23rd April 2012

A walk through the BigCommerce shipping settings

Today I’m going to focus on the shipping settings for BigCommerce. A lot of users get a bit confused over the settings, so the aim of this post is to help get your head around the ins and outs of the BC Shipping Section.

To begin, lets head over to the Shipping Settings section in the control panel, under the Settings menu.

Shipping Settings Location

If you haven’t already set up your shipping options, you will see the following screen:

Initial Shipping Settings

To briefly summarise the Store Location section, we need to fill in the details of our warehouse here. The company address should be the location of where we are sending our products from. Easy. Just fill in the correct details and click save, and we’ll move on to the Shipping Zones tab.

Shipping Zones

The first time you look at the Shipping Zones tab, you will only see one zone, the Default Zone. A zone covers an area you want to ship to; it can be a country (or several countries grouped together), specific states or regions of a country or countries, or specific postal code limited areas.

The zone also contains one or more Shipping Methods. A shipping method is a delivery service, or multiple services you use for that zone. For example, you may use two different couriers plus a postal service in one zone, these would be added as methods to the zone.

The Default Zone initially covers everywhere, worldwide. It’s a generic shipping charge which is applied if a customer doesn’t meet a criteria in your custom zone settings. You can disable this, to limit your shipping to only specific zones, by clicking Edit Methods and then deleting the existing services listed.

After doing this, your store no longer ships anywhere in the world. If you try to check out, you will be notified that shipping is unavailable.

So next we need to add a new shipping zone to resume deliveries. Go back to the main shipping settings page, and click Add a Shipping Zone. We’re going to see this screen now:

Add a shipping zone

First of all, give the new zone a name, the country or continent name would be fine. I’m setting a zone up for the USA so I’ve just called my zone “USA“. Now you need to choose one of the options that suits. As I only want to create shipping for the USA as a whole, I’ve selected the first option, This shipping zone is based on one or more countries. Lastly, in this section, click the checkbox to enable the zone.

Directly below this section, you will see the following options:

Add a shipping zone - more options

Here are the zone settings for free shipping and handling charges. I’ll briefly break down these options:

  • Enable Free Shipping – check this to enable free shipping to this zone. If for instance you are based in the USA and want to give US customers free delivery on orders over $50, enable the option and type 50 into the Order Total to Qualify box.
  • Exclude products with fixed price shipping – you can specify a fixed shipping cost for specific products. If for instance you always need to send certain items with a specialist courier, you can add a fixed price to the item. Checking this option makes sure that the fixed shipping cost is always applied.
  • Handling Fee – If you add a service charge or handling fee for each order, you can choose to specify a charge per zone or per method.
  • Show Separately – This itemises the handling fee at checkout, showing your customer a breakdown of shipping and handling charges.

After you have set up the zone, it’s time to add at least one shipping method. Click Next to move on.

Add Shipping Method

Click on the Add a Shipping Method button for a list of available shipping methods.

Shipping Method Setup

You are now given the choice of several methods, but these are broken down into two main categories; real time and fixed rates. Real time shipping is usually zone dependent, whereas fixed rate does just what it says – you set a fixed charge for your delivery fees. Many of the real time courier services such as FedEX and UPS require an account with access to their quoting API systems too, so if you plan to use real time shipping quotes with BigCommerce, make sure you have your account details to hand.

Setting up flat rate shipping

For the purposes of this walk through, we will choose the simplest method, Flat Rate Per Order. Select this from the list, and then enter a more user friendly name, as this is what your customer sees at the checkout. Maybe Next day delivery. Finally, make sure the checkbox is ticked, and enter a cost in the input box which appears. Then click save.

And that is that, it’s fairly straightforward to set everything up how you wanted. How about if you wanted to offer a budget 3-5 day delivery as an option as well though? Again you could do this using the Flat Rate method; again in the Shipping Methods tab of your USA zone, just click the Add a Shipping Method button and repeat the last process, labelling the display name 3-5 day standard delivery, with a lower shipping cost.

If you wanted to ship internationally, head back over to your default zone, and add in the appropriate methods. Don’t forget to check the zone settings and make sure free shipping is turned off, otherwise you could give international customers costly delivery services for nothing. Handling the free shipping and handling charges per zone lets you get this problem under control.

A note about the Free Shipping Discount Rule. If you head over to the Marketing tab, and open View Discount Rules, you will have an option to add free shipping as a rule. This gives your customers a handy reminder across your store that they can spend $x more and get free delivery. As a rule of thumb, this is great if you only ship to one local zone. If you ship internationally, don’t use this option, as it overrides all zone based free shipping rules, and you could end up having to ship overseas for free, or contacting customers to collect extra charges.

That concludes this walk through guide. If you have any questions, let me know in the comments box below!

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