Shipping Strategies For Operating a Multi-Vendor Marketplace



Mar 24th, 2023

Shipping is one of the core components of running a marketplace. You need to ensure your clients have a clear understanding of shipping rates, and that their orders will be received within your promised timeframe, while also assuring profitability for you and your vendors. It can seem like quite the task but we here at Onport are more than capable of walking you through the process.


What are the decisions I need to make to create my shipping strategy?

The number one thing that should guide your shipping strategy at all times, is your business scale. The ideal shipping solution might be to have a customised network of carriers, with costs fully optimised and great service levels, but until you are able to buy your own cargo planes like Amazon, you’ll need to adapt your strategy to your scale.

Carrier accounts (internal vs bundled vs vendors)

One of the key decisions is deciding who has the relationship with the carriers that will be delivering orders for your marketplace. There are a few options on the table:

  1. Setup your own carrier accounts and have your vendors use the shipping labels generated through them - recommended for businesses with sufficient scale to negotiate better rates than bundled carrier accounts - Onport allows you to setup any number of carriers by connecting to carrier aggregating services like Shipstation and Shippypro.
  2. Use bundled carrier accounts to quickly access discounted rates - Onport offers a bundled USPS account that will get you up to 67% discount from standard USPS rates, you’ll also find discounted carriers with Shippo that connects directly with Onport.
  3. Have your vendors generate their own shipping labels using their existing carrier accounts - as long as your vendors are already selling online, this is the easiest way to get started, as they will have access to either their own or bundled accounts, that they can use to create the shipping labels to ship orders for your marketplace. The tracking information can then be automatically pulled into Onport, or added manually by your vendors, which in turn will sync with your store and keep your customers updated.
  4. Combination of the previous options - perhaps a vendor already has access to better rates due to his volume of shipments, but another one might not even have a carrier account, so you’ll need to setup a combination of the previous options to cater for the needs of your marketplace. Luckily you are in good hands, Onport is able to cover any combination of the above scenarios!

truck at loading dock

Service options

What service options do I need to offer to my clients, to ensure they are satisfied with how quickly they received their order?

This comes down to the niche or sector you are operating in, and what level of service customers are expecting from it, while also maintaining a balance with your profitability and how much you could be charging customers for shipping.

If you are selling expensive goods, customers will often be more demanding and expect orders to arrive as soon as possible, however, if you are selling apparel at a more modest price point, customers may be willing to accept delivery times anywhere between 2-7 days. Assess what your competition is doing and try to assure you are at least on par with their service levels.

Carrier network

Carrier selection should deliver on the service levels that are right for your business at the right cost. Closing carrier contracts may require you to already have some scale in order to negotiate better than off-the-shelf rates. Reach out to different carriers to understand if the services they provide are in line with your needs, and if they are able to provide them at a reasonable cost. Consider the specifics of the service being provided (customer notifications, number of delivery attempts, additional services such as leaving with a neighbour) and find the best fit for your business. Even though you are dropshipping, you could also implement ways of monitoring carrier performance to ensure you’ve picked the right partner. If nothing else, you should at least pay close attention to customer feedback, the step up would be to monitor carrier performance metrics (delivery times, failed deliveries, delivery reattempts, etc.) These metrics can provide powerful insights into how well your customer rate their overall experience of using your services.

open box

This is an introduction to what are some of the considerations behind the logistics network for a marketplace - in other blog articles, we will relate these decisions to your profitability, and the different models for charging customers and vendors for shipping costs.

Onport - Your Reliable Partner For Marketplace Shipping

Onport is an ecommerce marketplace and dropshipping platform enabling companies to centralize the core areas of backend marketplace dropshipping operations using next-generation composable technology - inventory syncing, order routing, shipping workflows, payment automation, and returns management.

The Onport Platform can accommodate both those seeking an out-of-the-box solution and, through an API with +3.000 endpoints, those who require a more flexible implementation.

With Onport, we were able to launch in less than three months, which we just couldn’t have done, had we built the system ourselves.”

Frank A. Ricciardi | Founder & CEO at Maavee

From growing SMBs to well-established enterprise-level companies, its composable and adaptive infrastructure was designed to be a reliable partner for the growth of any company operating in the e-commerce marketplace and dropshipping space.

Over 200+ companies in the e-commerce space are future-proofing their business with a solution trusted by brands such as Stadium Goods, Cupra, Ivalo, and Naduvi.

Navigate your business with Onport, a multi-vendor marketplace solution to scale your operations.

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