Calculating shipping costs on products from your e-commerce store can be involve a bit of guesswork — if you’re not automating the process.
There are reasons you might not want to do this, but if you do choose to calculate shipping based on the buyer address, there are tools for WooCommerce that will help you accomplish that functionality.
Why Not Calculate Shipping Automatically?
There’s two camps of thought on when to show shipping costs to the customer. Many e-commerce stores, like Amazon, calculate applicable shipping costs, and choose to show them to you at checkout.
Depending on what you’re shipping, your shipping costs may vary a little or a lot.
If you’re shipping smaller items, then you can probably predict a price range that your shipping costs will fall into for any given order. In cases like this, it may make sense to build the shipping cost into your items, and offer free shipping.
The reason you might do that has to do with price anchoring.
Price anchoring in this case is the number that a customer has in their head about how much their total order will cost. If that number changes drastically once shipping fees are added, it can cause them to abandon their cart.
When we get our expectations set around a specific price, it’s jarring to us when we see a large shipping cost attached when we go to check out.
If you’re shipping smaller items, this probably won’t happen as much, but it will definitely happen with bulkier or larger items.
But if your store sells larger items, adding shipping into the total item cost up front can carry a lot of risk for you, the shop owner. You’d have to calculate the highest possible shipping costs and build those into your product prices, or risk losing all your profit with unexpectedly high shipping fees when someone far from your distribution center places an order.
For e-commerce stores that sell items of any size or bulk, it makes more sense to use a shipping calculator on their checkout page. If you’re using WooCommerce on top of WordPress for your store, there are plenty of tools to help you calculate accurate shipping costs, based on your delivery service.
Shipping Method Calculators For WooCommerce
Let’s say that you’d feel better having more control over what shipping rates you charge customers, and you’d like to show customers the shipping rate at the Checkout screen.
Out of the box, WooCommerce has some robust features surrounding shipping. For example, you can create Product Shipping Classes, for items that are similar in type, size and weight.
If you need more flexible control over shipping rates, there are plenty of premium extensions that will help you manage shipping costs correctly. (Be sure to talk to your web agency or developer to discuss which ones are best for your particular needs).
Here are just a few shipping extensions that are designed for WooCommerce:
Table Rate Shipping
Table Rate Shipping lets you create complex shipping rules based on shipping zone, weight, number of items being shipped, and number of items by class or price.
Table Rate Shipping is mostly aimed at e-commerce stores that serve a international customer base, though if you’re a regional or national store, you can also benefit from using this extension.
But what if you simply need a shipping calculator that integrates with your shipping provider? Like USPS or UPS?
USPS Shipping Method
The USPS Shipping Method extension pulls down real-time shipping costs from USPS, and can automatically add the shipping cost to your customers’ carts.
USPS Shipping Method also allows you to pack items individually or group items into boxes (box packing), based on box dimensions and weight limits that you input, based on what you have on hand.
UPS Shipping Method
Like the USPS extension, the UPS Shipping Method calculates shipping rates for domestic and international parcels based on live rates.
This extension requires your server to have Simple XML installed, so talk to your hosting company and web consultancy before using this plugin.
This extension does not support calculations for parcels above 150 lbs.
FedEx Shipping Method
The FedEx Shipping Method also calculates shipping rates for domestic and international parcels, but requires that your e-commerce store use US or Canadian dollars.
This extension also requires that your server has SOAP installed, so talk with your hosting provider and web development agency before using this extension.
These are just a few of the many solutions that exist for calculating shipping accurately with your WooCommerce store. As always, consult with your trusted WordPress developer or agency when choosing which solution is best for you.