How does the Shipping Calculator compute rates?
Posted by Doug Sherman (Import), Last modified by on 11 Aug 06 03:18 PM

How does the Shipping Calculator compute shipping rates?

The AuctionInc Shipping Calculator offers flexible and powerful shipping rate calculations that go beyond the simple shipping calculators offered by the various carriers. The calculator addresses the issues of insurance, packaging materials, combining multiple items together, rating of multiple packages, drop shipping, handling fees and more.

Our calculator first gathers all the necessary item data from you for one or more items, and then uses your account configuration to determine whether to add any additional weight and then constructs one or more theoretical "packages "based  on your item data, your configuration, and the carrier limits. We then, under the covers, contact the various carriers directly thru a programming interface (API) and feed them all the appropriate data on one or more packages, along with origin and destination addresses, appropriate "entry method", any requests for additional add-on services such as delivery confirmation.  Some of these add-on fees are available thru the APIs; some we maintain locally. 

The carriers return rates for the specific services we have requested (ie, those you have enabled).  These rates typically include the carrier's fuel surcharge, surcharges for oversized dimensions, and perhaps accessorial fees.  Then, we add to those base rates any handling charges you have configured, either at the item, package, or order level.  The final total for each service is then what we show in our "drop-down" of comparative rates.

To use the shipping calculator to its fullest potential ,it is best to understand how it deals with packaging and the various configuration settings that are available.

Packaging Method
The AuctionInc Shipping Calculator allows you to specify items as shippable Together or Separately. Typically items shipped Separately are items that are large or prepackaged whereas items that are to be shipped Together are small and can be packaged with other items. With items that are specified to be shipped Separately, the calculator uses the exact weight and dimensions specified when calculating the shipping charges. For items indicated to be packaged together, the calculator tries to determine accurate weights, dimensions and number of packages based on the factors described below.

Packaging Weight
When creating items to be packaged Together, it is recommended that you use the actual weight of the item. The calculator uses a "Packaging Weight" factor to account for the weight of the packaging materials. This factor uses a sliding scale based on the total weight of the items (i.e. less than 1 lbs add .5 lbs, less than 5 lbs add 1.25 lbs, etc).

The Packaging Weight sliding scale is user-definable and is located at

Maximum Weight
When packaging items together the calculator recognizes that each carrier and their services have varying weight limitations. The calculator will automatically split a shipment into multiple packages when the combined weight of the items exceeds the limit. In addition to the carrier limitations, the calculator allows you to specify your preferred weight limit for each service which may be set lower than the carrier's. Although most carriers allow between 70 and 150 lbs per package, you may indicate a preferred lower limit (i.e. 40 lbs.) Individual items exceeding your limit will automatically split into separate packages. Note that packaging weight is accounted for when determining if combined items exceed the weight limitations. If any individual item weight including the Packaging Weight factor exceeds the carrier service limit, it will result in the service not being rated.

The maximum weights are user configurable and can be set in the Carriers form at

Another consideration is the dimensions of your items. When computing the weight of the package, the calculator will also track the total volume of the items going into the package and, just as with weight, automatically split to the next package when the dimensional limts of the service being rated are exceeded.  Depending on the volume of your package compared to its weight, your package may be "dimensionally rated" by one or more carrier; this means that the rate may be based on determining a weight that is based on volume rather than physical weight. While dimensions are optional in our products, they do provide for more accuracy both in determing package splits and in calculating the rate.

Lot Size
Certain products when sold are considered a single item but physically consist of multiple units/packages (i.e. a set of tires). The calculator accounts for this with the Lot Size property. In the case of a set of tires, the lot size would be set to four (4) and the shipping calculator will compute the shipping as four separate packages. Typically for this sort of item, the packaging method would be specified as package Seperately.

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