This series focuses on methods for calculating and charging shipping to shoppers using WooCommerce, a third party plugin that turns your WordPress site into a e-commerce store.

WooCommerce handles practically everything, from adding your product inventory, managing orders, payments, shipping and taxes. To name a few.
There are many factors to consider when calculating the cost of shipping the contents of a cart. We will discuss methods that come standard with WooCommerce, as well as a few extensions that are available.

Standard WooCommerce shipping

  • Flat rate
    Charges one rate for all shipments per order or item. You can use this by simply entering the default cost, but you can also use WooCommerce shipping classes to apply a different flat rate to certain products. It even allows you to enter additional shipping options that are offered to your shoppers. For example, a priority mail option that costs a little extra.
  • Local delivery
    Charges one rate for all local orders. The plugin allows you to set the cost per order, per item, or use a percentage of the cart total. If you ship internationally (using another calculation method), you can use this to calculate local shipping, but this plugin is more suited to local delivery services, like a pizzeria, the plugin lets you specify zip codes you deliver to.
  • Local pickup
    No charge, but the customer can arrange to pick up the order themselves. This can be done from the WooCommerce orders screen via email, or the vendor can call the shopper on the phone, since they were required to provide this information when they purchased.
  • International delivery
    Charges one default rate to all international customers per order or item, but you can also use WooCommerce shipping classes that allow you to set different rates on certain products when shipped internationally.

WooCommerce shipping extensions

  • Per product shipping
    Charges shipping on a per product basis. You set this from within the product edit screen. This is ideal for vendors that sell large, heavy products that require special shipping arrangements, like an office printer.
  • Table rate shipping
    Calculates shipping based on settings that you configure. This method is very flexible and accurate, but can take a lot of time to configure, especially when you ship internationally. It involves setting groups of countries and then a cost per group relative to conditions; weight, price, or number of items in a cart. For each condition, you also set ranges (ie. 100 grams to 200 grams), then a price for each range. We audited the time expense for setting up South African Postal Office rates up to 30kg, domestically and internationally. It would require nearly 2000 tables and about 40 hrs to configure.
  • Shipping gateways
    This is the easiest method. Shipping gateways available to South African vendors are the UPS Shipping Method (look at all those shipping options) and the SAPO Domestic Parcel Service. UPS is a great service, but you would need to get an account with them first, then configure the plugin with your UPS account details. It is also comparatively expensive. SAPO does not require you to get an account and is affordable. Although it is currently only available for domestic shipping, there is an international version scheduled for release soon. These plugins charge according to the weight and/or dimensions of an order based on rules controlled by the plugin extension, with just a few settings you have to configure.

It is important to recognise that all these methods can be used separately or together. We will discuss scenarios for when and how these methods should be used.
We hope that you enjoy this series.

Shipping in SA with WooCommerce | Series index

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