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Mike Null
01-27-2009, 1:16 PM
I am considering a new endeavor which will be web based and I need a built-in shipping calculator.

The link shows one which permits the customer to select their mode of shipping. I am considering the one called "paid shipping API".

http://www.auctioninc.com/info/page/ecommerce_pricing

Is anybody using this or a similar program? Are you pleased with your results?

Doug Griffith
01-27-2009, 2:39 PM
I've rolled my own APIs that tie into UPS, FedEx, and or USPS. There is quite a bit more to shipping calculations than providing originating and destination addresses. In fact, it is a more complicated process than the shopping cart itself.

I'm guessing the API you are considering already takes into account each carriers idiosyncrasies. Some go by weight, size, girth, rural/residential/commercial, you name it. These all require the correct data going in for the correct shipping cost to come out.

Some things to consider:
1) Your website may experience latency when it reaches out to the API.

2) you should build a database table that holds each of your items physical size and weight.

3) you should build a database table that holds your shipping packaging sizes and weight

4) you should build a database table that holds how many items per packaging

5) At checkout, a program then needs to collect all the items in the cart, figure out the minimum size packaging that will hold everything, add it all up, and send to the API.

6) the API should then send the data to all the carriers and return the best shipping rate.

In a nutshell, even if you use a good shopping cart and a good shipping calculator, you will need to spend some time putting together your item data.

You also need to make sure the shopping cart's programming language is compatible with the API.

Cheers,
Doug

Mike Null
01-27-2009, 3:01 PM
Doug

Thanks very much. I had anticipated some of the data input but not all that you suggested.

I'm going to use Yahoo again as my host so I'll check with them as to compatibility. This will not be a merchant site either so that may help.

My line will be short with many items having the same weight and size so that will simplify things a bit.

Ed Hazel
01-27-2009, 3:13 PM
I use Yahoo Merchant solutions it is integrated with UPS not the best solution for an e commerce site but it works well especially for a non techie type.
It calculates based on weight and ship to and from locations no problem as long as you do not have any over sized products.

Mitchell Andrus
01-27-2009, 4:05 PM
I've rolled my own APIs that tie into UPS, FedEx, and or USPS. There is quite a bit more to shipping calculations than providing originating and destination addresses. In fact, it is a more complicated process than the shopping cart itself.

I'm guessing the API you are considering already takes into account each carriers idiosyncrasies. Some go by weight, size, girth, rural/residential/commercial, you name it. These all require the correct data going in for the correct shipping cost to come out.

Some things to consider:
1) Your website may experience latency when it reaches out to the API.

2) you should build a database table that holds each of your items physical size and weight.

3) you should build a database table that holds your shipping packaging sizes and weight

4) you should build a database table that holds how many items per packaging

5) At checkout, a program then needs to collect all the items in the cart, figure out the minimum size packaging that will hold everything, add it all up, and send to the API.

6) the API should then send the data to all the carriers and return the best shipping rate.

In a nutshell, even if you use a good shopping cart and a good shipping calculator, you will need to spend some time putting together your item data.

You also need to make sure the shopping cart's programming language is compatible with the API.

Cheers,
Doug

I'll add, some software calculates volume per item, some will use shipping weights, others pay attention to a combination of both. There is no correct way or method as the shippers use different methods to return a ship quote.

Also, f'rinstance, if you ship small beads and need to ship one, a 2"x2"x2" box is impractical, so beads should measure 8"x8"x2". So to ship 100 beads in a box, how to transfer the smallest box size possible?

Google checkout and Paypal have their own quirks.

Shipping is the biggest topic on my ecommerce forums. It's not easy, and is rarely accurate.

Doug Griffith
01-27-2009, 4:49 PM
It's not easy, and is rarely accurate

Oh Yeah!!! You win some. You lose some.

An easier approach, with less math, is to come up with average shipping weights and sizes based on groups of items of the same type (not individual items). Each group has known packaging weight and dimensions that can be added to it. use the largest size and heaviest weight to send off for shipping cost calculation. It isn't near as accurate so pad in a few bucks.

example:
customer orders 17 earrings, 2 bowling balls, and 1 big bag of packing peas.

17 earrings = 8" x 8" x 8" @ 1lb
2 bowling balls = 18" x 18" x 24" @ 25lbs
1 packing peas = 24" x 24" x 40" @ 5lbs

24" x 24" x 40" packaging = 3lbs

Send off 24" x 24" x 40" @ 28lbs.

Cheers,
Doug

Mike Null
01-27-2009, 5:21 PM
My purpose for doing this was to offer my customer their choice of the lowest cost (USPS parcel or commercial methods). I may not offer such choices if there are so many problems.

I'm familiar with losing money on shipping and was looking to avoid that.

Doug Griffith
01-27-2009, 5:49 PM
If your customers only need to calculate shipping for 1 item at any quantity, what you want to do won't be that difficult. It gets messy when different items need to be compared by all the different variables. It should be possible to modify your shopping cart to only offer this feature if only a single item at any quantity is in the cart. The API link you mentioned earlier is for fixed-priced items because of this.

Cheers,
Doug

Stephen Beckham
01-27-2009, 5:56 PM
Mike,

It's a bit more expensive in some cases, but have you thought about USPS Flat Rate boxes? You can give a "what ever fits in YxZ box size = $5" and on up for the other three sizes they have.

The most you pay for the largest flat rate is $12 - and I think it's 12X12X8 - no weight concerns. The smallest is $4.90 and it's can be from CD mailer up...

If you're not shipping heavy stuff or going a state or two away, the flat rate is more costly. You can use first class and it'll be cheaper and get there the same amount of time.

Mike Null
01-27-2009, 7:05 PM
Steve

I'll check flat rate but most of what I'll be shipping is about 18 oz. which is too much for priority. tracking will be an issue as well.

Stephen Beckham
01-27-2009, 7:28 PM
Agree - 18oz would cost you $4.90 plus another $.50 for tracking (unless you pay online, then tracking is free). You could probably get a heck of a better deal with one of the other shippers...

Bill Cunningham
01-28-2009, 12:08 AM
In Canada, we have what is known as Expedited Post, Somewhere between ordinary parcel post, and Express post (it's about 3 days slower). If the destination is inside Canada, It's only available to Commercial shippers , and for items to the U.S. it offers a 5% discount over non commercial users. For example It takes 9 days to ship a 60+ lb box 17" x 13" 26" from Ontario to California and cost about $95.00 Cdn (about $75 $us) incl. 700.00 in insurance.. This is the most expensive destination for the largest box I ship. Everything else/place in N.A. is cheaper.