Last updated - May 10, 2018
While formulating the shipping strategy for your online store, you may come across a lot of scenarios related to shipping. Some of them might be opportunities for better returns while some might prove to be financial or operational challenges for your business. Understanding and evaluating these scenarios beforehand is a good approach to effective store management.
Let’s quickly analyze a few scenarios.
Offer free shipping to enhance sales
Offering free shipping might be the most apparent strategy to increase sales on your site. But it is not easy as it seems like when you’re running a small to medium business with an average turnout. You have to develop your strategy in such a way to make sure that it won’t burn a hole in your pocket. You have to make sure your earnings are good enough to pay the shipping carrier and still be profitable.
This is the reason why WooCommerce default is to set a minimum order amount or a minimum number of items to be purchased to offer free shipping. Another strategy is to keep free shipping option only for products that are easy to ship. Charge a flat rate for bulky or heavy products that pose a challenge to ship.
Free Shipping is available as a default shipping option in WooCommerce. It allows you to set a range of conditions to offer free shipping.
Use flat rate for a similar set of products
Like Free Shipping, Flat Rate Shipping is also pretty straightforward to set up. You can charge a flat rate for shipping based on the number of items purchased, or as a percentage of the total cost of the order. While setting up the percentage-based shipping fee, you can also set a minimum shipping cost. You can use specific placeholders to set the calculations for all of these options.
Handle international and regional shipping cost variations by creating shipping zones
WooCommerce allows to set up custom shipping zones based on geographical locations. You can add different shipping methods and rates for each of the shipping zones that you create. This will be according to your sale strategy for that location.
If a product does not feature in any of the shipping zones you created, it’ll fall into the ‘Rest of the World’ zone by default.
You can add the following default shipping methods offered by WooCommerce into each of the shipping zones you create:
- Flat Rate
- Free Shipping
- Local Pickup
The shipping methods you choose in a shipping zone will apply only to customer-addresses that are within that specific shipping zone. According to your requirements, you can create any number of zones and can set multiple shipping methods for each zone.
Define shipping classes when you have a varied set of products
Setting up shipping classes is a great way to tackle certain challenges when your store has a varied kind of products. If your range of products needs different approaches to shipping due to their nature, size or weight, you can make use of shipping classes feature in WooCommerce. For example, if you are shipping bulky, heavy or easily breakable products, it’s a good idea to categorize them under different shipping classes.
Let’s a look a few scenarios of shipping classes as examples:
- You want to charge an additional fee for bulky products, along with the flat rate.
- Charge less than the flat rate for small products.
- Offer insurance for products that have a chance to be damaged.
- You would like to separate hazardous products from your inventory
Offer pickup from location
The default Local Pickup shipping method for WooCommerce allows your customers to come to your store location and pick up their products. There are premium WooCommerce extensions that let you define one or more pickup locations. The selected pickup location is visible to the customer on the front-end. In addition, it will be sent to the customer through order emails as well.
Install extensions that will integrate leading carrier rates
If you prefer to offer the best possible shipping rate to your customer while still covering your shipping costs, you can integrate the carrier rates on your store. There are a lot of high-quality extensions available in the market that helps you get the shipping rates of major carriers by integrating the carrier APIs.
This is a definitive way to gain approval of customers as the shipping charges will be as transparent as possible. If you keep shipping options of multiple carriers, your customers will have the freedom to choose the best one. The choice will be based on the delivery location and shipping charges.
Many of these extensions offer additional features like paying postage online or printing shipping labels. In addition to being an effective support in controlling expenses, these features could prove to be considerably helpful in your operational aspects as well.
Create bundle rates or combo offers to encourage buying
If you notice a pattern in your store where customers are buying multiple numbers of the same product, you can offer a bundle shipping rate. This kind of special bundle shipping rates can be configured using Bundle Rate shipping plugins.
For example, you have set a flat rate for shipping per product but wants the cart to automatically charge the same flat rate per multiples of 5 of the product. If the customer orders 1 – 5 items, the shipping cost will be $1.00 but if the order is 6 – 10 products, the shipping cost will be $2.00 and so on… Thus in this example, it means you want to add an additional shipping fee for every 5 items ordered.
Combo offer is another great strategy to enhance sales. You can offer free shipping for one product when purchased together with another product (preferably related).