Small Business Shipping Terms

By Baillee Perkins
Feb 25, 2022
ShippingEasy is here to break down shipping terms you might see when starting your small business!

Starting a new small business can be challenging, and that’s not including all the new terms that come with it. We’re here to help! Our small business shipping terms guide simplifies some of the phrases you may come across when finding shipping supplies, deciding on carriers, shipping out your orders, and setting up your ShippingEasy account. 

A-C · D-F · G-I · M-O · P-R · S-V

Actual Weight –  The actual number on the scale when you weigh your package. Carriers don’t always use this number though!

Billable Weight – The weight used by the carrier to determine the cost of your shipment for services certain services. This weight can be the actual weight of your shipment or the dimensional weight of your shipment, depending on which is greater. 

Branded Tracking Notification- A customized tracking email sent to customers with personalized touches such as a business logo, social media links, and fun color schemes to make your business stand out. 

Corrugated box – A box made of multiple layers to provide more shipping support for fragile and specialty items such as plants and food. 

CSV file – A file similar to an Excel or Numbers file that saves information in a table-based format. CSVs are also easier to open because they don’t need additional software installed! 

Dimensional Weight – The volume of a package, determined by its length x width x height. This total is then divided by a carrier-specific number to find a new weight that is based on the dimensions of the shipment instead of the weight shown on a scale. 

Drop Ship – A fulfillment method where manufacturers send products directly to customers instead of sending the stock to the business first. 

FedEx Ground – A FedEx service for shipments up to 150 pounds that provides tracking and has a 1-5 business day delivery window (3-7 for Hawaii and Alaska). 

FedEx Home Delivery – A FedEx carrier service similar to FedEx Ground for shipments up to 150 pounds, but packages are eligible for weekend delivery

Flat Rate Packaging – USPS Priority Mail and Priority Mail Express-specific boxes and envelopes. If you send shipments using this packaging, they are sent to their destination for one flat rate, so weight and dimension calculations aren’t needed to determine your shipping cost. 

Image Source:USPS

Ready to make learning about carrier services a Priority? For more information on Priority Mail services and supplies, check out our blog, USPS Priority Mail: A Full Breakdown.

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Girth – A dimension sometimes used by carriers when determining postage cost. Girth is calculated by doubling the width and height of your packaging and adding the two numbers together. 

IOSS (Import-One-Stop-Shop) – A number assigned to your store so that the VAT tax for European Union and United Kingdom goods will be paid by your business instead of charging your customer when their product arrives. These numbers are assigned by the marketplace you use. 

Marketplace – An eCommerce platform where business owners can sell their products to a larger audience. Marketplaces include sites like Amazon, eBay, Shopify, and Etsy. As your business grows, you may even choose to add more than one! 

Omnichannel Selling – A streamlined selling process that offers a personalized and smooth shopping experience to your customers by connecting marketplaces and creating the same atmosphere in both online and brick-and-mortar stores. 

Open API (Application Programming Interface) – A program used by business owners and/or developers to provide more customization and gain insights into their website or marketplace. 

Perishable Mail – Perishable items like meats, plants, cookies, and other treats that are sent through a carrier service that have an expiration date or are at risk of spoiling during transit.

Don’t let ruined food spoil your mood! Learn more about shipping perishable products in our How to Ship Food with USPS blog.

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Postal Holidays – Specific days where mail is not delivered by USPS. 

SCAN (Shipment Confirmation Acceptance Notice) Form – A document created for USPS shipments that combines label information into one barcode for the mail carrier to scan instead of scanning each shipment individually. 

Image Source: USPS

Store Integration – Connecting a marketplace to a site or software for processing orders. API or login information is usually required to add the store

Thermal Printer – A type of printer that doesn’t require ink to print but uses a special kind of paper that changes color when it’s heated.

The DYMO LabelWriter 4XL is an example of a recommended thermal printer
Image Source: DYMO

New to thermal printers? Learn more about our recommendations in Online Shipping Labels – Which Printers Are Best?

Read more

USPS Priority Mail – A commonly used USPS service that provides shipment tracking information, can be used for shipments up to 70 pounds, and usually delivers shipments within 1-3 business days. 

UPS Ground – A commonly used UPS service that provides shipment tracking and delivery in 1-5 business days. 

VAT (Value Added Tax)A tax value added to all products shipped to the EU or the UK. The amount depends on the cost of the product.

ShippingEasy Specific Terms

If you’re new to eCommerce AND ShippingEasy, you’re in luck! These are some of the terms you might see within your account. 

Combine Orders – Adding two or more eligible separate orders from the same customer into a single order. 

Commercial Rates – The discounted USPS rates that are given to all ShippingEasy users. 

For more information on Commercial Rates, check out our blog Commercial Shipping Simplified with ShippingEasy!

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Order Filters – Categories available on the Orders page used to help separate orders by criteria like a store, date range, and weight. 

Order Notes – Messages added to orders for things like gift messages, messages from customers about their order, including their preferred shipping method, and internal reminders to business owners about the orders being shipped. 

Order Tag – Small categories added to orders to use when creating Shipping Rules and filtering orders on the Orders page. 

Packing Slip Variable – Pieces of text that represent information displayed on packing slips and can be customized. 

This is an example of a packing slip variable that represents a customer’s name

Product Tag – Information added to Product SKUs to help filter products and create Shipping Rules.  

Shipping Rules – Rules created to add specific characteristics to orders to streamline the shipping process. 

Split Orders – Separating a customer’s eligible orders into multiple shipments instead of one shipment. 

Sync – Downloading orders once they have reached a certain status. This can be automatic or manual, depending on the preference. 

This gif shows the manual order syncing process.

UPS One Balance – A discounted UPS account for eligible ShippingEasy customers that gives users up to 82% off daily rates (international services), up to 73% for UPS 2nd Day Air service, and up to 77% off UPS Ground shipments.


If you’re starting a new business, the number of new words and phrases to learn can leave you searching for the dictionary (or a good shipping terms blog post). That’s where we come in! Understanding some of the most commonly used terms in eCommerce and shipping can provide you with the tools to help grow your business and, most importantly, keep your customers happy. And that’s the definition of being a successful small business.

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Baillee Perkins

Baillee Perkins is a writer of shipping by day and pop culture by night, so her Google search history is an actual nightmare.

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