With so many customization options, it’s easy to set it up to suit your business needs. Often, something that can be difficult for small businesses is shipping. It can be difficult to organize and execute all on your own. Luckily, there’s WooCommerce. WooCommerce is a fantastic WordPress ecommerce solution. Given there are so many options available, let’s take a look at what’s possible when setting up shipping for your ecommerce store.
Before you set up your shipping
Before we jump into WooCommerce, you need to consider your shipping requirements. You will need to think about things like:
- Who will you use to ship your products? Your local government-owned shipping corporation (such as Australia Post in Australia) or a courier? Or will you use a combination of these?
- What requirements do they have around packaging or size that you need to consider?
- How will they charge you – based on weight and/or size? What will that cost you, given your product range?
- Will you absorb the shipping costs for your customers?
- What do your competitors charge for shipping? What’s “common” in your niche?
- Will you charge based on weight or product size – or simply make it a flat rate? Will you have a combination of these?
- Will there be some products that are free shipping and others not? Maybe a class of products that costs more or less to ship?
- Will any types of products that are grouped together change the shipping cost?
- Will there be a spend that qualifies for free shipping?
- Will you have a local pickup option?
Now you have a plan for how your shipping will work, we can look at how to make it happen.
How does WooCommerce Shipping work?
In summary, when setting up your store, shipping for WooCommerce works like this:
- Set up zones (i.e. locations, such as Australia
- Assign methods to those zones (such as Flat Rate)
- Apply costs to the methods
Sounds easy, right? In a lot of cases it is, so let’s work through what’s possible with WooCommerce on its own and where need to add some more functionality.
What are your options with WooCommerce?
Out of the box, WooCommerce has some easy to set up shipping options. If you want options such as Free Shipping, Flat Rate, Free Local Pickup, or a combination of these, you can do this within WooCommerce itself.
Within the Flat Rate Method, you also have the option to calculate the cost per product class. For example, you may sell cards and candles, with the candles having a higher flat rate than the cards. For stores with a smaller range, this can work well.
By working with the zones and applying your shipping methods, you have many options available. These will only work however if you have set rates for shipping, not prices that fluctuate with the weight or size changes. In that circumstance, you need a more advanced method.
Advanced Shipping Options
If you decide your shipping costs are too high to make the shipping free, or a flat rate won’t work for you, then you may need to look into a paid plugin. I use and recommend Table Rate Shipping, a plugin by WooCommerce. It allows you to build rules to calculate your shipping, using items such as location, weight, item count and per class. The levels of customization are very powerful, so you can build quite complex shipping rules if needed.
If you want to use a local operator, such as Australia Post, there are options for having the plugin calculate shipping costs per order. A great example of this is the Australia Post WooCommerce Pro plugin. This will allow you to calculate shipping based on weight and size and using regular and express postage options.
Before we finish up, here are a few other things you may like to consider. If you decide to use many couriers, then you may need to look at a solution such as Shipstation. This allows you to access all your shipping providers in one platform, saving you time in administration.
If you use couriers such as DHL or Sendle, you can integrate your website with their platforms. This will improve the ease of scheduling pickups. It doesn’t help with calculating the shipping costs, but again, it will save you admin time.
If you wish to print invoices or packing slips, you may like to look at the plugin by the same name, WooCommerce Print Invoices & Packing Slips.
As you can see there are plenty of options for shipping with WooCommerce. The “best” shipping method to use will depend on your individual business. Before coming up with a solution, take the time to consider all your shipping options and costs.
Whatever you choose, make sure the costs are visible to your customers, especially if you have a specific value to spend to receive “free shipping”. No one likes to hunt for the shipping cost, or receive a surprise at checkout!
This post first appeared in WP Engine Torque Magazine in April 2019.
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Hey, I’m Kristy
Kristy Morton is a mother, multiple business owner and numbers gal. She runs a web development consultancy, specialising in WordPress websites. Kristy combines her excellent technical knowledge with her ability to translate this into ways that are understandable to the average person, so her clients feel informed and in control of how their websites are developed and managed. She is also the Co-Founder of B Directory where the team is supercharging small business growth.
Despite seeming like an overachiever, Kristy admits to always be chasing the sun, a simple life and one more homemade chocolate.