An indie magazine publication by Subsail

Sending out orders from online commerce can be tricky. You need to store and handle potentially thousands of copies of your magazine and then make sure they all get sent out in a timely manner to the right addresses.

In this post I want to run through some different fulfilment and shipping options that the modern web has made possible, from simply sending from your local post office all the way to using a warehousing and fulfilment company.

As you'll see, things get better and thus more expensive as we work down the list. As a new magazine, it makes sense to start at the top and, as things pick up and you make more issues or you see a higher rate of orders come in, start looking at the other options so you can easily scale your business. You may even find using a combination works well for your use case.

Self-serve postage

Example: Post office, couriers like DHL and FedEx

Source: Unsplash

By far the simplest—though maybe not the easiest—option is to handle everything yourself. This means keeping your magazines in your home or another place nearby, packing orders manually, then shipping through your post office or a courier. This is a very manual shipping option but how most magazines start out as it requires very little infrastructure.

Downsides to this approach are the complexities of keeping track of orders, the time it takes to pack and ship orders, and the higher prices of postage compared to the next two alternatives.

Self-serve shipping platforms

Examples: Shippo, ShipStation

These platforms allow you to manage orders and shipping through their apps. The first step is to connect your website, which will send over any new orders automatically. You can then easily buy and print shipping labels at home, with the huge benefit of their typically much lower prices (they leverage their large customer bases to earn reduced shipping prices, which they can pass on to you).

You still need to physically pack and ship the magazines, but you will have a more organised workflow and could still pay less overall, even with platform fees. You will be able to compare multiple shipping carriers and options to make sure you get the best price.

Fulfilment companies

Examples: Newsstand, OML, Printful, Shipwire

Source: OML

This is the most expensive option but often the easiest for you. Send your stock to these services and let them handle everything from picking, packing and shipping. You will need to pay for both storage and shipping but as these companies handle the full process on your behalf, this can save you a lot of time and energy. Similarly to the shipping platforms listed above, these companies are well-oiled machines, getting you better postage rates than you can yourself and offering same-day dispatch.