Split Shipping: How eCommerce Sites Utilize Split Shipment Orders

Updated  |  7 min read
Key Takeaways
  • Split shipments involve dividing a single order into multiple shipments that are delivered separately.
  • This approach is employed for various reasons, such as inventory availability, product origins, shipping methods, and logistical considerations.
  • Splitting shipments ensures faster delivery of available items and helps prevent delays caused by out-of-stock products.
  • Customers are typically notified during the ordering process if their order qualifies for split shipments.
  • Each shipment can be tracked individually, and while they may arrive on different dates, the shipping cost is usually calculated based on the overall order value or weight.

The idea of split shipments has been around as long as business, but before eCommerce, it was done by hand by a salesperson manually splitting the order. While this process provided a valuable service for the customer, it put all of the work—and the possibility of introducing errors—on the salesperson.

split shipment


Offering a split shipments option on your website can be an excellent way to attract more customers and let them self-serve at the same time. This can eliminate customer miscommunication with salespeople, which in turn reduces orders shipped to the wrong address or parts of orders lost in the process.

Of course, ease of use is vital to the success of a split shipment option. You might be able to offer split shipments, but it's no good if your customers don't like using it.

Who Uses Split Shipping?

Every aspect of your eCommerce portal should make purchasing items as easy as possible, and that includes the split shipments feature. Customers should have confidence knowing that they'll be able to easily send every package exactly where it needs to go, with minimal effort on their part.

Any business selling physical products can make split shipments happen, but there are types of businesses that use split shipment more than others. The good thing is that split shipments can be customized to fit any sales and supply chain software so that it works seamlessly with back-end software. Here are three of the most common split-shipping scenarios:

Use multiple packages for a partial shipment.
b2b split shipping

B2B (Business to Business)

It's important to remember that the ability to split shipments doesn't just make life easier for you; it also makes life easier for your customer. They're looking for the most efficient way possible to do their job. Price can be a secondary concern if ordering is easier and saves them time.

Split shipments work so well because of the way that many businesses are set up. Multiple offices are common for businesses, whether they need toner and paper clips split across the country or across town. Franchises will also use this feature to order products on behalf of their franchisees, and this might be the only way that franchisees have access to the items.

Buying Groups

buying group is a collection of businesses within the same industry that have pooled their resources in order to increase buying power. One hundred bookstores buying at the same time will have more power to negotiate better prices than each individual bookstore.

Buying groups may place orders on behalf of each bookstore, and each order will be shipped to a different address. It is more likely, however, that each bookstore will order by themselves as part of a goal to reach a discount on a particular product. It is a single order for the group but requires separate billing and shipment for each store.

buying group split shipping
B2C split shipping

B2C (Business to Consumer)

This could be considered the “lightest” version of split shipments, but it can still stop you from losing sales. A common scenario involves a person ordering items for themselves from a vendor (toothpaste, paper towels, pet food) and a wedding gift for a friend or family member (an air fryer). Sending the order in more than one package and in separate directions prevents them from having to reship the gift or carry it with them to the wedding. It might take multiple boxes, but the ability to take the entire order at once reduce helped you make the sale.

Separate shipments must be easy to locate so that customers are made aware of the feature. Otherwise, they might place the order for a personal item and then, feeling “free” from the idea of having to order everything from a single retailer, decide to order the gift from a different store.

What If You Can't Send Separate Shipments?

No matter what business model your business employs—B2B, B2C, C2C, or some alternate model—not offering split or partial shipments can cause customers to skip out on doing business with you. Here are the biggest problems you might experience if you forgo a split shipment option.

  • Customers Expect It – Customers have come to expect split shipments, especially in the B2B shipping sphere. If they don't see it as an option, they might not even engage with your website in the first place. For many corporate buyers, it's not their money they're spending, but it is their time that they're spending on the site. Many will choose to pay a bit more if it lets them catch up on other work (or take a longer lunch).
  • Customers Could Abandon You – “Will they really abandon their cart just because I don't have split shipment options?” Think of all the reasons you have abandoned carts over the years. Was shipping too high? Would the items get to you too late? What we're saying is, just because a customer has taken the time to put items into their cart doesn't mean they won't find a reason to abandon the cart...and maybe your site entirely.
  • Customers Might Split Companies – Imagine a company that needs 10 reams of paper sent to Albuquerque and 5 printers sent to Chicago. If they're on your site and just need to pick a different shipping address on your checkout page, it's likely they'll just go ahead and order. Maybe your paper costs less than a competitor's but your printers cost more; it's a wash in their minds. But if they have to complete one order for the paper and then another for the printers, they might decide to go somewhere else looking for printers since they have to do another checkout process anyway.
  • What if it’s bad? – It's likely you've abandoned a site—or never gone back to it again after a purchase—just because the experience was so bad. It can happen at any point, but people get increasingly upset when they have their credit card in hand and think, “I'm trying to give you money, why are you making it so hard?” A bad experience with a lackluster or frustrating separate shipment method can chase a customer away from your site for good.

How Split Shipment Options Can Help

As we mentioned above, split shipments are something most customers have come to expect. While split shipments are incredibly versatile and can be designed around the needs of your business, here are some tips that can improve customer engagement and performance.

How split shipping Can Help
Partial shipments can add to shipping costs.

Keep It Clean

Your entire website should be streamlined and easy to use, but it's worth mentioning the importance of a clean split shipment experience. It's one of the newer parts of the checkout experience, so some developers don't have the experience to put the proper care into creating it. We've found that the easiest place to incorporate it is as part of the checkout screen. The mini cart on the checkout page can even go away while they're splitting their order so that they have more room and less clutter.

Find the Best Place to Stop Changes

It's important that you don't get in the way of customers clicking that “Order Now” button. In general, you should allow them to make changes while in their shopping cart, while split shipments happen on the checkout screen. You don't want to inundate them with confusing options just before they finalize their order.

checkout options
Split shipments means multiple packages.

Let Them Know You Can Split Ship

Most customers expect you to have a split shipments option, so make sure that the information is somewhere on your site that they can reference before they even start shopping.

Make it Obvious You Can Ship More Than One Package

The multiple address option can be hidden behind a toggling button or always appear on the checkout screen. This will be determined by your business model and how many of your customers are making use of the option.

obvious split shipping options
address form for split shipment

Default Addresses or Blank

When you present the customer with a list of their items and give them the ability of separate shipments, you can decide whether it defaults to their standard address or if each should start off blank. Again, this may be determined by your customer base.

Add Address in the Moment

Once again, you never want your customer to move away from their cart when they're about to purchase. Make sure they can add an address during checkout so that they don't have to navigate away to their account details to add one.

add address in the moment
split shipping quantities

Quantities Don’t Have to Be the Same

Split shipments gives your customers the chance to change the number of each item they’re sending to each location. In other words, they might be ordering 20 items, but it doesn’t have to be split evenly. 14 can go to Brooklyn, 6 to Queens.

split shipping for your workflows

Split Shipments for Your Workflows

Because of higher shipping costs and greater use of packing materials, you'll probably want to minimize split shipments. But your ability to ship items separately means that you'll increase your sales and keep customers happy.

When it's time to install or upgrade your partial shipment options, remember that it can be completely customized to your current business workflow, instead of changing your workflow to accommodate the shopping cart and checkout. Integrating with your back-office software and getting the design your customers look for could draw them back again and again.

Making Shipping Multiple Packages Easy

In most cases you'll want to avoid split shipments—this can lead to higher shipping costs—but when sending separate shipments is necessary, you need to be able to make it happen. 

Clarity Ventures is ready to offer you a no-obligation, complimentary discovery process. It's not a sales call, it's more of an opportunity analysis that you can use whether you work with us or not. We'll bring tech folks and business analysts to bear on your problems, and we can also point you to a number of free resources and guides.

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Discover Your Split-Shipping Solution

Ready to discover the best solution for your business? We're here to help. Click the button below to sign up for a free discovery session.



A split shipment refers to a situation where a single order placed on an eCommerce site or portal is divided into multiple shipments that are delivered separately. Separate shipments may be sent from different locations, warehouses, or vendors, and might increase shipping costs due to multiple packages.


There are several reasons for splitting shipments. It could be due to inventory availability, different product origins, separate shipping methods, or logistical considerations. Splitting shipments allows for faster delivery of available items and avoids delays caused by out-of-stock products.


Since split shipments are sent separately, it is possible for the shipments to arrive on different days or times. The arrival dates may vary based on the availability of products and the shipping methods used. Tracking information should provide estimated delivery dates for each shipment.

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Stephen Beer is a Content Writer at Clarity Ventures and has written about various tech industries for nearly a decade. He is determined to demystify HIPAA, integration, enterpise SEO, and eCommerce with easy-to-read, easy-to-understand articles to help businesses make the best decisions.