Setting up your WooCommerce shipping can be a real headache because there are so many factors to consider. The destinations you are willing to service, the variety of your products and the logistics of packaging and shipping them. If you want to offer a couple of shipping options, it gets even more complicated. Read this, it will help you establish what shipping method in WooCommerce you need to use. Once you know the shipping method to use for your shipping requirement its much easier to start collecting the information that you need to configure it.
Ask these questions at the beginning of your eCommerce project. Its the kind of thing that pushes back launch dates if left too late.

Preliminary Questions

Flat Rate Shipping and Table Rate Shipping are the most flexible shipping methods in WooCommerce. But configuring them can get complicated, depending on what your shipping requires. It might be better to see if a simpler solution won’t do first.

Which postal/courier service(s) do you intend to use?

You might be able to use a payment gateway if an extension is available for your shipping company. In South Africa, SAPO and Speed Courier Services have extensions for WooCommerce, which means you need only configure a few options. Your shipping requirement can be up and running within minutes. Here are links to the Shipping Gateways that have extensions for WooCommerce, see if the company you plan to use is supported, but carefully consider the limitations that come with the extension. Not all the shipping company products and services are necessarily available.

  • Bring Shipping (Norway)
  • Purolator (Canada)
  • SAPO Domestic (South Africa)
  • SAPO International (South Africa)
  • Correios (Brazil)
  • UPS (Worldwide)
  • US Postal Service
  • Australia Post
  • Canada Post
  • FedEx (Currently support US origins only)

If your shipping company doesn’t have an extension, find out how your shipping company ordinarily calculates shipping, or negotiate a custom solution for your store before you go any further.

Are products packaged and shipped together or separately?

If products are packaged and shipped separately, the Per Product Shipping method does exactly what the name suggests. It allows you to set a shipping cost for each of your products on an individual basis. Not the most flexible, but it allows shipping worldwide or to a group of selected countries. Its not possible to charge dynamic shipping costs on a per product basis that depend on the customer location, but it’s perfect for shipping a product at the same rate within a specified region.

Establish the method you need to configure.

Ask yourself these questions twice. Once for domestic and again for international shipping.

Is the shipping cost charged per order, per item, or per weight?

Charging per weight will always require you configure Table Rates. It allows for defining costs within various weight ranges. You can easily configure Flat Rates if you only charge per order or item. but continue this questionnaire and consider other criteria that will require you to configure rates per order or per item in Table Rates instead.
A note about charging per item:
Some vendors adjust the per item rate depending on the amount of items in the order. They usually do this to offer greater value on higher volume customer orders. To do this, you need to configure Table Rates in way similar to weight based shipping calculations. The method allows you to configure conditional calculations as follows: If the order contains between 10 and 20 items, then charge $1.50 per item rather than $2.00 per item.

Does the kind of product effect the rate of shipping?

Whether you charge per order, per item or according to the weight, if the rate of shipping varies depending on the product, then the use of Shipping Classes are in order. Shipping classes can be used for both the Flat and Table Rate methods.

Does the shipping destination effect the rate of shipping?

Within your domestic/international shipping, if the cost depends on the destination, then Table Rates need to be configured. You can set separate rates for all the US and EU states, but if you need to set rates for states, provinces or even counties in other regions, then you will need to find out how your shipping company divides that region into zones. For each zone a list of zip-codes is required for which Table Rates can be configured.
On the other hand, some vendors charge one flat rate per order/item for all domestic locations and another rate for all international locations. They would use the Flat Rate method for domestic and the International Delivery method for international shipping. Both come standard with WooCommerce and work in the same way. This is a good way to keep things simple, but most likely compromises on value to the customer. Here’s one example, If a vendor from the UK charges the same rate for all their international shipping destinations, then shipping to Germany would cost the same as shipping to the United States. This means you need to average out your international shipping costs. US clients will get better value than German clients in this instance. If accurate shipping calculations are a must, then Table Rates have to be configured.

Does both the product kind and the destination effect the rate of shipping?

Within your domestic/international shipping, if this is the case, then you will need to configure Table Rates all the way and Shipping Classes that the Table Rates can use.

Do you offer more than one shipping option?

It is possible to make different shipping options available to your customer. They can choose to use standard shipping, express or priority and be charged accordingly. This can be configured in both Flat and Table Rates whether they use Shipping Classes or not. Start by setting up your standard shipping first. Worry about additional shipping options later, they can be integrated easily afterward. We will demonstrate this in a tutorial in the very near future.

Collect the information you need to configure.

This is considerably easier to do once you know which shipping method suits your requirement best. From here you can look at the options the method makes available and ask questions directed at configuring it properly. We hope you find this questionnaire helpful. Please ask any question regarding this in the comments. We will do an exhaustive tutorial about Table Rates soon.

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