The best Ecommerce shipping options

The best shipping options for ecommerce[ 5 min read ]

When we build ecommerce websites for our clients, one of our first questions is about shipping – why? Because it can be one of the hardest decisions to make!

Not only do you have to think about who you are going to use to send your precious goods to your customers – couriers, postal services, hand delivered (if local)…you need someone reliable and reasonably priced – but you also need to think about how you work out that cost on the website.

So here is a guide to help you work out the best option for you.

1. Free shipping

Now, bear with me on this one…it’s not actually free, you roll the cost into the price item. Free shipping has always been a popular promo tool but now, more and more it’s actually becoming an expectation of customers. So much so that additional shipping costs can actually be the cause of customers abandoning their basket at checkout.

Simply adding the shipping charge to the cost of the item can actually increase sales due to the ‘decoy effect’ which essentially means the customer thinks they’re getting a better deal, even if there is no difference in the final cost because we tend to overvalue the term ‘free’.

49% during a recent e-commerce ‘abandoned cart’ study said they didn’t complete their purchase due to high extra costs like shipping.

And, not only is it better for your sales, it will also save you time as you won’t need to set up any shipping options – which can be a headache with complex methods!

2. Weight based shipping

If you do decide to have separate shipping charges, then the next option to consider might be weight based.
You will need to weigh all your items and enter those on each product listing on the website.

Next, you’ll need to establish your weight bands, for example:

<1kg = £2.00

2kg-5kg = £3.50

5Kg+ = £5.00

Most couriers use this method and so they will often be able to provide you with all the information you need to enter onto your system.

Shopify has weight-based shipping built in but for Woocommerce, you’ll need an additional ‘weight based shipping’ or ‘table rate’ plugin to create them (although the function to add the weight to the product is already provided).

3. Item based shipping

Another choice is item based shipping because a small item is one cost and a bigger item is another so it’s easier for you to work that out.
This way may seem relatively easy until someone like me asks ‘but what about more than one of this item or a mixed order where they might buy a combination of different items’…then it starts to get complicated and when most people turn to weight based shipping, instead.

4. Flat rate shipping

If you can’t be bothered with determining different prices for shipping then you may want to offer one flat fee for it. So no matter what the customer purchases, or how much, it’s just one flat fee.

A lot of companies do this knowing they’ll make money on some purchases but lose on others – but it might not be right for you, especially if your products differ wildly in size or weight.

5. Location based shipping

This one is especially important for hand-delivery, for example a florist may only deliver to certain postcodes and have a different cost per area. And some national couriers use different prices for both weight and location.

Handily, we have a guide for setting up postcode dependant shipping on Woocommerce here, if it’s something you’re looking to do, which makes setting it up a little easier.

6. Local collection

Of course, one of the easiest options to set up is local collection, if it’s applicable to your business, as most people offer it for free.
Although, it is possible to charge for the service, and offer collection ‘slots’. Shopify now offers this option as standard but you’ll need an additional plugin for Woocommerce for anything other than ‘free’ and standard local pickup.

7. A combination of the above.

Yes, it is possible to do a combination of all of the above, although you may need a couple of additional plugins on WordPress, and lots of time to get it set up so it works for you; the more complex it is, the longer it will take.

It can take up to 10 hours setting up shipping and testing all the possible combinations – it can be an absolute nightmare, which is why we strongly recommend the first option so do give it some thought before you make your final decision.

And, of course, if you do need some help getting it on your website,  just get in touch.




Suzi Smart Bear

I'm Suzi - the owner of The Smart Bear.

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