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Split Shipment:
Meaning, How-Tos,
and Best Practices

It can be faster to send a split shipment, meaning some packages can reach your customers sooner. But what to consider beforehand?

What does split shipment mean text and woman with boxes

Whether a product is too heavy to fit in with the rest in one single package or the customer’s changed their mind and added something else to their order, split shipments make up a significant part of logistics.


You’ve also probably been there before, as a consumer as well. Have you ever ordered something online and it’s shipped in multiple boxes?


Truth is that trying to keep track of the exact location of each package and its estimated time of arrival is not exactly a walk in the park. For customers, it’s easy to miss a delivery because they didn’t know the package was coming or that there were multiple packages they should’ve been expecting.


Order tracking tools for split orders can help make this process a lot easier. You can easily see where each package is and when it is expected to arrive, and customers can get your items as quickly as possible without running into any obstacles.

What does “split shipment” mean?


Simply put, a split shipment happens when one order contains multiple items that are shipped in more than one package.


For example, when dealing with a backorder situation, you might ship a part of the order first and then the other. Shipping packages separately might help improve end-to-end processing time and maintain a competitive edge or deliver available products first and then those that were out-of-order.


However, if your current tracking software does not come with accurate, real-time updates, delivery notifications, delivery exception alerts, etc., it can lead to an increase in customer support tickets.


This can especially happen when customers receive just a part of the products they ordered without knowing the order has been split into a couple of different packages, having to contact the customer support center. Besides, no one wants packages to get lost, deliveries to be failed, and customers to complain.


To get rid of the customer frustration, increase customer LTV (lifetime value), and relieve some of the pressure from your customer care team, it’s necessary to use tools like WeSupply and track all orders under the same roof while monitoring split shipments with ease in one single dashboard.


Your customers will always know where their packages are and everyone is satisfied. Happy ending!


What does “partial shipment” mean?


Just like a split order, a partial shipment refers to the fulfillment of one order in two or more packages delivered separately. On the other end, customers receive multiple packages separately instead of one under the same order.


In fact, partial shipment is just another way to say split shipment.


Below you can see how the average partial shipping process unfolds for most online retailers for a better understanding:

What about “invoice splits”?


On the other hand, invoice split refers to the financial aspect of the order, instead of the logistics and order fulfillment per se.


An invoice split refers to splitting one invoice into two or more other invoices. This enables retailers to provide their customers with flexible payments.


One common example would be paying in installments or “buy now, pay later” options that are increasingly becoming more popular across a variety of industries, from apparel items to electronics.


To sum it up, splitting an invoice allows the customer to spread out multiple payments for a single order across multiple invoices, charging a certain percentage of the sum total with each installment.


When To Split The Order & Separate Shipments?


You might want to have multiple shipments when you’re delivering heavy equipment, machinery parts, fragile products, big pieces of furniture, and so on. In fact, oftentimes you won’t even have a choice since carriers have their own rules and limitations, for instance, a certain maximum weight or height allowed.


Another reason for partial shipments is the lack of availability of a product that has not been foreseen. In the case of back-ordered items, you might want to send a part of the order faster and then ship out the rest.


Moreover, you might be sending items from different warehouses or distribution centers, therefore, packing and delivering packages separately. This can also happen when the same merchant sells products through different vendors and manufacturers.

Track All Split Shipments with us!

order tracking learn more
order tracking learn more

Track All Split Shipments with us!

If it fits it ships. Or not?


Before proceeding to ship an item, make sure you follow any guidelines imposed by your partner carriers regarding size and weight. To make it easier for you, here are some common examples:


  • For USPS, in the U.S. packages must weigh less than 70 lbs. and have less than 108 inches in total length and girth.

  • For FedEx Express services in the U.S., packages can weigh up to 150 lbs. and have up to 119 inches in length and 165 inches in girth.

  • For UPS carrier services, in the U.S. packages can weigh up to 150 lbs. and be up to 108 inches long.

  • For DHL in the U.S., packages can have a maximum weight of 44 lbs. and a maximum length and girth of 118 inches.

What Are Some Common Split Shipments Challenges?


It comes as no surprise that among the most common split shipment challenges we have:


  • Higher shipping costs caused by multiple deliveries per order

Basically, you have to pay for transportation to the exact same location, but twice or more times per order. This can often come as an unnecessary expense that cannot be avoided.


If you don’t have enough visibility in your order management system, you will have a lot of backorder situations which can lead to an increased need to ship multiple products separately, paying additional transportation costs.


If you’re selling heavy items including car parts, lawnmowers, and the like, you might probably have no other choice but to ship items separately, but there are also highlights, as exemplified in the following section (Keep reading!).


  • Increased carbon footprint and additional packaging waste

Generation Z individuals (born between ~1995 to 2010) are concerned with environmental issues. In fact, a significant part of the surveyed Gen Z shoppers (62%) prefer to buy sustainable brands and they’re also more likely to spend 10% or more on sustainable products.


Shipping multiple packages separately might not settle well with some shoppers looking for sustainable and eco-friendly brands, which is also a driving factor for adopting a sustainable development strategy.


Below are the estimated greenhouse gas emissions of eCommerce in 2020 by source:

  • Overwhelmed customer service team members

Increased waiting time for warehouses to process and ship orders might result in an increased volume of support tickets for your customer service reps.


Moreover, if you’re not enabling customers to track all shipments from the same order separately, they might try to get in touch with your team first. And, you know what they say, it’s too late to provide a premium post-purchase experience if your customers reach out first.


Moreover, some packages might be delayed due to unfavorable weather conditions, traffic congestion, and other causes outside your scope of control. You need to send out proactive status updates and delivery notifications to let customers know about any shipment delays in order to reduce the pressure from your customer support team.


Keep customers informed throughout the shipping and delivery process and have all orders under one single roof if you want to succeed and retain employees in this challenging business climate.

Split Shipments Happen: Make The Most Out Of Them!


There’s one more truth about split shipments— they can also save you money and enable you to make better and more cost-effective decisions.


How is that possible? One good example is by avoiding paying dimensional weight on a larger package. There are cases in which you might not be able to fit all of the pieces in one box so it might be more cost-effective to ship two different packages and avoid unnecessary charges.


Besides, to avoid out-of-stock scenarios, try looking at purchasing trends to ensure the availability of your products. See which items you’re putting forward and make sure you avoid out-of-stock situations by planning ahead and tracking inventory efficiently. Enable effective cross-team communication and make sure all departments know what to keep an eye on.


Cut down on the final cost by simply improving your processes. For instance, make sure you offer order tracking and delivery notifications. Although you’re not shipping the entire order at once, your teams and customers should be able to monitor each shipment separately.

Check out the reviews below to see how important it is to provide your customers with a complete order tracking solution, delivery notifications, shipment exception updates, and information regarding their split order:

Key Takeaways


Splitting shipments is a necessary evil every now and then. This requires more packing materials, different locations to fulfill orders, and highly efficient inventory management.


In this regard, order tracking tools like WeSupply can help retailers monitor all orders under one roof to increase productivity and performance while driving customer satisfaction and meeting customer expectations.


By tracking split shipments, you can easily identify any errors or shipment delays and rectify them as soon as possible. Additionally, complete order details and shipping information can help improve future operations and create a fantastic customer experience.

Never receive
"Where Is My Order?"
calls again.

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Never receive "Where Is My Order?" calls again.

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