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August 26, 2020 Published by

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Whether you’re starting out in ecommerce or already run a successful store, it’s important to continuously evaluate your order fulfillment strategy. Many factors play a role in the success of your order fulfillment from inventory management to an effective picking list strategy. However, one aspect of your strategy that is crucial to understand are shipping zones. We will explain what shipping zones are and how they can affect your shipping costs.

What Are Shipping Zones?

Essentially, shipping zones are the geographical regions carriers deliver to. They are grouped by zip codes and are determined by the distance a package will travel from its point of origin to its destination. The zones are numbered 1 through 8, with zone 1 being the closest to the point of origin and zone 8 the furthest away.

For example, if a package ships out from Phoenix, San Francisco will fall under zone 5 while a city like New York would count as zone 8 as it is further away. Below you will see how the shipping zones change based on their point of origin.

shipping zones starting in phoenix

shipping zones starting in new york

Effects of Shipping Zones on Cost and Delivery Times

Shipping zones are used by carriers to calculate how much their services will cost. Typically, the shipping fee charged will be greater for higher shipping zones. A customer living closer to your package’s point of origin, zone 1 or 2 for example, will experience a faster delivery time and a lower shipping fee than those customers living in a higher shipping zone like zone 8. With high shipping rates being a top reason U.S. shoppers abandon the checkout process, it is important to work towards finding solutions that will cut down your shipping times and costs.

One great way to reduce the increased costs associated with high shipping zones is to use a 3PL with locations on each side of the country. This way, you can ship to customers living in an east coast zone from an east coast location and vice versa for those living on the west coast. This reduces time spent in transit and cost.

Get In The Zone

Now that you have a clear understanding of shipping zones, it is important to take a step back and consider your fulfillment options. Whether you decide to drop ship or integrate same-day shipping to improve your delivery times, make sure to map out your shipping zones and know what your fulfillment capabilities are.