People hate shipping fees.  They rank up there with getting a root canal. A customer will choose a store that claims to have “free shipping”. But is it really free?

Not really.  The shipping fees are embedded into the products.  That way, the checkout can show “$0 shipping”. The customer is still paying for shipping and in some cases, far more than what they would pay if shipping was calculated at checkout.

So how do you embed shipping costs?  These are some of the more common strategies out there.

Some suppliers provide Shipping & Handling costs for each product.  This is the simplest case, you can simply add this to your store price.

Other suppliers will provide a weight-based formula that you can apply to each item.  This allows you to embed the cost by running a calculation for each product.

In some cases a supplier will provide rates for dimensional weight.  They will also provide the length, width, and height of each product in their data feed.  You can use this, along with the dimensional factor, to calculate the shipping.  i.e.  (length × width × height) / (dimensional factor).

Then there is good old algebra.  Perhaps the supplier has really weird, non-standard shipping rules.  In these cases we can use the supplier’s shipping chart and create a formula that approximates the rate for each product.  i.e. store price = weight * factor + minimum shipping fee.  It is a ‘best fit’ calculation where the input is the product weight and the output is the approximated shipping rate.  This type of system requires a bit of give and take.  Some orders will have shipping calculated a bit too low, others too high.  The average will settle to a profitable range.

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