Category Name - Shipping  

Shipping VS Delivery – What’s the Difference?

The words “shipping” and “delivery” describe parts of the same process, but it’s important to understand the difference.


The words “shipping” and “delivery” describe parts of the same process, but it’s important to understand the difference.

Shipping” refers to the moment a product leaves the warehouse; once it’s shipped, it’s on its way.

Delivery” happens when the product has reached the customer. In the early days of e-commerce, “dispatched” was used more frequently than the synonymous “shipped”. These days, “shipped” is the preferred nomenclature.

The explosion in e-commerce over the past decade has seen these two terms used more and more frequently. Their relationship and differences are increasingly blurred. Savvy merchants will find plenty to leverage in the relationship between shipping and delivery. There are many marketing opportunities to be found here.

When it comes to e-commerce, “shipping” and “delivery” have broader, more complex definitions. For the customer, the shipping date is still when a product leaves the warehouse and the delivery date is when it arrives. For logistics, though, things get a little muddier.

For example, smaller, easy-transit packages like smartphones or clothes are shipping packages. These products are easy to package and send to the customer with a postal service.

Bigger orders that require installation upon arrival are delivery packages. In the latter example, an employee is required at the delivery point to help the customer. A standard courier service isn’t always enough.

A big difference in these two terms with e-commerce sites is the logistics associated with predicting their outcome. Shipping date is relatively easy to predict and usually happens shortly after order. There are myriad factors that can affect delivery, however. The unpredictable nature of deliveries means that broader, more cautious timeframes are given by merchants.

The conflicting definitions are outlined below:
Meaning One

Shipping: When a product leaves the warehouse and begins its journey to the customer.
Delivery: When a product arrives with the customer.

Meaning Two

Shipping: Transit-ready products well suited for simple postal services
Delivery: Larger, more complex orders that require assistance upon arrival


Shipping: Dispatch
Delivery: Distribution


Shipping: High, easy to manage predictable
Delivery: Low, many variables, relatively unpredictable

Understanding the difference between these terms and how they’re affected by logistics will go a long way in optimizing your e-commerce workflow. Consider the shipping and delivery options you could offer to consumers and how this might lead to an uptick in sales. Knowing what consumers expect and understanding the realities of how to deliver it to them is key to delivery and an excellent e-commerce experience.

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