When setting up your WooCommerce shop, or indeed any eCommerce venture, it’s easy to overlook the importance of getting to grips with shipping. In reality, shipping costs are the final hurdle between your products and a would-be customer, so setting accurate and fair costs is crucial to obtaining strong conversion rates!

With the rise of online shopping comes great opportunity for you as a business owner, but it is also important to be mindful of the increased savvy amongst the customer base you aspire to. Be sure to include quality research into shipping costs as part of your game plan for setting up your online shop, and once you’ve gathered the data, you can follow our simple guide below to dialling in Shipping Setup on WooCommerce to give the greatest accuracy of shipping, benefiting you and your customers.

By default, WooCommerce (the version used here is 3.6.2) comes with three basic shipping options: Flat Rate, Free Shipping and Local Pickup. You can create different Zones by country or continent – say for example you could setup UK with a flat rate of £3.99 and Europe as £5.99. You would need to specify each country in Europe or the specific countries that you want to ship to if you don’t intend to sell to them all.


Flat Rate Shipping
Here is an example of UK setup with a flat rate of £3.99.

Here is an example of Europe setup with a flat rate of £5.99 which ships to France, Germany, Norway and Spain.


The Challenge
The issue with the basic shipping settings within WooCommerce is that it costs more to send to different areas of the UK such as the Highlands, the Scottish Islands, the Isle Of Wight and so on, which by default you can’t separate or differentiate between. With this limitation, we would have to choose between increasing our shipping rates for all customers to reflect these more costly locations, or taking a hit on our profits when somebody orders our products from there.


The Solution
Happily, WooCommerce Locations Pack is a fantastic plugin that can be installed for free and navigates us quickly around this issue. With this plugin you are able to split up the UK by county and apply different flat rate postage costs for each. Below is an example where mainland UK counties have been selected so if the user tried to shop to any county not listed it will not show a shipping method.

Here is an example of the UK Mainland with some counties added:

Using the above free plugin you can create different zones for different areas or countries for example:

You can see above that Flat Rate is being used along with Free Shipping and Standard Next Working Day (which is actually just another Flat Rate that has been renamed). You can also see that certain post codes have been specified for certain areas.

Read more about Flat Rate here.


Free Shipping
You can apply Free Shipping based on four qualifying criteria:

  • A valid free shipping coupon
  • A minimum order amount
  • A minimum order amount or a coupon
  • A minimum order amount and a coupon

You can apply these to any zone that you want to with different options set.

Read more about Free Shipping here.


Shipping Classes
Let’s assume that you sell shampoo and the fixed postage cost is £2.99 to the mainland UK, but you have an extra large bottle that you need to charge slightly more postage on – let’s say £4.99. If you create a shipping class you can then assign this to that product and, on the Flat Rate shipping method, you can apply the different costs.

Read more about Shipping Classes here.


Advanced Shipping Setup
If you have a complex setup for shipping and you want to assign shipping costs based on the weight or size of the product you need to use paid for plugins and you should renew them with updates to keep everything running smoothly.

See below for some of the best plugins to use if you want to apply shipping costs by weight or size, you are using Royal Mail for shipping, or you need to base the shipping costs on how far away your products need to be delivered from your business location.


Table Rate Shipping
This plugin allows you to define multiple shipping rates based on location, price, weight, or item count. Wildcards may be used to match multiple regions too, offering great flexibility.

  • Add multiple tables of rates per shipping zone
  • Several types of table rate calculation: Per order, Calculated per item, Calculated per line, Calculated per class
  • Add rules based on Weight, Number of items, Number of items by class and Price
  • Add costs per row, per item cost, a percentage and per weight unit

Read more about Table Rate Shipping here.

Royal Mail Shipping
The WooCommerce Royal Mail shipping plugin allows you offer Royal Mail shipping rates to customers without the need for an API. To use this plugin, your store must use GBP currency and have the United Kingdom as the base country. Your products need to be set up with accurate weights and shipping dimensions.

Read more about Royal Mail Shipping here.

Distance Rate Shipping
The WooCommerce Distance Rate Shipping extension allows you to easily offer shipping rates based on the distance or total travel time to your customer. Rules can be set up to charge based on the distance, total travel time as well as charging extra based on the total cart value, total weight of the products in the cart, and the number of items in the cart. This is a brilliant resource for businesses selling larger items, coordinating their own delivery team or using courier services that operate similar pricing structures.

Read more about Distance Rate Shipping here.

Conclusion
Thoroughly planning your shipping costs in advance is undeniably an essential and potentially complex aspect of establishing your eCommerce business, however it’s something to view as a great investment of your time and energy. By following these simple steps you can offer on-point shipping costs to your customers, no matter how far and wide they are spread, which is great news for everybody!

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