What should I charge for my shipping?
- Use flat rate shipping for items similar in size & weight to simplify shipping fees for your customers.
- Use shipping classes, which make use of different rates based on the product’s weight & dimensions.
- Use table rate shipping, which allows you to more specifically define shipping based on each order’s contents, destination, etc.
- Use live rates, which requires a little more work at the beginning but ensures that the rates your customers see are coming directly from the shipper.
- Use free shipping on specific order amounts, which incentivizes customers who really like what you sell to get just a bit more.
So, for real. What should I charge for my shipping?
This is a question that we hear a lot from our eCommerce clients & the simple answer is that we can’t make that call but we can discuss it with you to present options that most people would never have considered.
Use Flat Rate Shipping
Flat rate shipping is exactly what it sounds like, you charge a flat shipping fee for your products to simplify the process on yourself & your customers. Think, $5 shipping on all orders. The rate will, of course, vary based on the business & can only be determined by the business owner.
Most eCommerce website owners nowadays are going to have their products fall within the same or two to three distinct price ranges for shipping. As an example, let’s think about a site selling custom-designed t-shirts, clutches, & hoodies. The shirts can all go in one shipping price bracket, called a shipping class, the clutches in another & the hoodies in another. Normally you would set up your shipping class to charge the cost of shipping appropriately, after you’ve determined what that might be. Let’s say it’s $1.25 to ship a t-shirt in an envelope, the clutch is a bit more so we charge $15 to ship it in a box & the hoodie ships for $12 in a bag, it’s bulky after all. Setting up the shipping classes that govern shipping fees for each class of item makes it so that your website will charge automatically & you can set it so that if a customer orders one of each class, they either pay the most expensive (so everything can be boxed up together) or they pay individually & everything is sent individually.
Table Rate Shipping
Table rate shipping gets its name from a table of conditions – where the conditions intersect determines the shipping rate.
What if you’ve spent time studying your shipping & you know, down to the penny, how much it costs to ship your handmade bowls to each state using your shipping service? You’re in a competitive industry so there’s no way that you’re going to chance using the same price which may be an inflated shipping price for closer states & a realistic shipping price for more distant states. This is when you use table rate shipping, which allows you to use conditional logic for your customers’ shipping fees. You can identify that shipping should be charged based on the number of items, the price, the type of item, the location, and so on.
Use Live Rates
Like I mentioned earlier, setting up live rates tends to give a business’ customers a bit more peace of mind because they can see that the rates are coming from the shipper. This does, however, require a little more work on the business owner’s part at the beginning. You need to decide which shipper(s) you’re going to include, set up the required, usually paid, accounts that you’ll need to retrieve the live rates, tie it to your website, and define the dimensions & weight of the package for each item on your site. Shippers care most about the dimensions & weight of the overall package, so if you stuff 50 shirts into a box, you’ll need the box dimensions & overall weight, assuming you’re selling packages of 50 shirts. The biggest obstacle for most new website owners has been defining the weight & dimensions but several of the more popular shippers use standardized packages, so you can usually pick the ones you want to use in your shipping profile & that does simplify it a bit.
Use Free Shipping to Incentivize Customers
We all know & love or roll our eyes over the free shipping on orders over $X. The thing is, if it didn’t work, people wouldn’t do it as much as they do. Is it a self-fulfilling prophecy that only works because it’s the norm & is therefore expected to be seen on eCommerce sites? That’s an interesting question, why don’t we find out by hearing from the first eCommerce website owner who conducts the prolonged experiment to find out?
Free shipping rules allow the website owner to determine what their sweet spot is for their orders & incentivize their customers to hit that target by absorbing shipping fees. This can, also, be as simple or as complicated as a website owner wants & can involve table rates, shipping classes, shipping zones, etc.
At the end of the day, the business owner knows their expenses better than anyone & only they can determine what their shipping costs should be.