Shipping with WooCommerce: Choosing the best option for your business

Saucal - Ship navigating on the sea

If you sell (or plan on selling) physical goods in your online store, you know that shipping is an important part of your customer’s experience. It can make or break your business, and you don’t wanna mess it up. It sounds like a big task (and it is), but Saucal is here to help you out!

WooCommerce offers basic yet solid shipping configuration by default. With it you can:

  • Create shipping zones (by country, state, or even by zip code), and assign different shipping methods to each of them or globally.
WooCommerce - Shipping zones
WooCommerce shipping zones
  • Create shipping classes (e.g. one class for shirts and another for shoes). This helps better categorize your products when shipping, and provide different rates to different classes.
WooCommerce - Shipping classes
WooCommerce shipping classes
  • Offer flat rate, free shipping and local pickup options.
WooCommerce - Default shipping methods

If you’re starting a small online store, these out-of-the-box WooCommerce options can be just what you need. But they may not meet the requirements of the medium and large eCommerce.

Lots of companies find their sweet spot for free shipping. That’s a discussion not fit in this article, but it’s one stores should strive for.

It’s not an easy task to adjust just the right shipping costs for all cases. Doing it manually per state (or sometimes in an even lower level) can be overwhelming and cares for constant updates.

There enter’s live rates to save you countless hours!

Benefitting from live rates


Live rat
Live rat(e)s (photo by Ricky Kharawala).

With live rates, you don’t have to worry about shipping calculations! They are done automatically using the carrier’s API. Customers get live rates based on your store’s location, shipping address, and products’ dimensions and weight.

Bear in mind that it requires good planning and work upfront to implement live rates. You need to have all your products’ weight and dimensions set, as well as understand what service options and box sizes your business needs. But once it’s set, the benefits are great.

The good news is that the major players have their own WooCommerce plugins. In those cases, you simply need to install the plugin, enter the carrier’s credentials, and configure your shipping needs.

If you’re in USA you can benefit on live rates from FedEx, UPS, USPS, DHL, to cite a few.

You also have carrier options for other countries like Canada Post, Australia Post, UK Royal Mail, New Zealand Post, and Brazil Correios.

Live rates do the shipping calculation for you, but you still have to deal with shipping labels, fulfillment and stock management across channels, on your own. But you don’t have to take care of all of this alone!

Meet shipping services.

Shipping services


The shipping services provide much more than shipping costs calculation. They offer:

  • A web interface to manage all the shipping processes.
  • Integration with various carriers.
  • Integration with marketplaces such as Amazon and eBay.
  • Discounts in USPS rates (for USA stores).
  • Shipping documentation (including when selling internationally).
  • Shipping tracking emails.
  • Label printing: services get them ready for you to print them one-by-one or in batch.
  • Return labels.
  • Branded emails and labels.
  • Analytics.

As you can see, shipping service is a tool to rule them all!

Let’s take a look at three services that integrates to WooCommerce: ShipStation, Shippo and ShippingEasy. They all offer the same functionalities we discussed above. But what are the differences between them?

ShipStation

What differentiates ShipStation from its competitors is that it:

  • Integrates with carriers from USA, Canada, UK, and Australia.
  • Gives you FedEx discounts, not only USPS ones.
  • Has a free iOS and Android app to manage orders, print labels, scan barcodes, review analytics and performance insights, and much more.
  • Has the most integration options among accounting/ERP (15+), marketplaces (25+), fulfillment/logistics (10+), inventory/OMS (15+), carriers (35+) and even marketing/CRM tools and payment providers.

Pricing

Its pricing ranges from $9 to $159 (USD) per month.

The difference between plans in ShipStation is the shipments per month count. As you go up you also get more support options and customization for packing slips and labels.

Shippo

The differentiation points for Shippo are that it:

  • Connects to carriers from all continents.
  • Supports the most carriers’ integration (55+).
  • Offers a free plan not bound to a maximum shipment count, and you can use it for any number of orders. Instead of a monthly payment, Shippo charges $0.05 per shipment in this plan.
  • Provides technical implementation assistance for higher tier customers.

Pricing

Shippo pricing ranges from $0 to $125 (USD) per month. Above 5000 orders it’s custom priced.

The free plan has no shipping count limits, but you get more discounts for insurance and address validation as you go up in the tiers. Also, custom texts and branding are only available if you’re a paying member (starting at $10).

ShippingEasy

With ShippingEasy you get:

  • Unified inventory management across sales channels.
  • Bundle products together using their platform.
  • Email marketing.
  • Ship using only your voice with Amazon Alexa.
  • Free iOS and Android app to help you print the labels.
  • Free warehouse fulfillment consultation (for large enterprises).
  • Integration with accounting and ERP platforms.

Pricing

Pricing ranges from $0 to $149 (USD) per month.

ShippingEasy free plan does not offer all the perks the paid plans do. Things like USPS discounts and shipping with all available carriers are only available if you’re a paying user (starting at $29).

It’s important to note that it currently has no integration with carriers outside of the USA, so it ships only from the USA.

Have you tried one of the services we discussed? What do you think of WooCommerce basic shipping options? Tell us in the comments how you handle shipping in your company.

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