|How do you handle shipping?|
Please Weigh In!
We ship large less than truck loads and UPS / Fedex Ground alike. We have a terrible time finding software or a cart that can predict both. How do you handle shipping? Flat fee? Free? How would you work it in my situation. Thanks for your time.
I do LTL and UPS for all shipments. With UPS we are linked directly via StarShip, a 3rd party application similar to WorldShip, which is UPS' interface. We keep a database of all product weights, if they're small enough not to require dimensional weight, and dimensions if they do require dimensional weight based shipping. Our rates come directly from UPS based on the items in the cart and the zip code (for zone purposes) entered by the potential customer. So, essentially, it's real time communication with UPS for small parcel.
For LTL, we have a contract with YRC logitistics. All of our product ships at class 77.5, so we only need to know the number of pallets, the weight, and cubes, and delivery zip. Here, we do a bit more estimating than exact cost. However, any order shipping LTL for us usually has enough built in profit that we don't mind losing undercharging on freight -- they typically have 5-10 high cost, high margin items to require LTL shipping. I figure, if the person is ordering so much that we really vastly under charge for freight in this manner, the order is either fraud or we'll make so much that no one will notice losing money on the freight charge. Granted, we have warehouses all over the country and ship regular freight to ourselves and regular containers being imported, which YRC handles...so we have a bit of weight to throw around to get good rates and to lock ALL shipments in at a single weight class.
Custom cart with two options: UPS or USPS. Currently we have UPS turned off due to the problems of local logistics.
Both connect directly with the API's offered. Each product in the database has a weight and dimensions. A fairly complicated algorithm determines the total volume, the maximum package dimensions for the service without going into "oversize" (divides into multiple boxes in this case,) adds a percentage for padding, and adds the box weight based on weight per square foot.
Once the number of packages, dimensions, and destination are compiled it passes these to the API of the shipper via an XML silent post. The API returns all the available choices to the user, costs, and delivery times (ex: Choose shipping; First Class $1.85, 7-10 days . . . Priority Mail, $5.95, 3-5 days . . . )
Over the last 4 years this has been very close to actual shipping, sometimes it runs a little over but very rarely do we lose on it.
I take the average of my last 3 months LTL shipments and use a 'flat rate' method that appears to be 'free' to the consumer. Right now my average is about $120 per order. From time to time, will fuel surcharge changes we adjust our freight estimate. We ship using UPS Worldship software.