2 November 202312 minute read

How to Offer Affordable 2-Day Shipping


Discover how Circuit for Teams can empower your business with automations like live tracking and route management, making the dream of low-cost 2-day shipping a reality.

Delivering your goods quickly without emptying your wallet is the key to winning customers’ hearts, especially for eCommerce retailers. Thanks to Amazon, express shipping options like two-day delivery, same day shipping, and even free two-day shipping have become standard. 

Yes, lightning-fast delivery options are like oxygen to customers, but it could be a tough nut to crack when you look at the costs. You just need to find that sweet spot between speed and savings.

Let this piece be your guide on mastering the art of two-day shipping without breaking the bank. By the end, you’ll discover the ins and outs of making this shipping service a reality for your business. 

By embracing the strategies I’m about to unpack, you’ll learn how to meet and exceed the fast shipping today’s consumers have come to expect. 

Key takeaways

  • Offering two-day shipping makes your customers happy and helps you stay competitive since two-day shipping options are all but standard these days.
  • Smarter packaging choices can cut down costs while keeping your products safe on their speedy journeys.
  • Using tech and automation in your shipping processes cuts down on mistakes and costs in the long run.
  • Teaming up with a third-party logistics (3PL) provider can ease the shipping burden and might even save you some money.
  • Weigh the benefits and downsides of two-day shipping, free two-day shipping, free shipping, and flat-rate shipping to find what works best for you.
  • Continually track how effective and profitable your delivery service and shipping logistics are, making tweaks as needed to make sure it keeps working well for you and your customers.
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Give your packaging a makeover

Smart packaging is your best friend when it comes to shaving off a few extra dollars from your shipping costs, all while keeping your delivery times super quick. By giving a little thought to how you package your goods, you can cut down on both weight and size, which, in turn, will lead to lower shipping costs you can pass onto your customers. 

Plus, the right packaging means your products will stay safe and sound on their journey, which makes for happy customers at the other end.

Use the right packaging materials 

Your choice of packaging materials can make a huge difference in your shipping costs. Lighter materials like bubble wrap, air pillows, and foam inserts do a good job of keeping products safe without adding much weight. 

Eco-friendly packaging, like compostable packing peanuts that dissolve in water, can also be a win-win. Options like this can align with your customers’ love for the planet while cutting down your shipping weight and cost.

Trim the excess 

Nobody likes an oversized box with a tiny item inside. Keep your boxes and envelopes as snug as possible with just enough room left for the filler needed to protect the goods with the appropriate cushioning. This cuts down unnecessary packaging, reduces your package weight and dimensions, and lowers your shipping charges. 

Get fancy with packaging technology 

There’s some cool tech available these days to help you get your packaging right so you can cut down what you spend on shipping while also doing Mother Earth a favor by reducing the packaging waste. One option is Packsize, which lets you make custom-sized boxes on the spot for each order.

It’s also a good idea to regularly check in on how you and your team are packaging products so you can tweak and improve the process over time. Continuous improvement means continuous savings.  

Embrace tech and automation

tech and automation for deliveries

Want to make your shipping manager’s job easier — or even replace them altogether? Next, I want to tell you about some of the cool features you can get from shipping management software and explain how automation can speed up your order fulfillment process.

Find a shipping management system 

Shipping software is packed with useful features that can give your shipping operations a nice boost. Here’s a peek into some of them:

  • Centralized order management. A good shipping management system lets you keep all your orders in one spot, making it a breeze to see, track, process, and send them on their way.
  • Automatic order processing. This feature lets you process multiple orders simultaneously, saving you time and keeping those pesky manual errors from throwing a wrench in the works.
  • Address validation. Get shipping addresses verified and corrected automatically to dodge delivery goof-ups and keep returned packages from eating up your profits.
  • Real-time tracking. Your customers want to know where their stuff is at all times. Real-time tracking lets them follow their orders from your door to theirs so they don’t have to ask you about them.
  • Reporting tools. Get handy reports to see how your shipping is doing and where you can up your game. For instance, analyzing your monthly delivery times can help you pinpoint any recurring delays and take action to stop them in their tracks.

These tech tools can give you faster shipping speeds by cutting down on manual errors to get orders out the door faster. You’ll also have happy customers coming back for more thanks to real-time tracking and improved order management.

Integrate it with your eCommerce platform 

Now, to squeeze out the best from your shipping software, aligning it with your online store is key. When these systems communicate seamlessly, you dodge manual data headaches and keep order details spot-on. Here’s how:

  • Auto-order import. Orders from your online store can be automatically listed in your shipping software, so you can wave goodbye to manual order entry.
  • Inventory syncing. Real-time inventory visibility and updates keep your stock levels accurate and help you avoid selling what you don’t have.
  • Keeping customers posted. Automatic order status updates keep your customers in the loop about their shipments. An informed customer is a happy one!

This integration saves you time while making sure your customers get their packages fast with no issues along the way.

Let automation take the wheel 

Automation helps take care of the routine tasks in shipping, freeing up your time and cutting down on human errors. Let’s look at how automation can make shipping processes a breeze:

  • Barcode scanning. With barcode scanners, you can capture shipping info in a flash — no more manual data entry and careless mistakes.
  • Label printing. Once an order is ready, automation rolls out the shipping labels, saving you from the time suck of manually printing each one.
  • Customized packing slips and invoices. Get customized packing slips and invoices whipped up automatically, ensuring they’re accurate and professional.

Automation also makes your order fulfillment process sleeker and more efficient. Here’s how:

  • Speedy picking and packing. Automated warehouse systems can be your order picking team’s best friend, guiding them quickly to the right items and quantities, reducing errors, and upping the productivity.
  • Integration with warehouse management systems. Having your shipping software and warehouse systems work together gives you perks like real-time inventory updates, keeping your inventory levels just right and avoiding overselling.
  • Order prioritization. Have urgent orders automatically jump to the front of the line based on shipping method, where your customer is, or order value. This way, they get processed and out the door pronto.

Working automation into your shipping routine can improve how you operate, saving your money and satisfying customers along the way. With a good shipping management system, some automation magic in label creation and order fulfillment, you’re all set to offer speedy and budget-friendly two-day delivery — or even overnight shipping if next-day delivery is more your speed. 

Team up with third-party logistics (3PL)

Another smart move that’s catching on is handing over the fulfillment reins to third-party logistics (3PL) pros. These experts take care of the whole supply chain shebang, from keeping your inventory neat and tidy to making sure orders reach customers on time.

Letting 3PL providers handle the nitty-gritty of fulfillment lets you zero in on what you do best while they tackle the logistics. They have the gear, the tech, and the smarts to navigate the maze of order fulfillment, improving your transit times without costing an arm and a leg. 

Next, I’ll cover what you can gain from this teamwork.

Scale and flex your operations 

Handing over fulfillment to 3PL providers gives you the room to grow your business without stressing over investing in more infrastructure and resources. When the order volume goes up, you won’t have to scramble for extra warehouse space, more hands on deck, or new tech. Your 3PL partner can adjust to the ebb and flow of demand without you having to manage all these pieces.

Break into new markets 

3PL providers are also equipped to help you test new waters in different markets or with new products without a hefty upfront investment. They have the setup to manage fulfillment for businesses big and small, helping you adapt to market shifts and seize any new marketing opportunities that come your way.

Tap into their local knowledge and established networks to make market expansion less daunting.

Boost your efficiency 

Teaming up with 3PL providers helps you focus on what you do best. They have the technology and systems in place to automate many of your labor-intensive logistics tasks, freeing up your time and resources for other critical aspects of your business. 

With their expertise and resources, offering fast and budget-friendly two-day shipping becomes a more reachable goal, giving you a leg up in the competitive market.

Bringing 3PL providers on board is a smart strategy that puts fast, cost-effective shipping within your reach. Plus, they offer you the ability to scale and flex your operations more easily — and since offering two-day shipping can be a bumpy road, you’ll want to take the easy route whenever you can.

Clearing the hurdles of 2-day shipping

2 day shipping hurdles

Striving to meet your customers’ delivery dreams of getting their orders in a mere two business days can bring a few hurdles your way. I’ll break down the usual suspects and how to apprehend them.

Cost management 

Offering two-day delivery sounds great, but the extra cost can be high. Don’t panic over the sticker shock — tweak your packaging to cut costs and use tech tools to plan the smartest shipping routes, which not only saves money but also makes sure packages reach their destination on time.

Logistics and fulfillment 

The journey from your warehouse to the customer’s doorstep needs to be smooth. A hiccup here could mean shipping times are longer than expected, and your customers want their order on that second day delivery date you promised.

Automation is your friend when it comes to logistics and order fulfillment. Tools like real-time delivery tracking and automatic customer notifications keep a bird’s eye view of how things are moving while making sure your customers are up to date at all times.

Another step you shouldn’t overlook is setting a cutoff time for orders. Make it clear to customers what time they need to place an order on a given day in order to get it two days later. This will save you and your team from working overtime to get all the day’s orders fulfilled.

Continuously tuning your shipping game 

eCommerce never sleeps, but staying on top of your delivery speed demands that you step back for a bit of tuning and tweaking now and then.

Regular checks on delivery analytics — like how fast deliveries are happening, how much it costs you, and how happy your customers are about it — can shine a light on areas you need to improve. Staying updated with new tricks in the industry can also give you a leg up. 

Quick, wallet-friendly shipping is a tall order, but with a sharp eye on costs, carefully planned logistics,  and the right tech and automation, you can jump over these hurdles with ease. 

Should you offer free 2-day shipping?

Dipping your toes into the 2-day shipping waters can be a tempting venture that promises a world of benefits to both your business and the customers — especially if your customers don’t have to pay extra for it. This makes them more likely to come back for more and gives your brand a competitive edge.

Yet, there’s a bit of a pickle here: How can you keep those higher shipping rates from gobbling up your profits? Let’s weigh the pros and cons to see if free two-day shipping is your knight in shining armor.

The sunny side: Free 2-day shipping pros 

Here are some of the pros that come with this speedy venture:

  • Happy customers. Free, quick delivery can put a big smile on your customers’ faces. It’s about quenching that instant gratification thirst, which can make their shopping experience a memorable one and drive conversions.
  • Repeat business. When customers know they can get their hands on their orders in a jiffy without paying out the nose, they’re more likely to hit that “Buy Now” button again. Letting them know they can get what they want in just two days for “free” can also cut down on cart abandonment.
  • Stay in the fast lane. With giants like Amazon setting the delivery speedometer to an all-time high (thanks, Amazon Prime!), offering free two-day shipping helps you keep up with the pace and stay in the race.
  • Buzz around town. Free, fast shipping can get people talking and sharing their shopping experiences. That means it can help you build a solid reputation and create buzz around your brand.

The dark side: Free 2-day shipping cons 

Here are some of the cons to mull over if you’re considering free two-day shipping:

  • High costs. Faster shipping is expensive (especially if you toss international shipping into the mix), and you need a clear map of how these costs will impact your bottom line to avoid any nasty surprises on your balance sheet.
  • Logistics gymnastics. Working out the logistics to make free two-day shipping a reality can feel like doing backflips. It demands tight management to make sure every package sails smoothly from the warehouse to the customer’s doorstep while keeping costs as low as possible.
  • Customer expectation elevator. Offering free two-day shipping sets high expectations. If delivery delays happen, it might lead to some not-so-nice reviews, which can hurt sales.

Taking a good, hard look at these pros and cons can help steer your decision on whether to jump onto the two-day shipping bandwagon without charging customers for the favor. Size up the benefits against the challenges, and see if this shipping route is the right fit for your business puzzle.

Alternatives to consider: Free shipping vs. flat-rate standard shipping

Two other tempting routes often traveled are those of free shipping and flat-rate standard shipping, and each has its own charms and challenges. Here’s a look at both options to help you decide which road might lead you to happy customers and a happier bottom line.

The perks and pitfalls of free standard shipping 

In this cutthroat market, tossing free shipping into the deal has become a common lure to reel in customers and boost sales. There are several bright sides to unfurling a free shipping banner:

Pros: Customer satisfaction and sales. Free shipping has a knack for turning customer frowns upside down, paving the way for satisfied customers and more sales. It can also get customers to place larger orders, especially if you set a minimum purchase amount in order to qualify (aka a free shipping threshold).

Plus, when people find a good deal, they yap about it. Offering free shipping can get the town talking about your online store, casting a positive light on your brand and bringing in more orders.

But, the free shipping song isn’t without its off notes:

Cons: Eating the cost or hiking up product pricing. The glaring hitch is the cost you’ll have to eat. Even standard shipping charges can nibble at your profits, especially if you’re shipping bulky items. You’ll need to crunch the numbers to see if your profit margins can handle free shipping or if you’d need to increase your prices to make it happen.

The double-edged sword of flat-rate standard shipping 

On the flip side, flat-rate standard shipping, where you charge a fixed fee regardless of the order, is another path trodden by online stores. Here’s what lies on the flat-rate trail:

Pros: Predictability and bigger customer orders. Flat-rate shipping brings a sense of predictability to the table. It’s a clear, upfront deal which you and your customers can count on without any surprises. 

It also incentivizes bigger purchases. By offering a fixed shipping fee, you might nudge customers to stack up their cart to get the most bang for their buck.

But the flat-rate road has its bumps too:

Cons: Fairness and transparency. Setting a fair rate is a tightrope walk. It’s hard to set a price that covers your costs and won’t deter customers. Take a close look at your shipping costs and understand how much customers are willing to pay for shipping at checkout. (Unfortunately, they might prefer to pay nothing.)

By sifting through the pros and cons of free shipping and flat-rate shipping, you can pick a shipping and delivery turnaround target that aligns with your online store’s vision and pocket depth. The key is to keep an eagle eye on how your shipping strategy is playing out in terms of customer happiness, sales, and your bottom line. 

Draw up your 2-day delivery blueprint

2 day delivery blueprint

Offering your customers two-day shipping has its twists and turns, but arming yourself with the right toolkit can make the ride much smoother. 

Understanding how two-day shipping costs can affect your profits and pricing strategy is the best place to start. Whatever path you choose, smarter packaging, cutting-edge tech, 3PL partnerships, and continuous monitoring and improvements can set you up for success. 

Here’s where Circuit for Teams swerves into the picture as a trusty ally in your quest for fast, affordable shipping!

Its features like live tracking and route management, automatic customer notifications, and automatic route optimization with custom stops gear up to simplify the process of fast and reliable delivery. It even sweetens the deal with real-time tracking, proof of delivery with in-app photos and signatures, and seamless integrations with platforms like Shopify and Zapier to keep all your eCommerce systems running smoothly.

Ready to rev up your two-day shipping game? Sign up for Circuit for Teams today and start fine-tuning your last-mile delivery processes and turbocharge your shipping operations all the way to the finish line.

About the author

Heather Reinblatt
Heather ReinblattContributor

Heather Reinblatt is a managing editor currently living in St. Louis, Missouri. She spends her free time reading, trying new recipes, and cuddling her cat Paisley. You can find Heather on LinkedIn.


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