How to fulfill orders faster with automated shipping

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Mastering the art of speedy and accurate order fulfillment is a trump card for ecommerce owners. 

Why? The US ecommerce market is expected to surpass the $6 trillion mark in 2024, which means the faster you can fill and ship an order, the more of this market you can capture.

With ‘shipping automation’ and ‘automated shipping’ becoming the buzzwords of efficiency, it’s time to explore how these technologies can transform your business and enable you to stand out in the vast ocean that is the ecommerce pool.

Transforming your shipping process could be the key to unlocking unprecedented growth. Imagine reducing manual errors and getting products to your customers faster than ever. 

In this article, we’ll cover the following: 

  1. What exactly is shipping automation? 
  2. When should you automate shipping? 
  3. A step-by-step guide to automation
  4. And finally, how Linnworks can help. 

What is shipping automation and why do I need it?

Shipping automation streamlines and automates the processes of fulfilling orders, from picking and packing to shipping and tracking. 

It simplifies operations, reduces human error and accelerates delivery time, making it an indispensable tool for ecommerce businesses aiming for scalability and efficiency.

So, why do you need it? Here are five of the main benefits of shipping automation: 

1. Reduced manual errors

Automation dramatically reduces the chances of human error in your shipping process. 

Ensuring orders are fulfilled accurately and consistently virtually eliminates the costly mistakes that can occur during manual handling, such as incorrect shipments or delayed dispatches. This precision safeguards your reputation and boosts customer trust.

2. Increased efficiency

While shipping automation speeds up your order fulfillment cycle, it also optimizes workflow efficiency. 

Automated systems can handle huge order numbers simultaneously, significantly reducing the time from order to delivery. Your business can fulfill and ship more orders in less time, leveraging your capacity to meet demand, especially during peak seasons.

3. Reduced labor and returns costs

Cut down on labor costs associated with manual order processing. 

Additionally, by streamlining the shipping process and reducing errors, you minimize the need for costly returns and reshipments, further conserving resources. Over time, these savings can be pretty substantial, freeing up capital for investment in growth and development areas.

4. Enhanced customer satisfaction

The speed and reliability offered by shipping automation directly contribute to a positive customer experience. 

With faster delivery times and fewer errors, customers are more likely to be satisfied with their purchasing experience, increasing the likelihood of repeat business and positive reviews. Remember, happy customers are essential for long-term success and brand loyalty in the competitive ecommerce landscape.

5. The ability to scale

One of the most significant advantages of shipping automation is its scalability. 

As your business grows, automated systems can easily handle the increase in order volume without the need to proportionally increase your staffing. This scalability ensures your business can expand seamlessly, entering new markets and accommodating seasonal spikes without compromising service quality.

With benefits spanning from cost reduction to increased customer satisfaction, it’s clear why shipping automation is becoming a necessity for competitive ecommerce businesses.

When is it time to automate shipping?

Knowing when to automate shipping is pivotal for maintaining your ecommerce business’s competitive edge and ensuring customer satisfaction. 

You should start looking at automated shipping when:

  • Order volumes increase: Manual processes become cumbersome and error-prone as your business grows – automation helps manage larger volumes efficiently.
  • Accuracy issues arise: An uptick in shipping or fulfillment errors signals the need for a more reliable, automated system to ensure precision and consistency.
  • Customer feedback: If customers express dissatisfaction with delivery times or service quality, automation can streamline operations to meet their expectations.
  • Scaling aspirations: As you look to expand your market reach, automated shipping becomes essential to handle the increased demand without compromising service quality.

The move to shipping automation should align with your business’s growth trajectory and operational challenges. 

Automating at the right time can transform potential hurdles into stepping stones for success, enhancing your operational capabilities and ensuring you continue to meet – if not exceed – customer expectations.

3 examples of how automated shipping can speed up fulfillment times

Let’s look at automated shipping in action — here are three examples of how automated shipping can help to expedite fulfillment times: 

Amazon sets the global precedent 

Amazon has revolutionized fulfillment times with its advanced automated shipping systems. 

Within their sprawling warehouses, robotics and sophisticated software work in harmony, ensuring that every item is picked, packed and shipped with unparalleled speed and accuracy. 

This automation not only minimizes human error and labor but also dramatically reduces the time from order to delivery, setting an incredibly high benchmark in customer satisfaction and operational efficiency. 

Amazon also offers Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) to sellers on its platform.

This service allows businesses to outsource their order fulfillment, leveraging Amazon’s extensive global network. 

Force Fitness uses automation workflows to speed up fulfillment

Force Fitness Ltd transformed its order management and fulfillment processes by working with Linnworks. 

Previously burdened by manual efforts to fulfill orders across multiple channels and international borders, the adoption of Linnworks’ automated workflows streamlined their operations. 

This automation facilitated a one-click workflow from order to label printing for picking, packing and dispatching, significantly speeding up the process, particularly for complex international orders requiring customs forms. 

This efficiency freed up Force Fitness’s time to focus on expansion and growth, highlighting the power of automation in enhancing productivity and scalability. Read the full story.

Character’s swift fulfillment success

UK-based online retailer, Character, significantly accelerated their fulfillment times by leveraging Linnworks’ automated shipping and warehouse management systems. 

Initially challenged by manual stock control, Character integrated Linnworks to automate their inventory management, transitioning from spreadsheets to a comprehensive system that streamlined their operations. 

From there, the implementation of Linnworks’ warehouse management features enabled Character to automate processes such as dispatch and efficiently manage stock across multiple locations, resulting in time savings and enhanced efficiency. 

General Manager, Emma Hewitt, says “With Linnworks warehouse management, it’s much easier to locate all our stock and we’ve been able to fully automate processes including dispatch, […] we’ve saved time and sped up processes that were previously done manually.” Read the full story.

A step-by-step guide to setting up automated shipping

By this point, you’re probably already sold on the automated shipping dream. So, how do you get started? Let’s consider the steps you should follow to embraced automated shipping for your ecommerce business: 

Step 1: Pick the right shipping automation software

The foundation of any effective automated shipping strategy begins with selecting the right software. 

Your choice of software is crucial, as it directly impacts your ability to manage orders efficiently, scale operations and provide the swift, accurate service that you need — and your customers want.

Linnworks is the ideal solution for retailers looking to speed up fulfillment. The platform offers seamless integration across multiple sales channels and carriers (you can even pair it with Amazon’s FBA). Linnworks also automates key shipping processes, from order receipt to label printing and dispatch, allowing you to reduce manual intervention significantly. 

You can also benefit from granular insights into shipping performance and costs, enabling continuous optimization.

When choosing your shipping automation software, consider the following:

  • Compatibility with your existing ecommerce platforms and carriers to facilitate a smooth integration (more on this in step 2).
  • Scalability to support your business growth without needing to switch platforms.
  • Customer support and training resources to help you maximize the software’s benefits.
  • Feature set, including the ability to set shipping rules, handle international shipments and provide tracking information to customers.

Considering and prioritizing these factors means you can select a shipping automation software that perfectly aligns with your operational needs and strategic goals, laying a solid foundation for efficient and scalable order fulfillment moving forward. 

Step 2: Integrate your ecommerce platforms

This can seem like a daunting task but, if you’ve chosen the right provider, it should be relatively straightforward to integrate your ecommerce platforms with your chosen shipping automation software.

This integration ensures that all your sales channels are in sync with your shipping operations, enabling real-time updates on orders, inventory levels and shipment status.

With Linnworks, this integration extends across a vast array of ecommerce platforms, marketplaces and even social media channels, ensuring you have comprehensive control and visibility over your sales and shipping activities.  

This level of integration facilitates a unified approach to order management, significantly reducing the chances of errors and delays that can affect customer satisfaction.

Here’s what to focus on during integration:

  • Ensure a seamless data flow: Check that product information, customer details and order specifics move smoothly between your ecommerce platforms and your shipping automation software to avoid any discrepancies.
  • Automate wherever possible: Set up automation rules to automate order import, stock level synchronization and shipping updates across all platforms.
  • Customize for your needs: Tailor the integration settings to match your business’s specific requirements, such as custom shipping rules or unique product categorizations.

Integrating your ecommerce platforms with your automated shipping solution isn’t just setting you up for more efficient shipping, you’re enhancing the entire customer journey. 

From the moment they place an order to the joy of unboxing, you’re creating a seamless and satisfying shopping experience that encourages repeat business and boosts your brand’s reputation.

Step 3: Set up your shipping rules

To craft a seamless and efficient shipping process, establishing your shipping rules is crucial.

These rules automate decisions about which shipping methods to use, based on factors like order size, destination and customer preferences. This step not only speeds up the order fulfillment process but also ensures consistency and reduces shipping costs.

Some considerations when setting up shipping rules:

Order value and weight

Set rules to select shipping options based on the weight of the package or the total order value.


Implement different shipping strategies for domestic and international shipments, considering the best carriers and services for each region.

Customer preferences

Allow for expedited shipping options if a customer opts in during the checkout process.

Carrier performance

Factor in the reliability and delivery times of your carriers to match orders with the best shipping option available.

Carefully defining these rules enables you to streamline your shipping operations, making it easier to manage costs while still meeting customer expectations. You need to strike the perfect balance between speed, cost and reliability to optimize your overall fulfillment strategy.

Step 4: Set up shipment tracking

Customers expect transparency and want to know the status of their orders in real time. 

Recent statistics show that 90% of consumers want to track their orders. That’s an enormous percentage and providing this level of visibility will only enhance trust and significantly boost customer satisfaction.

When setting up shipment tracking, ensure that your system automatically generates tracking numbers for each order and shares these with customers via their preferred communication channel, whether that’s email, SMS, or directly through your website. 

This saves valuable time for your team and keeps your customers informed every step of the way.

Consider leveraging a platform that consolidates tracking information from various carriers into a single-view accessible interface. Consolidation allows both your team and your customers to easily track shipments, regardless of the carrier used, simplifying post-purchase communications and minimizing inquiries related to order status.

Step 5: Train your team, test the system

The final piece of the automated shipping setup puzzle is ensuring your team is fully trained and conducting thorough testing of the system. 

Effective training ensures everyone understands how to utilize the new system efficiently, helping to prevent errors and delays. Provide comprehensive training sessions that cover all features and functionalities of your shipping automation software – solution providers will often provide training sessions for you and your team, check your contract to see if this level of service is included or available as an add on. 

Use real scenarios to help staff grasp the process from order receipt through to shipping and tracking. Similarly, testing the system before going live is crucial. 

Again, conduct a series of tests to simulate real-world scenarios, checking for any glitches or inefficiencies that could affect order processing. This might include testing the accuracy of shipping rules, the reliability of shipment tracking updates and the seamless integration with ecommerce platforms.

By investing time in training and testing, you’ll ensure a smoother transition to automated shipping, minimizing disruption to your operations while maintaining high levels of customer satisfaction.

Fulfill orders faster and with fewer mistakes with Linnworks

Embracing automated shipping means unlocking the door to a world of streamlined efficiency and precision. 

Linnworks not only simplifies your fulfillment process but also ensures that each order reaches your customers faster and without the errors that can tarnish a brand’s reputation. 

With Linnworks, you can confidently scale your business, knowing that the backbone of your shipping process is robust, intelligent and adaptable. 

Ready to reduce errors, save time and boost customer satisfaction? Discover the difference Linnworks can make for your ecommerce business – book a demo today.

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Claire Rhodes


Enthusiastic tech translator. Ecommerce storyteller. Claire has worked in the B2B SaaS and tech space for the last 6+ years. With a love for words, grammar and tech, she prides herself on her product know-how and the inner workings of the complex solutions her clients offer. When not crafting B2B tech content, Claire spends her time traveling around the world, freediving, scuba diving, and making friends with the local critters.