Split shipment

ecommerce logisitics glossary from fulfill

Understanding Split Shipments

A split shipment occurs when a single order, comprising multiple items, is delivered to the customer in separate packages. This can transpire for various reasons, such as differing product locations, backorders, customer-requested multi-location delivery, item size and safety considerations, or when items are customized. It’s vital for both sellers and customers to comprehend what split shipments entail, why they happen, and their implications on customer experience and operational costs.

The Mechanics Behind Split Shipments

The process of managing split shipments typically involves several key steps:

  1. Inventory Receiving: Products are sent to the 3PL warehouse, verified, and stored.
  2. 3PL Warehousing: Products are stored and managed using a SKU system.
  3. Order Picking: Upon order receipt, items are located and prepared for packing.
  4. Order Packing: Items are securely packed and labeled for shipping.
  5. Shipping: The order is dispatched to the customer via a shipping carrier.
  6. Returns Management: The 3PL handles returns, inspecting and managing returned items.

The Impact of Split Shipments on Business

While split shipments can ensure timely delivery and product safety, they can also have several negative impacts on businesses, including:

  • Increased Shipping Costs: More shipments generally mean higher shipping expenses.
  • Customer Experience Challenges: Customers receiving orders in multiple packages might find it inconvenient or confusing.
  • Potential for Increased Returns: Delayed or partial deliveries might lead to higher return rates.
  • Customer Support Challenges: Managing inquiries and concerns related to split shipments can be demanding for customer support teams.
  • Environmental Concerns: More shipments mean a larger carbon footprint and additional packaging waste.

Strategies to Minimize Split Shipments

To reduce the occurrence of split shipments, businesses can:

  • Ensure adequate stock across all warehouses.
  • Opt to ship from a single location when possible.
  • Understand and anticipate buyer behavior to meet demand effectively.
  • Offer customers the option to wait for a consolidated shipment.

Related Concepts in Logistics

  • Third-Party Logistics (3PL): Explore how 3PL companies manage various aspects like warehousing, inventory, and shipping to streamline ecommerce operations.
  • Warehouse Management: Dive into the intricacies of managing warehouse operations, ensuring efficient storage, and timely order fulfillment.
  • Transportation Management System (TMS): Understand how a TMS aids in planning and optimizing the movement of goods, ensuring compliance, and managing shipping documentation.


While split shipments can be a necessary aspect of managing ecommerce logistics, understanding, and strategically minimizing their occurrence can enhance customer satisfaction and optimize operational costs. By exploring various logistics concepts and strategies, such as employing a proficient 3PL provider like Airhouse, businesses can navigate the complexities of order fulfillment, ensuring a smooth and efficient supply chain operation.

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