Simtech Development

Shipping Options: Tips and Strategies

Gayane Tamrazyan
How to manually set up shipping options

Shipping is one of the key factors why customers choose your brand. It is as important as your competitive product price or product description. Free delivery options encourage 93% of online buyers to buy more. 78% of US Amazon Prime Customers signed up for the Amazon Prime Loyalty Program to benefit from Free Shipping.

However, sometimes it is impossible to offer a free delivery cost. Often, it is not the most rational option for an eCommerce merchant. Applying a wise strategy may bring you more customers while saving on the costs you pay to your carrier.

In this post, we’ll tell you how to custom set shipping methods. You will get to know what delivery strategies to apply to differentiate from your competitors and get more transactions in your store.

Clear shipping rate estimation together with an indication of the accurate time and date are the proven drivers of the buyers’ decision about the purchase.

Shipping opportunities

The default CS-Cart software comes with all the most popular shipping services out of the box: USPS, UPS, FedEx, and others. Each of them has its advantages and inconveniences. For example, USPS is often cheaper than UPS due to fees and surcharges of the later one, becoming even more expensive when sending small packages. UPS is better to use for large and heavy parcels. USPS provides better rates for smaller packages that are less than two lbs. FedEx offers price negotiation to lower the price for large volumes of packages and has an option for Saturday delivery, which is a great option for impatient consumers. 

Many brands show ‘raw’ UPS/USPS/FedEx rates without adding their own custom-set option. But the most successful entrepreneurs use strategy for delivery options to stand apart from their competitors and increase margins. Showing the right options to your customers is critical in decreasing cart abandonment and increasing your income.

The right shipping means that you offer the lowest rates while covering your costs, and still meeting the customers’ expectations!

Sounds incredible?

Below are some considerations an online retailer should think about before crafting their shipping unique proposals.

Shipping considerations to include in strategy:

Product size and weight

Think about how significantly your largest/heaviest product differs from the smallest/lightest one. 

If your products are quite uniform by size and weight, apply a per-item, area-based approach. Make the delivery price dependent on the customer’s location and not by product size or weight.

Use promos for shipping like $10 shipping per order, $5 shipping per item, or even free shipping over $50.

If your products are varying in sizes and weights, show straight rates from a carrier to your customers and ensure that these rates you’re offering are the best possible ones.

Focus on getting the accurate weights and sizes of your products to get the best return on investment.

Divide your products into groups, then get product weights and sizes for the heaviest or largest 20% and smallest or lightest 20%.

This strategy has the biggest impact on your shipping rates. Zones are dynamically calculated based on where your package is shipped from. To increase your margin, try to set rates depending on a zone. For example, if you’re shipping from Los-Angeles, show a cheaper rate for this zone and increase the rate as your distance from there.

Take the USPS example. USPS sets the ‘zoned’ services (Priority Mail Express, Priority Mail, USPS Retail Ground, and Bound Printed Matter) and the ‘un-zoned’ ones (First-Class Mail, USPS Marketing Mail, Library Mail, and Media Mail). For these services, the cost is higher, the greater the zone is.

Shipping destination

Consider what prevails in your online store/marketplace: domestic or international delivery.

Shipping internationally typically implies getting a rate straight from a carrier. At this, rates may significantly vary even for the neighborhood countries. This fact makes international delivery difficult for creating your own rates. If domestic shipping prevails, then you’re free to choose a scenario as shown below.

Shipping options

Explore your local market of carriers to reveal delivery services that fit your online store the most. Look beyond the well-known companies to find new opportunities. In large cities, it is always possible to find local carriers capable of delivering more quickly and at more competitive rates.

While exploring local carriers, ensure the can offer shipping options like:

  • Same-day delivery;
  • Free shipping;
  • Free in-store pickup.

Tips for e-tailers to effectively ship products online:

  1. Make an online sale.
  2. Define which products to package and the total size and weight.
  3. Choose the right shipping carriers and show the shipping cost estimatedate&time.
  4. Define shipping destinations.
  5. Hide shipping options for certain user groups! If you’re based in Los-Angeles, you probably don’t want to let the customer from Moscow see a shipping option of your local delivery. 

Strategies for promoting your online store with shipping options:

Free shipping

Free shipping promo is easy to explain to customers, and, actually is what they are looking for. However, you’re still paying the cost to the carrier and deserve getting your piece of cake. The most effective approach to free shipping is to offer it for orders where you’re making enough on the sale to cover delivery costs and still make a profit.

While setting free shipping, ensure your subtotal threshold makes sense for your business and. Consider excluding inconvenient products for free delivery: too heavy or too bulky.

Flat rate / table rate shipping

Flat rate shipping stands for some fixed price like $10 delivery regardless of order value.

Table-rate delivery is a little bit more tricky. You can specify a certain amount, say $5 per order for a customer living in New-York, increasing this rate if delivery is getting further away from the fulfillment center. Alternatively, you can manipulate the shipping rate depending on the order subtotal ($10 shipping cost for orders below $50, $5 – for orders below $100, and free for orders – if the order subtotal exceeds $100). You can also include a different rate for some specific groups of products or specify rates based on the weight of the order.

Live rates from a carrier

This approach is hard for promos as the rates will vary on the custom order and distance from a warehouse, but you will be able to ensure the cheapest real-time option.

Live rates are the best options as you cover your costs showing UPS, USPS, or FedEx rates in real-time. You charge your customer exactly what the carrier collects from you. 

This strategy fits online retailers whose competitors offer live rates. You can stand apart by showing cheaper rates for lightweight packages or offering a cheaper price for orders made near your warehouses.

Alternative strategies for shipping options: 

  • Standard + Expedited;
  • Free + Standard + Expedited;
  • Standard + In-store pickup + Same day delivery;

Mixing these strategies allows you to balance your income needs with promotional opportunities. For example, you can offer standard delivery for free with no or limited delivery commitment (say, 5-10 business days). Or, you can apply Expedited shipping (say, 3-5 day delivery at a table rate based on order value) and live rate options for Second Day and Overnight delivery. Finding your perfect match of strategies will bring you profit, decrease costs, and gain customer loyalty.

Options of custom shipping methods in CS-Cart

A custom delivery method is a specific way of shipping that you configure to accurately create delivery charges per order. 

The custom configuration applies to CS-Cart shopping platforms. You can manually set up the shipping classes (aka methods) from the administration panel.

To set up a manual shipping method you will need to:

  1. Create the necessary rate areas.
  2. Add a new shipping method.
  3. Set Rate calculation
  4. Select the rate area for which you’d like to specify rates.
  5. Specify the Delivery time for the rate area. If the rate area has a delivery time, then that time will be specified to the customers from that rate area instead of the time from the General tab.
  6. Specify the rates for the shipping method. The rates differ based on:
    • Order total
    • Weight of the items in the order
    • Quantity of the items in the order


The danger of an improper configuring or your custom shipping class lies within the unavailability of delivery information at checkout. As a result, you may lose your potential customer. 


If a manual delivery method doesn’t work:

  1. Check if you set up the proper rate area.
  2. Verify whether geographic areas (states or countries) of rate areas do not intersect with each other.
  3. Check whether you selected the states (if any) on the rate area editing page or not.
  4. Make sure that the rates have been specified for the customer’s rate area.


At Simtech Development we customize the CS-Cart stores from 2005 and know it inside out. 

We can give you personal eCommerce pieces of advice about how to customize the software or connect more services to make it work even more efficiently. Our experts successfully integrated various order fulfillment systems like Freight Shipping, Innotrac, and QuietLogistics. We customized shipment services such as Aramex, MyParcel, GlobalTranz, Easyship, JNE, and FedEx in CS-Cart and Multi-Vendor stores. We expanded the default shipment functionalities by adding appropriate features like label printing for packing slips or automatic updating of order tracking statuses. Our expertise allows elaborating a solution to help you in making your customers happy with delivery!

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