Setting up shipping charges for your buyers can seem daunting at first. It will take a little while to get your head around it; however, it is well worth the effort.
Once your shipping charges are set up correctly, it will save you lots of time in the long run as well as improve the overall buying experience for your buyers. If set up correctly, your shipping charges will enable most of your buyers to complete the order process without any manual back and forth correspondence, saving you time and allowing the buyer to complete payment before any form of buyer’s remorse can kick in. Also, it will significantly reduce any potential errors resulting in further delays as based on the shipping method selected by the buyer and your custom configuration, the system automatically calculates the applicable shipping charges.
Video tutorial on setting up shipping charges:
Sellers set up multiple customised “Shipping Methods”. For example shipping methods could be one or more of the following: South African Post (Registered Mail), Speed Services Counter to Counter, Courier (Includes Insurance), Pick up in person (Johannesburg only). In addition Sellers can set up multiple customised “Product Classes” . For example shipping product classes could be any combination of small, medium, large or under 1kg, between 1kg and 5kgs, greater than 5kgs or stamps, cds, lps etc.
Once one or more shipping methods and one or more shipping product classes have been created a matrix is formed and a Seller can specify shipping rates for the first item and then for each additional item for each shipping method and product class combination. Leaving a shipping rate field empty means there is no specific rate set for that particular shipping method / product class combination and setting a rate field to zero means free shipping.
Once shipping rates have been set up, when a Buyer places an order with the Seller, the Buyer is given an option to select a shipping method from all the shipping methods offered by that Seller (if no or only one shipping method is offered by the Seller then no choice is offered to the Buyer). The system will then attempt to calculate the total shipping charge based on the product classes (assigned to items by Sellers at time of item creation) in the order and the rates set by the Seller. While the system will make an attempt to calculate the shipping rate as best as possible based on the information provided by the Seller, the Buyer is still given an option to edit the total shipping charge (the system will alert the Seller if the amount entered by the Buyer is different to the amount calculated by the system).
For example if there was an order with two items in it consisting of a “small” item (with a base shipping rate of R20 for the first item and a per additional item rate of R5) and a “medium” item (with a base shipping rate of R30 for the first item and a per additional item rate of R10) then the system would calculate the total cost of shipping as R30 (the highest base rate amount) plus R5 (per additional item rate for the other item) i.e. a total shipping charge of R35.
When creating / editing shipping methods a Seller can also optionally set insurance based on a percentage of the total order value. If a fixed rate for insurance is desired then the Seller would need to include this in the base shipping rate and indicate that insurance is included in the shipping method name and/or the product class descriptions. The Seller can also optionally set a minimum amount for free shipping e.g. if the total order value is over R1,000 then shipping is free (even if you have to set this relatively high it has been proven to be a great marketing tool to increase your average basket size).
When creating / editing shipping product classes, a particular product class can be set as the default such that if no product class is associated with an item during item creation then that product class will be used by default. Sellers can include a text description on each product class (make sure that what you say in this text description does not conflict with the rest of your settings).
One scenario the new shipping system does not cater for is the case where a Seller may want to charge different shipping rates depending on the region they are shipping to. Although not ideal, it is possible to create multiple shipping methods for different regions e.g. Courier (Joburg/Pretoria, Cape Town, Durban, Bloem), Courier (All other areas in South Africa), Courier (Outside of South Africa). Alternatively a more detailed description of what constitutes a “major location” could be included in the text description of your product classes. This would however still rely on the Buyer to select the correct “shipping method” during the order process.
Where possible it is strongly recommended to simplify shipping information and rates as much as possible (if necessary increasing them slightly in one case and reducing them in another). For example if you normally charged R30 to courier to major locations and R45 for remote locations, consider charging a flat rate of R35 or R40 for anywhere in South Africa depending on where you ship to most based on your historical information. The easier it is for Buyers to understand the better and ultimately the less admin there will be involved for you.
Some additional shipping functionality for more advanced use allows Sellers to prevent certain shipping methods from being available for certain product classes. By default all shipping methods are enabled for all shipping product classes however certain shipping methods can be disabled for specific product classes. A Seller may want do this where for example they have an international shipping method and a product class for really big bulky items (which cannot be shipped internationally), the international shipping method can then be disabled for items of that particular product class such that if a Buyer has any items classified as big bulky items in their order they will not be offered the international shipping method.
If you have Buy Now items listed you can also now test exactly what your Buyers will see whilst you are still logged in as yourself (the system now allows you to proceed through the order process for your own items except for the final confirmation step). As far as possible we recommended that you review your shipping settings as if you were a Buyer and make sure it is as clear and simple as possible.