Jump to content

Shipping Doozy


Recommended Posts

First off, I'd like to ask everybody that ships products out:

 

How do you determine the shipping total when a customer places an order with you?

 

In any case, I talked briefly with Andy earlier on AIM and discussed my problem. We have to figure out ahead of time what our shipping total to charge the customer is, even before we know how much will actually be levied for the shipment.

 

We have all of our product dimensions and weights, as well as the dimensions for all possible containers they'll ship in. We also have UPS' entire shipping tables for Ground, 1-Day, 2-Day and 3-Day shipments for all weights from 1lb to 150lbs. We also have their Dimensional Weight formula and conditionals, as well as any additional fees (For delivering residential, etc).

 

My problem is that I need my website to automatically figure out the most efficient way to pack all of these products into a box. The most products into the smallest box possible... This makes way into something known as the Knapsack Algorithm, which after looking around, is something that people pursuing a masters in computer science have to dig into... So it's beyond me.

 

Does anybody have any ideas for how to get around this issue?

 

Thanks for any help on these two questions... Bleh.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

First off, I'd like to ask everybody that ships products out:

 

How do you determine the shipping total when a customer places an order with you?

 

My problem is that I need my website to automatically figure out the most efficient way to pack all of these products into a box. The most products into the smallest box possible... This makes way into something known as the Knapsack Algorithm, which after looking around, is something that people pursuing a masters in computer science have to dig into... So it's beyond me.

 

Does anybody have any ideas for how to get around this issue?

 

Thanks for any help on these two questions... Bleh.

 

Every place I've every shopped online has charged shipping based either on weight or dollar value of the order. Some orders you are going to be 'overcharging' for shipping, on other you may find you didn't charge enough. Eventually you will either break even, or change your shipping charges/methods.

 

Having your shopping cart play tetris with your product honestly just seems like overkill.

 

I figured it up one time, UPS will charge $14 to ship a 2 foot square box to just about anywhere in the lower 48 states, almost regardless of it's weight (provided it's not overweight).

 

If your customer buys a $5 item that needs a 2' box, and you only charge $5 for shipping, you lost money. If you charge $15 for shipping a $5 item, you probably won't sell it, they'll realize that even after sales tax, they can get it locally cheaper. Let's face it, most people buy online because it's cheaper, not because it's more convenient (and certainly not faster), unless it's just something that isn't carried near them.

 

You could get a general idea buy determining the cubic inches of the item and using that, it's weight, and destination, and then comparing it to a table of the capacity of the boxes you have, even though it probably wouldn't fit into a standard box, you might get close.

 

BTW, I don't know of any cart that will do this, it would have to be custom written.

Edited by Pendragon
Link to comment
Share on other sites

How about offering free shipping and add in the actual cost of shipping to the price of the item. You could then advertise "Free Shipping" on all your pages.

That way you have covered the cost and the more they buy the shipping is already figured in. Make sure to put a caveat on shipping that is outside the US to cover other costs. Just a thought.

youneverknow

Link to comment
Share on other sites

We won't ship outside the 48 states, and our cart is custom-built... by me.

 

We won't factor the shipping into each item because then it will raise our item prices higher than our competitors, despite "free shipping." On the by and large, people compare vendors by the prices of items rather than the shipping amounts, so we'd get the short end of the stick by people just cruising by looking for the best deal...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

But the problem is doing it effectively. Sure, I can calculate volumes, but my cart has to be able to rotate things to fit into boxes, etc. That's not even remotely easy. I checked about this online to find that this particular problem is tackled by people attempting their masters in Computer Science...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hey Buddy,

 

I have a shopping cart system that I created and I have come to the conclusion that shipping can be one of the most complicated parts to deal with. All your comments and reasonings are things that I have toiled over myself.

 

Some people base their shipping on simple calculations like the order total, or the total weight of the order.

 

But there are others who's arrangements are much more complicated.

 

I don't see any simple answer to your solution. I've literally spent months working through ways to do calculations based on a number of shipping parameters. I just don't see any way around it.

 

It sounds like your situation has different factors than my own. No matter ... it's all complicated.

 

You have 3 choices:

 

1) Create a quantum-mechanics shipping system that works using the theory that there are 10 (not 11) dimensions in the universe. Study a little string-theory in the process.

 

2) Simplify your system so that MOST situations will work so that you can price the majority of orders in the most competitive way.

 

3) Use some entirely different method to calculate shipping thereby avoiding the issue.

 

My endeavor to create #1 was an fulfilling adventure. The person requiring special things in their shipping arrangement CHANGED their shipping arrangements and completely altered how they calculated shipping. Months of work flushed.

 

So be careful how much time you put into these kinds of projects. Be sure you can used them with other shippers.

 

Oh ... good luck and let me know what you end up doing!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well, we're going with UPS, and this is what I have so far...

 

UPS goes by either actual weight or dimensional weight. You calculate dimensional weight by multiplying the three dimensions then dividing by 194... Whichever is higher, actual or dimensional, is the weight used.

 

I may just have it go through all of the products, one by one, and add in to a running total the "used weight" of the item... Then use that final total for the UPS shipping table.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well, we're going with UPS, and this is what I have so far...

 

UPS goes by either actual weight or dimensional weight. You calculate dimensional weight by multiplying the three dimensions then dividing by 194... Whichever is higher, actual or dimensional, is the weight used.

 

I may just have it go through all of the products, one by one, and add in to a running total the "used weight" of the item... Then use that final total for the UPS shipping table.

 

Everything I have ever shipped by UPS has gotten weighed, and that weight used to determine shipping. The only time the box ever got measured was if it looked oversize, in which case an additional charge for oversize shipping was added.

I've shipped small boxes that were very heavy, and large boxes that were very light. Shipping ends up about the same. I once sent a set of car seats, each box was about 2' square and nearly 4' tall, probably 40 lbs each.. Cost me about $25 to ship it. Most every other package, short of being very light, has ran between $11 and $17 to ship, even the smallest, lightest package I've seen cost about $8. The variance seeming to be mostly where it's going, as the destination can change the charge. I've shipped the same identical item to different zip codes and had the shipping costs vary by as much as $4.

 

Don't get me wrong, it's your cart, if you want to spend the time to do it, I just don't see where the payback is.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

We've already got our cart to calculate the most possible shipping for distance, UPS' Zone 8, so we are covered if it actually costs the extreme amount.

 

Since installing what I just mentioned, the totals seem to be coming out realistic. I guess we'll see.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...