eCommerce shipping: A guide for UK retailers

It’s more important than ever that UK retailers have a comprehensive shipping and fulfilment strategy (and technology solution) in place. Read on to discover why or contact us to speak to a shipping expert.

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It’s an understatement to say that eCommerce has grown by a lot – and in a short space of time.

The UK alone has the fourth-largest eCommerce market globally, sitting just behind Japan. The COVID-19 pandemic only served as an accelerator for eCommerce deliveries – 87% of households made online purchases during 2020 alone.

Ready for growth

Businesses of all sizes now have access to a market that’s more primed for eCommerce than ever before.

But success in the eCommerce space isn't guaranteed. UK retailers need to understand that to win in this space, they’ll need to invest in the right eCommerce shipping solutions.

Shipping, meet automation

Thankfully, eCommerce market growth has also seen the development of powerful new shipping solutions. This is to say, eCommerce shipping platforms able to deliver a great customer experience while streamlining the entire shipping process.

1. Introduction to eCommerce shipping in the UK

Before getting into shipping solutions, it’s helpful to understand the space in more detail – especially in the United Kingdom.

But first, a definition. What does eCommerce shipping mean? eCommerce shipping is everything required to transport a product purchased online – from the retailer to the end customer.

In the UK, recent years have seen a significant uptick in the volume of online shopping. The pandemic is a primary reason – and a gateway to further growth – but the convenience for both consumers and retailers alike can’t be ignored.

Online shopping in the UK, by the numbers

  • By the end of January 2021, online grocery sales had risen 121%, totaling £1.4 billion in sales with £770 million alone coming from new customers.
  • UK eCommerce revenue is expected to grow at an annual rate 5.16% through 2025. See graph.
  • UK online shoppers spent 82 billion hours on shopping apps during 2020, an increase of 30% from the previous year.

It’s clear that eCommerce is growing, with no sign of slowing down in the next few years. For retailers, getting the right mix of software solutions – especially in the shipping software space – will be a key to success.

But change is tricky. It can be a hard task to think about changing business processes that have worked in the past – especially when it comes to shipping.

For the retailers wanting to stick with traditional shipping setups, it's important to consider the 'why' of new approaches. How much time do retailers lose to inefficient shipping? How much money?

Beyond improving the day to day for retailers, new shipping solutions can set businesses up for success over the long term.

2. Importance of getting eCommerce shipping right

Back in 2000, the founders of Netflix offered to sell their growing company to Blockbuster for $50 million. Blockbuster turned them down. Netflix is now worth $176 billion, and Blockbuster is a distant memory.

It’s a great example of how important it is to keep an ear to ground when it comes to new ways of solving existing problems.

With eCommerce such an important channel, it’s essential retailers consider the benefits of new shipping solutions.

Why maintaining the status quo is costing retailers

  • Harder to scale: Manual shipping processes mean more staff in order to scale efficiently – which costs time and money.
  • Frequent human error: Filling out shipping labels, submitting customs documents and managing returns processes raise the risk of error.
  • Unable to access new shipping innovations: Maintaining manual shipping processes makes it hard to access new integrations, software solutions and capabilities.

Basically, maintaining existing approaches to eCommerce shipping puts retail businesses on the backfoot, as opposed to priming them to succeed as the market continues to grow.

3. eCommerce strategy: Why it’s important and how a shipping solution can help

An eCommerce shipping strategy, with a powerful shipping solution at the core, is the best way for retailers to set themselves up for success.

This means retailers can ensure that this vital part of their business runs efficiently, and customers always receive the best experience. Oh, and they’ve got a solution which is always improving and keeping up with industry changes.

Why Starshipit?

Starshipit is an eCommerce shipping platform designed from the ground up for the needs of modern retailers – of all sizes.

It allows businesses to fully automate their fulfilment processes, easily print courier labels either one at a time or in bulk, and it simplifies the process of customs and shipping documentation. Starshipit also makes shipping internationally as easy as shipping a package down the road.

The key principles of shipping software

Importantly, this shipping software is also built on some important principles:

  • 💰 Retailers should be able to negotiate their own shipping rates with couriers, instead of being forced to use pre-set rates.
  • 🚚 Starshipit works seamlessly with the most popular eCommerce platforms (Shopify, WooCommerce), and integrates with couriers throughout the UK (Royal Mail, DHL, Evri). If a platform or carrier isn’t supported, developer-friendly APIs make it an easy problem to solve.
  • 📞 Technical support should be available for all customers, whether it’s a small business shipping out of a garage or a large multi-national.

4. International shipping from the UK: Unlocking retail growth

For a retail business, international shipping is one of the best ways to unlock further growth. According to one report carried out by DHL, online retailers boosted their sales by 10-15% on average by extending their offerings to international customers.

Easy international shipping

With the right shipping solution in place, international shipping from the UK to other markets is as easy as shipping a package from London to Manchester. In fact, even shipping from the UK to Australia becomes one of the simplest parts of a shipping process.

Automate international shipping

Using a shipping platform like Starshipit enables retailers to automate much of the difficulty that comes along with international shipping.

Take Harmonised System (HS) codes as an example. Customs authorities across the globe use this product classification system to assess duties and taxes.

Starshipit will, depending on the platform, automatically import these HS codes and the country of origin. The app will also automatically generate customs documentation.

Read our case study with customer Lorna Jane on this exact topic:

How to scale an eCommerce business with Lorna Jane

Top tips for international shipping success

Give your customers options
Make returns as easy as possible
Manage your brand

5. How retailers use powerful shipping software to run fulfilment operations

We’ve explored the importance of an eCommerce delivery strategy and the important role a robust shipping solutionplays. Below, we’ll explore how retailers are making use of Starshipit today to get more orders out to more customers, with fewer speed bumps.

The courier integrations you’d expect:

“I use this app to integrate with the Royal Mail and couriers. It is extremely adaptable and saves not only hours of admin time but also massively reducing human error issues. Support has been very helpful, and it's provided excellent value for money.” – Kate’s Clothing.

World-class support, for every customer:

“I'm pretty hopeless when it comes to technical things but starshipit does all the thinking for you. I'm super impressed. Customer support is also very good.” – Savvy Touch.

Save hours every week:

“We use this app every day. It totally changed our logistics in an incredibly positive way. We save hours of work each week by integrating your shipping and tracking with Starshipit. The app is easy to set up and integrate with your store and the support is always timely and incredibly helpful. Look no further – your label solution is here.” – Sluggers Swimwear Pty Ltd.

Read these reviews and many others on our Shopify listing.

Starshipit integrates with leading eCommerce platforms and couriers:

Royal Mail
Shopify
DHL
BigCommerce
EVRi
WooCommerce
Deutsche Post
Amazon

6. Make shipping one of the best parts of your retail experience

With eCommerce set for continued growth in the UK, retailers need to create shipping strategies focused on shipping software. This means shipping solutions that can save time and money now, while giving retailers the ability to scale easily. And, most importantly, the tools to deliver a great customer experience.

Starshipit is a shipping solution designed from the ground up for eCommerce. With seamless integrations with all leading platforms and couriers, as well as a host of innovative features designed to introduce efficiencies into your shipping process, there’s no better tool for UK retailers looking to set themselves up for the future.