All Things Shipping
Sep 28, 2023

How to Expedite Peak Season Fulfillment with Shipping Automation

While many are bracing themselves for fall foliage to come soon, the biggest thing on e-commerce merchants’ minds is how they can brace themselves for the holiday season. The influx of sales and orders to fulfill can seem overwhelming, but merchants do have a tool in their arsenal to combat this. That tool is shipping automation.

Having shipping automations as a part of your fulfillment workflow is essential during this time of the year given the uptick in business. Across the board, industry experts are estimating that global online holiday sales in 2023 will be around $1.2 trillion. On a more individual level, holiday shopping can account for up to 30% of a retailer's overall sales in a given year!

On the carriers’ end, they see more packages now than ever. The USPS recently reported that in 2022, the postal service processed more than 11.7 billion mail pieces and packages during the holiday season alone.

Manual processes are simply too slow to keep up with customer demand and are more prone to human error given a larger amount of orders to fulfill. Thankfully, with Shippo, you can start automating your shipping now so that once the holidays are in effect, you can get orders out the door faster than ever before.

The three main types of shipping automations we offer are if-then rules you can configure, automatic shipping insurance, and automatic return labels which we’ll discuss below.

Shipping Automation: If-then Rules To Speed Up Processes

Setting up “If-then” automation rules is one of the easiest ways to eliminate the need of manually inputting shipping information for highly repeatable processes. These automation rules allow you to automatically assign specific package templates, carrier service levels, and sender addresses based on an order’s:

  • Item name
  • SKU Number
  • Weight of the order
  • Order Quantity
  • Shipping destination (domestic/international, state/province, and zip code)

You can create multiple automation rules to ensure the correct shipping label is automatically created for almost any type of order you try to fulfill. Multiple automation rules can even be applied to a single order.

To walk you through how to set up “if-then” automation rules, let's say you run an e-commerce business that sells apparel. Since t-shirts are not fragile, you always ship them in a polymailer and you know that up to three t-shirts can fit into a single polymailer.

Rather than manually selecting polymailers as your package template each time you’re creating a label for an order of three t-shirts or less, you can set up an “If-then” automation to save time. Navigate to settings within your Shippo account, click on Automations in the left-hand column, then select “create new automation rule”.

To configure your automation rule, you’ll state that if the total item quantity is less than or equal to 3 items and the name of those items are “t-shirt”, then you’ll assign the package template “polymailer” to each order. You can refer to the image below to see how it looks to set up this automation rule within Shippo. You can name this rule “t-shirt package auto” so you can keep track of all the if-then automations you create.

Once you’ve created this rule and an order fits the criteria you set, you’ll see that it’ll apply to your order during the label purchasing process as shown in a different example below:

As mentioned earlier, multiple automation rules can even apply to a single order. Let’s say you’ve set up a rule to select a certain package size for jackets as well as a rule to select a specific carrier service level. Two automated functions are in motion for one order.

The order in which shipping automation rules are applied is up to you. In your automation tab in settings, you can click the automation rules you created and drag them up and down. The order in which the rules are applied will be processed from top to bottom.

Once you’ve set up your rules, your orders that come from a connected store or orders imported through a CSV file will have shipping labels ready to go.

If you have existing orders already imported into Shippo, you simply click “Run Automations” and the rules you created will apply to your existing orders.

With these “if-then” shipping automation rules, you’ll now be able to save your shipping and fulfillment teams precious time during the holiday rush and avoid common mistakes that could inhibit your ability to deliver a quality post-purchase experience to your customers.

But don’t just take it from us. Goliath Games, an e-commerce business that ships parts for board games, has been able to see tremendous results from this feature alone. “Our four person fulfillment team is 50% faster with automations, and we have eliminated 75% of our shipping errors that were caused by manual processes,” said Anna Criswell, logistics coordinator at Goliath Games.

To learn more about how to set up if-then shipping automation in your Shippo Account, visit our help center article.

*Please note that if-then automation is a feature only available for Pro Plan users and Premier Plan users.

Automate Shipping Insurance For Packages

Damaged, lost, or stolen packages are an issue e-commerce businesses face all too often. Over 1.7 million packages nationwide are lost each day and 20% of online returns are a result of receiving a damaged product. While this is a year-round problem for online sellers, the problem is only magnified during peak shipping times such as the holiday season.

No need to panic though – Shippo has recently announced a new and improved shipping insurance offering that enables merchants to get:

  • Porch Piracy Coverage (insure packages against theft from your customer’s doorstep)
  • Global Coverage (insure packages being shipped from the US and other select countries)
  • Faster claims process (95% of claims take 3 days or less to process)
  • No minimum fees (items worth less than $100 don’t require a $1 insurance fee anymore)
  • Fewer Restrictions (items such as TVs and computer monitors as well as branded packages are now covered)

Because more items can be covered for less and because the rate of lost, damaged, and stolen packages is going to increase in the coming months, it may be in your business’ best interest to insure all packages.

Rather than manually adding shipping insurance for every order, you can automatically insure all packages or those over a certain value. Simply do so by navigating to the insurance section within your account settings and making your selection.

By automating this process, you can save plenty of time and be assured that in the event something goes wrong during the holiday rush, your packages are insured.

Learn more about how shipping insurance works in Shippo and how to apply it to your packages.

Automated Return Label Generation

The holiday season is always followed by the return season. Since so many people are making purchases for others, the likelihood of a return is always greater. In fact, last year, retailers expected 17.9% of the items they sold during the holiday season to be returned.

While it might be tempting to make returns more difficult to combat these high return rates, that could have a negative effect on your business. In our latest 2023 Benchmarks Report, we found that 80% of consumers say that they would switch from a retailer they regularly shop with if that retailer made returns more difficult.

To make this process easy and seamless for both your customers and internal teams, always include a return label with the parcels you send. This is something that can be automated with Shippo.

Within your Shippo account, navigate to your settings and then click on “labels & packaging slips”. At the bottom of your screen, you’ll see an option to auto-create return labels for outbound shipments. Simply click on that option and then hit save.

By automatically printing return labels, you’ll ensure that all your customers can easily make returns to the correct facility every time. The best part about this is that you don’t have to pay for the return labels when they are printed. Instead, you’ll only pay for returns once the customer hands the package off to a carrier.

This way you’re delivering a memorable post-purchase experience to increase brand loyalty, all without the hassle of having to pay upfront and in many instances not at all.

Ensure you're maximizing your time-savings and delivering a great customer experience this holiday season by implementing shipping automations, automatic shipping insurance, and automatic return labels. To unlock the full potential of shipping automation and to get other helpful features this peak season such as branded tracking pages and an increased number of users, sign up to Shippo’s Pro Plan today!

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Hasan Nabulsi
is the Content Marketing Manager at Shippo.

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