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Shipstation vs Shopify Shipping Compared

Shipstation vs Shopify Shipping Compared

Last Updated on October 28, 2022 by DMEditor

Picking a good shipping service is a vital part of setting up an eCommerce business. I’ll be comparing two of these services today: ShipStation vs Shopify Shipping. Both services are good, but they have some big differences, too.

ShipStation and Shopify both make certain processes – like finding the cheapest shipping option with certain couriers and printing shipping labels – much easier to deal with. I’ve had to deal with complicated shipping problems before, and trust me, when I say anything that eases this pressure is a good thing!

I’ve tested both platforms, so you can see which one may suit your business better. If you’re in a hurry, check out the next section to see my favorite pick for today. If you have more time, read on to find out more about how each service works.

The Bottom Line Up Front

If I had to pick one, I’d go for ShipStation. It enables users to set up shipping rules, which automates a ton of processes, making life so much easier, especially if you have a bigger business. Plus, it offers more flexibility in terms of eCommerce platforms and couriers.

However, if you’ve already got Shopify and you run a small business, you may want to check out Shopify Shipping: it’s already built into the platform, so you may find it easier to use.

Main Differences Between ShipStation vs Shopify Shipping

The main differences between ShipStation vs Shopify are:

  • ShipStation integrates with a few big eCommerce platforms, whereas Shopify Shipping only works for Shopify users.
  • ShipStation automates a lot of processes, whereas Shopify Shipping doesn’t.
  • ShipStation has a separate tax calculator, whereas Shopify Shipping calculates taxes at the checkout stage.
  • ShipStation has 6 pricing plans, whereas Shopify itself has 3 pricing plans.

What is ShipStation?

ShipStation is designed to make shipping easier. It has several features to save time, including automation and a shipping cost calculator. It has excellent analytics and reporting, too. I’d recommend ShipStation for any-sized eCommerce business.

What is Shopify Shipping?

Shopify Shipping is Shopify’s built-in shipping service. It gives users access to discounted shipping rates and allows them to print shipping labels all within the platform itself. I’d recommend Shopify Shipping for small-to-medium-sized businesses already using Shopify.

The Main Features of ShipStation

Here’s what I thought about the main features of ShipStation.

UX

ShipStation UX

ShipStation UX. Photo by Maddy Chiffey.

A personal gripe about ShipStation: I don’t love the way it looks. It’s fine, but it seems a little cluttered and there are better platforms out there in terms of design (for example, EasyPost has a nice interface).

That’s a small thing, however. ShipStation is easy to use, and you can find everything you need on the left-hand side. The onboarding process is straightforward, too. There are a lot of tutorials on offer if you need help navigating the platform for the first time. Overall, I think it’s a user-friendly platform.

Shipping

ShipStation Shipping

ShipStation shipping. Photo by Maddy Chiffey.

You can set shipping rules with ShipStation, which can be incredibly useful if you can take some time to set them up. For example, if you want to keep an eye on your global sales, you can automatically add a tag to international orders. There’s a huge range of rules to pick from, so you can automate a lot of annoying processes that would otherwise take up a lot of time.

You can view orders at every stage of the process, import orders and edit them, sort them by a range of metrics, and set up customized alerts. This means if you want to keep an eye on certain products, for example, ShipStation will flag up an alert to let you know when a sale goes through.

You can batch-print labels, too, which can cut down on a ton of time and effort if you’re a smaller business dealing with large volumes of orders from time to time.

Branding

ShipStation Branding

ShipStation branding. Photo by Maddy Chiffey.

Branding is really important for building brand familiarity. Customers like to feel as though they’re dealing with your brand specifically at every stage of the process, so having a consistent image is important.

ShipStation allows you to personalize every stage of the shipping process, including landing pages, tracking pages, invoices, packing slips, SMS messages, and a returns portal. You can add your logo, change the colors to match your brand’s color palette, and add social media links.

I like the real-time tracking page from a customer perspective: it’s reassuring to know where your parcel is at all times. ShipStation sends out automated emails to let your customer know when their order is dispatched, which saves you setting this up with your email marketing service.

Couriers

There are several couriers to choose from in ShipStation, including some well-known global couriers. They offer decent discounts (up to 78% off in some cases). Some familiar couriers include:

  • USPS
  • UPS
  • FedEx
  • DPD
  • Stamps.com

eCommerce Integrations

ShipStation offers several integrations with eCommerce platforms, including:

  • Amazon
  • eBay
  • Shopify
  • Salesforce
  • Squarespace
  • Wix
  • WooCommerce
  • ZenCart

It’s pretty easy to link these up, too. ShipStation has several step-by-step guides on how to do it, and it doesn’t take long.

Tax Calculator

ShipStation Tax Calculator

ShipStation tax calculator. Photo by Maddy Chiffey.

ShipStation has a rate calculator, which helps you to work out costs. If you’ve ever tried to send a parcel overseas, you’ll know how challenging it can be to work out taxes, shipping costs, and so on. The calculator makes this so much easier.

For any shipment, you can type in a postal code, add the parcel dimensions, and choose a courier. ShipStation will then calculate the costs for you, and you can set up a printing label with a couple of clicks.

Analytics and Reporting

ShipStation Analytics

ShipStation analytics. Photo by Maddy Chiffey.

I do think that ShipStation’s reporting is excellent. You can run reports on a whole range of data, including comparing countries to check global sales, low stock reports, etc. You can also track customer engagement, which will show you how many customers are engaging with communications from you (for example, opening shipping notification emails).

The Main Features of Shopify Shipping

Let’s check out the features of Shopify Shipping!

UX

Shopify Shipping UX

Shopify shipping UX. Photo by Maddy Chiffey.

If you’re familiar with Shopify, you’ll know what the interface is like. It’s pretty standard for Shopify, and it’s easy to navigate. You’ll find the shipping area on the left-hand side under Shipping and Delivery.

Shopify’s interface is pretty straightforward. It’s not my favorite, but it’s not cluttered, and it’s clear where everything is, which is the most important thing.

Shipping

So, how does Shopify stack up against ShipStation when it comes to shipping features?

Shopify Shipping

Shopify shipping. Photo by Maddy Chiffey.

You can buy and print labels on the Shopify platform itself. This is a real advantage if you’re already using Shopify, as you won’t have to worry about signing up for another service. Plus, it dodges extra fees that may be charged by other services, which is great.

There’s no setup involved with Shopify Shipping – it’s already set up if you have a Shopify account. It’s easy to use, and you can easily set your delivery rates for customers, which will automatically update your storefront.

It does streamline some tasks. For example, you can buy shipping labels on Shopify itself and then print them in bulk. Plus, they can add postage charges to your monthly subscription, so you don’t have to worry about paying for postage each time.

The downside is that it doesn’t have as much power as ShipStation: it doesn’t offer automation, for example, so larger businesses may find themselves limited by Shopify Shipping. It works well for smaller businesses, but once you get to a certain scale, you may want to look to ShipStation.

Branding

Landing pages will already be part of your Shopify store, so matching them to your branding is simple. You can customize everything: invoices, SMS notifications, email notifications, refund and cancellation notifications, and even error messages. These can be edited using HTML, and you can add logos, social media links, and so on (although you do need a bit of coding knowledge to do so).

Shopify Shipping Notifications

Shopify Shipping notifications. Photo by Maddy Chiffey.

I like that you can customize every single stage of the process, even moments you may not have thought of (like a ‘gift card created’ notification email, for example).

Couriers

Shopify Shipping uses a few couriers, including:

  • USPS
  • UPS
  • DHL Express
  • Canada Post

There are fewer couriers to choose from compared to ShipStation. They have negotiated discounted rates, but this varies depending on the courier you go for.

Taxes

Taxes are worked out automatically when you go to the label printing stage. It will work out costs based on box size, weight, and your chosen carrier.

Shopify Shipping Taxes

Shopify Shipping taxes. Photo by Maddy Chiffey.

It’s worth noting that if you want to ship internationally, you’ll need to have Advanced Shopify to collect duties/import taxes at checkout.

Analytics and Reporting

Shopify Shipping Analytics and Reporting

Shopify Shipping analytics and reporting. Photo by Maddy Chiffey.

You’ll have access to Shopify’s analytics (as you have to have a Shopify account to use Shopify Shipping), and you can run reports on a huge variety of metrics, including customer engagement.

You can run shipping reports, and you can see a live view of users on your website, presented as a globe, so you can see how many customers are shopping with you internationally:

Global Live View

Global live view of users. Photo by Maddy Chiffey.

Shopify has some great reporting in my opinion, and it’s a strength of the platform. This kind of detail makes managing accounting for your business much easier.

ShipStation vs Shopify Shipping – Customer Support

Let’s see how they compare in terms of pricing.

ShipStation

ShipStation Help Center

ShipStation help center. Photo by Maddy Chiffey.

ShipStation’s customer support is good. You can contact them via email or live chat, but it depends on which price tier you have chosen. The customer support team is friendly and responsive.

There’s also a good knowledge base, with a Help Guide for new users and a specific guide for integrations with your eCommerce platform. Plus, the workflow guides are good if you want to make the most of the platform.

Shopify Shipping

Shopify Shipping Help Center

Shopify Shipping help center. Photo by Maddy Chiffey.

Shopify’s customer support is pretty good. You can contact them via live chat, email, or by requesting a callback. Plus, there’s community support available, which is great. The customer service team is pretty responsive and very friendly.

The knowledge base is good, too: there are tons of articles for new users, including guides on shipping, taxes, and so on.

ShipStation vs Shopify Shipping – Pricing

So how do they compare in terms of pricing?

ShipStation

There are quite a few options for pricing with ShipStation:

Starter – $9.00 per month

  • 50 shipments
  • 1 user
  • Email and community forum support

Bronze – $29 per month

  • 500 shipments per month
  • 1 user
  • Email and community forum support

Silver – $49 per month

  • 1500 shipments per month
  • 2 users
  • Live chat, email, and community forum support

Gold – $69 per month

  • 3000 shipments per month
  • 3 users
  • Live chat, email, and community forum support

Platinum – $99 per month

  • 6000 shipments per month
  • 5 users
  • Live chat, email, and community forum support

Enterprise – $159 per month

  • Unlimited shipments
  • 10 users
  • Live chat, phone support, email, and community forum support

They have a free 14-day trial, which I’d recommend signing up for before you choose a price plan. That way, you can see if the platform works for you. Find out more on their pricing page.

Shopify Shipping

Shopify Shipping itself is free with Shopify. Here are Shopify’s pricing plans:

Basic – from $29 per month

  • Basic reports
  • 2 staff accounts
  • Up to 4 inventory locations
  • Up to 77% shipping discount

Shopify – from $79 per month

  • Professional reports
  • 5 staff accounts
  • Up to 5 inventory locations
  • Up to 88% shipping discount

Advanced – from $299 per month

  • Custom report builder
  • 15 staff accounts
  • Up to 8 inventory locations
  • Up to 88% shipping discount

Shopify offers a free 14-day trial. If you haven’t set up your eCommerce store, you can try it out for yourself. Find out more on their pricing page.

ShipStation vs Shopify Shipping – Pros and Cons

Let’s check out the pros and cons of both:

ShipStation

Pros

  • A decent range of couriers to choose from, with discounted rates
  • Easy-to-use platform, with good guides on how to get started
  • Integrates with a range of popular eCommerce platforms
  • Good analytics and reporting
  • Easy to set up branding

Cons

  • Not the best interface out there

Shopify Shipping

Pros

  • Easy to set up shipping rates etc
  • Good analytics and reporting
  • Great branding options
  • All in one platform if you already use Shopify
  • Some discounts available with certain couriers

Cons

  • Limited couriers to choose from
  • Only works for Shopify users

ShipStation vs Shopify Shipping – Alternatives to Try

Let’s check out alternatives to try if you don’t want to go for ShipStation or Shopify Shipping:

FAQs

Question: Does ShipStation or Shopify Shipping have mobile apps?

Answer: Yes, both platforms have mobile apps for iOS and Android, allowing you to deal with shipping on the go.

Question: How much discount do ShipStation and Shopify Shipping offer?

Answer: It varies. ShipStation claims that they can offer up to 78% off certain couriers, but it depends on a few different factors, including the destination, size of the package, etc.
Shopify Shopping claims to offer up to 88% off shipping costs in the U.S, with discounts on USPS, UPS, and DHL Express. Again, this depends on the kind of parcel you’re sending, and rates can fluctuate over time.

Question: Can I send parcels internationally with ShipStation and Shopify Shipping?

Answer: Yes. ShipStation and Shopify Shipping allow you to ship internationally, but charges vary depending on the country you’re sending packages to.

My Final Thoughts

My top pick for today is ShipStation. I love the shipping rules, which make life so much easier. Bigger businesses will find it beneficial to check out ShipStation because it can save so much time. It gives you much more flexibility when it comes to eCommerce platforms (you won’t be tied to Shopify), and they have a wider range of couriers to choose from.

Having said that, if you’re already on Shopify, you could check out Shopify Shipping first. It’s built into the platform, and you may find some good discounts depending on the couriers you use. If you’re a small business and you have a limited team, you may find it easier to stick to one platform, which Shopify Shipping allows.

I hope this has helped you to figure out which one is best for your business!

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