The Art of Shipping and Fulfillment

Over the last 3 months, we’ve been thinking a lot about shipping and fulfillment on the WooCommerce team.

When the thought of shipping comes to mind for most people, it usually goes something like this – “It’s not that complicated. You just mail an item to someone by going to the post office.” Yes, it is that simple if you think of shipping from an everyday context. However, if you reframe that everyday context to a small business owner (SBO), who uses the internet to sell physical goods to customers across the nation or globally, it starts to get more interesting.

Other factors come into consideration:

  1. The business generates 5+ orders a day
  2. The online store holds 10+ items with different weights, prices, and dimensions
  3. The SBO has limited time.
  4. This is the SBO’s livelihood, every dollar counts.

Through these we start to get a greater sense of what the shipping and fulfillment process is like for the SBO.

The current process

Generally, most SBOs are handling shipping logistics themselves, which means they have to figure out the most efficient and cost-conscious way to manage the fulfillment portion of their business. During the last 3 months, we spent some time digging into how SBOs handle this. Here are some responses we gleaned from real SBOs on how they manage their current fulfillment process.

Customers get an auto-notification from WooCommerce when they order. I personally notify my customer as soon as I ship an item (usually same or next day), with a thank-you email and a tracking number. When an order comes in, I print the order receipt (from Gmail, NOT the WooCommerce back-end, because it’s not easy to print from there, sadly!) and include it in the package.

We use ***** to process all orders. It gives us the option to select the carrier (FedEx, Stamps.com, Express 1. After the orders are imported, we view the options and choose the lowest cost carrier. 75%-80% of our orders ship via Priority Mail thru Express 1. The remainder are equally split between 1st Class and Federal Express.

1. I print 2 copies of the WooCommerce order notification email, 1 as a package invoice, 1 for hard copy records
2. Pull the products from inventory
3. Grab a shipping envelope/bag, tape, catalog and assemble
4. Put the package on the scale
5. On usps.com enter the customer info, weight, pay for shipping, print label, check the option to let the customer know it’s on its way by email
6. Affix label
7. In woocommerce, mark the order complete, which triggers an email to the customer

1) Print packing slip ( which is not available with Woo Commerce, I have to make them myself)
2) Pack item
3) Go to USPS
4) Pay and get confirmation number
5) Come home
6) Enter confirmation of shipment
7) Email customer with information regarding shipment
8) Done.

As you can see from the above stories, the simple act of shipping can transform into a cumbersome and time consuming process.

Screen Shot 2017-06-30 at 11.03.38 PM.png

WooCommerce Services

One of the ways we’re aiming to help improve that cumbersome process is with a plugin called WooCommerce Services. WooCommerce Services is our answer to the complexities that comes with shipping and fulfillment.

Here are some of the first steps we’ve taken to help streamline the process for SBOs.

One click install

shipping.jpg

WooCommerce Services is now included in the WooCommerce setup wizard. What does this mean? It means that moving forward, new users will have the option to show customers accurate shipping rates and purchase shipping labels directly within their WordPress admin.

End to End experience

Screen Shot 2017-06-30 at 11.20.36 PM.png

Purchasing shipping labels directly within the WordPress admin removes the need for 3rd party software. SBOs no longer need additional plugins for shipping, managing order status on 3rd party dashboards, and complex API keys that come with connecting 3rd party softwares back to WordPress.

Discounted Β shipping label prices

We understand that cost savings is a major factor for SBOs, so we provide discounted shipping label rates directly within their dashboard. SBOs can now select the price their comfortable with, at the speed they want an order delivered.

The best part? The WooCommerce Services plugin is completely free. A SBO can now start an online store, get some orders in, and fulfill directly within WooCommerce.πŸŽ‰

If you’re interested in trying out the plugin, you can download it from the WordPress plugins directory.

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