What Shipping Options Should a Magento Store Offer?

Having an e-commerce site can make you successful. A good product, combined with a good marketing message and quality customer service could essentially give you a license to print money. However, the best product and greatest marketing can only take you so far, at some point, you’re going to need to deliver that product to the customers.

Since I work with a ton of designers, and I myself help to design and implement Magento builds, one of the questions we inevitably have to answer is what to do about shipping. Instead of putting together a list of shipping extensions you can find on MagentoConnect, this article will focus on those that are opening a store for the first time, and how to charge your customers for shipping.

Magento eCommerce Software - Best Shipping Options

How Many Different Kinds of Shipping Should You Offer?

I wanted to tackle this question early because this issue is most affected by the product itself. Simply put, the best shipping option is a flat rate fee for all users. However, we as designers understand that you may sell multiple products, which require different shipping methods based on weight, fragility, or shipping location.

What can you do in this situation? For this, I defer my expertise to Gillian Owen, a Magento expert I work with. According to Gillian, there are many different options to make a large inventory work for you, instead of becoming your headache. Here are her suggestions for a foolproof system:

1) Flat Rate Shipping – The easiest way to make shipping work for you, the seller, is to first take the range of shipping costs for each item you plan to sell. Some lighter items can be sent in flat-rate USPS boxes, whilst bigger or heavier items will cost more. Take these ranges, and then add in sales data to qualify what you are looking at. If you sell three times more of your lighter items than heavier items, consider making your flat shipping rate lower, and take a small hit on the heavier items. A sale with a little loss on shipping is better than no sale at all, and your inventory depreciating on warehouse shelves.

eCommerce Shipping2) Free Shipping Over X Amount – After you have done the math and you come up with a good flat rate for shipping, then you are ready to start offering specials to those customers that want to be your biggest patrons. When you have that baseline value, which for some heavier items will lose you a bit of money on shipping, but on the lighter items will actually make you some cash; then you figure out what weight the package has to be to ship it out for free. Think carefully about this, once the math is in place, its an easy formula taking the total weight of the package, and dividing it by the number of items in there; if that shipping total is more than the cost of shipping for you, then ship it for free! Not only will you give your customers more options, but also can be used as an up-sell during the checkout process.

3) Flat Rate International – Everyone reading this article knew that this would come up eventually. The best way to ship internationally is flat rate, once again. If you call representatives at UPS, USPS, FedEx, or DHL they will send out an adjuster to your store if you have an account with them. Then you can negotiate the cost of your international orders. Keep in mind, that an order that takes an item off of your shelves not only makes you a bit of money, but also saves some money in terms of depreciation of the product over time. We recommend a shipping rate of $19.95 if you can afford it, because if you ship to anywhere in Canada, Mexico, South America, or Europe you’re actually making money, you’ll only lose money shipping elsewhere.

4) Overnight Shipping Option – Finally, there are some customers that will visit your site, and order, but need the item immediately, no matter the cost. Having an overnight shipping option can be the difference here between a sale and an abandoned shopping cart. It’s going to be expensive, but don’t let that deter you. If you have reasonable flat shipping rates, good international flat shipping rates, and you offer free shipping over a certain dollar amount; those individuals that want it now can pay the extra amount to make that happen.

Payment Options: How Many & What Kind?

In our experience, the most customers convert at the checkout page when they are given at least three separate options for payment. The interesting thing about the three is that only two need to be mainstream payment options.

If you get the correct extensions, you can have your customers store their credit card information on your site and remain PCI compliant, and since plastic is the preferred method of payment on the internet, having an option to pay be credit card is necessary.

Second, we recommend allowing Paypal as a payment option. Paypal information is stored not he user’s computer, so there are no compliance issues with offering it as a payment system. Also, for those customers that prefer not to give their credit card number to websites, Paypal allows those customers the anonymity they desire. Plus, since you probably already have a business credit card, its effortless to link your Paypal account to that card, making withdrawing that money a complete breeze. For the convenience to the customer, and the ease of use for you, this is an easy option to embrace.

Finally, the last payment option can be check, money order, or even bit coin. I’m not saying that it completely doesn’t matter, but in our testing, we’ve found that checkout pages with three payment options convert better than those with only two. There are exceptions to this rule, if your product is in such high demand that you’re selling out constantly, the demand far outweighs the potential loss of sales. Also, a really well written abandoned cart email can help bring the conversion rate back up.

About the Author
Pete Wise is a Content Creation Beast and White-Hat SEO Jedi. This article was written for Customer Paradigm with the help of Gillian Owen, a master Magento Developer. If you need help with your Magento SEO, contact Customer Paradigm. If you liked the article, please follow Pete on Twitter: @MySEOHeadache