Shipping Management - Key Concepts

Overview
This guide details the fundamental key concepts that Linnworks.net uses when working with couriers to generate shipping labels and track consignments.

Table of Contents

Shipping in Linnworks

Once orders have been downloaded or created in Linnworks, it is possible to assign a shipping service such that once the item has been picked, shipping labels can be printed directly from Linnworks and the order processed in seconds. Manifests can be filed from within Linnworks, reducing the workload when working with couriers.

Shipping using Linnworks can be broken down into 3 stages:

  • Order Shipping Service: This is the type of shipping service that is chosen by the buyer at checkout and downloaded as part of the order into Linnworks
  • Linnworks Postal Service: This can be set either manually or automatically, via Shipping Mapping or the Rules Engine
  • Courier Services: This is the actual postal service being used to ship the order

It is important to note that a Linnworks Postal Service can only be mapped to one courier service, however, multiple channel shipping services can be mapped to one Linnworks Postal Service. The following table shows a graphical representation of this process for multiple channel integrations:

Selling Platform Linnworks Despatch
Channel Service Offered Postal Service Courier Service
Amazon Expedited Domestic My 1 Day Service DPD DPD 10:30
Amazon Next Day UK
EBAY DPD Direct
EBAY Other 24 Hour Courier
EBAY DPD Direct
Amazon Standard Domestic My 2 Day Service ParcelForce Express 48
EBAY Other 48 Hour Courier
EBAY Other Courier

Orders can be assigned to a Linnworks Postal Service either manually from the Edit Order screen or automatically using Shipping Mapping (if the channel supports it), a custom script, or using the Rules Engine. An example of assigning postal services using the rules engine is given in the Rules Engine documentation.

Linnworks Postal Services can be created in the Postal Services screen, which can be found under Shipping > Postal Services . To learn more about creating Linnworks postal services, please see this guide.

Courier services can be assigned to a Linnworks Postal Service in the Courier Integrations screen, which can be found under Shipping > Integrations  

The main advantage of using Linnworks postal services is that the Courier and Service can be set independent of the selling platform, allowing you to choose the best courier to suit your needs as well as specifying whether the service requires tracking numbers to be added before the order is processed. This can be useful for channels that require tracking numbers to be provided on despatch to ensure that the order is marked as despatched on the channel.

Item and Packaging Weights

Packaging dimensions refers to the size of the parcel, once it is ready to ship to the customer. Adding the size and weight of order items allows couriers to charge the appropriate amount for parcels sent using their services. Having weights on order items is a requirement for some couriers, such that you will be unable to print shipping labels if the order items are missing weights. Adding this information also allows the courier to plan the type of resources they will need to deal with your parcel, for instance; if it is particularly heavy or large. Linnworks will automatically calculate the weight of orders based on the weights of the order items and the packaging.

Linnworks has a number of default packaging options; for more details on these please refer to the following guide.

Weights can be added to SKUs either individually, through the Postage Definition tab of the edit product details menu, or in bulk via CSV file using an Inventory Import

Royal mail defines their mail formats by size which are defined on their website; here.

Volumetric/Dimensional Weight

Volumetric or Dimensional weight is used by Couriers to calculate a minimum weight for a parcel of a given size. The reason for this is that a large but very light package will still take up a lot of space, so the couriers will need to charge by size instead of weight. Normally the volumetric weight is calculated and then the greater of the volumetric weight and the actual weight is used.

To calculate the volumetric weight, the volume of the package being sent is measured then divided by a shipping factor. The exact factor will depend on the courier, the units used, the destination of the parcel and the method of transport (e.g. road/air). Further details can be found on the Courier’s documentation

Volumetric / Dimensional Weight Example

As an example:

  • Interlink Air shipments use a Shipping Factor of 5,000 when cm and kg are used.
  • Multiply the length x height x width in centimetres and divide the answer by the shipping factor of 5,000.
  • Let’s say you have a parcel that weighs 8kg. It measures 40cm x 30cm x 50cm. That gives a volume of 60, 000 cm3.
  • Dividing by 5,000 gives a volumetric weight of 12kg.
  • This is higher than the actual weight, so the volumetric weight is used for shipping calculations.

Packaging Mapping

The Packaging mapping feature allows the user to map Linnworks packaging types to a courier's particular Packaging Types. Once a courier that supports packaging mapping is integrated with Linnworks, Linnworks will submit the appropriate package type to the courier and the user will be able to generate the precise shipping label for an order.  

To learn more about Packaging Mapping, please see our Packaging Mapping guide. 

Shipping Quotes

Linnworks Shipping Quotes functionality makes easy to compare rates for your integrated couriers. Comparing prices for parcel delivery services is a lot simpler than you may at first think. Selecting Shipping Quotes offer you the best courier prices whether you’re sending a parcel within the UK or you’re sending an international. Shipping quotes can be generated for single orders, or in bulk, if you want to know how much it costs to send a parcel, simply select one or multiple Open Orders > Right click > Actions > Shipping > 'Get Quotes'

This list shows the service name, the price, its particular features the cheapest option available, along with the name of the vendor, the service, and an estimated delivery date. However, the prices depend on you entering accurate weight and dimensions. For further information on shipping quotes, see our dedicated documentation.

Manifests

Manifests are a tally of parcels that have been assigned to a particular courier. In Linnworks, manifests must be filed once a day if there has been parcels assigned to them, or you will be prohibited from printing any further shipping labels. When you print a shipping label in Linnworks, the order is added to the manifest for the appropriate vendor.

To view or file a manifest go to Shipping > Shipping Manifests  

To learn more about manifests, please see our Manifests guide.

An additional option for CN22 is available on the service level for the following integrations:

Parcelforce, DHL express, FedEx and Deutsche Post will produce the necessary documents as well that will be generated by the vendor.

Cancelling labels 

The option of cancelling shipping labels will remove an existing shipping label associated with an order from the corresponding manifest. If the label is cancelled before the manifest is produced, there won't be a charge (as it's not on the manifest). For those using a credit balance (eg: Stamps & Endicia) a refund request will be logged with each company when cancelling a label.

If you wish to cancel a label after its manifest has been filed then you will need to talk to the courier directly.

See our detailed documentation for further information. 

International Customs Forms

International customs forms (Forms CN22 and CN23) are required when shipping internationally, or outside of the EU, if you are shipping from within it. Currently Linnworks will not generate these forms, with the exception of our DHL Global Mail integration and Amazon Shipping integration, both of which can generate CN22 forms, see here and here respectively. For other couriers, one solution is to download the form as an image and insert it into an invoice template such that when it is printed, the form appears on a peel off label. Depending on your normal workflow, this could be taken a stage further by using a conditional template, such that it only prints when shipping internationally. Alternatively, it is possible to have the form included in your normal invoice template and use visibility conditions to make it display when shipping internationally.

Customs forms for the UK can be downloaded from the Royal Mail website.

Tracking Numbers

Tracking numbers are used when you send your package with a tracked courier service. This is used if the item you are sending are valuable or you want to ensure that the package has been received as proof of postage.

Tracking numbers can be either entered manually on the Edit Order screen or generated automatically via printing shipping labels for integrated couriers.