Home Forums Logistics How to charge for shipping when shipping fees depend on multiple variables

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    I want to sell online, but I have so many questions about shipping.

    I want to sell small items, like jewellery, miniatures, figurines. Shipping fees depends on both real weight and volumetric weight. I also need to account for the weight of the box. So how do you charge for shipping when it depends on real and volumetric weight and you need to consider the packaging weight, all of which depends on what and how many the customer buys, something you won’t know till after payment is collected and the order is finalised?

    As an example, the customer can choose to buy either one 5 gram pendant or miniature, or 20 of the same item, or a total of 20 from the shop where things weigh differently. Further, the box size required to fit 1 item is different to a box needed to fit 20 items and the weight of the packaging would be different. Packaging for a fragile item will cost more because of bulky volumetric weights. So I can’t charge by weight purely based on product weight. If a product is 5g and the courier charges say $10 for up to 100g and $20 for 101-200g, it costs more than $10 to ship 20*5g pieces even though the product weight would be 100g, because there’s the weight of the box to consider. If a box/packaging weighs less than 95g and the customer chooses exactly 1*5g item then the total shipping weight is 100g. Maybe they decide to choose one 10g item, maybe a mix of 5, 7, 10, 12g items. But you have no idea what the customer will choose until they finish the purchase but you have to charge them beforehand.

    So how can I charge for shipping without having to do everything manually?

    Also how do people charge free shipping for over a certain amount, when the same issues I mentioned, applies? A $100 purchase would most likely weigh more and take up more space and therefore cost more to ship than a $10 purchase, so how can anyone give free shipping for purchases over a certain amount?

    • Total posts: 4

    Gosh Stephanieq,
    Shipping is something that I have found very difficult to navigate over the last few year and still do. I sell large bulky items (e.g. cushions). In my online store I have three separate shipping options: one for Australia Post parcel post, one for Australia Post 5kg satchels and another for Courier 5kg satchels. As you say, shipping is based on a combination of weight and volume. My shipping settings allow the customer to choose the cheapest option and that can vary, depending on where they are located as well as the weight of their purchase. Shipping settings are based on weight, although the most I can fit in a 5kg satchel is about 2.5kg because of the bulk. I can set an arbitrary cost for the satchels, for which I add in a small “handling” fee to take into account the packaging I use. So shipping costs for these sorts of items are calculated based on this arbitrary amount and by multiples of 2.5kg, automatically calculated at checkout. Unfortunately the Australia Post real time calculations do not include any handling fee – they are the literal cost of postage. I could add in a handling fee as well, but I can’t work out how to do that without applying it to all three shipping categories.
    In terms of “free shipping” for large purchases, like you, I don’t know how people do it. Because my stock is large and bulky, if I gave free shipping, I would end up being $$ out of pocket! I have even considered increasing the prices of my stock, just to cover shipping and handling, and to allow more flexibility to offer “free shipping”, but that doesn’t seem fair to me.
    Really, it will depend on what ecommerce platform you are using and how it can be set up. I’m not sure what I do is the best way, but it works mostly quite well. Like you, I would be happy to take on board any advice or suggestions!
    Kind Regards,

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