An introduction to integrated carriers in Auctiva Commerce
Auctiva Commerce offers a lot of shipping features to make sure your store serves your customers the best you can. A shipping method can be integrated with leading carriers to automatically give customers the appropriate shipping rates. Each of these automated shipping methods can be assigned to specific shipping zones, warehouses (i.e., groups of products) and user groups to provide the perfect shipping solution for your store.
How does it work?
A shipping method is the specific shipping service used for shipping orders (e.g., ground shipping, overnight, first class, etc.). With an integrated carrier, your store will automatically give your customers shipping charges for the carrier's shipping service. At checkout, the customer's order information is checked against various shipping parameters to see if the order is eligible for a shipping service. If the order is eligible, the integrated carrier checks the customer's order information (i.e., shipment weight, dimensions and origin/destination addresses) to assess an estimated shipping charge. Most often, the carrier uses only the Zip Code and not the entire address to compute the estimated charge. The actual shipping charge may slightly vary due to fuel surcharges and other fees when you create the actual delivery using the exact origin and destination addresses that the carrier requires to make the shipment. If this becomes a problem, you can consider adding a small handling fee to each integrated shipping method to help cover the spread between estimated shipping charges and actual shipping charges.
Your Auctiva Commerce store can integrate with Canada Post, DHL, FedEx, and UPS. You can set up any combination of integrated carriers and choose from a large selection of services provided by these carriers. Additionally, you can decide if you'll charge handling fees, require a minimum purchase or include a tax within the shipping method.
Getting started with the parameters
The shipping methods within Auctiva Commerce come with a great deal of parameters. So, before you add a new shipping method, it's a good idea to set up all these options. That means you should know about adding shipping zones, warehouses, user groups and tax codes. Here's a brief description of each of these parameters:
- Shipping zone: A shipping zone is a defined geographical area that's deliverable by the shipping method. A common example of a shipping zone is the contiguous U.S., which includes every state, except for Hawaii and Alaska. This zone, because of the vast shipping network provided by major U.S. carriers, usually falls into a standard pricing model. However, outside of this geographical region (e.g., Hawaii), the shipping fees will change. By establishing shipping zones for your Auctiva Commerce store, you will be able to flexibly charge your customers the appropriate shipping costs depending on their shipping address. To learn more about setting up your Auctiva Commerce store's shipping zones, read the "How to add a Shipping Zone" tutorial.
- Warehouse: In its simplest form, a warehouse is just a group of products. It also represents the address from where your shipments start. You must have at least one warehouse on you Auctiva Commerce store. You can create more warehouses if certain products ship from different locations (e.g., a drop shipper or vendor) or if you want to separate products from your typical warehouse to apply special shipping rules. For example, you could have a set of products that, because of their weight or size, have to be shipped in a completely different way. If you create a new warehouse, you can group these similar products together and specifically create a new shipping method for this warehouse. So, no matter where you're shipping from, or what unique products you're shipping, you can give your customers the most accurate shipping costs and delivery times. To learn how to create new warehouses, read the "How to add a Warehouse".
- User groups: You can assign user groups to a specific method of shipping. In this way you can offer discounts or other bargains to a certain group of customers, for example, frequent buyers. When you assign these types of bargains to shipping methods, those methods will only appear to customers who belong to these groups. To learn more about user groups, see the "Introduction to Users and User Groups" tutorial.
- Tax code: A tax code is a set of rules that will assess an additional charge to a customer's purchase if applicable. A tax code can also be assigned to a shipping method so that just the shipping charges are taxed. To learn more about tax codes, see the "How to add a Tax Code" tutorial.
That covers the shipping parameters that are central to adding a shipping method with an integrated carrier. You can always make changes to these parameters and the shipping methods as necessary.
Your Auctiva Commerce store can integrate with Canada Post, DHL, FedEx, and UPS. Each integrated carrier will require its own setup. Below are the integrated carriers and a link to the tutorial on how to add each of these carriers to your Auctiva Commerce store so that you can create integrated shipping methods. You can also quickly setup an integrated carrier using the Integrated Shipping Carriers link in the Welcome Box).
Tips on Shipping to Ensure Good Transactions
- Keep your customers updated on the status of their orders. You can do this by using Auctiva Commerce's automated e-mails to let them know when the products they've ordered have been shipped. Go to Admin> Email> Templates to see the default order shipped email.
- Send customers tracking numbers for their orders so they can be reassured they'll get items in a timely manner and you can focus on other orders.
- Ship goods promptly. Most customers expect shipments to be made as early as the same day and no later than the day after payment.
- Use the free shipping supplies that carriers, such as the USPS and FedEx, offer. This can help you cut cost, and the supplies they offer are intended to withstand the wear and tear of common shipping environments.
- Give customers realistic shipping times. Don't give them a "best case" scenario and explain any possible delays.
- Set up a default rate for Google Checkout. Adding a default rate for Google Checkout will protect you in the event that live shipping calculations fail when using Google Checkout. See the How to add a Google Checkout Payment Gateway help article for more details on Google Checkout.
- Check in with customers to make sure they get their items.
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