We're constantly trying to improve your support experience, and your feedback is extremely valuable to us.

Please take a moment to tell us about your experience today.
Sign up for future Help Center user research studies.

Shipping strategy examples

Most businesses use a variety of shipping strategies for different shipping zones. The following examples might provide strategies that you can use to grow your business.

Selling a single product worldwide

Kara is in Canada and wants to sell a plush penguin product. She plans on focusing her marketing efforts on Canada and the United States, but wants to keep her options open for sales worldwide. Her supplier charges $4 per product and she plans to sell them for $10 each. Her shipping costs are outlined below:

Country Cost of shipping one product Cost of shipping two products Cost of shipping three products
Canada $2 $3.50 $35
United States Free Free Free
Japan $5 $9 $12.50
Egypt $8 $16 $70
Brazil $9 $11 $50
Portugal $7 $10 $46

Shipping strategy for Canada

Kara thinks that most people will order only one or two plush penguins at a time, but she doesn't want to miss out on the opportunity if someone wants to order three or more. She decides to order 30 plush penguins to her home so she can send them out herself if three or more are ordered. She emails the supplier and they agree to give her free shipping on her order of 30 so her only shipping costs will come from shipping out the products herself.

Since she is in Canada, she wants to use Shopify Shipping to get discounted labels from within Shopify. She makes sure to add the appropriate product weights and box dimensions in her settings.

Settings needed for Shopify Shipping in Canada

Now that she doesn't need to worry about the shipping costs for larger orders, she decides to offer free shipping to help with her marketing efforts. To learn how to set up a free shipping strategy, see Free shipping.

Shipping strategy for United States

Since Kara's supplier is offering free shipping to the United States and she is focusing her marketing efforts there, she decides to offer a free shipping rate.

Settings needed for free shipping in the United States

To learn how to set up a free shipping strategy, see Free shipping.

Shipping strategy for Asia

The shipping costs to Japan seem to be unique, but after Kara researches more countries in Asia she realizes they all have a similar pattern of starting at $5 and slowly getting cheaper on a per-item basis with each additional item ordered. She discovers that, on average, the per-item shipping costs are $5 for one, $7 for two, $9 for three, $10 for four, and $11 for five. Based on that, she can see what her profit margins would be if she charged a shipping rate of $5 for each item ordered:

Quantity ordered Cost to customer Kara's total costs Profit Profit margin
One $10 + $5 = $15 $4 + $5 = $9 $6 40%
Two $20 + $10 = $30 $8 + $7 = $15 $15 50%
Three $30 + $15 = $45 $12 + $9 = $21 $24 53%
Four $40 + $20 = $60 $16 + $10 = $26 $34 57%
Five $50 + $25 = $75 $20 + $11 = $31 $44 59%

Although the profit margins look good, Kara isn't sure if passing the shipping savings that she receives on higher quantity orders on to her customers will help the conversion rate of her checkout. She needs to monitor the abandoned checkouts of her orders from Asia closely to see if there's a higher percentage of abandoned checkouts than that of other zones.

Kara sets up a tiered shipping rate strategy for Asia, and will adjust the rates if needed. She decides to make her rates weight based in case she decides to change her product price later.

Kara remembers that she set up accurate product and box weights for her rates in her Canada shipping zone. The product weighs 3.2 oz and the box weighs 4.8 oz for a total weight of 8 oz for each shipment.

Settings needed for tiered shipping rates in Japan

To learn how to set up a tiered flat-rate shipping strategy, see Tiered flat rates.

Shipping strategy for the rest of the world

The shipping costs to Egypt, Brazil, and Portugal are quite high, especially when ordering three or more products. Kara finds that other countries in Africa, South America, Europe, and the rest of North America have similar rates to these countries and decides to offer a single flat shipping rate of $10. However, she makes sure that the flat rate has a maximum order weight that is equivalent to the weight of two products, 1 lb, which prevents orders with three or more products.

Settings needed for a flat rate for the rest of the world

Instead of having a very high shipping cost listed for three or more products, Kara decides to change the messaging in her theme's language settings that is shown when no shipping rate is available. Because she set her flat rate to only allow orders of two products or fewer, customers see an error message if they order three or more products. To learn how to set up a flat-rate shipping strategy, see Single flat rate.

She changes the default error message to advise the customer to email her to request a shipping quote. To learn how to change the messaging in your theme, see Changing the wording in themes. This way, she can email her supplier and request a lower quote for the customer. If the supplier agrees, then Kara can create a draft order for her customer.

Selling multiple products to specific markets

Aran is selling a variety of puzzles and games to customers in South America. Puzzle #1 costs him $3, Puzzle #2 costs him $4, and Puzzle #3 costs him $5. He wants to sell them each for $6. He plans to expand to North America if he finds success in South America. Here are his shipping considerations:

Country Costs of shipping Puzzle #1 Costs of shipping Puzzle #2 Costs of shipping Puzzle #3
Brazil
  • Quantity of one: $5
  • Quantity of two: $7
  • Quantity of three: $30
  • Quantity of one: $7
  • Quantity of two: $10
  • Quantity of three: $40
  • Quantity of one: $5
  • Quantity of two: $10
  • Quantity of three: $25
Chile
  • Quantity of one: $4
  • Quantity of two: $8
  • Quantity of three: $12
  • Quantity of one: $5
  • Quantity of two: $10
  • Quantity of three: $15
  • Quantity of one: $6
  • Quantity of two: $12
  • Quantity of three: $18
Argentina
  • Quantity of one: $8.12
  • Quantity of two: $13.55
  • Quantity of three: $30.97
  • Quantity of one: $10.20
  • Quantity of two: $13.15
  • Quantity of three: $40.05
  • Quantity of one: $8.40
  • Quantity of two: $10.54
  • Quantity of three: $25.18
Uruguay
  • Quantity of one: $5.71
  • Quantity of two: $11.41
  • Quantity of three: $50.78
  • Quantity of one: $8.21
  • Quantity of two: $16.32
  • Quantity of three: $66.71
  • Quantity of one: $18.72
  • Quantity of two: $26.87
  • Quantity of three: $73.73
Venezuela
  • Quantity of one: $1.78
  • Quantity of two: $3.88
  • Quantity of three: $4.45
  • Quantity of one: $2.45
  • Quantity of two: $4.90
  • Quantity of three: $8.98
  • Quantity of one: $5.55
  • Quantity of two: $7.49
  • Quantity of three: $10.01

Aran is concerned about the shipping costs because they look quite high. He doesn't want the high shipping costs to discourage his customers from completing the checkout, especially since his puzzles are targeting a younger audience who typically have less disposable income than adults.

Shipping strategy for Brazil

Aran is focusing a large percentage of his marketing efforts on Brazil, and wants to offer free shipping to customers. However, if he continues to price his products at $6, then he will lose money on each sale because of the high shipping costs.

Aran has to decide between having higher shipping costs or increasing the price of his products. He decides to try offering $2 shipping for each item and increases the product price to $10. He makes all his products the same weight, 1 lb, and creates a tiered weight-based flat-rate strategy. He also decides to offer free shipping as a discount code promotion on Puzzle #1 to see if that increases his conversion rates.

Because of the high cost of shipping three products, Aran decides to create only two tiers of shipping rates: a rate for a quantity of one, and a rate for a quantity of two.

Settings needed for tiered shipping rates for Brazil

To learn how to set up a tiered flat-rate shipping strategy, see Tiered flat rates.

Instead of having a very high shipping cost listed for three or more products, he decides to change the messaging in his theme's language settings that is shown when no shipping rate is available. He advises the customer to email to request a shipping quote. To learn how to change the messaging in your theme, see Changing the wording in themes.

Using this method, Aran can email his supplier and request a lower quote for the customer. If the supplier agrees, then he can create a draft order for his customer.

Shipping strategy for Chile

Aran remembers that he increased the products' price to $10 because of his shipping strategy for Brazil and takes that into account when looking at the shipping costs to Chile. Since Chile's rates go up evenly each time, he decides to create a tiered flat-rate shipping strategy similar to Brazil's, but he allow customers to purchase more than two.

He charges $2 shipping for each item ordered and sets up the flat rates to be weight based. If Brazil's free shipping test goes well, then he might try and offer something similar in Chile.

Settings needed for tiered shipping rates for Chile

To learn how to set up a tiered flat-rate shipping strategy, see Tiered flat rates.

Shipping strategy for Argentina and Uruguay

The shipping prices for Argentina and Uruguay are quite high, and it's difficult for Aran to include them in his shipping strategy. Aran decides to find the average cost of shipping each quantity of products to each country. He finds that, on average, shipping one product to Argentina or Uruguay costs $9.87 and shipping two costs $15.37.

Aran thinks about offering another tiered flat-rate shipping strategy. Since he added $4 for each product based on the shipping strategy for Brazil, he decides to charge $5 for shipping one product, $10 for two, and asks people to email him if they want three or more. However, the dimensions of Puzzle #3 are causing it to have very high shipping costs to Uruguay and he is worried that he will lose money on these orders.

Aran has a few options:

  • Increase his product price further - If he increases the product price further, then he could look into offering free shipping to customers in other countries while keeping his initial plan of a tiered flat-rate strategy for Argentina and Uruguay. However, increasing the price of the products too much could deter customers from reaching the checkout.

  • Remove Uruguay from the list of countries eligible for shipping - Brazil is the country that receives the most marketing attention so removing Uruguay as a shipping option could be an option. However, he might lose out on some sales.

  • Use a per-item shipping rate app - With such varying shipping costs, it might make sense to get an app to help charge the exact shipping cost per-item instead of relying on the averages of shipping costs to even out over time. This could be used for other shipping zones as well. However, the per-item shipping rate app will have an additional monthly cost. For information about per-item shipping, see Per-item shipping rates.

Aran decides to use tiered flat rates for now, but he will evaluate the other options when he begins making sales to see if another method makes sense.

Settings needed for tiered shipping rates for Argentina and Uruguay

To learn how to set up a tiered flat-rate shipping strategy, see Tiered flat rates.

Shipping strategy for Venezuela

Since $4 has been added to each product to help offset shipping costs from Brazil's shipping strategy, the cost of shipping to Venezuela is already covered. A free shipping strategy would be a good option to help with conversion rates in Venezuela. However, a single flat rate for shipping could be another option to help offset any losses in shipping costs from other regions such as Uruguay.

Aran decides to charge a flat rate of $2 but offer free shipping as an option for people who order 3 or more products as a way to increase his average order value.

Settings needed for a flat shipping rate for Venezuela

For more information on a single flat-rate shipping strategy, see Single flat rate.

Ready to start selling with Shopify?

Try it free