The Importance of an Accurate Shipping Rate Calculator
- Many studies show that an average of 44% of shopping cart abandonment is related to shipping.
- According to Statistia the number one reason for shopping cart abandonment is unexpected costs followed closely by unsuitable delivery options.
- If the dimensional weight exceeds the actual weight additional charges may be assed, Package size and dimensional weight calculations are the key to accurate shipping rates.
Why Our Shipping Rate Calculator is Unique
Accurate RatesFrom our beginnings AuctionInc has been in the business of developing products for accurate shipping rates. For each of the carriers we maintain we have continuously developed our products to support collecting all the necessary item and seller details so that we can determine accurate rates. Sometimes it even means saving particular carrier data locally to fill in the "gaps" in rate provision from the carriers. Our capabilities for accuracy cover a broad range of shipping situations. In short, we have learned how to do things right to generate accurate shipping rates, and this is always our primary focus.
Converting Items to PackagesCollecting accurate item and seller data is just the start. You are selling items; but the carrier calculations that provide the base rates require package data, not item data. Converting your items to the package data the carriers need is where AuctionInc really distinguishes itself. Getting this right is the most critical component of accurate shipping rates! It is also the hardest. Understanding the factors of how shippers "ship" in the real world when it is time to package their order is critical. We developed coding intelligence that can model this behavior and gives us the ability to serve up accurate rates to your customer that can apply this packaging intelligence rapidly and reliably.
Intelligent Packaging for Multiple Items
Where this translation between items and packages really becomes critical is when your order includes more than one item, or more than a single quantity of your item. In order to do this correctly, items must be "packaged" appropriately- and possibly differently- for each shipping service before they are rated. Our rate engine knows how to best model your real life decisions to construct the correct number of packages for the order regardless of the number of items you are shipping. This entails both collecting sufficient information on your items and boxes, understanding the characteristics of each shipping service, and developing algorithms that can predict your package "splits". The result: providing you and your customers with rates that reflect the enormous discounting advantages of minimizing boxes or keeping your box size from getting too big and possibly "dimensionally" rated-- a rate savings that your customers will truly appreciate.
All of our products provide a mechanism for you to inspect all the specific rate components that make up the final rate, including base rate, surcharges, handling, insurance, etc. Additionally, you can inspect the workings of our packaging engine: how many packages, the weight and dimensions of each, which items have been packed into which box, the rates for each box, etc. This powerful tool eliminates the "black box" nature (sorry, we couldnt resist!) of the vast majority-- perhaps all-- of other shipping calculators, exposes the critical factors that are driving your rates, and makes it very easy to tweak your configuration and understand the effects.
Packaging Materials Weight
Your final shipping weight for each package is based on both the weight of your items and the weight of your box and your packaging materials. Other calculators either dont take your box and pack materials into account, or force you to pad your item weights-- an entirely inaccurate approach. Our calculator allows you to factor in this weight separately from your item weights, automatically accounting for the additional weight based on the total item weight in each box. Our configuration setting for this is highly flexible so that final package weight accuracy is ensured.
Your ship rates are determined as much by the size of your packaging as well as weight. This wasnt always true, but in recent years all our carriers have come to the understanding that the volume of packages is actually more of a factor in their own expenses than the physical package weight, determining how many packages can fit onto their trucks and planes. A light, large package may well cost substantially more to mail than a much heavier, smaller package. Carriers compare the "dimensional weight" of a package to its physical weight and use whichever figure is higher. Shipping calculators that dont take your item dimensions into account are likely to sometimes provide rates far less than your actual cost. Our calculator will automatically determine your dimensional weight; all you need to do is provide us with the dimensions of your items.
USPS and FedEx Flat Rate Boxes & Envelopes
USPS Priority & Express Mail flat rate boxes and envelopes remain, sometimes anyway, one of the best deals in parcel shipping (although unfortunately not as good as they once were as prices go up each year) and likewise FedEx boxes for international shipments. Virtually every other cart or calculator we have ever seen completely mismanages supporting these. They offer them as separate shipping services-- which they are not-- and allow the customer to select them like any other shipping service, turning what should be a good deal into a potential money loser for you! AuctionInc understands that these boxes & envelopes are a packing method, and pricing, for the existing services of Priority and Express Mail.
If you use these products, our shipping engine will first determine if the items in the order can fit into any of various sizes and shapes of these boxes & envelopes. Then, we compare the cost of the flat rate box to the regular carrier-calculated rate, and finally price the underlying service at whichever is cheaper. Since the flat rates are only cheaper than the regular rate about half the time, depending on weight and distance, this step is essential! Our correct approach allows you to use the flat rate products when they are a good deal and avoid using them when they are not.
We support both all the retail flat rate products for Priority and Express, along with all the Regional boxes if you qualify for commercial base rates. We will even figure out if either one of the retail boxes or regional boxes is the better deal in each given situation.
USPS International Destinations: Correct Maximum Weights
USPS rates to international destinations pose a special problem for rate calculators. The maximum allowable package weight for each service is set by each country, rather than by USPS. This means that even calculators that otherwise have the capability to determine boxing will usually fail, as they do not have the intelligence to use the particular limits per service per country when figuring out the packaging. AuctionInc solves this problem by locally maintaining data on these service limits for each country. Because of this, we are able to differently create the appropriate boxing for each service given the constraints of a particular international destination.
We know that postage is only the beginning of what it costs you to ship out a package. You also need to account for the cost of packaging, and packaging materials, time, labor, travel, carrier pickup fees, etc. Being able to account for these additional costs is often the difference between you losing money and breaking even (or maybe even making a little profit) on shipping. Our calculator provides advanced functionality to factor in these charges. You can add handling per item, per package or per order, base it on a fixed amount or a percentage, set a minimum and maximum fee, etc. And if you ship certain items that typically incur additional packaging expenses, you can account for this by adding additional handling fees on a per-item level. You can even set up codes for these fees, such as "fragile" which are linked to specific carrier services or even geographical locations. If a particular carrier or destination requires more labor for you, you can account for this as well.
You can opt to have our rate engine determine and add the proper insurance cost for the insurance that you use, should the value of the packages in the order exceed your configured "threshold". In our cart, you can also choose to make insurance optional for your customers, and set a threshold over which is becomes required. Besides the insurance offered through the carriers, our calculator also handles third-party insurers such as PIP, which offer substantial savings. In our eBay calculator, since insurance is calculated based on the amount of the winning bid, bidders can enter an estimated winning bid prior to bidding and see how different bid amounts will influence the final shipping charge.
Some services are not available for all items; USPS Media Mail is the best example, which can only be used for books, CDs, etc. You may also prefer to restrict certain items to particular shipping services. Or you may ship from multiple locations that dont all use the same shipping services. Our "on-demand" shipping service setting accounts for all these scenarios. When you set a service to "on-demand", you then "flag" particular items as supporting that service, and it is only rated and offered as an option if all the items in the package are flagged as qualifying for the service.
Promotional Shipping Discounts
Want to encourage your customers to buy multiple items? You can set up discounted or free shipping based on the order price subtotal. Multiple levels of discount can be configured, i.e., 20% for orders of $50 or more, and 50% discount for orders over $100. Even more useful, you can even link the discount only to a specified shipping service group. For example, you can offer your discount just for ground services, but if your customer prefers a faster air service, they can still opt to pay full rate.
Ship from multiple locations? Our shipping engine supports your linking each item in your order to the appropriate origin. Our packaging engine then separates items by origin so that items from different origins are never packed together (you can also apply this capability to separate out groups of items that can be packed with each other but not with other items-- just set up a unique origin for these items linked to a nearby postal code).
If you prefer to use fixed fees, our shipping engine provides a variety of configurable options and very flexible management of fixed fee rates, including discounting for additional items and intelligent management of discounting when handling multiple items with different fees. Even more useful, we offer you the ability to establish different fixed fees for different levels of service, i.e., one for ground shipping and one for next day air, allowing you to offer your customers shipping options without using calculated rates. You can also link your fixed fee codes to certain geographical areas, setting up, for example, one fee for domestic shipping and another for international.
Special Carrier Charges
Need to add special carrier charges for your item? We support your including in the rates pricing the fees for a wide variety of special "accessorial" services, everything from Special Handling or Signature Required to Hazardous item. If the carrier offers it, we support it. You can select a generic charge, such as delivery confirmation, and our engine will assess the appropriate charge for each carrier. Or you can select a carrier-specific service, such as USPS Additional Handling for irregular packages.
Delivery and Pickup Options
Our shipping engine supports "Local Pickup" and/or "Local Delivery" as shipping options, and you may optionally set your preferred fees for each. You may specify which postal code ranges for which these options will be offered, or let us do it and these options will be eliminated when they are not practical, i.e., the origin and destination countries or states do not match.