As anyone involved in eCommerce knows, fulfillment is one of the most difficult aspects to manage properly. Many new online retailers don’t realize the amount of work involved in preparing products for shipping and handing them off to delivery services.
Getting fulfillment right is crucial for a store’s reputation and for retaining customers. If a customer buys a product from a store, and is disappointed by the length of time it takes to arrive or the condition it arrives in, they are unlikely to trust the retailer with another purchase or recommend that someone else makes a purchase. A significant proportion of damaging complaints that are made about eCommerce retailers on social media are from disappointed customers who didn’t get their product in the time-frame they expected.
Consumers have been conditioned by Amazon and other retail giants to expect prompt delivery and accurate delivery estimates.
Magento, as the world’s most popular online retail platform, is an obvious target for integration with shipping services, and so, as you’d expect, there are plugins available that significantly ease the burden of preparing packages for transit.
Stamps.com is one of the pioneers of simple shipping. Their service allows users to print USPS postage and shipping labels from within Magento. The free Stamps.com extension features a very useful batch interface, using which, Magento stores can print up to 1000 pre-paid shipping labels. Stamps.com is an online service that removes the hassle of having to go to the post office, which has a number of benefits, not least of which is reduced postage charges.
One drawback of Stamps.com is that it is limited to one shipping service: the United States Postal Service, but otherwise it’s a great solution for small and medium-sized online retailers.
The Magento UPS WorldShip extension is a popular plugin that offers integration between Magento and the UPS’s WorldShip application. Deliveries are synced from Magento to UPS WorldShip, and the plugin will import tracking numbers and order information back into Magento, as well as automatically handling invoice creation and communicating order status with the customer.
This is the third party plugin, created by XTento, and it isn’t free. It’s most suitable for retailers that handle large numbers of orders.
ShipWorks is a free plugin that offers many of the features of the UPS WorldShip plugin, but integrates with more shipping services, including DHL, FedEX, UPS and UPS WorldShip. ShipWorks connects with a Magento store, and downloads a batch of orders, from which shipping labels can be printed. It will also handle emailing tracking codes to customers and updating order statuses.
i-parcel is an international shipping service created specifically to meet the needs of online retailers. They handle cross-border deliveries to more than 90 different countries. i-parcel is particularly suited to retailers that ship internationally, and includes features for administering duties and taxes.