What are eCommerce Shipping and Order Tracking Components?

Ecommerce shipping and order tracking components include all of the functionality that enable your eCommerce shopping cart software to obtain real-time shipping rates, track shipments, retrieve shipping labels and more for products purchased online, going to the customer’s delivery destination.

Ecommerce Shipping and Order Tracking Components

Shipping and order tracking eCommerce components are part of a complete eCommerce website. When integrated via a shipping company's API these components can provide real-time dynamic shipping cost and tracking information, and even bar coded printable shipping labels, which helps to keep customers informed about the status of their orders as well as ensure that the correct shipping charges are applied.

Shipping and order tracking components help keep customers updated on the progress and movement of their packages to be delivered following an eCommerce purchase.

Shipping and order tracking are key components in the online shopping experience. Customers expect a variety of shipping options to be available, with more than half of the surveyed customers expecting both economy ground and ground shipping, and just under half a 2-3 day air option.

Among shoppers that have abandoned their shopping cart, shipping costs were the reason cited most often.

Most customers purchasing products that require shipping want to know and be assured that their order is on schedule when being transported from the eCommerce company's distribution location or warehouse.

Customers also want to know the process and route packages follow as they are being shipped to their destination.

When looking at what shipping option customers choose most often, online shoppers select the most economical option two-thirds of the time, and the fastest option only 2% of the time.

A quarter of shoppers indicated they most often chose a faster ground option for a nominal fee. One-third of online shoppers say they “most often” choose to pay a nominal fee for faster delivery when making a purchase.

About 70% of online shoppers have added items to their shopping cart to qualify for free shipping, making it crucial for eCommerce websites to clearly show how much customers need to spend in order to get free shipping.

Nearly three-quarters of online shoppers say they want to see free shipping options at check-out.

Order Tracking is a statistically significant factor in online shopping satisfaction. Most online shoppers (75%) agree that tracking information is important.

Being able to track packages directly on an eCommerce website or via email/text notifications are the most important tracking services for shoppers.

The importance of mobile eCommerce can be seen in customer preferences for tracking, with customers wanting text notifications with their tracking number, text alerts when their package will be delivered, and the ability to track their shipment on their mobile device.

In addition to tracking via email or text, which customers cite is the most convenient service while waiting for their purchase, online shoppers are also very interested in authorizing the delivery to be made when no one is home.

The second most important thing for online shoppers to see at check-out is an estimated or guaranteed delivery date, with 60% of customers saying it's important. Also, 38% of shoppers want to see expedited shipping options at check-out.

The procedure followed by most eCommerce companies that send products to their customers via shipping couriers include:

  • Providing customers with package tracking information. When an order is shipped, eCommerce websites will usually send an email to the buyer to inform them that the order has been shipped. The email will include the tracking number and the name of the courier that has been used in the dispatch.
  • The email to the customer will also include the approximate date that the order is likely to be received by the customer in order to inform them of when to expect their package.
  • It's often possible for a customer to keep track of their order that is in transit by entering their order's tracking number into a form on eCommerce website. It is important to note however, that sometimes, the date that is given by the tracking system of the courier is a best guess based on current logistical conditions.

Some notification messages that eCommerce websites use to update customers about the status of an order may include:

  • Order processing: This status notification simply means that the order of goods is still in the eCommerce system and has not yet been dispatched.
  • Packed and awaiting dispatch: This means that the order purchased has already been packed and is waiting for the shipping company to pick it up from the eCommerce company's warehouse or distribution location.
  • Shipped: This status notification assures customers that their order is currently on the way to the customer via the shipping company.
  • Partially shipped: This notification alerts the customer that part of their order on the way and that part of that order is still within the eCommerce system.

Shipping labels for eCommerce

Shipping labels are an important part of eCommerce, they help to ensure that your customers have the best experience possible.

Shipping labels provide shipping carriers with important information about the origin and destination of a package.

Without clear shipping labels, your customers’ orders could be lost, delayed, or mishandled. This can create a negative customer experience, damaging brand loyalty, and ultimately losing sales.

Shipping labels often include the return address, destination address, package weight, shipping class, and tracking number.

Ecommerce shipping rates

Different eCommerce businesses use different rate structures to charge customers for shipping. Three popular eCommerce shipping rate options are:

  1. Real-time shipping carrier rates

Ideally eCommerce stores display real-time shipping carrier rates at checkout. The exact shipping rates are automatically pulled from the shipping carriers based on the package, dimensions, weight, customer’s location and delivery preferences. This enables you to charge customers the exact amount that it costs your business to ship the order.

  1. Flat rate shipping

Flat rate shipping refers to charging a fixed shipping rate, either for all orders or for all orders that are within a specific weight range, order value, or other classification.

Flat rate shipping should be the blended average shipping and handling cost across products in a particular category. With flat rate shipping, the shipping cost of some orders will not be completely covered, while others will be overcharged in comparison.

  1. Free shipping

Offering free shipping can reduce shopping cart abandonment, increase conversions, and build customer loyalty. You can offer free shipping while staying profitable a few different ways:

  • Including the shipping cost in the product price
  • Require an order total greater than a specific amount in exchange for free shipping
  • Charge a recurring fee in the form of a loyalty program in exchange for free shipping on all orders (e.g, Amazon Prime)

An eCommerce shipping strategy is about more than just free shipping and fast delivery, though those can be important parts of the overall plan.

Ecommerce shipping carriers

The three top eCommece shipping carries all provide Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) that enable your eCommerce website or shopping cart software to obtain real-time shipping rates, track shipments, retrieve shipping labels and more.

We have created eCommerce shipping components that interact with all of the shipping courier APIs for the purpose of generating shipping and return labels , getting real-time shipping rate quotes and tracking packages.

UPS

UPS is used by eCommerce websites like Amazon. UPS offers several shipping services across a variety of shipping destinations and transit times, as well as the ability to schedule pickups and manage customer returns.

UPS Shipping/Rating API The UPS Shipping API provides the following services for your eCommerce software:

  • Address Validation - City, State, ZIP Verify the city, state, and ZIP or postal code information is valid.
  • Address Validation - Street Level Verify the street address, city, state, and ZIP or postal code information is valid.
  • Dangerous Goods Validate Air, Ground, and International Dangerous Goods (hazardous materials) shipments are acceptable to UPS. Locator - Global Find a UPS Access Point, UPS location or The UPS Store nearest to you.
  • Pickup Request a pickup for you or for one of your customers.
  • Pre-Notification Notify UPS of Dangerous Goods shipments after shipment processing.
  • Rating Compare delivery services and shipping rates to determine the best option for your customers.
  • Shipping Validate addresses, compare rates, and print labels for your internal business processes.
  • Time in Transit Compare shipping transit times of UPS services.
  • Quantum View® Stream Quantum View Data via XML over the Web and into internal applications.
  • Tracking Provide accurate package status information to your customers.
  • Tracking - UPS Signature Tracking® Automate Proof of Delivery for your shipments.

USPS

Because USPS already runs local residential routes daily, it can be the cheapest option for ground shipping. Other shipping carriers often pass shipments off to USPS for the last leg of an order’s journey. USPS has the following shipping service API endpoints:

USPS Web Tools APIs

Address APIs

  • Address Validation/Standardization
  • City & State Lookup
  • Zip Code™ Lookup

Tracking & Delivery Information APIs

  • Tracking
  • Tracking by Email
  • Proof of Delivery
  • Tracking Proof of Delivery
  • Return Receipt Electronic

Price Calculator APIs

  • Domestic Price Calculator
  • International Price Calculator

Shipping Label APIs

  • Electronic Verification System (eVS) Domestic Labels
  • eVS International Labels
  • Scan Form
  • Merchandise Return Service Labels
  • Merchandise Return Service Bulk Labels

Package Pickup APIs

  • Check pickup availability
  • Schedule a pickup
  • Cancel a pickup request
  • Update a pickup request

Service Standards & Commitments APIs

  • Domestic Mail Service Standards
  • Service Delivery Calculator

Hold for Pickup Facilities Lookup API

FedEx

FedEx is the shipping carrier of choice by eCommerce sites such as Walmart. FedEx offers a wide variety of delivery options at several different price points.

FedEx Web Services The FedEx Web Services Shipping APIs enables your eCommerce application's shipping components to:

  • Quote Rates
  • Validate Service Availability
  • Validate Postal Codes
  • Track Shipments
  • Search FedEx Locations
  • Create Shipments
  • Manage Open Shipping
  • Manage Pickups
  • Upload Electronic Trade Documents & Images
  • Close Shipments
  • Validate Addresses
  • Redirect Shipments

Ecommerce Return Policies

Returns are an important part of online shopping, with 63% of customers looking for the return policy prior to making a purchase.

Nearly two-thirds of online shoppers have returned a product purchased online. Half of the customers who need to return a product go to the website to find the return policy. Having an easy-to-find return policy will enhance the customer experience and reduce the number of inbound customer service calls.

A lenient and clear return policy is likely to lead to recommendations and repeat business from online shoppers.

Almost half of the surveyed customers said they would be likely to shop more often on an eCommerce website or recommend an eCommerce website to a friend if the site had a lenient and easy-to-understand return policy.

More than one-third of surveyed customers said they would avoid eCommerce websites with a complicated return policy. Clearly, good return policies are a great way to increase customer loyalty.

Attitudes towards returns don’t vary much by product category. In other words, whether buying jewelry, clothing, or pet supplies, shoppers have remarkably similar attitudes about returns.

In addition to having a good return policy, it's important for retailers to provide a good return experience. Online shoppers who have made returns prefer the inclusion of a return shipping label in their original package or access to an easy-to-print return shipping label.

What constitutes a bad return experience for customers, besides having to pay for return shipping, are paying a restocking fee and waiting too long for a credit.

Conclusion While free and discounted shipping is important, there is more to online shopping and the customer's eCommerce experience.

In fact, many shoppers are willing to pay a nominal fee to receive the product faster if given the option.

Shipping and delivery timing is crucial during check-out – it’s all about communication!

To reduce shopping cart abandonment, eCommerce websites should show the shipping costs, display how much more needs to be purchased to get free shipping, and give customers the option of shipping time frames.

Customers are willing to wait for their packages, but need to know what is happening – they want an estimated delivery date clearly stated, to be able to track their packages online or to get email / text alerts about their delivery status.

Also important to customers is the feeling of control. Options such as “special delivery instructions,” the ability to schedule a late delivery, or having a delivery window give customers the control they need for a better shipping experience.

As a rule of thumb, offering a combination of fast and affordable shipping methods can help reduce shopping cart abandonment and increase conversions.

Finally, good experiences with returning items leads to repeat customers and recommendations for your eCommerce website.

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