There are many reasons for merchants to offer strategic shipping options to their customers during the checkout process. For instance, you could offer incentives for spending a particular amount of money (e.g., "Free Shipping if you spend $500 or more"). Or particular benchmarks could be set, in which the shipping costs are reduced at each tier (e.g., "Ordering $50 or more leads to $10 flat shipping. Order $100 or more and get free shipping"). Of course, in some cases, it's best to simply pass along the shipping rates from FedEx and/or UPS.
xTupleCommerce is built to allow the xTupleCommerce manager to design and configure custom ship vias and shipping option rules for the checkout process. This article discusses in detail how to configure custom shipping option rules and how to execute them within the xTupleCommerce control panel.
Keep in mind that the checkout process is a point of friction in any eCommerce system. Your customers may want to buy an item, but when they start seeing additional fees added to their cart (like shipping costs), it can lead to hesitation and even abadonment. Your goal is to reduce the amount of cart abandonment as much as possible. And one way to do that is by offering the customer very fast and easy shipping options to decide from.
Statistics for the eCommerce industry show an average conversion rate of 3%. This means that 3% of the visitors to an eCommerce site complete a checkout, on average. However, the same data shows that about 10% of eCommerce shoppers do add items to their cart, but don't finish checking out. That means that of all the people who add items to their cart, about 70% do not complete the checkout. There could be various reasons for why a person abandons their checkout. But hesitation based on shipping costs is one of those reasons, according to survey data. Instead of making the shipping decision difficult task for your customers, make it easy for them to decide and continue progressing through the checkout.
Shipping Option Strategies
The first step toward streamlining the shipping decision is to sketch out a plan on paper before logging into the xTupleCommerce system. Make decisions about what shipping options you would like to offer—and whether you intend on defining rules (i.e., "Free Shipping for orders larger than $500"). Here are some examples of strategies:
- UPS and FedEx shipping options - xTupleCommerce will integrate directly with your FedEx and/or UPS business accounts, if you have them. The xTupleCommerce system will take the weight of your cart and send the information to UPS and/or FedEx, then request a shipping fee for the defined shipping method. Both UPS and FedEx offer a variety of shipping options, including overnight, 2-day, fround, etc. Each of these options impact the cost and the timeline for shipping.
If your organization has negotiated special rates with FedEx or UPS, those discounts will be applied to your customer's shipping option fees. This can be used to your advantage in two different ways: 1) you could pass that savings along to your customers, making your shipping fees cheaper than competitors' or 2) you could add the negotiated savings back into the shipping fees, so that your organization profits slightly on shipping costs.
- Standard shipping options - If shipping costs are not a major concern for your bottom line, you could offer different levels of shipping options and fees. Instead of passing the complete UPS or FedEx fee along to your customer, perhaps you can advertise "2 Day Shipping is Always $10." Then, when configuring your shipping options, simply create one shipping option that represents 2-day shipping and assign it a fee of $10. This will be a flat fee shipping option. Obviously, you can create as many of these as you like, and you can even structure them into tiers, if that makes sense for your business.
- Rules based shipping options - As mentioned above, you can apply rules to your shipping options. For instance, perhaps you are happy to offer the previous example of "2 Day Shipping Always $10," but it only applies to orders of a $100 or more. Within the shipping configurations, you can create and offer these shipping option rules for your customers.
- Local shipping options - If your organization sells products to customers that are located near you, one strategy is to offer them "Customer Pickup" options or flat rate "Local Delivery" options. These could be good strategies if personal engagement with your customers is a beneficial tactic for building your business relationships.
- Free shipping - Buyers love free shipping. Many studies have shown that shipping costs are the leading cause for buyers to abandon their shopping cart. By offering free shipping to your customer, you can remove this hurdle from their decision-making process. If it's not cost-effective for you to offer free shipping for all orders, place a requirement in front of the free shipping. "Buy $XX of products, get free shipping."
- Flat Rate shipping based on cart size - If you aren't ready to offer free shipping, how about reducing the shipping fees based on the value of the customer's cart? Perhaps you offer different flat rates for shipping based on the different tiers of cart values. You could create rules-based options in the following format:
- Up to $49 = $9 shipping
- $50 - $74 = $7 shipping
- $75 - $99 = $5 shipping
- $100 or more = free shipping
There are many possible strategies. With a little brainstorming and creative engineering, you can design shipping options that will help your buyer decide on a shipping option quickly—so they will continue through the checkout process without hesitation.
Exposing Ship Vias to Customers during Checkout
Here are the general steps for creating shipping options for the xTupleCommerce checkout:
- Create one ship via representing each of your desired shipping options in the ERP. Instructions for how to do this can be found in the xTuple Implementation Guide. If your team is already using xTuple ERP for your business you may have ship vias created already.
- Log into the xTupleCommerce site as a manager
- Go to the Control Panel > Shipping Configurations page
- If you have a FedEx and/or UPS account, enter the API connection information. For details on how to retrieve that information, please see this article.
- In the Unrestricted Ship Vias section, check any shipping options that should be displayed to customers during every checkout. If checked, these shipping options will always be available to customers and will override other settings.
- In the Shipping Configuration text area field, you will insert XML that represents the "shipping rules." We will explain more about how to write that XML in the following section.
Understanding the Shipping Configuration XML
There are very detailed instructions for writing the Shipping Configuration XML within the xTupleCommerce Shipping Configuration section of the Implementation Guide. In what follows below, we present a more casual definitions of what each tag does and how an xTupleCommerce manager can create the kinds of shipping options they desire for their customers. We have also attached at the bottom of this article a sample XML template you can download to help you get started.
<ShippingConfiguration> - This tag is required. It's the first line of the XML file and must read ShippingConfiguration. The last line of the XML is the closing tag </ShippingConfiguration>
<ShipVia name="CUSTOMER-PICKUP" method="FlatRate"> - This line defines which Ship Via from the ERP is being referenced and the type of Ship Via. The name parameter should include the ship via code from the ERP. The method parameter should have one of three values:
- UPS - This is a UPS ship via
- FedEx - This is a FedEx ship via
- FlatRate - This is any shipping option that is offered outside of UPS or FedEx. The shipping charges and definition of this shipping option is defined within this XML block
<Service name="local"> - The service name is the name of a shipping service. When using the FlatRate method, set the service name to local, as shown. The names for the various FedEx and UPS shipping options are listed below in the UPS and FedEx Shipping Service Codes section. The names for these shipping options need to match exactly as they are shown. For example, the FedEx overnight service name is STANDARD_OVERNIGHT. Note, these shipping codes may be updated by UPS or FedEx without our knowledge. Refer to their documentation for more information.
<title>Customer pick up</title> - This defines the title of the shipping option that the customer will see on the Shipping Options page of the checkout. If this field is not included, the system will rely on the name of the ship via from the ERP which may not be optimal.
<description>Shipping option description if you have one</description> - This defines the description of the shipping that the customer will see on the Shipping Options page of the checkout. If this field is not included a description will simply be omitted.
<amount>5.00</amount> - For flat rate shipping options, use the amount tag to define the fee for shipping. For free shipping, insert 0.00.
<adjustment>1.05</adjustment> - The adjustment tag only applies to ship vias using the FedEx or UPS and is used for applying fee adjustments by percentages. The shipping fee returned by the web service will be multiplied by this amount. If you want to add a 10% additional charge to the FedEx or UPS fee, 1.1 should be added to this tag. The UPS or FedEx returned value will be multipled by 1.1 adding 10% to the amount returned by the web service. If you'd like to add 5% to the shipping fee you can do so by adding 1.05 to this tag.
cheapest>0</cheapest> - The cheapest tag indicates that this shipping option is the lowest costing shipping option available to the customer. This tag should only be used on one shipping option. If the tag is included and contains a value of 0, then the system will recognize this as the cheapest option. If a "cheapest" option exists and is available to the customer, the xTupleCommerce site will automatically apply the cheapest option to the users cart.
<free></free> - This tag accepts a string value that will be displayed instead of $0.00 for ship vias that have no set amount. This string will default to the term "FREE" when a FlatRate shipping service is used and the amount is 0.00. An example of when to use this is when creating a "Contact me for shipping arrangements" option. In this case, no fee will be charged, but you don't want to display the word "Free" or $0.00. The text you insert in this tag will replace those two terms.
<Rule> This opens the section that defines rules for this ship via based on the value of the customers cart. Notice that the following max and min tags are contained within the <Rule> tag. The rule tage includes a name parameter. The two values available for the name parameter are:
- Xtuple\Commerce\Configuration\Shipping\Rule\Rules\Quote\QuoteSubtotalRange - If the rule uses this parameter, you can apply the max and min tags which are listed below.
- Xtuple\Commerce\Configuration\Shipping\Rule\Rules\Quote\QuoteWirelessDelivery - If the rule uses this parameter and the weight of the user's cart is zero, the system will recognize that the cart includes only digital products. This shipping option will be shown so the user can bypass selecting a shipping fee. You do not need to insert a max or min tag within this rule.
<max></max> - Insert a dollar value. If the cart total is more than this value, this shipping service will not be available. To use this tag the rule must have the parameter value QuoteSubtotalRange.
<min></min> - Insert a dollar value. If the cart total is less than this value, this shipping service will not be available. To use this tag the rule must have the parameter value QuoteSubtotalRange.
</Rule> - closing tag for Rule
</Service> - closing tag for Service
</ShipVia> - closing tag for ShipVia
- If you are planning to insert many ship via options on the shipping options page, you'd begin another ship via here by repeating all the tags above.
</ShippingConfiguration> - closing tag for shipping configuration. This goes at the end of the XML
UPS and FedEx Shipping Service Codes
The following codes are created and managed by FedEx and UPS. xTuple does not have any control over these codes and there is a chance that FedEx/UPS may update these codes in the future. Plus, these lists may not represent all the codes that are available. It's worth double checking these codes through the vendor documentation.
UPS Shipping Service Codes
FedEx Shipping Service Codes
Download a Shipping Configuration Guide and Template File
Below you will find an XML file that you can download for reference. The file is not ready to be copied and pasted into your xTupleCommerce site. It is for educational purposes only.