e-Commerce Shipping Options
As an overview of 'Shipping' options in e-Commerce,.. 'Goods' purchased through e-Commerce must be transferred to the customer (unlike services). At least one of the shipping options must be active, however multiple types may be active to allow customer (and merchant) options. Exponent provides several options; NONE of which perform actual shipment processing (obtain a shipping label, schedule a package pickup, etc...) online. In a basic sense, the shipping method only provides an estimated cost of shipping and handling to the customer which is paid during checkout. The actual processing of the shipment is handled outside of or apart from Exponent.
The types of shipping available in Exponent are:
- Free - shipping and handling for the entire order is free...any actual cost is covered by the sales price
- In Store Pickup - may include a handling charge
- Flat Rate - single shipping/handling cost for entire order regardless of the weight or number of items
- Simple - shipping/handling cost is based on 1) the order total cost and 2) the selected shipping speed (uses a custom table for calculations)
- UPS (requires an online UPS online account) - interacts w/ UPS web site to determine shipping cost based on weight and number of packages
- FedEx (requires an online FedEx online account) - interacts w/ FedEx web site to determine shipping cost based on weight and number of packages
- EasyPost (requires an EasyPost online account, and also specific shipping account such as USPS, UPS, FedEx, etc...) - interacts w/ the EasyPost web site to determine shipping cost(s) based on the weight and number of packages. EasyPost charges a small surcharge to create mailing labels and arrange, etc...
- Per-Item - Allows a shipping charge based on the number of items in the order.
- Per-Weight - Alows a shipping charge based on the overall weight of the order.
The easiest options to set up (and process) are 'In Store Pickup', 'Free', and 'Flat Rate'.
Both UPS and FedEx are the most difficult to use since not only do they require online accounts (no cost to set up the account), they require accurate entry of each product's shipping weight and dimensions to provide more accurate shipping costs. However, they are the most likely method many merchants actually use to ship goods. The actual processing to obtain (purchase) a shipping label and schedule package pickup are handled outside of Exponent. Package tracking is handled outside of Exponent, but a method is available to enter the shipment tracking number into the invoice for mailing to the customer.
In practice most stores would likely only offer one shipping option. If you allow both local pickup and also ship packages to the customer, you'd provide two options (In Store Pickup and one of the others). The exception might be to offer both UPS and FedEx due to the specific delivery address and possible customer cost savings. A store should rarely, if ever, offer more than one of the Free, Flat Rate, Simple or UPS/FedEx options since the customer will always choose the cheapest rate and e.g., Free would always win out.