One of the most confusing parts of a shopping cart project is understanding how the shipping should be configured. I will cover a few of the most common variations.  I have listed these configurations in the “Shopping Cart Questionnaire” I provide my clients at the start of the project. This should be fully understood and explained prior to sending to your client. For the purpose of this article I will assume that the shopping cart is WooCommerce, but these same principals apply to any shopping cart.

Understanding the Shipping Types

The two major types of paid shipping configurations within a shopping cart are flat rate and live / or ground. The best option will depend on the needs of the client. This is where it will be important to fully understand your client’s GEO / demographic audience.  This will allow you to make a better recommendation.

Flat Rate Shipping

Flat rate is a configuration that defines a certain amount for the shipping cost. In WooCommerce these rates can be set per shipping class, rates per item, or even per order. The thing to understand about flat rate shipping is that they are user defined. This means that it will be important to understand the shipping costs and make sure you accurately add shipping costs to maintain profitability.

Flat Rate Shipping Considerations

Flat rate shipping can be a viable method for setting up your shopping cart. I find it easier than ground / live rate because you do not need to add additional plugins, shipping carrier authentications and product size dimensions. The biggest thing to watch out for with Flat rate shipping is to make sure you account for your client’s cost during the setup process. A product’s shipping cost can make the difference of a profitable sale.

Live / Ground Rate Shipping

Live or ground rate shipping is a setup that pulls a calculated rate from the shipping carriers database back into your shopping cart. The major carriers in the US are USPS (United States Postal Service), UPS (United Parcel Service) and FedEx. In the case of WooCommerce it is required to purchase a plugin per carrier, in order to make the connection within your shopping cart. It is possible to use multiple carriers to give your customers multiple options.

Live / Ground Rate Shipping Considerations

The biggest hurdle for live / ground rate shipping is getting the information needed to complete the setup. The most important will be shipping carrier(s) login and well as the product size dimensions. I have experienced cases where getting the product size dimensions ended up being a extremely difficult. A major advantage with this shipping setup model is there will no need to make adjustments to accommodate for a carrier’s increase in shipping costs

Picking the Best Shipping Carrier

The best shipping carrier will depend on a number of factors. Some of these include type of product, where product is being shipping from and what locations your customers are ordering from.  Due diligence on selecting a carrier is more important when picking a flat rate method as opposed to carrier based. This is because in a flat rate model the client / company is “eating” the cost. In the live / ground rate model, the cost is being passed on to the customer.

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