I won't admit how long it took for me to get my ducks in a row when it came to automating my shipping system and as soon as I did I was more than mildly frustrated that I didn't prioritise getting this sorted sooner!
I just found the options overwhelming and so I thought I would talk through exactly what I decided on in case you're feeling overwhelmed about this side of launching your ecommerce store too!
Deciding on a shipping provider was easy - NZ Post (or Courier Post) was my only option because we are rural and this is the only service that will collect from our address. I need to be honest, opening an account was painful, the process was long and drawn out and confusing and the proposal that I got sent made no sense.
I ended up contacting someone from NZ Post who had posted in a Facebook group I am part of, and she got it all sorted for me which was lucky because I was very close to giving up. Hang in there though, because once your account is opened and you have linked eShip to your store (I use Shopify) everything is so easy.
In terms of customer notifications, when I print a shipping label (I'll get to the labels etc soon) the order is fulfilled in Shopify (I have my Shopify notifications turned off) and eShip sends a customer notification (that I have customised) to say that the order has been packed. I have configured the system to send the following notifications to customers;
- Order has been picked up from my place
- Order is in transit (usually when it is at the local depot)
- Order is out for delivery
- Order has been delivered
For me, personally, that number of notifications would drive me bananas (I'm one of those weird people that forgets when they order things online!) but I have had two enquiries (from more than 2000 orders) about orders and order tracking because the NZ Post system keeps the customer updated at every step of the way.
In terms of packaging I went with noissue.co for tissue, I have a custom design that is on brand but doesn't have my logo on it and I don't use any tape or stickers, this is so customers can easily unwrap their products and hopefully re-use the tissue. I chose noissue because their paper is sourced sustainably and they use soy based inks.
Some of my products are glass and I have a big roll of leftover corrugated card that I use to protect these, I also reuse packaging sent by my suppliers and I use the "padded" envelopes from R3 Pack, for the rest of my orders I use the paper courier bags from R3 Pack - I went with paper because it can be recycled in curbside recycling or composted in the home compost bin.
I also use the paper tape from R3 Pack and when I run out of corrugated card I will switch to the Geami WrapPak. I also got my label printer from R3 Pack and I buy my courier labels there also (they are made from recycled paper). R3 Pack have a super speedy turnaround when it comes to shipping orders (usually it's same day) and the team are very helpful.
If you are not sure what sort of courier packs and what sizes will work for you and your products you can order sample packs before you commit, for my other store I went for the recycled plastic courier bags because they seemed more durable than the compostable courier bags, and can be recycled with soft plastics which is a great option for those customers that don't have a compost bin at home.
If you are thinking about starting an online store, you can take my (super cheap) Shopify course, if you need some extra advice or direction book in for an ecommerce coaching session. If you're a bit stuck and not sure what you need to get your business started (or growing), please get in touch.