Depending on your business scope and the distance between your warehouse and the buyer’s location, you will either have to ship goods to the buyer on your own or use 3rd party services to deliver goods on your behalf. Considering all the costs associated with getting an order to the buyer - including the cost of packaging, shipping, tracking, insurance, and customs/duties (if you cover them) - you may find shipping a significant expense in your business. Therefore, you must develop an effective shipping strategy to keep things profitable.
First of all, it is good to know the weight and size of every product you sell. That will give you an idea of what shipping methods and packaging will have to be used for them and give you a good sense of your total costs. For accurate shipping cost estimation, you can specify the weight and dimensions for every product in your X-Cart store catalog. You can set this option and specify the package dimensions required for products that need to be shipped separately from others.
Some key decisions will have to be made regarding your pricing strategy for shipping.
The most popular options here are as follows:
Charge Actual Carrier Rates: If you ship products using a third-party postal or delivery service, you can charge your customers the exact rates you pay to ship their orders. X-Cart is integrated with several real-time shipping carriers - like UPS, USPS, FedEx, Royal Mail, or Canada Post - which can calculate the shipping rates based on the order weight, parcel dimensions, and delivery address. The available shipping options and live pricing provided by such carriers are shown at checkout, so your customers can choose and pay for the service they want.
Charge a Flat Rate: Another popular option is to charge buyers a fixed (flat) rate. X-Cart can be configured to use a flat rate per order or item.
Offer Free Shipping: Free shipping is a feature appreciated by most shoppers. It not only helps reduce shopping cart abandonment but also encourages your customers to spend more. You can offer free shipping on specific products, on all orders, or on orders that meet certain conditions (for example, “free shipping on orders over $50”). You can also give specific customers a free shipping coupon.
Enable Local Pickup: If you wish to enable your local customers to pick up the order themselves, you can do so by enabling the Local Pickup shipping method.
If you need to cover additional expenses on top of regular shipping costs, like the cost of handling a bulky item, you can add a handling fee.
It is also a good idea to consider the question of labeling your packaged orders.
Note that your strategy might change as your business grows. It is never wrong to reevaluate your original decisions to ensure that you deliver the best possible service and experience for the best possible price to your customers. X-Cart offers flexible shipping settings, so should you decide to change your shipping strategy, you can adjust your store’s shipping configuration at any time to meet your business needs.
Do not forget about taxes. Tax regulations vary for different countries and states, so you will need to check with your local authorities whether you need to charge tax on shipping. If you do, you will need to configure your X-Cart store to charge tax on delivery costs.