Split Shipments: Definition, Importance, and Downsides - ChicagoShipper

You may previously have ordered several online products at the same time, only to know that it is not complete when delivered to your address. You may usually get a thought if you have incorrectly ordered it, or if they have not sent the correct products, you already have paid for. 

You may have received the remaining items from your order a little later, but receiving separate shipments can be confusing. 

Split shipments can occur for a variety of reasons, from storing inventory in different locations to not being able to fit all items in one box. 

This article will describe why split deliveries occur, frequently asked questions about sending individual deliveries in a single order, and steps to avoid them. 

Split Shipment Definition 

If an online order containing multiple products is placed in separate shipments, it is considered a split shipment. Customers only place one order, but often receive multiple packages on different days. 

Relevance of Split Shipment 

Companies should never aim to split shipments (unless they sell only very large products that can’t fit more than one in a box), but ship separate shipments in a single order. There are the following reasons for doing so. 

  • Products are currently in Different Locations 

If your e-commerce company has inventory in multiple locations, each SKU in a different facility may have different levels of inventory. 

Moreover, if one warehouse does not have the units needed to fulfill a single order that has contains several products, one item may be gotten from one warehouse, and the other item can be fulfilled by another. Instead of waiting for one fulfillment center to get more stocks, getting items from different fulfillment centers can absolutely get the orders to the customer faster. 

When transporting cargo or freight, there may not be enough space for a single truck or plane to carry large quantities or orders, and individual boxes can be shipped and arrived separately. This can be complicated when shipping internationally using a customs declaration, so you need to make sure that all shipments contain the proper documentation. 

Partially completed inventory can also be sent as parts, starting with all parts that are ready to be shipped.

  • The customer wants to have different items to be sent to different locations 

This is less common in e-commerce, but customers can split one large order into separate shipments and send them to different addresses. Most people create a unique order for each new shipment, but it is more convenient to have the customer buy gifts in one order, most especially in the holiday season. 

The average Shopify store may not show split shipping options at checkout, but if you’re ordering large quantities of expensive items,  enter a unique address for each item or ship them individually. 

  • If the items are not fit in only one package 

The size of the item determines if the shipment needs to be split into a single order. 

For example, if you order 4 tubes of mascara, they will fit easily and arrive in one package. On the other hand, if you’ll be ordering 4 large suitcases, it is implied that it can’t fit a sofa-sized box since there is nothing as such. You’ll probably get four separate boxes as each product takes up more space. You also need to leave space for storage and packing materials, especially when transporting fragile items. 

E-commerce brands need to understand how dimensional weight affects shipping costs and use the right packaging (correct size based on the item). Small and light cargo is cheaper than large and heavy cargo (and heavy and oversized cargo is subject to additional charges). But, sending separate packages is also costly. 

Downsides of Split Shipments 

There are also negative sides when it comes to split shipments and here’s some reason why: 

  • Waste caused by extra packaging 

Ships two boxes instead of one packing material and material waste. It burdens not only you but the earth. You can always use eco-friendly packages, but if you want to be eco-friendly, regular split shipments are not advisable. 

  • Increased shipping costs 

The more cargo you send, the more money you pay. Generating two shipping labels in a single order can significantly increase the cost per order. However, it depends not only on the quantity, but also on the source of each shipment, but the final cost of the same destination may also vary depending on the USPS shipping zone in the United States. 

  • Increase of unsatisfied customers 

Receiving parcels under split shipment is obviously not a great customer experience. If customers receive half of their orders a day and a second a few days later, they may get confused and worst, will be frustrated about it. Alternatively, customers may have to wait a few weeks if they wait for inventory to fill up to submit a complete order. 

This can lead to more customer service inquiries, more bad reviews, and even higher storage costs if the customer indicates that the customer has never received that part of the order and then makes a new shipment again. 

In case the split shipment is something that can’t be avoided, the very least you can do for customers is to inform the kit about it that they should expect more than one shipment as a heads up to avoid any surprise on not getting all of the ordered items at once. 

How can we avoid split shipments? 

In some cases, split shipments are unavoidable, but by optimizing your supply chain, you can avoid the need for split shipments and prevent this kind of shipment. Here are some steps you can take to decrease the possibility of sending separate shipments: 

  • Ensuring enough stock regularly 

Demand forecasting is difficult to master, but it is important for the best possible management. E-commerce brands must do everything they can to keep them from selling out. 

Distributing inventory to fulfillment centers to keep products close to end customers can reduce shipping costs and lead times, but keep these facilities in stock for the model to function optimally. 

  • Monitoring your buyers’ behavior 

Knowing your customers and their buying habits can help you improve your e-commerce logistics strategy to provide a better customer experience.

You can consider factors such as location, average shipping zone where you’re shipping to, items that are often ordered together. 

  • Providing your customers with choices 

This option isn’t suitable for many direct-selling brands that you may buy from your customers from the Shopify store, but in large marketplaces where individual customers frequently order, customers put all their orders together, it is possible to ship into one shipment. 

Amazon has done this to make it more environmentally friendly. This allows customers to choose the option of shipping all purchases together over a period of time, rather than always choosing the fastest shipping method. Customers can choose to wait a long time to put everything together, rather than the wasteful practice of split shipping. 

Chicago Shipper promotes the decrease of split shipments and helps maximize customer satisfaction. Chicago Shipper is an e-commerce fulfillment provider that offers fast and affordable delivery to help brands grow their sales and grow their business. With an ever-expanding network of fulfillment centers, brands can use the location that best suits their customer presence. 

At the time of ordering, our software automatically selects the fulfillment closest to the end-user. This reduces shipping costs and shortens delivery times. Our proprietary software avoids out-of-stock so you don’t have to postpone orders or split shipments. 

If you have an order for one or more items that are currently unavailable from the stocks, you can split the order and ship the available items. As soon as the missing item arrives at the distribution center, the rest of the order will be processed automatically and will eventually be shipped as well. Let the customer know that the order has been split and that they need to expect two packages instead of one. 


Split shipments are not always avoidable, but you should do everything you can to prevent this from happening so that you don’t lose revenue. Reducing split deliveries can make your retail supply chain more efficient, save on shipping costs, and reduce waste. By partnering with 3PLs like Chicago Shipper, you can optimize shipments, prevent split orders and improve profit margins. 

Learn more about Chicago Shipper’s fulfillment services. Contact us now!