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Shipping Options

Overview

ProductCart includes a sophisticated shipping component. ProductCart can calculate shipping charges in two ways: by connecting to one or more shipping providers (UPS, FedEx, USPS, Canada Post), or by using custom shipping rates that you define. The integration with UPS and FedEx has been officially approved by the two shipping companies.

In the first scenario, ProductCart dynamically collects shipping rates by connecting to one or more of the shipping providers mentioned above, which return rates that are based on:

  • The total weight of the products being purchased.
  • Whether the product is oversized or not.
  • The number of packages that are part of the shipment.
  • The “Ship From” address entered by the store administrator.
  • The customer’s shipping address type (commercial vs. residential).
  • The customer’s shipping address.

In the second scenario (custom shipping rates), shipping rates are calculated based on criteria that you define.

Combining Shipping Rates from Different Carriers

For added flexibility, the shipping component allows you to combine custom shipping options that you have created with the rates returned dynamically by one or more of the above mentioned shipping providers.

Shipping rates from different shipping carriers are displayed on the same page

Regardless of how they are calculated, available shipping options are displayed to your customers during check out. It may happen that no shipping options are displayed even if you did configure one or more shipping providers and/or custom shipping options. For more information about why this may be happening, review the section entitled No Shipping Rates Returned.

Shipping Preview and Other Useful Features

Another useful feature that your store customers will appreciate is the ability to “preview” shipping rates from the shopping cart page, before registering a new account or logging into an existing account.

Other interesting, shipping-related features include:

  • The ability to handle multiple package shipments and have oversized products be automatically considered a separate package.
  • The ability to handle shipping calculations on extremely light products (e.g. pins, business cards, electrical parts, etc.).
    This new feature was already addressed in the Adding New Products section of this User Guide.
  • The ability to “flag” a product as an oversized item and consider it as a separate package when determining shipping charges for the order.
    When using UPS, the oversized feature also produces different shipping rates in accordance with UPS shipping rate tables.
  • The ability to show shipping instructions or other messages related to choosing a shipping option on the shipping service selection page.
    The message shown can be easily added and edited through the Control Panel, and can be shown at the top or at the bottom of the page.
  • More control on which shipping options are shown to customers during checkout.
    You can now set up a custom shipping option to only be shown to international vs. domestic customers. This feature is available with custom shipping options.
  • Shipping by zone if you use one of the shipping providers that are built into ProductCart.
    Currently: CanadaPost, FedEx, UPS, and USPS.
  • The ability to print shipping label for FedEx, UPS and USPS.
  • You can now show or hide the Preview Shipping Charges link in the storefront.

General Shipping Settings

Ship From Address

In order to ensure the accuracy of the rates returned by the shipping providers used by the store administrator (if any), ProductCart requires that you specify the address from which orders will be shipped. This is what we refer to as the “Ship From” address. To do so, select Shipping Settings from the Shipping menu. If the Ship From Address is the same as the company address entered on the Store Settings page, you have the option to automatically populate the fields with those values the first time you visit this page. Otherwise, enter the location of the office or warehouse from which orders will be shipped. Make sure to use a valid postal code for the Ship From address, or it could cause problems when calculating shipping rates using a shipping service such as UPS or FedEx. Some of the fields shown on the page are not required (they are used by FedEx and/or UPS, if you activate those shipping services).

Feature Limitation: multiple ship-from address are not supported: ProductCart does not currently allow you to have multiple ship-from addresses. This is because the calculation of shipping charges for an order where different products are shipped from different warehouses (i.e. different ship-from addresses) presents some technical and “business logic” challenges. Under a technical point of view, the integration with FedEx and UPS, for instance, becomes more complex. Under a “business logic” point of view, several questions arise. For example: should the customer be charged the sum of all separate shipments? It appears that leading e-commerce stores such as Buy.com, Amazon.com, etc. do not charge an amount that is equal to the sum of all the shipments that they end up making to fulfill the order, but rather a smaller amount. So, should it be a weighted average of all shipments? And if so, how should the average be weighted? The level of complexity gets pretty high, doesn’t it? It’s something that we will look at addressing in a future version of ProductCart. For now, you will only be able to specify a single ship-from address.

Maximum Weight Per Package

ProductCart includes the ability to set a Maximum Weight per Package. This feature allows you to avoid situations in which a shipping provider such as UPS or FedEx would not return shipping rates for an order because the order weight exceeded the maximum allowed weight per package. The weight limit is 150 Lbs for UPS shipments within the US and Canada (70kg elsewhere). The FedEx limit is 130 Lbs. So if a customer orders products for a total weight of 190 Lbs, what happens? ProductCart can automatically divide the shipment over multiple packages, similarly to what you will end up doing when you actually ship the order.

The number of packages that will be shipped is calculated according to the following formula:

Total order weight / Max weight per package = Total number of packages shipped

Going back to our example, let’s say you enter 40 as the maximum weight per package. Since the total order weight is 190 pounds, ProductCart would automatically split the shipment as a combination of 4 packages weighing 40 pounds and one package weighing 30 pounds.

Products that are set as oversized are always treated as separate packages when calculating shipping charges. This is true regardless of their weight and of whether or not the Maximum Weight per Package feature is being used. The rationale behind this behavior is that oversized items are very often too big to fit into another package. Their weight is not necessarily what makes them oversized (e.g. think of a roll of bubble wrap).

ProductCart will likely end up calculating shipping charges based on packages whose weights don’t exactly match what you will end up shipping (e.g. the five packages might end up weighing 38, 42, 44, 37, and 29 pounds). Still, the calculation will be much closer to the actual shipping costs compared to either not being to calculate shipping rates at all for having exceeded a shipping service’s weight limit, or calculating the shipment as a 1 package shipment.

If there is a discrepancy between the shipping charges calculated by ProductCart and the actual shipping charges for the order, and if you want the order amount to reflect the exact shipping charges, you can use the Edit Order feature, after the order has been placed, to adjust the final shipping amount that will be recorded when processing the order.

Use a whole number for the maximum weight unless you only offer USPS, as all shipping providers, except for USPS, round up to the nearest pound.

Other Shipping Settings

In the lower part of page you will find the following settings.

Default Shipping Service

  • ProductCart v3.5 and above
    ProductCart now uses a new, tab-based layout to showcase multiple shipping providers and their rates (for legal reasons they cannot be shown on the same screen). The first tab is occupied by the Default Shipping Service. If there are no available shipping services for the shipping provider selected as “default”, ProductCart will automatically switch to the next available shipping provider (or custom shipping options).
  • Previous versions
    When more than one shipping provider is active on your store, the customer is shown a drop-down menu on the shipping rates selection page. Here you can specify which shipping rates will be loaded first on the page. If there are no available shipping services for the shipping provider selected as “default”, ProductCart will automatically switch to the next available shipping provider (or custom shipping options).

Hide/Show Shipping Address in different scenarios

In ProductCart v4, you have three options:

  1. Show shipping address only if order requires shipping
  2. Disable shipping address (billing address = shipping address)
  3. Always show shipping address (even if the order does not require shipping)

If the separate Shipping Address option is not showing up after upgrading to v4, try changing the setting and update the page. Then, change it back and update the page again to force the new setting to be re-applied.

In ProductCart v3.x this was a single setting: Hide shipping address Input form when only products flagged as “No Shipping Required” are in the cart.

Assume that your store sells products AND services. If someone were to order a service (e.g. “Extended Warranty”), the checkout process does not need prompt customers for a shipping address, since a “service” is not shipped. This feature allows you to handle this scenario. That is:

  1. If all products that have been added to the shopping cart have been configured as “No Shipping” products (e.g. gift certificates, downloadable software, support contracts, etc.), ProductCart will hide the area of the registration/login page that prompts customers to enter a shipping address.
  2. If any of the products require shipping, then the shipping address input fields are shown, even if some of the products in the shopping cart will not be shipped.

Notify customers when an order might be shipped in different packages

When this feature is turned on, customers are notified that their order might be fulfilled by sending the products in different shipments. This scenario occurs when a customer adds to the shopping cart products that have been associated with different [drop-shippers-]. A corresponding message is shown on the shopping cart page (pc/viewcart.asp - see example below), on the order verification page (pc/orderverify.asp in v3, part of One Page Checkout in v4), on the order confirmation page (pc/ordercomplete.asp), and on the order details page, after they have completed the order (pc/custviewpastd.asp).

When an order is shipped in multiple packages, you can have customers indicate whether they would like to receive one or more shipments (it is up to you whether to charge extra for multiple shipments or not). You can turn this feature on/off on Store Settings > Order & Customer Related. For more information about this feature, see the section of this User Guide that talks about the ”[Allow separate shipments-]” setting.

ProductCart notifies the customer when the order might be shipped in separate packages

Allow customers to ship orders to an address other than the billing address

In ProductCart v4, you have three options:

  1. Show shipping address only if order requires shipping
  2. Disable shipping address (billing address = shipping address)
  3. Always show shipping address (even if the order does not require shipping)

In ProductCart v3.x this was a single setting: Allow customers to ship orders to an address other than the billing address.

This feature allows you to decide whether to allow a customer to provide a separate shipping address for the order. If you don’t check this option, customers will only be allowed to enter one address, which is the billing address. Therefore, any shipments will have to be made to the same address. Otherwise, customers will be able to enter a separate shipping address on the login/registration page (pc/login.asp). A check box allows them to quickly copy the billing address entries to the corresponding shipping address fields.

When separate shipping addresses are added to the system, ProductCart saves them in a customer’s account. Customers can manage (edit/add/remove) these alternative shipping addresses by logging into their account. When repeat customers checkout by logging into their existing account, they can easily select a shipping address from their address book.

Allow customers to complete order if no shipping rates are returned

This feature, when turned on, will allow customers to complete their order even if no shipping rates are returned. There are many reasons why shipping rates might not be displayed: we have created a section dedicated to this topic-]. If such an order is placed, ProductCart will include within it a comment indicating that shipping charges could not be determined. This is visible to the customer as well. You will have to use the Edit Order feature to calculate and add the shipping charges to the order before processing it and shipping it.

Various display settings

  • Display product weight on the product’s detail page.
    Set whether to show the product weight on the product details page (pc/viewPrd.asp). The weight is shown at the top of the page, next to the part number.
  • Display total cart weight on view cart page.
    Set whether to display the total order weight on the page where the shopping cart content is shown (pc/viewCart.asp).
  • Display ’Estimated Shipping Charges’ link on the View Shopping Cart page.
    Set whether to show a link to the pop-up window that calculates estimated shipping charges on the order. The link is shown on the View Shopping Cart page, at the bottom of the page. As always, you can edit the link text by editing that text string within the file includes/languages.asp.
  • Hide number of packages on shipping service selection page.
    Check this option if you would like to hide the section of the page that provides information about how many packages will be shipped. Note that the number of packages is only shown when the order is shipped in 2 or more packages.
  • Display shipping instructions.
    You can have ProductCart display instructions, a disclaimer, or other shipping-related information on the page on which customers select a shipping option for their order. For example, your message could explain that “In store pickup” is not available on “Sundays”.

    The message can be shown either at the top or at the bottom of the page, and can contain basic HTML tags. If you opt to show the message at the bottom of the page, you can opt to display it only if shipping rates are returned (e.g. if no shipping rates are returned, for any reason, the message is not shown). In the image shown below, the message is displayed before the shipping rates.

Other shipping options

If the shipment included multiple packages, a message would inform customers of how many packages will likely be shipped, unless the number of packages is hidden (see corresponding feature).

Some features such as the “shipping estimator” link on viewcart.asp will NOT APPEAR until you have at least 1 shipping method defined. This typically applies to new stores that are just in the process of being configured.


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