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Shipping charges? (Drop ship)

How to set up shipping on an ecommerce site

4:01 am on Mar 6, 2014 (gmt 0)

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joined:Mar 5, 2014
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I know similar topics have been addressed before.

I've had this ecommerce site for about 4 years. I use a drop shipper and their shipping structure is kind of complicated and impossible to actual calculate. They charge a certain amount to ship large bulky items, but if the customer also orders a few smaller items that will fit in that big box for example, they just throw those in the box and don't charge any extra. So, how in the world do I calculate that? It's impossible. I pretty much got it set up after much hair pulling and a few orders where actually lost money overall (I paid the dropshipper more than the customer paid me) so that I usually don't loose money on shipping and never loose money overall anymore. I have a basic shipping charge based on weight and then an oversize charge for all the big bulky items. My margins are pretty thin, mostly about 30% markup, so making a $20 shipping error could be huge.

Just before Christmas, I got an account with another company who will also drop ship for a $5 dropship fee + regular shipping charges. They sell higher end items. I like that part, but they mostly sell to brick and mortar store fronts whose purchases are in the thousands at a time instead of the hundreds. They have no weights listed on any of their items. This is what they say under Shipping Policy:

Please note that we are unable to provide price quotes for shipping. Shipping prices are determined based on a variety of factors, including but not limited to weight, size of cartons, number of cartons, and the delivery location. Due to these varying factors, we are unable to provide accurate shipping estimates prior to packaging and processing your order. Please be assured that we take all steps necessary to provide you with the most fair and competitive shipping prices available.

I don't really care if they tell me the exact shipping cost, but an estimate with zones would be so helpful.

How in the world do I figure out how to charge for shipping on their products? What would you do? Use the same shipping model as the other site, guestimating the weights of the items. With a lot of digging, I could probably estimate the weights of many items.

5:52 pm on Mar 7, 2014 (gmt 0)

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joined:June 25, 2007
votes: 7

I think all you can do is estimate the best you can, and basically just try and get what you can on each order, ie: Try and make up for the ones where you're short, by getting more than you really need on others. Then maybe total it up month by month at first, then at the end of the year... and see if you did OK as a whole. There's no way to do it order by order. And if it was me, I'd try to move away from drop shipping as soon as possible. Try and develop your own products... you'll be much better off in the long run.
6:20 pm on Mar 7, 2014 (gmt 0)

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WebmasterWorld Administrator mack is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

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votes: 23

You need to work out a formula based on the limited information your supplier is willing to provide. Even knowing weight, size and total number if items per shipment will get you close. Always over estimate by a small margin. That way you are unlikely to run at a shipping loss on many sales.

8:14 pm on Mar 7, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Thanks for the suggestions. I'm not so much worried about the small items, but the big bulky items are what concerns me. These items weight around 25 lbs and take a box that's about a 30" cube. I actually found a big name site who sells most all of the items from the 2nd drop shipper. They have weights listed for almost everything. Unfortunately there are over 1000 products from this vendor, so if I want to add weights, I will have to look at each item and get the weights that way. It looks like what they do the bulky items is to add $50 to retail and offer free economy shipping. I'm sure they have their own warehouse and order in bulk from this company. I don't have the luxury of a warehouse or the capital to purchase that much inventory. Maybe some day though :).


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