Today we discuss all the methods that arrive standard with WooCommerce. We will guide you through the most simple way to use flat rates, but also more technical methods possible with adding shipping classes and options.
We have also included a section with a few considerations that will help you avoid possible issues. By the end of this, you will see, understand, and be able to use these features immediately available when you download WooCommerce.
This tutorial uses the latest version of WooCommerce version 1.5.6. The theme is Shelflife version 1.0.22, a beautiful responsive theme by Woo Themes. These all installed and activated in WordPress, version 3.3.2.

Simple Flat Rate Shipping

This shipping method comes standard with WooCommerce and using it can be as simple as setting one flat rate per order or item. This is ideal if you run a simple online shop where your products weigh pretty much the same and all the destinations you ship to incur the same costs. All you have to do is:

  • Enable the shipping method
  • Enter a method title to display
  • Enter a default cost
  • Allow all countries or specific ones to ship to
  • Select whether to apply the rate per order or item
  • Select whether shipping is taxable or not
  • Enter a handling fee (packaging)

Flat Rates with Shipping Classes

For more flexibility, you can use WooCommerce shipping classes. If your products have some variation in size, dimension or weight, using a shipping class is a good idea. You can create shipping classes from the Products custom post type in the WordPress dashboard.

You can then edit the cost and handling fee for shipping classes, when you configure the flat rate method. If a product has a shipping class, it will then use the shipping class rate and add it to the default flat rate.

Flat Rate with Shipping Options

What if you want to offer additional options for shipping? Also not a problem. Lets says you wanted to include a priority mail option, you could enter a title for the option to display, the price, and the word yes or no, separated by the pipe symbol. If I declared yes for the option, the price of the option will be added to the default flat rate. If no, the option will use the default flat rate.

To explain what’s happening in the image immediately above:

  • Standard Shipping is being calculated from the default flat rate of 60, but the product in the cart has a shipping class with a rate of 70, so shipping becomes a 130
  • Priority Mail is calculated the same way, but with an option set at 100, so shipping becomes 230

Carefully Consider the following

If shipping is charged per item, the products in a cart may still ship as one parcel. This is problematic when the weight of products vary. If you don’t use shipping classes for adding different shipping rates, you might decide to base shipping on the average weight of your products, but two inaccuracies can occur:

  • If the cart has many products with an average weight less than the rate configured per item, the customer pays more than the actual cost of shipping. The customer loses.
  • If the cart has many products with an average weight more than the rate configured per item, the customer pays less than the actual cost of shipping. The vendor loses.

If shipping is charged per order, without shipping classes, all orders incur exactly the same costs. You could base this on the average weight of orders over a period of time, but the following inaccuracies can occur:

  • The buyer could load their cart beyond a point where the actual cost of shipping is more than the configured cost. The vendor loses.
  • The buyer could load their cart below a point where the actual cost of shipping is less than the configured cost. The customer loses.

Other Shipping methods standard with WooCommerce

  • International Delivery: Works the same as ordinary flat rate shipping but will ignore any configured flat rates if the buyer uses an off shore shipping address. This means WooCommerce can calculate shipping domestically and internationally out of the box.
  • Local Delivery: Use this method if you operate locally and have a delivery service, like a pizzeria. It is a very simple method that allows you the enter a delivery fee and the zip codes for areas you will deliver to.
  • Local Pickup: This charges no shipping, but the user can arrange to pick up the product themselves. You can communicate and coordinate this straight from the order management screen for WooCommerce.

Well that sums up all the standard features possible for calculating shipping in WooCommerce. If you carefully consider the properties of your inventory for shipping domestically, internationally or both, there is plenty flexibility on offer as soon as you install WooCommerce. Remember that the shipping classes and options offer great flexibility. We highly recommend that you use them. Next time we delve into ways of extending the great shipping methods already on offer.

Shipping in SA with WooCommerce | Series index

You can read the rest of this series by clicking the links below.