[.blue]Shipping with WooCommerce:[.blue] What you need to know

December 20, 2022

min read

With upwards of 80% of carts being abandoned at checkout, it’s important for online retailers to make the process as easy for customers as possible. 

Offering flexible shipping options is one such way to do this, which is why it’s important to set up your WooCommerce shipping properly if you want to maximise those crucial conversions.

How does shipping with WooCommerce work

WooCommerce shipping is part of the WooCommerce package you get when you integrate WooCommerce with your WordPress site. There’s no extra charge to use WooCommerce Shipping, you simply pay for the cost of the shipping. As with all things WooCommerce, the functionality is very straightforward and offers three main shipping options:

  • Flat rate shipping
  • Free shipping
  • Local pickup

These three options provide solutions for basic shipping methods used by eCommerce stores. Choosing which option works best for you will depend on the type of business you have, where you’re shipping orders to, and the kind of fulfilment experience you want your customers to have.

WooCommerce flat rate shipping

The WooCommerce flat shipping rate is a single shipping rate that applies to all orders. It can be changed according to the zone you are shipping to. For example, you might have a flat shipping rate of £3.99 for standard delivery across the whole of the UK or £6.99 for shipping to Europe. 

The flat shipping rate setup is simple and takes no time at all. It’s ideal for businesses with similar sized products who primarily ship to the same area. If, as a business, you pay a flat fee to your carrier, this will be covered by the flat fee paid by your customers. It’s ideal from a profit and loss perspective as you can manage shipping costs with ease.

However, if your business regularly has orders from more expensive regions such as up in the Scottish Highlands, you may need to be prepared to absorb this higher carrier fee when utilising WooCommerce flat shipping rates. Similarly, if you sell goods of varying sizes, you’ll need to reflect this in your delivery charges as you, being the seller, will be charged more by the carrier. The flat rate setup in WooCommerce doesn’t allow you to do this. 

If you’re dipping your toe into the online retail and WooCommerce waters, then flat rate shipping might be a good place to get started, particularly as a B2C business. Just be aware that in terms of longevity, you might need something with more moving parts to give your customers the shipping options they’re accustomed to.

Free shipping

Free shipping is exactly as it says on the tin. You can set up thresholds against certain criteria to activate free shipping using WooCommerce, or simply set it to free shipping for all customers and all orders. If you are offering free shipping as an incentive, then the criteria you are able to set in WooCommerce are:

  • Voucher codes - For people who have perhaps received email marketing communications or limited time offers
  • Minimum order amounts - Maybe your store does free delivery if customers spend over £50, for example
  • Minimum order amount or a voucher code - Users can get free shipping on a minimum order or use a voucher code for free shipping regardless of the order amount
  • Minimum order amount and a voucher code - Buyers must spend a certain amount and also use a voucher code to get free shipping

In WooCommerce shipping, you can also determine whether a minimum order amount triggers free shipping before or after a coupon is applied. So, if the minimum amount for free delivery is £20 but the voucher code reduces this to £18, can the customer still get free shipping? You decide.

Local pick up

Local pick up by WooCommerce is essentially the option for customers to pick up their order from you rather than pay to have it delivered. It’s great if you have a bricks-and-mortar store and the staff levels to accommodate this option. Providing customers with multiple delivery choices is just one way to improve the customer experience, as well as keep shipping costs down for everyone.

As with all the WooCommerce shipping options, your customer will be notified when their order has been processed and when it can be picked up. WooCommerce shipping allows you to manage postage labels and print them out from the interface, thus triggering these confirmation emails to customers. However, these emails are the same no matter which shipping method your customer chooses; so if you want to create an email specific to local pick up orders, you’ll need to set up a custom WooCommerce email.

WooCommerce shipping classes

Earlier on, we touched on flat rate shipping and how it is the same rate for specific zones, no matter the product. Whilst that is technically true, WooCommerce shipping does have something called WooCommerce Shipping Classes. Shipping classes let you group similar products together and apply an individual flat rate fee to those types of products. If you sell jewellery, then small items like earrings might fit into a small box that costs less. Larger and heavier products like necklaces may need a more robust box, which can incur a higher price.

You can set up your WooCommerce shipping classes, give them a name and set the delivery charge. The delivery charge will still be the same across a particular region (e.g. the UK), but can be altered to reflect the variable cost, size and weight of the goods. Once your shipping classes have been set up, you can add products to them and there’s also a bulk edit option to speed the process up. 

WooCommerce shipping plugins

As with the vast majority of eCommerce platforms, the best way to get what you really want and need for your business is to use a plugin. WooCommerce shipping is a simple and low cost way to manage delivery, but it isn’t an all singing, all dancing solution.

To really maximise WooCommerce and push high conversion rates, you need to offer transparent, fair and varied delivery options for customers. Table rate shipping is one of the most popular WooCommerce shipping integrations, giving you greater control over shipping costs according to dimensions and product types. You can also set amounts for different regions or post codes and add additional fees if necessary, such as the cost of extra packaging or delivery drivers for very fragile or bulky items.

Of course, by integrating your WooCommerce store with a 3PL provider, you can outsource shipping for your online orders to an external company, who can also take care of inventory management on your behalf and provide cost-effective storage solutions fit for your products. Using a plugin or a 3PL provider will give you greater choice when it comes to carriers too, so you can secure the best delivery services at the most competitive prices, working with couriers that most closely align with your business goals.

Setting up WooCommerce shipping

Before you get started setting up your WooCommerce shipping options, you should really do your research into how much delivery and carriers will cost your business, and how you will go about covering this cost. Free delivery is a huge bonus for shoppers nowadays, but do the maths before you set up free shipping straight away. You might need to make the most of WooCommerce shipping classes in order to ensure profitability.

If you’re ready to take the next steps and start organising your WooCommerce shipping and adding in your products, then the WooCommerce Shipping Guide should be your first port of call. It has images of the interface and step-by step-instructions. There’s a lot to learn but once you get used to the basics and set up your main delivery options, you can get on with the business of selling.

To find out more about Zendbox and how we can integrate with your WooCommerce store to fulfil your online orders, request a demo today.

Alex Borg
Director of Operations at Zendbox

Alex is responsible for overseeing the day-to-day operations at Zendbox, ensuring accurate and timely order processing, picking, packing, and shipping. He collaborates closely with other teams across the business to meet customer expectations and achieve stringent service level agreements (SLAs).

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