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How does one set proper (vs. inaccurate) shippig rates?

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 29, 2015 10:42 am    Post subject: How does one set proper (vs. inaccurate) shippig rates? Reply with quote


I am having a lot of trouble with shipping charges as my customers are either getting over-charged or not charged at all depending on where they are located.

I ship anywhere in the worldwide and on most sales sites there is a selection for “Worldwide”, however, it appears that on this site one must select every country on the list, as well as “Everywhere Else” and then enter data into each and every box on the matrix. Since the shipping rates don’t change depending on country, I charge the same price for shipping anywhere in the world based on weight. I attempted to use just United States and Hawaii for domestic rates and “everywhere else” for all international rates but then the system tells me that I need to do it separately for United Kingdom and for Australia in order to be seen on those 2 sites. Is it really necessary to fill out shipping charges for every country on the list or is there a place to enter it one time for all international shipments?

I am also having a problem if I try to use the weight matrix as the weight matrix is only in pounds yet most of the items I ship overseas are under a pound and postage is based on ounces. It would not be fair for me to use the “1" pound rate for an item that weighs 2 ounces as well as an item that weighs 15 ounces as the cost of postage is dramatically different and I would be overcharging for most of my international shipments, thereby turning off potential customers and losing sales. So, can you please tell me how do I use a weight matrix for ounces not pounds?

With using the USPS Calculator, international shipping of a 3 ounces package it is coming up as:
USPS First-Class Mail International Package (Varies by destination) : $16.75. The real cost is approx. $6.60

When using the USPS Calculator for shipping a domestic 3 ounces package it is not even showing a First Class shipping option because the weight matrix starts at 1 pound and that is above first class rates, so it is showing “USPS Priority Mail (1-3 days) : $5.75” when the real cost is to me is $1.93 using First Class mail.

The USPS Calculator, even if working correctly, is not very useful as it doesn’t allow you to set the amounts you want to charge for each level of service. In other words, even though a 3 ounces First Class domestic shipment might cost me $1.93 I might want to charge $2.50 to cover the cost of mailing supplies.

In the past (2013) I was able to use the “Global Editor” tab to “set flat rate shipping” and I did that for a number of locations. Now I do not see that as an option in the “Add Global Action” settings. Has this option been removed or am I looking in the wrong place?

There has to be some better way then to have to edit hundreds of items individually to plug in flat rate shipping for each destination, but that seems like the only way to address the issues I’ve described. Even the bulk editor won’t work as that only allows you to sort by categories. If there was some option on the products screen that let you select items to edit and then bulk edit those items (such as all items that you want to charge a certain shipping rate for) and apply that rate to those selected items, at least that would cut down the process by a few weeks.

If there are any good solutions to the problems I’ve described I’d love to know.

Thank you.
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 29, 2015 12:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You've asked a lot of different questions and I'll try to answer them for you. First I need a little additional information. Since you are based in the US you have the option of using 1) USPS Calculated shipping OR 2) weight matrix and/or Flat Rate.

1) Which system do you want to use as your primary shipping method?

2) It appears you have tried to use USPS Calculated shipping, so what are your choices in Account: -> Options -> Selected Domestic Services and Selected International Services.

3) Did you list the weights on the individual item pages as the actual packaged weight of the item?

4) Did you list the weight as a decimal of a pound. In other words, if the package will weigh 4 ounces, did you enter it as 0.25?

Once I get your reply, I'll try to follow-up on the other questions.
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 29, 2015 2:40 pm    Post subject: Thank you Sheila Dee's Postcards Reply with quote

I will use whatever method that will work with what I am trying to do.

I had tried to use decimal amounts before (I.E. - .25) and it would always return the error message “Weight must be a positive number or 0.” However, after seeing your message I just played around with it and the system will take a decimal if the same thing is written as “0.25"
However, doing this I find that it leads to another problem. Let’s say I want to charge $3.00 for a domestic first class package. If I set the matrix to charge $20 for “1" pound and set the weight at “0.15" it will charge the buyer the $3.00, which is fine. However, what happens when the package weight is “9" ounces which will then charge the buyer $9.00 when the actual cost is $3.40. Or, if it is an international shipment, the cost to ship “1" pound is actually only $16.75 but I would have to charge (enter into the matrix) the amount of $63.00 for “1" pound, so that same “0.15" weight will produce the really postage cost of $9.45. Now what happens to the poor buyer that buys something that might weight 8 ounces? I believe that he will be charged $31.50 shipping when the real cost is only $16.75.

Having said all that, it might be a moot point as I just ran a test using the $20/$63 and weight of 0.15 and the listing is showing “Shipping: US-Mainland: $20.00" and “Regular Australia : $63.00”. So, it obviously is automatically rounding up the “0.15" to “1".

If I use the USPS Calculator it probably won’t work because that seems to only provide the exact postage cost and has no ability to adjust the amount to add in for the cost of materials, etc.(your typical S&H portion)

If I am not doing anything wrong, then it seems that both weight and USPS calculated will not work, which would leave me only with Flat Rate. Flat rate would be fine but that brings me back to the issue of do I need to go into all 1500+ items individually and enter the dollar amounts in every box for US Mainland, Alaska, Hawaii, Australia and UK (in order to be listed on those sites per the system message) and then “everywhere else” in both the “rate” and “with another item” columns? That would mean that I would have to make over 3,000 entries which would take weeks.

I hope you have some simple solutions that I am not seeing here. Thanks so much for offering to help.
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 29, 2015 4:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sadly, there is no "simple" solution when you've already entered 1500+ items and tried to use all 3 systems (flat rate, matrix and USPS calculated). It sounds like your weights are not entered in a way the system can understand for a weight based system. Also, if you really want to set your own postage rates, you can't use the USPS calculated system. You tested the system entering a weight of 0.15. I'm not sure what that would equal, 2 oz = 0.125 and 3 oz. = 0.1875. If you have USPS calculated turned off, and have $63.00 entered in the "1" column, the system is going to total all item weights, round up to 1 and charge the amount in the "1" column for the buyers location (US, or international).

At this point, you need to look at the eCRATER shipping options, make a choice as to the system you want to use, then make the corrections needed to reach that goal.

Here's a few things to consider. First, you must make a choice BETWEEN using USPS Calculated shipping OR a combination of weight matrix and/or flat rate as your primary shipping. You can not use both as your primary shipping. [If you use the USPS Calculated shipping, you will need to use the other system as a backup in case the USPS website is down or busy. This doesn't happen very often, but it does happen.]

If you want to use USPS Calculated shipping, you will be able to use zone shipping in the US and have options for many international countries. When the USPS changes their rates, you'll only need to upgrade your backup system. While you are not able to "add extra" for your shipping materials, you do receive a small amount "extra" for this extra cost. The USPS Calculated system is going to charge the retail price of shipping and if you purchase postage online you get a discount. You MUST enter your shipping weight on each item as the package weight expressed in a decimal form (with the leading 0 before the decimal). There is a chart for decimal conversion of ounces located on the first page of the topic "Solutions to Common Questions - SHIPPING MATRIX & MORE" in the FAQ section: . I keep a copy of the chart beside my computer when I'm adding new listings.

For your "backup system" you will either need to complete the shipping matrix and select weight matrix for each item OR add a flat rate shipping for each item. You can also use the shipping matrix and flat rate. The system will look to see if there is a flat rate for each item, then check the shipping matrix. You MUST complete your shipping matrix for pounds when using as a backup shipping method for the USPS Calculated primary shipping.

NOW, if you want to TURN OFF the USPS Calculated system, then you can use the shipping matrix AND / OR the Flat Rate system. In this case you can be creative and use the shipping matrix any way that works for you. You could have a system where all shipping is based on the number of item purchased. All item weights would have a weight of 1 and if the customer bought 6 items the system would add the weights (6 x 1 = 6) and return the shipping listed in the 6 column. This works great when all your items are about the same weight (like my postcards). If you have something that you need a "special" extra shipping cost, you could enter the shipping price in the Flat Rate box. Keep in mind that evey item you enter as a Flat Rate will need to be individually changed when the USPS raises the rates.

Once you understand how the system works, you will realize it is very flexible. In my media store, I only list items that can be shipped via USPS Media Rate. I have actual packaged weights entered for each item. I have the shipping matrix completed with amounts that will cover the slight extra charge for tracking (not included in Media Mail) and a slight extra for packaging. I have the USPS Calculated shipping OFF. Closer to Christmas when Media Mail isn't practical for a gift, I turn on the USPS Calculated shipping for Express, Priority, First Class Parcel and Media Mail. After Christmas, I turn it off.

The MOST IMPORTANT thing to remember is the system is going to use the USPS Calculated shipping for EVERY item if it is turned on (enabled). There are NO exceptions.
If you don't have your weights entered correctly, the system will not return the correct postage. Also, the customer will be shown every domestic option you've allowed for every item with one exception. If the total weight is 13 oz. and under and you have selected a First Class option, the buyer will be shown that option. If the total weight is greater than 13 oz. that option will not be shown. If the buyer has an international address, they will be shown the international options you selected.

If the USPS website is down and/or busy, the customer will be charged the amount shown in the Flat Rate box. If that box is blank the amount shown in the shipping matrix will be charged.

Hopefully this will answer some of your questions. If you have additional questions after reading this, let me know.
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 29, 2015 5:03 pm    Post subject: Follow-up Reply with quote

Thanks for that detailed response. I'm going to have to keep trying different options and read more about the situation to figure out what to do.

In the meantime do you happen to know the answer to the part of my posting that read:

In the past (2013) I was able to use the “Global Editor” tab to “set flat rate shipping” and I did that for a number of [shipping] locations. Now I do not see that as an option in the “Add Global Action” settings. Has this option been removed or am I looking in the wrong place?
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 29, 2015 6:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Prior to this week Flat Rate Shipping was not available except for US Mainland, AK & HI (and maybe Canada but I'm not sure). This week eCRATER expanded the Flat Rate Shipping to add additional zones. I never used the Global Editor related to Flat Rate Shipping so I don't know the answer.

I'm concerned about your statement that you are going to "keep trying different options". You really need to sit down and think about your shipping options and pick a system for your store. Otherwise, you are just going to continue compounding the problems you already have in your store.
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 29, 2015 7:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote


If you are entering real weights (as opposed to synthetic weights), then you should be entering weights that are packed weight.

Real weights are compatible with USPS Calculated, and the shipping matrix.

Synthetic weights are shipping matrix only. Synthetic weights allow you to redefine the weight field to mean something other than pounds. It could be units sold, ounces, or something that works uniquely for you. For more information about this route, search the community for 'synthetic weight'.

Flat rate does not use the weight field.
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 30, 2015 9:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I only use the matrix. The biggest thing to remember when using it is the weights can mean ANYTHING that you want. You can set the amount in the first column as the shipping cost for something up to 6 oz and the next for up to 13 oz and then priority mail and then additional weights if needed. I suspect part of your difficulty is the eclectic nature of your inventory. If you only were selling jewelry it would be much easier, but books, papyrus, jewelry, etc. all have different packing needs so it is hard to know. You can figure it out, but it takes time and a commitment to using the matrix. As to filling in the shipping costs for all countries, I know I did that and when the rates change, like I think some will do next month, you will have to go and change some of them. The problem with flat rate shipping, is every postal increase you will have a lot of fun - NOT! - changing your prices in each listing.

I use the matrix for even more than sewing patterns and my combined shipping always comes out, but I took a lot of time to think about it and how it worked and one day the lightbulb went off and THEN I started listing and putting in my weights. As Sheila said you really need to stop and figure out what will be the best for you or would it be better to have two stores so things like media items can have their own rates which are very different than first class and priority mail.

Getting your store set up shouldn't be a race but a time to think through your needs logically to be sure you get it right the first time.
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 16, 2015 3:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I haven't read all of the responses, yet, but I wanted to suggest using USPS calculated and entering flat rates as a backup for all of your items since your package weights greatly vary even though most of your items ship First-Class. I just checked and you can use the Global Editor to enter flat rates by zone, but you have to do it by category. You just have to make sure you have your flat rate shipping zones set. To do so:

1. Go to Shipping & Taxes > Shipping Zones to make sure you've added all of the zones you want to ship to and click Update when done.
2. Then go to Shipping & Taxes > Flat Shipping Zones and add all of the same zones you have added in Shipping Zones and then click Update.

After doing that, go to edit a listing and you'll see all of the flat rate boxes for everything you just added to Flat Shipping Zones.

Now, about using USPS calculated shipping, you absolutely have to have a package weight set for each listing in order for it to work. Otherwise, it will revert to your backup settings, which would either be the matrix or flat rate shipping. You have to choose one or the other as a backup, not both. If you are using the matrix as a backup and haven't set the columns as weights (rather than column "1", column "2", etc.), then it will return the wrong amount. If you are using flat rate, it will use whatever you entered in the flat rate box for that listing.

Personally, I prefer using flat rates as a backup because you ensure that your customer is being charged the right amount -- or closer to it for Priority and Standard rates. When you have greatly varying weights between items, there are too many variations in rates from one zone to the next, from one weight to another, and between the different shipping options to be able to set up a minimally sized matrix (a mere 10 columns with no different rates between shipping methods). By using flat rate, you can set it according to the shipping method (and zone for domestic shipping on non-First-Class items) you choose.

For the different shipping methods (ie, First-Class, Priority, Standard, etc.), go to Account > Options > Enable USPS Calculated Shipping Instead and add your preferred shipping methods for both domestic and international shipments. I do not recommend adding Media Mail as an option because it will be offered on every product whether or not it's eligible for Media Mail.

I think I covered everything. Let me just add that I sell a variety of items that weigh anywhere from 5 oz. to 10 lbs. and I find the method I just suggested as the best route since it offers more flexibility and control over what customers are charged. Unfortunately, it means making sure you have entered the package weight for everything -- one by one. It would be nice if we could use the Global Editor for more settings and by selected products rather than categories because not everything weighs the same in a category.

So, yes, it will take you some time to fix your shipping set up, no matter which route you choose to go. Just remember that when you use USPS calculated, it will be your ONLY primary shipping method, so you cannot opt to use the matrix or flat rate as your primary for any item in this case, so your package weight must be set properly. Then, as your backup, you can only use ONE other as your secondary (matrix OR flat rate), keeping in mind that if you choose to use the matrix, your matrix must be set according to weight rather than a mere number.

As someone mentioned above (Dee?), I suggest you sit down, think things through, and map out a plan before proceeding, especially considering the number of products you have listed. I only have about 150 so far and it's time consuming enough editing those one by one without going back and redoing or fixing things over and over again. LOL

ETA: I just noticed that I repeated some things that were already said, but I didn't read all of the replies before posting...sorry about that. =)
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 01, 2015 11:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

the problem with calculated, is that its going to vary from place to place, there are alot of variables to take into consideration. you have to take a look at what usps and international calcuations take into consideration.

does it include tracking, what if you need a signature requirement, dimensional weight vs actual weight.

Your never going to get exact shipping rates from the calculator. You have to look at your inventory and see what type of packaging you can place them in. For US rates, you can base it on a Flat Rate Shipping Box and see what the product can fit into. In that case you wont be over or under in pricing your shipping rates.

For international, you have to do a price for the heaviest item until the price changes. its a little more complicated. there.
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