Shopping Carts and Shipping Charges

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Most fully fledged Shopping cart facilities handle the products very easily for the e-shop builder. Aspects of the purchase such as size, colour and number of items are easily put up and the customer goes through a very intuitive process.

The stumbling block to many of us shop builders is the shipping requirement. We have to remember that shipping costs depend on the shipping company being the familiar postal service or other options. This selection can depend on cost, speed of delivery and the fact that certain shipping companies will not handle certain goods.
It’s good practice to lay out your options as:

1 Time of delivery:
Within this selection of shippers deliberately cover very fast, reasonably fast and standard delivery.

2 cost of delivery
Then align the cost of shipping with each of these types of delivery mentioned above.
Discard the very costly. For example a product that costs $5 to but would not be considered with shipping of $100 dollars for non-essential items. That will reduce your list.
Do the shortlisted shippers deliver to areas where you think that there will be a demand.? A hard call as we do like to think of the world as our oyster but depending on the product there may be no point in shipping back to a country of manufacture as most probably they will have access to the product legitimate or otherwise. For example I can see Adidas, GAP and other clothing brands everywhere and most often on people who wouldn’t be buying in stores or online. There are apparent or maybe virtual Macs and Iphones with many students who wouldn’t have access to the amount of money that products of this quality cost in western countries.

3. Shipping Options
Give your customers choices for shipping. Not to overwhelm them but to cover the options of delivery. Explain your shipping options very clearly in a separate section.

4. Check the methods of determining shipping costs by shipper and by your software.
Many of the bigger shipping companies provide access to real time estimates of shipping costs. This is transparent to the customer and a breeze for the web shop owner. These so called API’s are linked into your shopping cart and if your client selects one of these shippers an electronic dialogue is set up with the shipper, the weight the point of shipping from and the destination are taken from the information supplied when the client is checking the checkout. The cost of shipping is fed back instantaneously and added as a separate charge on the invoice. The client then accepts the costs and authorises payment through the payment gateway, typically PayPal or Google Checkout.
If the clients preferred shipper doesn’t have this facility then they will produce a chart with costs vs Zip Codes if it’s a national buyer. The chart will also include costs per weight to many countries (possibly not all). In these manual charts they often group countries together into Zones. These usually follow airline routes. For example they may group UK, and western Europe into one Zone and call it Zone 1. Then you must refer to the cost column for Zone one knowing the weight of your item to be shipped. By referring to this element then you have your shipping cost for that item to your required destination. This style generally can’t be automated easily by many shopping carts. You have to input the Zone-Country chart and then the chart Weight s zone for each zone. The information you should have at this stage of planning is a list of weights of all products you are likely to sell, your inventory in effect. You will probably notice also that the shipper will divide the weights into divisions maybe 1 lb(500 gram) divisions and you may have a product weighing 1lb 6oz. this weight then classifies it as being in the second division. The chart that you have input into your shopping cart shipping function is able to determine which weight division this fits and to which shipping zone. The cart then calculates the shipping charge and presents it to your client at checkout for them to accept or reject. Here I would suggest that you copy the zone chart into your web-site for your clients to see. The idea of keeping them informed will create a sense of openness and allow them to see what kind of ball-park they are in before the possible surprise of an unexpected shipping charge.

5. Shipping Charges calculated at Checkout.
Why are shipping charges calculated at check out? This is a deliberate plan. It allows the buyer to collect all objects they wish to purchase and then a single fee is calculated. Generally a summed cost is significantly cheaper than the cost of shipping each product individually.
High volume and I mean really high volume sellers dispatching thousands of packages a day are able to do deals with shipping companies and get a fixed price shipping per item irrespective of the cost. This is sometimes passed onto middle sellers such as small home e-vendors and this calculation of a shipping is a breeze. You simply add a constant shipping fee per dispatch and that’s it. You will notice that some drop-shippers do this.

6. It’s not difficult to achieve
It all comes down to understanding the costs of shipping for the various modes of shipping. When you understand this, the process of laying it out logically and inputting it into a shopping cart package (software)begins to make sense and definitely makes the process easier. Expect refinements in your skill as you develop experience. You probably will be reducing your costs significantly as time goes on and it is important to minimise your shipping costs as your competitors will be doing that. If you don’t have competitive shipping you can expect two things. Severe criticism on media such as forums and message boards a legacy of the “ebay shipping price watch-dogs” etc and of course no sales. Shipping costs can make or break a small e-vendor.
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Posted 9 years ago

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