Shipping Workflow 101

Most folks who sell online usually focus on getting sales but they often overlook their post order workflow. A post order workflow is what an online merchant does after an order is received. The conventional workflow has 3 steps. The first step consists of picking and packing the merchandise. The second step consists of generating a shipping label and actually shipping the order. The third step is updating the order status and informing the customer that their order has shipped. Sometimes the key to running a successful online business comes down to how well this workflow is streamlined.

Picking and packing can be done in-house or outsourced to a third-party fulfillment company. Assuming a merchant does their own picking and packing, one important tip is to use a pick list. A pick list is basically a list of orders and their corresponding items that need to be shipped. To save time, use software that can generate pick lists. These pick lists are formatted in such a way that individual items can be checked off as they are picked and entire orders can be checked off as they are packed. Another tip is to include a packing list in each package. Packing lists can be used as a last chance to double check the contents of a package before it gets sealed and shipped. Some automation software can generate printable packing lists with a single click. Pick and packing lists will save you time and help reduce mistakes when preparing shipments.

Shipping labels can be generated any number of ways depending on the particular shipping carrier used. Most merchants use, or to generate shipping labels. However, this is not the most efficient way to accomplish this step in your workflow. For one, this process is very time-consuming due to the manual nature of copying and pasting shipping addresses. And if a merchant needs to use multiple shipping carriers, they would need to log into multiple websites separately. Also, some of these sites don’t support the necessary shipping services, for example, won’t allow users to print First-Class or Parcel Select shipping labels.

Most merchants only use one shipping carrier to ship their orders, however, if a merchant uses multiple carriers, they can potentially receive substantial discounts and reduce their shipping costs. Did you know that UPS and FedEx offer negotiated rates? A merchant can negotiate a rate with these companies. Rates vary depending on factors like shipping volume. Shipping software companies like ShipRobot and ecomdash have partnered directly with Endicia (a USPS postage printing vendor) to bring you some of those negotiated discounts. They’re better than standard post office rates and much cheaper shipping insurance.

Shipping software can generate shipping labels from all major shipping carriers. Shipping addresses can be imported so no manual input is needed. ShipRobot is one of those companies that supports all available shipping services offered by the major shipping carriers. Merchants have reported up to a 75% time savings. You can compare shipping rates across the major shipping carriers, so they can arrive at the lowest rate. For example, generally lighter items (under 5 lbs), should be shipped by the USPS or FedEx Ground, while heavier items should go by UPS. Additional insights into reducing shipping costs can be attained by using software that tracks your business to help you identify areas for cost savings and drive better decision-making.

Merchants usually print shipping labels on a laser printer, either on plain paper or peel-off labels, but the more professional shippers will use a label printer. Thermal label printers specialize in printing shipping labels, without the need to change ink toners. Thermal label printers are convenient and print faster than your standard printer. Standard thermal shipping labels are 4″x 6″ in size. Zebra and Dymo 4″x 6″ label printers are also used regularly by shippers. If you’re serious about shipping, you should reconsider any use of a regular ink-jet printer. They’re inconsistent when it comes to creating a scannable barcode.

Once shipping labels have been printed and applied to sealed packages, it’s time to ship them. One mistake to avoid is dropping off packages at the post office or shipping company. Why not schedule a package pickup? ShipRobot can even help you schedule a pickup. Some shipping carriers like the USPS will do a package pickup for free as long as there is at least one Priority Mail package being picked up. As for UPS and FedEx, they will do package pickups for a nominal fee.

After package pickup, it’s time to update order statuses and send out shipment confirmation emails. Shipment confirmation emails often contain tracking numbers so that a customer can track their order. Shipment confirmation emails are crucial for providing excellent customer service. This manual process can be very time-consuming as well. Shipping management software solves this problem by integrating with several popular ecommerce platforms and auto-updating order status and tracking information on each sales channel. For example, if a merchant sells on Amazon, they can import their Amazon orders in real-time, create and print pick lists, packing lists, and shipping labels, update order statuses and send shipment confirmation emails to their customers. Is your workflow in need of less work and more flow?

This guest post was written by Andy Nu, the CTO of, an up and coming shipping management software company. Andy says you will love the design and intelligent navigation in his shipping tool. Today, ecomdash is only offering USPS options in our own shipping application. So we wanted to introduce you to a few other options to help make your ecommerce life a little better. Andy and his team try to make order fulfillment fun again by automating the repetitive stuff. Andy has more than 15 years of ecommerce selling experience, so he is coming at this from your perspective! You are the experts, testing and trying different shipping software systems throughout the years. Be sure to let us know if there’s another shipping company you believe deserves some props, or even one to avoid.

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