How Does Shopify Shipping Work? A Beginner’s Guide to Shopify Shipping

Find out what are the best shopify shipping options.

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So, you've decided to set up a Shopify store – that's great! You have your products; you've chosen your niche, you have an idea of your target demographic…so far so good.

Now what?

You need to sort out your Shopify shipping settings. Urgh.

Luckily for you, it's nowhere near as complicated as you'd think. Nevertheless, we've put together a handy guide to help you navigate your way through the process. Let's dive in!

A Brief Look at Shopify Shipping

shopify shipping homepage

Listing and selling the best possible products for your customers is only the first step in running a successful business. Company leaders also need to think about the shipping methods that they want to use, so that they can deliver the items owed to clients too.

For people who already use the Shopify brand for everything from dropshipping, to a shopping cart for their online store, it makes sense to consider Shopify shipping. This fulfillment solution offers a reliable and cost effective way to deliver products to customers.

The Shopify team works closely with a range of shipping carriers, offering various mail classes and discounts to customers. This ensures that business leaders can get orders into the hands of clients as quickly and conveniently as possible.

Understanding Shopify Shipping

calculate shipping costs

The Shopify Shipping service focuses on making it as easy as possible for business leaders to fulfill orders. If you need a quick and convenient way to make your shipping work for your ecommerce business, Shopify shipping can help.

Within the Shopify environment, you can buy and print shipping labels directly, print various labels one at a time, and get orders out of the door as quickly as possible.

To give you the best possible fulfillment process, Shopify works with leading providers like DHL, UPS, and USPS. Additionally, there are multiple classes of mailing available with each carrier in the United States, so you can offer things like international shipping, overnight delivery and more, while still providing excellent Shopify shipping rates.

Understanding Shopify Shipping: A Closer Look

When you’re shipping orders to customers, your shipping carrier is the brand that handles your package for you, delivering it directly to customers. Shipping carriers like Fedex and USPS physically deliver the packages to a customer’s mailbox or door.

Each shipping carrier offers different options to help streamline your service. For instance, you might be able to offer options like allowing your customers to pick their items up at the post office. You can also offer a range of different mail classes and access things like label printing too. Each shipping carrier offers different options when it comes to shipping prices and fulfillment services.

👉 Before you choose your carrier, make sure that you know:

  • Where you’re shipping from and to
  • What products are you shipping
  • How heavy your products are
  • What your biggest budget is
  • Can you access things like flat-rate shipping, free shipping, or exact quote shipping for bigger parcels

Remember, it’s up to you to make sure that your customers have a good enough experience with your shipping solution that they want to continue handing over their credit card in the future.

Although you can set up strategies to ship with most carriers, you can also partner with various specific carriers to make the process a little easier. For instance, if you ship through Shopify shipping with companies like DHL Express, UPS, and USPS, then you can pay for the shipping and access your labels within the Shopify environment.

Why Use Shopify Shipping?

Just like many other aspects of running a new business, figuring out how to ship products to customers can be a complicated experience. You need to make sure that you’re getting items to your clients as quickly and conveniently as possible. However, you also need to think about shipping prices, packing slips, and making your life easier too

Shopify shipping delivers access to the best rates for your Shopify orders straight away. Because Shopify has partnerships with some of the leading shipping providers across the globe, it’s easy to make sure that you’re getting a great deal.

Normally, with other website builders and designers, you would need to take the time to seek out your own deals with carriers like USPS and DHL. However, with Shopify, you can print labels for your desired shipping company instantly, and get money off every time you fulfil an order. It’s the easiest way to get started.

👉  Other benefits of Shopify shipping include:

  • Schedule pickups: Your pickups will be free for DHL express shipments, and there are different rates available from other companies, depending on what you need. This excellent “schedule” option means that you can handle returns and other issues at a time that suits your customers, leading to better levels of service.
  • Multiple shipping options: You can offer multiple options for Shopify shipping for your customers to choose from. This makes it easy to save money on running your business, while ensuring that you save your clients time and money too.
  • Various extra features: As well as giving you a cheaper way to run your business, Shopify shipping also comes with other free features, like label printing from directly within your Shopify store.

How Does Shopify Shipping Work?

In the past, Shopify customers got most of the tools that they needed to run an effective online store with Shopify. However, the design of the service meant that business leaders still needed to go and find their shipping support on their own.

Fortunately, Shopify decided to remove this issue by rolling out an entirely new system for Shopify Shipping. The Shopify Shipping solution helps businesses of all sizes to simplify and complete fulfilment with ease. The built-in shipping suite ensures that merchants have access to the best possible rates, so that they can deliver excellent customer service.

Of course, like with most sales services, there are still a few bugs that Shopify needs to work out to make the shipping experience perfect. For instance, While you can view real-time shipping rates as a merchant, you won’t be able to show these to your customers, unless you pay for an add-on service. However, that’s unlikely to be too much of a deal breaker for most business owners.

Shipping vs Fulfilment

Before you can fully decide whether Shopify Shipping is the service that you need, it’s important to know the difference between shipping and fulfilment. Shipping services are designed to address the process of shipping goods to your customers, through services like DHL and UPS.

With Shopify Shipping services, you can choose things like how quickly an item will get to a customer, and how much they need to pay for postage and packaging. However, with fulfillment services, you’re accessing help for the entire order fulfilment process.

This means someone isn’t just shipping for you, they’re also handling packaging too. A fulfillment service may be something like a dropshipping solution, when your customers order a product, you send that order to your provider, and they send it on the other end. While you still manage most of your business with a shipping service, fulfilment services basically make you into a middle man between a supplier and your customer.

Where Do You Manage Your Shipping Settings?

First things first, head over to the Shopify admin panel. From here you can configure all your shipping settings.

However, before you put any wheels in motion, it's essential you understand the best way to ship your products to your customers.

Without this info, you can't receive your first order- which is a bit of a sticking point for generating profit!

Once you've decided on your shipping method(s), you can modify your settings so customers can choose from the list of delivery methods you offer. This will appear to them at the point of checkout.

From within the Shopify Shipping environment, you can connect with carriers, set up new zones for shipping, and even add your own drop shipping services. Remember, for Shopify Shipping to deliver the best results for your company, you’ll need to ensure that you have all of your information correct.

Make sure that you have listed all the weights and dimensions for your products and other product variations carefully. You’ll notice that there’s usually several shipping options listed below the product information when you’re using this service.

While you’re able to select from a variety of shipping speeds when setting up your service, your customers will only see the options that you agree to. Remember, if you want to show real-time shipping rates to clients, you need an add-on that costs $20 a month, or you can switch to the Advanced Shopify plan.

shopify dashboard

Things to Consider

To correctly set up your shipping settings, there are a few things you need to consider:

  • Your shipping rates
  • Your preferred shipping methods
  • The weights of your goods
  • Your ideal kind of packaging
  • Printing a test shipping label

This may sound like a lot, but never fear we're going to break this all down for you:

Sorting Shipping Rates and Methods

Before you settle on your shipping rates, there are several things to think about:

Do You Want to Charge Exact Shipping Costs?

By this we mean, billing your customer's the same price as couriers like USPS. If you're located in either the U.S. or Canada, you can utilize Shopify‘s resources to calculate these accurate shipping rates.

💡 Top Tip: If you're on a strict budget, don't use these exact rates, it's a pretty easy way of watering down your expenses.

‘Exact shipping costs' differs to flat rate shipping. As the title suggests, this is where Shopify store owners charge their buyers a fixed shipping rate. These are calculated using either the products weight, the location of your customers, or the total value of the order.

For example, you may ask for a $3 postage and packaging fee for any orders placed and sent within the UK.

If this is the way you want to go, you'll need to consider the average cost of shipping your goods- that way you can set a reasonable shipping charge.

The challenge is establishing a shipping fee that doesn't eat into your profits while offering an enticing deal to customers. Only you as a business owner can make this call.

💡 Top Tip: If you're located in the States, kickstart your first few orders by requesting a free USPS shipping kit. Their ‘Domestic Flat Rate Variety Pack' includes:

  • 1 x small box
  • 2 x medium box
  • 1 x large box

This is definitely worth using, after all, everything little helps when you're first starting out, right? homepage

What About Free Shipping?

Offering free shipping has become increasingly popular. More and more digital marketers are using free shipping as a way of securing new customers and boosting conversions.

More often than not, store owners offer buyers free shipping if they spend a certain amount in their digital store. For example, consumers can benefit from free shipping when they purchase $50 (or more) on products.

Not sure how to incorporate free shipping into your marketing strategy?

If that sounds like you, find out how much it'll cost you to ship your products and then add it to the overall cost of your goods- this gives you a bit of wriggle room to offer free shipping without losing out on profit- win-win!

💡 You should note: this method typically works best for low-cost goods.

Add Product Weights

If you're not sure which shipping method to opt for, calculate the cost of shipping by plugging in the weight of your products and the size of the boxes you're going to use.

With this info, Shopify can work out an approximate shipping rate. This is amazing for giving store owners a better idea of how much postage will set you back.

💡 Time-Saving Tip: If you're using the same box size for each order, set this as a default option, this is handy for speeding up the calculation of shipping rates.

Select a Type of Packaging

On the same Shipping Settings page you can save your preferred style of packaging:

  • Envelopes: These tend to be large, and flat. However, they can't be any thicker than 3/4 inches.
  • Boxes: This is best described as a ‘regular package.' However, the overall length, width, and height can't exceed 84 inches.
  • Soft Packs: This refers to- padded envelopes, bubble mailers, or plastic sleeves. If your package is thicker than 3/4 of an inch, it won't be eligible for USPS First Class Mail rates.
  • Carrier-specific packaging: for example, USPS Flat Rate packaging).

Did you know, in addition to USPS, most couriers offer business owners free packaging when you use their shipping services- for example, UPS and CHL Express?

This usually involves setting up a free account with them. Once you've done that, they can send the packaging over to you- how awesome is that?!

💡Top Tip: As most couriers set their prices on size and weight, it’s important to try and use the smallest sized packaging to save on shipping costs.

You should also note, Shopify doesn't accept the following kinds of package types (that's if you're planning on using their shipping labels):

  • Letters
  • Envelopes thinner than a quarter of an inch
  • Large packages
  • Non-rectangular and irregular shaped packages.

When a customer pays for shipping, you'll receive these funds (along with the rest of the monies for the order). However, if you print shipping labels via Shopify, you'll have to pay for the cost of the label as part of your Shopify bills.

👉 You can buy and print all the following shipping labels:

  • USPS,
  • UPS,
  • DHL Express,
  • Canada Post,

The amount you spend on shipping labels largely depends on the Shopify plan you've opted for. You'll be pleased to hear; you can save as much as 60% in comparison to standard retail prices.

When you're at the stage where you need to purchase a shipping label, select which of your saved package types you, and follow Shopify's instructions from there- it's a pretty simple process!

buy and print shipping labels

Now Let's Set Everything Up

Once you have all the above figured out, you'll need to complete the following steps to get your shipping settings up and running. Again, this can all be sorted from your Shopify admin panel:

  1. Register where you're shipping from. AKA your shipping origin
  2. Add your shipping zones (the places you're happy to send your products to)
  3. Add your shipping rates. Or, activate pre-calculated shipping rates for specific zones.
  4. If you want to use Shopify Shipping to buy and print shipping labels, you'll need to use and select a supported label printer and choose your default package types.

How to Add Your Shipping Origin Address

If you're shipping from somewhere other than your office, you can set a separate shipping origin. This ensures Shopify calculates your shipping rates and taxes correctly.

👉 So, here's how you set up your shipping origin address:

  1. Head over to your Shopify admin panel, select ‘Settings‘ then ‘Shipping.'
  2. Under ‘Shipping origin,' select ‘Edit address':
  3. Now, enter the address you're shipping your products from and hit ‘Save.'

add shipping address

Shipping From Numerous Locations?

If you're shipping from more than one location, you'll need to opt for the setting that says you're sending goods from several sites.

Once you've done that, your shipping rates are calculated using the place you've selected as your primary shipping origin. You can change your shipping origin to any of your existing locations.

You should note: the cost of purchasing Shopify's shipping labels are also calculated using your order fulfillment location, not your shipping origin.

Want to Change Your Shipping Origin?

👉 The steps are pretty simple:

  1. Head back over to your Shopify admin panel, click ‘Settings‘ followed by ‘Shipping.'
  2. Once you're in the shipping section, click ‘Change shipping origin.'
  3. From there you can choose a new location, then click ‘Save.'

Voila, you're done!

How Do I Add a Package Type?

Again if you're based in the US or Canada, you can save both the dimensions and weights of your favorite package types via your shipping settings on your Shopify admin panel.

  1. Head over to ‘Settings,' then select ‘Shipping.'
  2. Within the ‘Packages‘ bit, select ‘Add a package.'
  3. This will prompt a box where you'll have to fill out all the necessary info about the kind of packaging you're using.

shopify shipping - packages and weights

How Do I Edit a Package Type?

Again, this is straightforward. If you want to modify or remove one of your existing packages, just follow the steps below:

  1. From your Shopify admin panel, click on ‘Settings' followed by ‘Shipping‘.
  2. Find the ‘Packages' section and select ‘Edit' next to the package type you want to change.
  3. Then, you'll have the opportunity to insert your changes and save them. Alternatively, you can entirely delete the package type.

What Are Shipping Zones?

The provinces and countries you want to ship to, for the purposed of your postage and packaging setting are known as ‘Shipping zones.'

Your customers delivery address will determine which of your shipping zones they fall into, and therefore the shipping rate you'll charge them.

How Do I Create a New Shipping Zone?

If you want to create a new shipping zone, follow the below instructions:

  1. Head over to your Shopify admin panel, hit ‘Settings,' then ‘Shipping.'
  2. Within the zones and rates bit, select ‘Add shipping zone.'
  3. You'll then have the opportunity to insert a ‘Zone name'– where you can label your new shopping zone — for example, the UK.
  4. Now, you can ‘Add countries‘ under the ‘Countries‘ section. Unsurprisingly, you need to click the countries you want in your shipping zone. Once you're done, select ‘Add.'
  5. Alternatively, you can opt for whole continents- for example, ‘Europe' or ‘North America.' When you do that, you'll add every one of the countries located in that region to your shipping zone. If you want to erase specific countries, use the checkboxes listed beside them.
  6. Or, if you want to limit the areas, you deliver to within a country, select ‘Edit' beside the region you want to modify. It's pretty straightforward to add or remove states using these checkboxes. Once you're finished, select ‘Done.'

When you create a new shipping zone, it'll appear in your Shipping settings section, within the Shopify admin panel.
You should note: your default tax rate is based on your shipping zones. Therefore, when you update your shipping zones, you'll need to review your tax settings to ensure everything's in order.

💡 Top Tip: If the country you're delivering too isn't showing the different regions, contact Shopify‘s support. Not all countries show their different provinces in this section.

📢 Handy Hack: If you're using Shopify Shipping, at this point you're able to add your calculated postage rates to your shipping zones. So, go ahead and do that, and press ‘Save‘ when you're done.

shopify shipping zones

How Do I Manually Add a Shipping Rate?

To add your own shipping rate, manually- click the ‘Add rate' button that corresponds with the kind of shipping rate you want to set.

If you want to organize your shipping zone by postal or zip codes, check out the Shopify app store, there are tons of resources you can utilize to do this.

What About On-Demand Deliveries?

If you want the option of on-demand deliveries, you can activate this, via the Shipping setting page within your Shopify admin panel.

Benefits of On-Demand Deliveries

If you've not heard of this shipping method, you should note you can do all the following:

  • Give local customers the option of cost-effective same-day delivery. Nearby buyers will be given this option as they check out. This is especially popular with sellers who operate a brick and mortar store within their local communities.
  • You can use Shopify‘s flexible billing system to set shipping promotions on specific products. For example, free local delivery.
  • Shopify gives customers the ability to monitor the state of their delivery in real-time- how awesome is that?!

You should note: On-demand delivery is only available to brands with ZIP codes falling within locations Postmates serve.

on demand deliveries

Top Shipping Tips

Did you know, unexpected costs surfacing at the point of checkout is the primary reason customers don't complete their purchase?

Needless to say, shipping costs often fall into this category!  Therefore, we suggest making your shipping fees visible throughout the entirety of your store- that way customers don't get any nasty surprises!

💡 Top Tip: As we've alluded to, your shipping strategy will massively vary depending on the kind of business you're running.  It’s often worth spending the time and effort testing various shipping options to see how this impacts your conversion rate.

📢 Handy Hack: If you're managing and shipping inventory from numerous locations, you'll have to offer the same shipping rates from all your sites, so factor this into your budget as you set your prices.

Test for User Experience

Shipping isn't just a boring practicality- it's actually part of the overall experience you provide your customers.

So, we thoroughly recommend placing a test order so you can view exactly what your audience see's when they head to your checkout. Use this as an opportunity to ensure all the delivery options you want are there, and all the rates are listed correctly.

You should know: your customers can't view your shipping methods until they've submitted their delivery address. That way only the delivery options relevant to them appear.

Does My Shopify Plan Effect My Shipping Options?

In short, yes- but not majorly.

How much you're charged will vary depending on the Shopify plan (check out our Shopify Pricing guide for more info) you've selected and the courier you use. Shopify customers can enjoy reduced shipping costs from USPSUPSDHL Express, and Canada Post.

I've taken the liberty of pasting this table Shopify published. This should give you a better idea of the kind of savings you can make:

Basic Shopify plan

Shopify plan

Advanced Shopify plan


Up to 46%

Up to 53%

Up to 55%


Up to 41%

Up to 41%

Up to 41%

DHL Express

Up to 64%

Up to 72%

Up to 74%

Canada Post

Up to 31%

Up to 37%

Up to 40%

On the subject of money, you should know, when you buy a Shopify shipping label, the bill will run through your Shopify account. You'll be charged when you hit a certain threshold (again this will vary depending on the Shopify plan you've opted for).

Make Shipping Part of Your Marketing Strategy

If you have a few products where you're planning on offering free shipping, you can make this part of your marketing strategy.

Consider adding a banner on your digital storefront to promote your shipping offer. This is amazing for capturing the attention of your visitors and making them aware of your generous deal.

If there are any restrictions associated with customers benefitting from free shipping, make them well known. You don't want to mislead people, that can break trust with your audience.

When you speak about your offer you should be clear, concise, and communicate everything your customers need to know about accessing this promotion.

Alternatively, if you have the budget, consider running paid ads to draw attention to your free shipping offer. There are plenty of advertising platforms you can utilize, so go for the one you feel most comfortable with. For example, Google AdWords, Facebook marketing campaigns, paid LinkedIn ads- you get the idea!

You can target potential customers searching for keywords associated with your products. Then in your ad copy, add a quick note about the free shipping you're offering.

As you start launching your marketing campaigns, test your results to see what your audience is responding to the best. That way you can hone in on that method.

For many, it's a combination of making your buyers aware of free shipping on your site, utilizing social media channels, and running email marketing campaigns.

As you analyze the results, ask yourself the following questions:

  • How many new customers did I obtain?
  • Did I see a boost in repeat custom?
  • Did I notice an increase in average order total?

By answering these questions, you'll start getting a feel for how effective your current marketing strategy is. If you're not getting the results you want- switch things up. It never hurts to try something new!

Did You Enjoy This Article on Shopify Shipping?

Now we've covered all the basics of Shopify shipping; we hope you've got a better idea of how it all works! Please feel free to come back to this guide as you start configuring settings.

Have you had any experience with the Shopify Shipping process? If so, please feel free to leave a comment in the box below and let us know any other tips, questions or concerns you want to share. We love hearing from our readers, let's get this conversation going!

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Rosie Greaves

Rosie Greaves is a professional content strategist who specializes in all things digital marketing, B2B, and lifestyle. She has over three years of experience crafting high-quality content. Check out her website Blog with Rosie for more information.

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