Overview of our Shipping Engine
Posted by Doug Sherman (Import) on 07 Aug 06 04:28 PM
Enhanced, Accurate, Configurable Shipping Calculations
We have developed what is by far the most sophisticated and accurate shipping calculator available anywhere. Our data comes directly from the carriers themselves, and we have integrated and gone way beyond the functionality of the online calculators that the carriers provide, as well as the few other third-party companies that have attempted to develop a workable calculator. To the best of our knowledge, this set of features is unique to our product.
Intelligent Packaging for Multiple Items
One of the capabilities that really sets our technology apart is our ability to provide accurate shipping rates for more than one item. In order to do this correctly, items must be "packaged" appropriately before they are rated. Our engine knows how to best model your real life decisions to construct the correct number of packages for the order regardless of the number of items you are shipping. This allows us to provide you with rates that truly reflect the discounting advantages of shipping items together, a rate savings that your customers will truly appreciate.
Packaging Material Weight
Your final shipping weight is based on both the weight of your items and the weight of your box and packaging materials. Our calculator allows you to factor in this weight, automatically accounting for different packaging costs based on the total weight of the items in each box determined by our engine.
Ship rates are determined by the size of your packaging as well as the weight. A light package may well be rated based on its "dimensional" weight rather than its physical weight. Our calculator will automatically take this into account; all you need to do is provide us with the dimensions of your items.
You can opt to have the calculator determine the proper insurance cost for the insurance that you use based on each of the carrier rates. The calculator will automatically add this amount in to the calculated figures. You can also choose to make insurance optional for your customers, and set a threshold over which is becomes required. Besides the insurance offered through the USPS and UPS, our calculator also handles third-party insurers such as PIP. If you qualify for one of these insurers you can realize a substantial savings on insurance costs. If you choose, you can pass this savings onto your customers. For our eBay products, since insurance is calculated based on the amount of the winning bid, bidders can enter an estimated winning bid prior to bidding and see how different bid amounts will influence the final shipping charge.
If your business is located in a state, county or city that charges taxes on your online sales, our calculator will automatically factor this in if your customer lives in this area. If shipping costs are also taxed, we handle it. And if you pay taxes in more than one state, that's no problem-you can set up as many tax rates as you need.
We know that postage is only the beginning of what it costs you to ship out a package. You also need to account for the cost of packaging, and packaging materials, time, labor, travel, carrier pickup fees, etc. Being able to account for these additional costs is often the difference between you losing money and breaking even (or maybe even making a little profit) on shipping. Our calculator provides advanced functionality to factor in these charges. You can add handling per item, per package or per order, base it on a fixed amount or a percentage of the shipping rate, set a minimum and maximum fee, etc.
If you ship certain items that typically incur additional packaging expenses, you can account for this by adding additional handling fees on a per-item level. You can even set up codes for these fees, such as "fragile" which are linked to specific carrier services or even geographical locations. If a particular carrier or destination requires more labor for you, you can include this cost in your shipping and handling.
Fixed Fee Management
Even if you prefer to use fixed fees, our calculator still is the best product available. Our calculator provides for very flexible management of fixed fee shipping rates, including discounting for additional items, and intelligent management of discounting when handling multiple items with different fees. Even more impressive, we offer you the ability to establish different fixed fees for different levels of service, i.e., one for ground shipping and one for next day air, allowing you to offer your customers shipping options without using calculated rates. You can even link your fixed fee codes to certain geographical areas, setting up, for example, one fee for domestic shipping and another for international.
Restricted Carrier Services
If you ship items that qualify for restricted shipping services such as Media Mail (books, film, etc) or Library Mail (non-profit institutions) you can still offer this greatly discounted services to your customers. Our "on-demand" feature allows you to indicate on a "per-item" basis whether these services should be available for a specific item. If you drop ship from multple locations that dont all use the same shipping services, this capability will account for this as well.
Support for USPS and FedEx Flat Rate Boxes & Envelopes
We provide superlative support the US Postal Service's Flat Rate boxes & envelopes for USPS Domestic and International Priority and Express Mail (including the Regional boxes if you qualify for Commercial Base rates), as well as FedEx's flat rate boxes for International Priority. These packaging options have a fixed price regardless of the weight of the items being mailed and are probably the best deal still available from all the carriers for package services. If you indicate that you use either the boxes or envelopes, our engine will transparently determine if your items qualify for one of the flat rate products, and if so rate the package appropriately. AuctionInc will compare the cost of the qualified flat rate product to the regular calculated cost based on weight, and determine for you which is the best deal in every situation. We handle support for these flat rate products-- which often, but not always, can be a major savings-- better than any other shipping calculator or cart available!
Carriers have a differential rate structure depending on how you get the package to them. One-time and daily carrier pick-ups, customer drop-offs, etc. all have different pricing. Our shipping calculator takes into account your particular delivery method.
If you ship from different locations, our engine handles this easily. Just set up as many different origin codes as you wish and shipping calculations will use your indicated code for each item. Customers can purchase multiple items, each from different origins and calculations will be accurate.
Special Carrier Services
Need special carrier services for your account? Our calculator allow you to include in the rates pricing for a wide variety of special services, everything from signature required to hazardous item. You can select a generic service, such as additional handling for irregular packages, and our engine will assess the appropriate charge for each carrier. Or, you can select a carrier-specific service, such as USPS Delivery Confirmation.
Promotional Pricing Discounts
Want to encourage your customers to buy multiple items? You can set up discounts on the shipping rates based on your customers' order total. You can establish multiple levels of discount, i.e., 20% for orders of $50 or more, and 50% discount for orders over $100, for example. You can even link the discount to a specified service group. For example, you can offer your discount just for ground services, but if your customer prefers a next day service, they can still opt to pay full rate.
Pickup & Delivery Options
You can enable "Local Pickup" and/or "Local Delivery" as shipping options, and optionally set your preferred fees for each. Our engine will intelligently eliminate these options when they are not practical, i.e., the origin and destination countries or states do not match.
Anticipated Winning Bid (AiShip only)
Within the calculator the current bid box is editable, allowing your bidders to enter what they think they might pay or are willing to pay for the item. If the current bid is at $10.00, but were to ultimately go over $500.00, your bidder can determine exactly what the true shipping cost would be if the price where to go that high. This is especially helpful if you are selling expensive items or items that need special handling. Buyers bid with confidence knowing as the price goes up they are not going to be gouged on insurance rates. No other product offers this feature; in fact, it's patented! But without it, you cannot have confidence that your bidders are getting accurate shipping rates during the course of your auctions.