How are Real-Time Shipping Rates Calculated?
- After adding their preferred products to the cart, the shopper chooses “Checkout.”
- The shopper enters their shipping address (a).
- The information for the box’s weight and dimensions is sent over to the shipping provider (UPS, USPS or FedEx). The values configured for weights and dimensions (c) in the admin area for a product are what is used for calculating the box size needed for the shipment. This information and the weight is sent to the shipping provider.*
- Depending on the box’s dimensions and weight, the rates enabled in the admin area, the shipping and origin/warehouse addresses (b) entered, and whether or not your account is configured to receive negotiated rates (d) (UPS only), the provider then responds with rate estimates for the shopper to choose from.
*this step primarily applies to the legacy box packing calculation method. The new box packing calculation method explanation is at the bottom of the article.
a) Shipping Address
The shipping address determines where the order will be sent and this needs to be accurate and valid so the shipping provider can respond with rate estimates.
b) Origin/Warehouse Address
The origin address is the location where the shipment originates from and this is generally the warehouse address where products on your website are stored. This can be set in the administrative side for the store under the “Shipping” tab in the “general shipping options.” This is required if you are using a shipping integration provided by FedEx, UPS, or USPS.
c) Product Weight and Dimensions
The weight and box size for an order is determined by the weight and dimensions that are entered for products in the admin area. The system will add up the weights for each of the items in the shopping cart, and based on that total volume a box size is selected and this information (box size and box weight) is sent to the shipping provider to determine what rate estimates can be generated for that order.
The regular dimensions of an un-folded T-Shirt are usually around 8 x 10 x 15 (L x W x H). However, if this was entered into the admin area for that product’s dimensions, and I ordered 75 units of that item, the total boxes required for that group of items would be four 30 x 30 x 30 boxes. Then the rate returned by the shipping provider will be relatively as high because the provider expects that you will be shipping multiple large boxes.
Instead, you would want to enter the product as it would be folded and ready to be shipped (not the dimensions of it within a box). So this might be 6 x 5 x 0.5, and with an order of 75 units of that item, the box size for that order would be 12 x 12 x 8. This is a smaller box and the rates returned will be more accurate because you are entering weight and dimensions for an item as it’s ready to be shipped.
That being said, even if the shipment is larger than the largest box size in our system, the shipment will be broken down into separate box sizes to account for large orders. Here is a link to a list of box sizes currently used in our system.
Dimensional weight is used to determine the minimum billable weight based on the size of the box being used.
For more information on how dimensional weight is calculated by your shipping provider please visit:
d) Negotiated Rates (UPS Only):
Negotiated Rates is a feature through UPS which you can configure functionality for in Bright Sites to receive reduced rates based on your contract with UPS. Here is a link to an article in our help center which goes into more detail about configuring this within Bright Sites.
When using FedEx, no additional configuration is required in Bright Sites to use your negotiated rates. USPS only returns published rates so there are no further steps.
New Box Packing Calculation Method
This uses the above information (item dimensions/weights & origin/ship-to address) but how the box size is assigned is different and this is to provide closer to accurate rates. At a high level, the new calculation method works like this:
- Pack largest (by volume) items first.
- Pack vertically up the side of the box.
- Pack side-by-side where item under consideration fits alongside the previous item.
- If more than 1 box is needed to accommodate all of the items, then aim for boxes of roughly equal weight (e.g. 3 medium size/weight boxes are better than 1 small light box and 2 that are large and heavy).
The primary difference is, the legacy calculation method will JUST look at the total volume of the items in the cart to then see which box size best fits whereas the new calculation method will account for volume AND the item's actual "as shipped" dimensions to assign a box size.