A Complete Guide to Ecommerce Shipping – Best Practices and APIs to Build a Seamless Shipping Experience

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  • By Ranjit Singh
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  • clock 12 minutes MIN READ
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  • calendar Updated: July 12, 2022

A seamless shipping experience is the final and the most crucial stage of an ecommerce sales funnel. Why? Because it can convert a one-time buyer into a long-term loyal customer. If you provide a seamless shipping experience and a quick product delivery, the shoppers will automatically return to your store in the future.

Unfortunately, many ecommerce businesses undervalue the importance of the ‘delivery process’. Consequently, they fail to retain customers and eventually witness a drop in their sales as well as revenue.

It’s worth noting that a well-optimized ecommerce shipping environment will help you stand out from the competition and acquire long-term recurring customers more conveniently. In today’s guide, we’ll take a look at the dos and don’ts of constructing and optimizing your ecommerce store’s shipping process so that you don’t end up losing valuable customers.

We’ll also share a list of different shipping API providers that you can integrate into your store for faster product deliveries.

So, without wasting another second, let’s dive in.

What is Ecommerce Shipping and Why Businesses Should Care for It?

In simple words, ecommerce shipping is the entire process of getting the product from the warehouse to the customers’ doorstep. The idea of a well-optimized shipping process is to minimize the timeframe and get the product delivered to the end consumer as soon as possible.

In fact, a 2019 survey revealed that 64% of consumers believe that “fast shipping speed” is the most crucial factor in a positive shopping experience. In short, if you want to deliver a remarkable shopping experience, it would be crucial to focus on the shipping experience.

Another reason why ecommerce shipping has become a necessity – for even small-scale ecommerce businesses – is that everyone’s doing it. Amazon – the ecommerce giant leading the industry – has been offering same-day and one-day deliveries for many years.

Back in 2020, same-day deliveries were one of the biggest reasons why Amazon’s sales rose from 34 billion US dollars to 42 billion US dollars. This spike in sales has encouraged other ecommerce brands like Target and Costco to support same-day deliveries at their online stores.

But, it’s also worth understanding that faster product delivery is only one of the many factors of a well-optimized shipping experience. You also have to prioritize other factors like eliminating hidden shipping costs. As per Statista, 63% of online shoppers abandon their shopping carts due to unnecessary hidden shipping charges, especially when they are too high.

Understanding Different Shipping Methods and Their Real-World Applications

Now, even though one-day or same-day deliveries look extremely exciting, they aren’t always a possible scenario. Factors like customers’ location, your delivery partner, or product availability can restrict all ecommerce shops from offering same-day shipping for all their products. That’s when other shipping methods come into the picture. These methods include:

Overnight Shipping

Overnight shipping is the most lucrative shipping option for customers. In a world where the majority of ecommerce stores offer one-day or two-day shipping, overnight delivery will help you stand apart in the crowd. So, if possible, make sure to partner with ecommerce shipping companies that offer overnight shipping.

2-Day Shipping

Not as fast as same-day or one-day deliveries, 2-days shipping is still a reliable choice for many ecommerce brands. Another Statista report reveals that 40% of online shoppers are willing to wait for two days to get their products delivered. So, if the customer’s address is far from your warehouse, you can still win them by providing 2-day shipping.

5-7 Days Shipping

Of course, customers always prefer quick deliveries, but you can still retain shoppers by delivering products within 5-7 days. The same Statista report also reveals that some shoppers are willing to wait for a week to get the products delivered to their doorstep. However, anything longer than a week will most likely infuriate the customers, resulting in poor customer retention.

Overseas Product Deliveries

Yes, international deliveries are exceptional because multiple factors (like customs) come into the picture to transit the package from one country to another. In the case of international deliveries, shoppers are even willing to wait for more than two weeks for the desired product to reach their doorstep.

Eco-Friendly Shipping

That’s right! Eco-friendly shipping is a real deal and many ecommerce shipping carriers provide eco-friendly shipping options along with their packages. As the name implies, eco-friendly shipping is all about using recyclable packaging to keep the environment safe. Using eco-friendly shipping can act as a major USP for your brand as many shoppers prefer signing up with brands that care about the environment.

Different Types of Ecommerce Shipping Costs

Like the shipping method, the shipping costs are also a crucial factor that could make your shipping process user-centric. As we mentioned before, customers do not like hidden shipping charges.

That’s why it’s always necessary to be upfront about the entire shipping charges, even if they are a bit expensive. Now, when it comes to deciding the shipping rates, every ecommerce brand follows a different approach. Ideally, here are some of the ways you can calculate the shipping costs for different types of packages.

1. Flat-Rates

As the name implies, flat-rate shipping means the merchant charges a fixed shipping cost, regardless of the product type, address proximity to the warehouse, product weight, dimensions, etc. Some ecommerce businesses also charge multiple flat rates by dividing products (based on their weight and dimensions) into specific categories. Offering flat shipping rates is usually an ideal option for businesses that only provide services in a limited area (3-4 nearby cities).

2. Live Rates

Live or real-time shipping rates are the most common way for ecommerce businesses to calculate shipping costs. In this case, the shipping rates are calculated in real-time after analyzing different factors like distance proximity, product type, product weight, and dimensions.

The shipping rate is calculated by the shipping carrier (we’ll talk about it soon) that you have integrated into your online store. The reason why ecommerce businesses highly prefer live shipping rates is ‘transparency’. The shipping carrier calculates the shipping charges in real-time and the shoppers don’t have to pay unnecessary charges.

3. Free Shipping

Yes, there’s nothing customers love more than free shipping. But, unfortunately, providing free shipping is not ideal for every ecommerce business, especially when its sales are relatively low. Free shipping reduces the profit margins for the merchant itself.

Of course, you can increase the actual price of the product and make it inclusive of the shipping rates, but it’ll most likely infuriate the customers as they’ll eventually get a better deal at some other store. So, free shipping is only possible when your sales volume is enough that you can actually afford it.

When it comes to choosing the right shipping rate calculator, many ecommerce websites tend to combine all these three methods. This gives them the highest scope for customization and also provides customers with a personalized shopping experience.

5 Best Ecommerce Shipping APIs to Streamline the Shipping Process

Now that you know about different types of shipping methods and the best ways to calculate the shipping costs, let’s take a look at the most popular shipping APIs that’ll equip your store with a well-optimized shipping process. An API is basically an intermediate between two computer programs that established a medium of communication between both applications.

In terms of ecommerce shipping, the API will connect your website to the package carrier’s application and allow you to process all the orders more efficiently. Here’s what the ecommerce shipping architecture looks like.

These APIs are tailored by the most popular shipping carriers and offer an array of features to cater to different ecommerce requirements.

1. FedEx API

FedEx has always been the biggest name in the courier packaging and delivery industry. Based in the USA, FedEx has been running its operations since the early 70s. Today, the company also offers a REST API for ecommerce brands to integrate with their website and use FedEx as their delivery partner.

The API brings forth a wide range of functionality, giving merchants full control over the shipping process. By partnering with FedEx, merchants can create shipping labels, process multiple shipments in real-time, manage returns, and get detailed shipping analytics for better transparency.

One of the biggest advantages of FedEx API is available for free, which means you can get started with FedEx API integration without paying any cost upfront.


DHL is another popular international courier service that operates in nearly 190 countries. The DHL API offers all the basic functionalities along with a few additional perks. It’s available as a REST API that supports both XML and JSON requests and uses HTTP (along with SSL) for complete authentication.

One of the key features of DHL API is its extensive documentation. While integrating the DHL API into their ecommerce ecosystem, developers can point to this documentation to avoid unexpected roadblocks and keep the entire process hassle-free. Again, DHL offers free API integration, allowing merchants to avail its package carrier services without paying anything upfront.


USPS is the most reliable postal service within the US. So, if you are going to operate within the United States, choosing USPS as your package carrier will be a suitable option. The company provides its API for free and any ecommerce brand can sign up for its postal services easily. However, as opposed to the modern-day ecommerce shipping APIs, USPS’ API is a bit complex to integrate.

Beginners are most likely to struggle with the integration process. Also, in terms of resources, USPS offers limited options. As far as its technicality is concerned, USPS is available as a REST API that uses OAuth 2.0 for authentication and authorization. And, like other ecommerce shipping services, even USPS uses HTTP GET and HTTP POST to retrieve and create data.

USPS API is only a reliable choice for ecommerce brands with a dedicated technical team that only operates within the United States.


UPS (Universal Parcel Services) is one of the oldest and world’s largest courier companies. It started its operations in 1907 and over the years, the company has witnessed exponential growth. With such huge operations, it’s no surprise that UPS is also a leading name in the ecommerce shipping API providers.

The API uses XML and SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol) to request and receive data from the server. It’s worth pointing out that UPS API is available in three different variants – Extensible Markup Language (XML), Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP), and JavaScript Object Notation (JSON).

UPS API is easy-to-manage and offers a plethora of functionality to provide a seamless shipping experience to your end customers. The company has also started a dedicated Small Business Program that specifically caters to small-scale ecommerce businesses.

5. ShippoAPI

Shippo is a shipping carrier that specifically caters to the ecommerce market. The ShippoAPI offers extensive features such as creating shipping labels, retrieving shipping rates, and keeping a track of all the orders in one place. Since ShippoAPI is specifically designed for ecommerce websites, its functionality is inclined more towards usability.

With extensive documentation, developers always have access to all the details regarding the API integration. So, even if they encounter any issues with the ShippoAPI, they’ll be able to tackle them without any hassle. The only downside of ShippoAPI is that it comes with a price tag. The subscription plan starts from $10 per month and can go beyond $100 based on your specific business requirements.

Ecommerce Shipping Practices to Deliver the Best Shipping Experience

So, before bidding final adieu, we would like to share a few of the ecommerce shipping practices that have helped our team construct user-centric ecommerce solutions. All these practices specifically focus on the shipping process and following them will help you nurture long-term customer relations more effectively.

1. Avoid Hidden Shipping Charges

Once again no one likes hidden shipping charges and customers are less likely to shop from your store if you continue to surprise them with these hidden costs.

Instead, try to be upfront about all the shipping charges, even if they are a bit higher than the regular shipping costs. You can always share the reasons for these higher rates instead of displaying them at the final stages of the checkout process.

2. Always Show an Expected Delivery Time

At this stage, you already know that customers expect faster deliveries. But, even if it’s going to take several days to get the product delivered, it would be better to stay transparent right from the beginning.

As soon as the shoppers land on the product page, they should immediately know how many days it would take for the product to reach their doorstep. If anything, it’ll help you stay transparent and get shoppers to believe in your brand.

3. Let Shoppers Return/Exchange Products

We’re not living in 2001, which means restricting shoppers from returning/exchanging items will only backfire and make it challenging to retain customers.

Online shopping is still challenging as shoppers can’t always decide if they want a product (or not) simply by looking at its pictures. So, in case they don’t like it after the delivery, your ecommerce store must let them return or exchange the product.

4. Real-Time Product Tracking

This one goes without saying! Once your customers have placed their order, they should be able to track it in real-time to keep track of the entire transit. The good news is almost every ecommerce shipping carrier provides the real-time tracking feature along with their APIs, which means you won’t have to worry about product tracking, regardless of the service provider you choose.


Running an ecommerce business in 2022 is not a piece of cake, mainly due to the fiercely competitive nature of the market. Ecommerce shipping is one of the factors that can help both ecommerce startups and well-established marketplaces stand apart from the competition and make the entire shopping experience more enriching for the shoppers.

When it comes to optimizing ecommerce shipping, always start by choosing the right shipping carrier for your brand. The idea is to choose a service provider that caters to your specific business requirements. And, if you don’t have an in-house technical team, make sure to hire professional ecommerce website developers and let them integrate the ecommerce shipping API into your store.

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