By Scott Taylor, Brand and eCommerce Manager at Reckless

7 ways to reduce eCommerce shipping costs

In the dynamic landscape of online commerce, minimising shipping costs has become a key concern for eCommerce businesses. Finding the balance between providing exceptional customer service and optimising operational expenses has never been more critical.

In this blog, we delve into how brands can cut down eCommerce shipping costs without compromising on the quality of service. From negotiating commercial rates and taking a profit-driven approach, to enhancing your customer experience and streamlining your online store’s returns process, here’s seven practical approaches to help reduce your eCommerce shipping costs. 

💸Commercial shipping rates

A common mistake many ecommerce businesses make is continuing to ship with public rates when commercial rates are available via shipping wholesalers. Commercial rates are generally 10% cheaper, but can be up to 140% cheaper when compared to buying directly from a courier. For example:

Despatch Bay


🚛 Talk to couriers

If sales start to build, you may be able to negotiate with couriers directly and receive not only better prices, but also increased shipping times and collections. For example, if you’re selling with Amazon, you can receive excellent rates by joining Amazon logistics.

You’ll need to be shipping at least 200 units a day to be considered for Amazon, DPD or Evri logistic services, but it may be worth building these prices into your product margins and seeing if you can push sales further to qualify for these services. 

Whichever you choose, make sure they’re a logistics partner you can trust and that compliments your entire buying journey. When visitors are considering a purchase on your website, they’ll want to know which delivery dates, shipping methods and costs you offer so make these crystal clear. 

Post purchase, they’ll want tracking numbers, delivery dates and times. Most prominent courier and logistics companies automate these via email and/or SMS but make sure they’re available because delivery can make or break your customer experience and chances of repeat purchase. Let’s face it, nobody wants to wait weeks for something they’ve bought and have no idea when it’ll turn up. 

🆓Free shipping threshold

Offer free shipping for orders above a certain threshold. This encourages customers to buy more to qualify for free shipping, increasing your average order value and potentially covering the shipping costs.

However, setting a free shipping threshold isn’t something that should be done without a little research and care. Quite often many retailers succeed in increasing their average order value but cut deep into their margin. As the saying goes, revenue is vanity, profit is sanity.

Here’s how you ensure your Free Shipping Threshold is sane: 

  1. Calculate your Average Order Value (ensuring you exclude shipping costs). For example £20
  2. Determine your Average Shipping Costs. For example, £5.00
  3. Calculate your Gross Profit Margin. For example, 25% 
  4. Propose a Free Shipping Threshold. For example, £25.00 

Now that you have a proposed free shipping threshold, you need to put it to the test: 

  1. Determine the difference between the proposed Free Shipping Threshold and the Average
    Order Value (£25 – £20 = £5)
  2. Multiply the difference by the Gross Profit Margin (£5.00 * .25 = £1.25)
  3. Subtract the result from the Average Shipping Cost (£5 – £1.25 = £3.75)

In this case, you’ll end up paying £3.75 per order to cover the free shipping which is over 60% of your increased gross profit margin. A bit too big of a hit to your bottom line.

Let’s try again with a £30 proposed Free Shipping Threshold. 

  1. Determine the difference between the proposed Free Shipping Threshold and the Average
    Order Value (£30 – £20 = £10)
  2. Multiply the difference by the Gross Profit Margin (£10.00 * .25 = £2.50
  3. Subtract the result from the Average Shipping Cost (£5.00 – £2.50 = £2.50) 

In this case, you’re going to end up paying £2.50 per order to cover the free shipping which is 33% of your increased gross profit margin. A much healthier balance of profit to increase average order value, while also offering the customer increased value and incentive to buy.

Of course, all this is theoretical and a lot depends on the weight and size of your items and the shipping rates available to your business. However, the key message is to always think carefully and do the calculations before setting a single, free shipping threshold.

⏲️Estimated delivery times

Integrate real-time shipping calculators into your online shop that provide accurate shipping quotes based on the customer’s location and order details. This not only prevents undercharging for shipping (hello, Scottish Highland and Northern Irish orders!) but it also encourages customers to buy when they can plan their purchase around their day to day life.

This can be a particularly effective method at increasing your margin too when offering a Standard and Express/Next Day/Name Day shipping. Customers will be willing to pay a little extra to receive the certainty of the item arriving on a particular day, cutting down your eCommerce shipping costs.  

🗃️Package inserts

Make your shipped items work for you and upsell your customers by including marketing materials or promotional offers in your packages to encourage repeat business and offset shipping costs. This can be particularly effective when trying to acquire customers from one platform to another (warning, do not try this with Amazon orders, as this could lead to an account wide penalty).

📨Returns management

Implementing a streamlined return management process to reduce the costs associated with processing returns and exchanges is an effective way to keep eCommerce shipping costs down.

It could be as simple as having a clearly structured returns policy, or as advanced as a returns portal that deals with all returns and exchanges for you. Either way, having a dedicated system to deal with customer returns is vital when trying to reduce costs.

Here’s a great example by Mountain Dog:

Instead of a customer having to contact a customer service agent, they just simply pop in their order number, email and the reason they’re making a return. If it matches a certain criteria for a paid return, the portal will produce a return label. If not, the customer will be instructed to process the return at their cost.

As you can imagine, every eventuality has been thought out and this tool likely saves Mountain Dog precious operational costs while also making the returns process more convenient for the customer.

🏭Fulfilment Centres

Utilise third-party fulfilment centres strategically located to reduce shipping distances. They can handle order processing, picking, packing, and shipping on your behalf, often more efficiently and cost-effectively.

This can be particularly effective if you want to continue selling to areas like Northern Ireland, Scottish Highlands and the various island locations dotted around Britain’s coasts. These locations can be quite expensive to ship to, often costing 2x the cost of shipping.

To reduce the costs of shipping to these areas, consider fulfilment centres like Huboo, Whistl, Fulfilment Lab or Shft Fwd. 


Shipping is an unavoidable eCommerce logistics cost, so spend time doing your research to find the best, most cost-effective solution for your business model and customer base. You’ll save money and provide a much better shopping experience for customers, so they’re much more likely to return when they need you. 

A bit about Reckless
We’re an eCommerce digital marketing agency with offices in Chester, Liverpool and Manchester. We help brands grow through custom websites, bespoke software development, paid media, SEO and online marketplaces. If you need a hand taking your eCommerce brand to the next level, get in touch 👇

Let’s talk

    By Abi Crosbie, SEO Manager at Reckless

    Is SEO worth it for ecommerce?

    Yes. Now we’ve got the obvious out of the way, let’s get to the much more interesting why of it all. The easy answer is that good implementation of SEO can save you money – in the long-term

    Search Engine Optimisation for ecommerce websites has specific challenges for content, off-page and technical. We’re gonna deep-dive into these and give you some reassurance that you’re not unhinged for wanting to improve your SEO.

    Why SEO might not be right for you

    We genuinely believe that the majority of ecommerce businesses would benefit from SEO, but here’s a few reasons why it might not be the right time:

    So what exactly are the benefits of good ecom SEO?

    Here’s your TL;DR bit. But keep reading, it’s dead good.

    It can save you money in the long-term
    💰Reduce paid spend
    🪴Optimised content can be evergreen, with minimal updates it can rank for months or years
    🛍️Reduce reliance on marketplaces that charge fees

    It can increase your organic traffic
    ⚡Expand your marketing funnel in the right places
    🔍Target the right audience

    It can improve your website visibility
    🌏International selling challenges

    ecommerce SEO can save you money in the long-term

    It always comes down to money, which is why it’s our first point. We’re also eager to point out the “long-term” aspect of SEO here too. Initial spend on SEO can match or sometimes exceed paid media, which is often why it gets pushed aside for the instant results paid offers (so any agency that promises instant results from SEO is sus, in our opinion). What you really want is a combined approach where paid and SEO cover the weakness of the other.

    SEO takes time to work, sometimes it can take months to see results, so paid is excellent at bringing in those sales in the meantime. But paid will always cost you money, whereas well implemented SEO techniques require minimal attention once in place and can last months or even years, bringing in free traffic the whole time. 

    I’ve convinced you? Already?! Brilliant. I can’t and won’t stop there though – here’s some specific moneysaving knowledge coming your way.

    SEO content can perform well for years

    We tend to call content created specifically for the long haul “evergreen content”. It’s clever, see? Like an evergreen tree, it’s there all year, looking great and making that sweet sweet chlorophyll. Or in your case, bringing in traffic and getting people to buy your products.

    The creation of this content can be where the initial cost of SEO happens. Great optimised content needs keyword research, supporting/secondary content, backlinks and good internal linking. BUT, after that, all you may need to do is tweak it once or twice a year, update images and add or remove an internal link. That’s extremely low maintenance and thus very beneficial for your purse.

    Now imagine that across multiple pages, for multiple products – that’s what a good SEO content strategy looks like.

    How SEO can reduce your paid ad spend

    We already covered the whole “done well, around for ages, free traffic” benefit of SEO, but there’s also a huge benefit in owning the organic SERPs and then being able to reduce or stop bids. 

    For example, if you can create content that ranks you highly for your top transactional term [diamante dog collar], then you might want to ease off bidding so you appear in the ads at the bottom of the page instead. Or experiment with removing the bid entirely. 

    You could reduce reliance on online marketplaces and third-party platforms

    While there are big advantages to selling on eBay, Amazon, Etsy and all the other online marketplaces out there, the fees can take a big chunk out of your profits. It seems obvious that ranking well with your own website (where you don’t have to fund Jeff Bezos’ attempts to go to space) will be a moneysaver, but the ease of selling and showing in the SERPs using those big platforms can be hard to move away from.

    The best approach initially is to launch your SEO strategy and then see which products are performing well via organic search so you can ease off selling them via marketplaces. Over time you can grow your organic channel without taking a big hit by leaving a platform entirely.

    Ecommerce SEO can increase your website traffic

    We know, it’s obvious. But hear us out, there are specific ways to do this, because targeting anything and everything isn’t the best approach. You need to be targeting the right people at the right point in their buying journey to make an increase in traffic work properly for you.

    If you’re familiar with the marketing consideration funnel this should make you feel all tingly. SEO is best used for TOFU expansion but also works really well for MOFU and BOFU.

    Increase top of funnel traffic

    TOFU search queries tend to be broad and informational, with potential customers searching for ways to solve a problem. These are usually [how to] searches and at this point, you’re not creating content to push your brand or product, you’re showing your knowledge and expertise. 

    For example, for one client we worked with them to create content for the query [how much coffee in a cafetiere?], because they sell coffee and it meant they could show off their extensive knowledge of their products and industry. Then boom, top of the SERPs and an excellent increase in traffic. Here’s some more of our work if you’d like a sneak peek.

    Increase middle of funnel traffic

    Then comes the next stage – MOFU. Middle of funnel queries focus on a different type of informational content. Here we see comparisons and help making the right choice, so queries like [arabica vs robusta] would be seen at this stage. Again, you’re able to show knowledge and expertise on the topic while being closely involved in the potential customer’s process.

    Increase bottom of funnel traffic

    Leading us to BOFU (bottom of funnel), where the transactional queries come in and potential customers make their decision. Here we’re looking at queries like [buy coffee beans] and similar terms that are high competition.

    We’re calling out where and how SEO works at each level of the marketing consideration funnel because your business goals will influence where effort is best focused. If your website just launched, you need to start at the top, but if you’re an established business looking to reduce reliance on paid ads, then BOFU is where you’d aim.

    Ecommerce SEO can improve your website visibility

    Now we get into the juicy technical bits. Ecommerce has some unique complications when it comes to technical SEO. We’re not going to blow your mind with a ton of technical jargon, but we will explain the benefits of making sure you include technical SEO in your plans

    Ecommerce SEO can improve website crawlability

    Ecommerce websites often have the unique problem of too many pages. That seems counterintuitive – don’t you want loads of pages so search engines can rank you for loads of keywords? Yes, but in most cases the pages are duplicates (products in multiple categories) or have thin content (category pages created by someone using the filters), which means they aren’t a benefit to you. Search engines flipping love useful and unique content, so you can see how a website that duplicates content or makes poor content isn’t very pleasing to them.

    So how does this link into crawlability? Search engines will get tired of seeing the same things or will simply crawl your website for a certain amount of time before going “there’s so much of this, I’m bored” and stopping. We use our little technical SEO toolkit to make sure search engines only see the content that matters, meaning they crawl where we want and ignore what we want – and that, my friend, improves crawlability (in part but it’s a big topic and we promised we’d keep it simple).

    SEO can help international performance

    Selling across multiple countries or languages has a lot of business challenges, but it also has technical SEO complications. Yes, more technical complications – we’re buzzkills but we’re also good at offering solutions.

    Technical SEO solutions here include advising on subdomains, subfolders and general website structure, hreflang and keyword targeting. These are essential so you show up in the search results for the right countries and languages – you’d be surprised how easy it is to forget or get it wrong without someone looking at the overall picture. And to completely brag about it, we’re good at that.

    International SEO is best looked at before you even start building your international websites, but if you’ve already done it and want to know how to optimise your website(s), we can advise on how to move forward.


    If yore not convinced SEO is worth it for ecommerce by this point, maybe it’s not, but we reckon those are some compelling points. If you’d like to chat about what we can do for your SEO and growing your organic search, get in touch.

    Let’s talk

      By Matt Tilling, Head of Marketing and Performance at Reckless
      3-4 minute read

      3 signs it’s time to update your website content and how to fix them

      High bounce rates

      In 2023 eCommerce websites are expected to account for 22.3% of all retail sales, so your online shop must be performing well to keep up and succeed. If visitors are leaving after viewing just one page (high bounce rates), they’re not engaged enough to stick around. Content and design matters, so update your website to look visually pleasing, modern and relevant. Add interactive elements and ensure it’s responsive and intuitive on all devices. Remember high bounce rates negatively impact SEO, so do everything you can to keep users on site for longer.

      Slow page load times

      The highest eCommerce conversion rates happen on pages that load in 0-2 seconds. Compare your site speed using tools like Google PageSpeed Insights and if it’s slow, identify the causes so you can make improvements. 

      Start with your hosting provider and decide whether they’ve actually got the capacity to manage your site and performance effectively. If they haven’t, it’s time to look elsewhere. If you manage your website yourself, optimise and compress images, reduce redirects and cache your pages. This will make your website faster so users enjoy the experience, rather than getting annoyed and leaving because it’s slow. Every second counts! 

      Low conversion rates

      Driving traffic is important, but converting users into loyal customers is what matters. Use analytics and heat mapping software to identify where users are dropping-off and why shopping baskets are being abandoned. Then, you can update website content accordingly, whether that’s streamlining your checkout process so it doesn’t take as long or improving the navigation and call to actions so customers don’t get lost. 

      Review your actual product or service offering as well – are price points too high? Do you offer discounts or new customer offers? Can users search, filter and customise what they’re buying? By personalising their experience, and giving them a reason to stay, there’s a higher chance they’ll buy from you.

      These are just a few initial warnings signs that it might be time to update your website. If you’d like to find out if your website’s performing and how to improve it please get in touch. We’re an eCommerce digital agency based in Liverpool and Chester, here to help and answer any questions you have. website performance metrics

      Let’s talk

        By Matt Tilling, Head of Marketing and Performance at Reckless
        3-4 minute read

        3 website tips to increase eCommerce sales.

        Create an effective customer journey map

        In 2023, Hubspot found that 88% of customers are less likely to return to a website after a poor experience. Everything from UX and design, to navigation and trust impacts how your audience feels so delivering a flawless journey will make them more likely to buy from you and come back.

        Outline the entire experience potential customers have with your brand, from awareness right through to purchase and retention. Put yourself in your customers’ shoes and consider all the different touch points they have with your brand before, during and after they visit your website. You’ll identify challenges, wants and needs, so you can make the right improvements to your website based on real user data. 

        TIP – Ask a friend, family or team member who has never been on your website to buy something. If it’s hard to find what they’re looking for, improve your navigation menu so users can easily find product pages, services and blog posts or content. Remove unnecessary steps that make the user experience clunky or build in new advanced features that add value to the customer. Guide users with clear call to call to actions (CTAs) too, so they’re always heading in the right direction to that all important conversion.

        Personalise the shopping experience

        Analyse your data and analytics to understand your customers’ preferences, and suggest personalised, relevant  product or service recommendations based on their browsing and purchase history. Considering 80% of consumers are more likely to buy from a company providing a tailored experience, it’s worth investing in!

        Improve your content and SEO

        From persuasive product descriptions and high-quality images to useful blogs and engaging videos, give your audience the content they need to trust and buy from you.   

        Make sure everything is effectively optimised for search engines too. On-page SEO (think product and blog content), off-page SEO (digital PR and backlinks) and technical SEO ( site speed, crawling and indexing) all play a big part here. This might seem overwhelming but when it’s done right, you’ll reach loads of new customers by appearing high up in Google search results when they need you. 

        Remember that continuously testing and gathering user feedback is vital to optimise your eCommerce website for conversions. Your business is unique, so it’s important to experiment, analyse and iterate based on your audience.

        If you’re wondering how to increase eCommerce sales, get in touch. We’re a digital marketing agency based in Liverpool and Chester but regardless of where you are, we’d love to help and answer any questions you may have.

        Let’s talk

          What is Shopify?

          Before we begin, let’s give you a quick summary of Shopify itself. Shopify is a hosted e-commerce platform and its primary purpose is to allow you to sell products online. If you imagine a traditional e-commerce website, you’ll be thinking of the Shopify model.

          Alternatives to Shopify

          Throughout this article, we’ll be comparing Shopify to other e-commerce platforms. The current market leader is WooCommerce, followed by Magento. Both are good at what they do, but all three have very different offerings, so it’s important to understand the differences and limitations.

          Hosting Shopify

          Let’s start with hosting. An often after-thought when building a website. If you had a brick and mortar store on the high street you can think of hosting like rent for the building. The more traffic or footfall you get, the more expensive it is. Equally, the larger the store or website, the more expensive it is. You’ll also need to ensure your store is safe, which is where hosting is important.

          When working with WooCommerce and Magento you’ll need to factor in hosting costs. Generally, you’ll find that Magento requires a substantial investment to keep your store online, this is partially due to the complex structure used to house its database. You can find more cost-effective hosting for WooCommerce, but security is a serious concern because it’s a plugin for WordPress.

          Shopify differs quite drastically here. A Shopify subscription covers both your online store and your hosting. Beyond plugins and payment gateways, there are no additional costs beyond the standard subscription to keep the store online.

          For anyone who has run a successful online store, you’ll understand how much of an advantage this is. The nature of running an online store means you get peaks and troughs of traffic throughout the year. A perfect example of this is the infamous Black Friday sale. Last year, online retailers in the UK alone took £1.5bn in sales in one day on Black Friday. That doesn’t take into account the increase in spending on the days before and after the big day itself, including Cyber Monday.

          A traditional hosting setup would simply fail with a huge influx in traffic like this, but because Shopify hosts thousands of sites, their infrastructure is built to cope with these enormous peaks.

          GymShark, a large gym-wear brand, experienced this first hand. Their Magento site experienced a huge spike in traffic which lead to it going offline for the peak parts of Black Friday. It’s reported to have lost them close to $150,000 in sales, plus countless unhappy customers taking to social media. There were also reports of money being taken but customers did not receive confirmation emails and there were no thank you pages, just errors and unhappy faces.

          Disaster Recovery

          On a similar note is disaster recovery. When we speak about disaster recovery, we’re often talking about what would happen in the event of a catastrophic failure with your website. Often, these are referred to as ‘acts of God’ such as hurricanes wiping out a data centre, or a tsunami taking out your server. However, issues at data centres do happen and are not usually because of natural disasters. In 2017 there was a huge outage caused by someone mistyping a command, and sometimes entire data centres can have power issues.

          So, what happens when your server, or entire infrastructure, is no longer available? At the very least you should have a backup available so that your data is safe, but having the data doesn’t mean you’re back online and taking transactions.

          For the most part, unless you have some cross-data-centre redundancy in place, you’re going to have to accept that your website will be offline for a substantial amount of time. You’ll need to provision a new server, (or servers), get them set up and then deploy your backup. You’re probably talking days worth of work.

          “We moved all US East coast Shopify stores to US Central as a precaution for hurricane Florence. This was done automatically with zero downtime.”

          Tobi Lütke, Shopify CEO

          Shopify’s infrastructure is built to handle disaster recovery extremely well. Last year, Tobi Lütke, Shopify’s CEO, tweeted about hurricane Florence. At the time, Florence was heading towards a number of data centres on the East Coast of the US, threatening a degree of destruction. To quote Tobi: “We moved all US East coast Shopify stores to US Central as a precaution for hurricane Florence. This was done automatically with zero downtime.”

          Platform Features

          Moving onto Shopify, it does everything you’d expect from an e-commerce platform. This includes the ability to add categories, search, product pages, blogs, content pages, contact pages and more. We can’t list every single feature of the platform as there are just too many, so take a look for yourself.


          One of the features I love about Shopify is the ability to sell on multiple channels. Most of our clients sell exclusively online, but from time to time they have a requirement to sell in a pop-up brick and mortar store, a trade show or an expo. Shopify makes this transition exceptionally easy. There are a number of apps available for mobile and tablet that can turn your device into a fully functioning EPOS (point of sale). This mimics your full product catalogue and enables you to take card payments in person. There’s even a little gadget available to allow you to take contactless payments on-the-go.

          ERP Integrations

          If you’re fortunate enough to run a store that also needs to operate a warehouse of some sort, and you have an ERP system, then you’ll be glad to know that Shopify has your back. Their app store is heavily vetted by Shopify staff to ensure apps perform properly and that there are very few, if any, customer service issues. This is even more important when the app involves payment.

          The Shopify app store contains lots of plugins for your store to interact with ERP systems. Of course, there’s also a powerful API for interacting with your data within Shopify, so we’re able to build middleware to integrate with any ERP system if one doesn’t already exist.

          PCI Compliance

          If you have ever run an online store with high turnover, you may have come across PCI/DSS compliance. PCI compliance is a set of technical rules and policies that must be implemented across your business in order to ensure your customers’ payment details are kept safe and secure. Implementing PCI/DSS can be expensive and time-consuming, as can proving that you are compliant. If you’re running a self-hosted operation then you are solely responsible for every aspect of PCI/DSS compliance. However, Shopify, and all of their hosted stores, are certified Level 1 PCI DSS Compliant so you would not be responsible.


          Our final topic is arguably one of the most important. Security. Let’s start by looking at the competition.

          WooCommerce is built on WordPress, which is the most popular CMS in the world. With a 47% market share, the second most popular CMS is Drupal with a 5% market share . However, WordPress’s popularity is its own downfall and has painted a huge target on its back. Malicious developers have created tools that crawl the Internet hunting for out of date WordPress installations, vulnerable plugins, poorly developed themes and known exploits for WordPress. WordPress itself is relatively secure, but the code people write for it by way of themes, plugins and third-party additions isn’t always as secure. Because of this, security is a huge issue for anyone running a large WordPress website, and it’s even more important when dealing with money and commerce.

          Magento is another big target for would-be attackers. Magento used to be the e-commerce leader but has since lost ground to both WooCommerce and Shopify. On top of that, the community have also discovered a number of extremely dangerous exploits for Magento. Patching Magento can be substantially more complicated than WooCommerce. It leads to delays in sites being patched when the security fixes are released, which can, in turn, lead to vulnerable sites. MageReport offers a service which shows how vulnerable your Magento website is which highlights how big the problem is if a tool like this has to exist.

          As we said earlier, Shopify is a hosted platform. You, as a developer, don’t have access to the underlying backend code that runs Shopify. You can extend it through APIs, build standalone apps for the admin area, but you cannot manipulate, change or see the code that runs Shopify itself. This makes it extremely secure. In the rare case that a security vulnerability is found, it will be fixed by Shopify themselves and rolled out across the entire platform in silence, without anyone ever noticing.

          If you’re interested in hearing more about Shopify, or for a demo of an online store, please get in touch.

          Let’s talk