choice is no easy feat. Choosing the right partner can help businesses, tiny and mid-cap ones secure competitive rates. 

What is a Shipping Carrier?

A shipping carrier or freight carrier is a company or individual that transports goods from one place to another via truck, rail, air, sea, or any other means. Shipping carriers are necessary middlemen in the modern supply chain. They collect freight from sellers and transport it to its destination. 

At a high level, a shipping carrier is an entity that ships – or carries – goods for a fee. Every eCommerce retailer relies on these business partners to physically deliver products to their customers. While shippers hand off packages to carriers at one end of the journey, recipients ultimately receive the deliveries at the other end.

Essentially, carriers are transportation service providers. They own and operate the vehicles, infrastructure, and logistics networks to facilitate the movement of cargo between different points. Companies like FedEx, UPS, and DHL are all examples of major shipping carriers that businesses use to fulfill and deliver orders. Beyond just moving products, they also handle related services like tracking, insurance, customs clearance, etc.

Read Also: What is DDP Shipping? 

How to Choose a Shipping Carrier? 

Choosing the right shipping carrier is crucial for eCommerce businesses. It impacts everything from delivery times and tracking capabilities to product damage rates and fulfillment costs.

When evaluating carriers, here are some key factors to consider:

1. Delivery Speed and Reliability

Look at the carrier’s average transit times and delivery guarantees for the destinations you ship to. How often do they meet guaranteed delivery windows? Are they able to provide expedited shipping options? What are their service metrics for on-time performance? Faster, consistent delivery allows you to promise reliable shipping estimates to customers.

2. Tracking and Visibility 

Make sure the carrier offers tracking visibility and proactive delivery notifications via SMS, email etc. This allows your team and customers to monitor orders in real-time. Advanced tracking with in-transit checkpoints is preferable. This helps identify and resolve issues faster.

3. Network Reach and Coverage

Ensure the carrier has extensive connectivity to serve the destinations you ship to. Examine their transportation network – air, ground, rail, etc. Do they own assets for maximum control? Larger networks increase the likelihood of on-time delivery.  

4. Technology Integration

Evaluate their technology capabilities and API integrations. This ensures a seamless exchange of orders and tracking data between your systems. Prioritise carriers that make integration easy through EDI, REST APIs, etc.

5. Damage Rates 

Compare damage and loss rates. Request performance reports. Carriers with optimized package handling and asset protection systems have lower damage. This reduces product losses and refunds.

6. Customer Service

Assess their reputation for customer service and account management support. This ensures your team and customers have quick access to assistance if any issues arise.

7. Discounts and Rate Negotiation

Carrier base rates often have room for volume discounts and negotiated contracts. A strong account manager can optimize costs through customized rate agreements. 

Types of Shipping Carriers

There are several main types of shipping carriers to choose from:

Postal Services

Postal services like USPS, Canada Post, Royal Mail, etc provide basic shipping services for lightweight packages typically under 2 lbs. They offer affordable rates but slower transit times of 3-7 days for ground delivery. Tracking and insurance may be limited—best for lightweight, low-value shipments.

Courier Services 

Couriers like UPS, FedEx, DHL, and Purolator specialize in time-sensitive deliveries and shipments over 2 lbs. They offer faster 1-3 day transit times nationwide with detailed tracking and insurance. Rates are more expensive but they deliver faster service. Best for priority items.

Freight Carriers

Freight companies transport heavy shipments of 150 lbs as less than truckload (LTL) or full truckload. They move freight by ground, rail, air, and ocean. Freight is best for bulky, heavy items like furniture or pallets since dimensional weight starts around 90 cubic inches.

Regional Carriers  

Regional carriers operate in specific geographic zones with a focus on cost savings. They tend to deliver shorter 1-2 day ground routes cost-effectively.

Third-Party Logistics

3PLs like ShipTop act as shipping intermediaries to find the best rates across multiple carriers. They provide a single integrated platform to streamline shipping instead of managing many accounts.

Factors to Consider While Choosing a Shipping Carrier

When choosing a shipping carrier, there are a few key considerations to keep in mind:

1. Delivery times and reliability 

Review carrier transit times and reliability ratings for your shipping lanes. Faster, more reliable carriers may be worth paying more for.

2. Services offered 

Determine what additional services you need (tracking, insurance, signature confirmation, etc) and choose a carrier that provides them.

3. Cost

Get rate quotes from several carriers and compare costs for your common package weights/dimensions and shipping lanes. But don’t just choose the cheapest option.

4. Discounts 

Ask about volume discounts and negotiate rates if you have high shipping volumes. Consider tradeoffs of lower rates vs better services.

5. Technology integration 

Evaluate carrier API and software integrations to automate shipping from your e-commerce platform or order management system. 

6. Customer service 

Good customer service can make a big difference if issues arise. Evaluate carrier reputation and support channels.

7. Sustainability 

If eco-friendly shipping is important to you, look for “green” shipping options and optimized routes.

8. Scalability 

As your business grows, ensure your carrier can continue to provide reliable service and competitive rates at higher shipping volumes. 

Comparing Major Shipping Carrier Services 

When it comes to choosing a shipping carrier, most eCommerce businesses have four main options: USPS, FedEx, DHL, and Canada Post.

Here’s an overview of each one:

Carrier Service Focus Strengths Weaknesses
USPS Domestic & International Affordable rates (small packages), extensive network Limited tracking, longer delivery times
Canada Post Domestic & International Wide coverage, reliable express shipping, B2B & healthcare expertise Longer transit times, limited tracking capabilities
FedEx Domestic & International Time-sensitive deliveries, strong international presence Most expensive, limited weekend/evening deliveries
DHL Express International Shipping Global reach, customs clearance expertise High costs, limited customer service

How ShipTop Can Help Your Business? 

ShipTop has developed partnerships with all the major shipping carriers in Canada and the United States to provide our clients with competitive rates and reliable service. As a fulfillment company, we have high volumes across multiple carriers, giving us leverage to negotiate discounted pricing that we pass on to our clients.  

Our warehouses are strategically located to provide fast, cost-effective delivery across Canada and the United States. We have accounts with leading national carriers like Purolator, FedEx, UPS, and Canada Post, as well as regional carriers that provide economical options for lighter packages. This diversified carrier mix allows us to optimize delivery times and costs.

Our team stays current on the latest offerings, rates, and incentives from the major carriers. We proactively negotiate custom pricing tailored to your shipping needs and volumes. Beyond rates, we monitor carrier performance and proactively resolve any issues to protect your business reputation. 

Our shipping team will review your product details, order volumes, and delivery requirements to recommend the ideal mix of shipping services for your business. 

Leverage our logistics expertise and carrier relationships to make shipping a strategic advantage rather than an operational burden. 

Wrapping Up 

Choosing the right shipping carrier is a crucial decision that can make or break your eCommerce fulfillment strategy.  Failing to meet customer expectations for fast and reliable delivery can lead to negative reviews and lost sales.

The shipping carrier you choose directly impacts the customer experience and the growth of your eCommerce business. Partnering with ShipTop provides access to discounted rates from top-tier carriers like USPS, UPS, FedEx, and DHL. Our team of experts can advise you on selecting the right carrier and optimizing your shipping strategy.

Contact ShipTop today to start fulfilling and shipping orders faster, cheaper, and more reliably. Our fulfillment solutions enable you to focus on sales while we handle shipping logistics from our strategically located warehouses across Canada. 

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