Who would have thought my three years working at a busy UPS store would be the best job experience for my current position as a website producer. The knowledge I gained working there has been invaluable - shipping is always one of the biggest hurdles we face getting clients set up in their Shopify stores.
Shipping can be confusing, complicated, and hard – and so our human nature causes us to push it aside for the more easier work of picking the right photos of our products, or tinkering with the homepage layout.
Don’t wait for your first order to think about shipping. Have a plan from the moment you start adding your products to Shopify – it’s an integral part of your online business strategy. After all, what is more important than getting your products to your customers?
Shipping isn’t free, but Amazon has done a pretty good job of training online shoppers that it is. Customers finding out shipping totals is the number one reason people abandoned the cart. Consider adjusting your business model to provide your customers with free shipping, or at least free after a certain dollar amount.
A lot of smaller businesses can’t possibly cover the cost of free shipping for their customers. The next best thing you can do to remove friction for your users is to have a flat fee – say $10 per order. Shopify makes this really easy – simply add price based rates for each of your shipping zones. You can even have the shipping scale based on the value of the order – for example, a $50 order would be charged $15 for shipping.
Carrier Calculated Shipping
Charge your customers the exact amount of the shipping, and give them the option to choose from various levels of service that your postal service or carrier of choice offers. Sometimes your customers need something overnight and are willing to pay for it. Who are we to judge?
You can choose to pass on the exact cost to your customer or to add a percentage or flat fee margin for yourself to cover the materials and handling.
This method of shipping requires the most amount of configuration from you the store owner to make sure you have all the weights for your products and all of your box sizes entered – but that’s also work you’ll have to do if you are printing shipping labels with Shopify during fulfillment.
Weights and Measures
All postal services and carriers will charge you based on the weight of the item your shipping – either the dimensional (or volumetric weight) or the actual weight, whichever is greater. Every carrier calculates dimensional weight a little differently, for example UPS uses this formula: (L x W x H) / 139 = dimensional weight in pounds.
Yeah I know, math.
Take for example a 4-gallon plastic bucket – it’s light as a feather but large – you’ll be getting charged for the dimensional weight to ship this, guaranteed.
In Shopify, every product (and product variant) has one weight field. In some cases, it is beneficial to enter the dimensional weight or the actual weight, whichever is greater.
If you are using a shipping app to manage fulfillment, you can rely on the total order weight from Shopify if you use actual product weight, then use packaging dimensions to calculate your accurate shipping cost. Since your pick/pack/ship process will depend on the size and shape of items in each order, there is no feasible real-time way to calculate this for customers during checkout. This is another good reason to consider flat-rate or some form of free shipping if it makes financial sense for your business.
All of these factors mean it is important to be thinking about shipping right from the product entry phase of your store setup.