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E-commerce software offers a variety of tools and functions. The right program will be the one that matches your needs without charging for features you won't use.

E-commerce shipping software streamlines processes, increasing productivity and customer satisfaction. Moreover, the best online platforms scale to meet demand as your organization grows. It should be easy to use and implement, maximizing effectiveness and ensuring a solid return on investment (ROI).

Assess your options by creating a shipping software comparison chart that lists important factors, such as must-have features, cost, and integrations. Plus, look for solutions that support your shipping strategy and existing workflows.

Budget: Determine one-time and recurring costs

The cost of e-commerce shipping software ranges from free to hundreds of dollars per month. The costs vary depending on the number of users, order imports, and sales channels. For instance, ShipStation charges $9.99 per month for 50 shipments, whereas you can use OrderCup for free. Ordoro packages range from free to over $1,000 monthly.

Most online shipping platforms use a tiered pricing model, meaning higher-priced packages have more features or capacity. And hidden expenses can add up, so review the fine print to understand additional one-time or recurring fees.

It's also a good idea to determine your technology's ROI. This process involves looking at potential productivity gains that lower operational costs and delivery improvements that increase customer retention. The ROI should consider training costs. An inexpensive tool that's challenging to use can cost you more in the long run. Take advantage of free trials to test the user interface and features before committing to a subscription.

Also, think about how various shipping options and discounts could affect your bottom line. Some online shipping platforms let you search for discounted carrier rates or offer freight shipping deals, helping you save on shipping costs.

[Read more: How to Choose Shipping Software for Your E-Commerce Business]

Features: Consider must-have shipping tools

The best shipping software for e-commerce improves order and inventory management processes while enhancing delivery experiences. However, features and capabilities vary among providers and plans. Free versions often lack live customer service options and offer fewer branding tools, whereas upper-tier packages may include a customer success manager and branded invoicing, emails, and tracking experiences.

Compare solutions carefully to ensure you're getting the features you need without paying for extras you won't use. For instance, if you use scales or scanners for inventory and shipping, you will want a shipping platform that works with various peripheral hardware, such as ShippingEasy. But inventory management features are less important if you use third-party logistics (3PL) or dropshipping services.

The cost of e-commerce shipping software ranges from free to hundreds of dollars per month.

E-commerce shipping software features include:

  • Workflow automation.
  • Address validation services.
  • Reporting and analytics.
  • Contact management and marketing tools.
  • Domestic, cross-border, and international shipping options.
  • Shipping rate calculator.
  • Carrier types and rates.
  • Bulk label and slip creation and printing.
  • Mobile and desktop applications.
  • Branding and customization options.
  • Live support and a comprehensive knowledge base.
  • Real-time inventory management.
  • User-friendly software interface.
  • Support for multi-channel sales.
  • Supplier management tools.

Integrations: Look for compatibility and ease-of-implementation

Choose integrated services to sync data across sales channels and multiple carriers. This capability reduces time spent on manual tasks and mistakes from human error. Without integrations, you will have to manually enter orders from marketplaces and customer data from your customer relationship management (CRM) program.

Most major logistics tools integrate with well-known e-commerce platforms, such as WooCommerce, Shopify, and Wix. In addition, some connect to CRMs, accounting software, and point-of-sale (POS) systems. But not all shipping solutions work with dropshipping vendors and marketplaces, like Amazon, Etsy, eBay, and Walmart.

For example, Fit Small Business said, "ShippingEasy isn't compatible with direct connections to dropshipping suppliers," whereas Ordoro has "robust integrations with the top dropshipping marketplaces." Likewise, Fit Small Business recommended ShipStation for its "plug-and-play integrations with fulfillment centers, freight companies, and international carriers."

You may also want access to application programming interfaces (APIs). These let you create custom integrations with your existing tools. Shipping software providers with APIs include Easyship, ShipStation, Shippo, and Ordoro.

[Read more: How Shipping Can Be Used as a Small Business Growth Strategy]

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