|Mon Feb 21 2011 13:41:51|
Shopping Carts Fail to Provide Accurate Shipping Quotes
By: Ina Steiner
I have been selling online for eleven years, have many different web sites and blogs, and am also an eBay Education Specialist as well as a Trading Assistant.
I just read through most of the articles on ecommerce shopping cart systems, and the one thing that none of them address, is their ability to calculate for various zones within the U.S., and the numerous country codes outside the U.S.
We deal in a great many products, most of which are physical products of varying sizes and weights. Some can be shipped by First Class Mail, and some have to use freight carriers. Some are shipped by various drop-shippers, with whom we have no control over what shipper they prefer to use, but yet the payment still comes through OUR PayPal processor, and I have seen for a long time that we have outgrown it because it hasn't kept up with the needs of its users (at least, not the more advanced ones).
PayPal only gives you five different divisions within their shipping calculator, and those can be based on only two other choices, weight or cost. Even though we have gone to using individual codes on all products, based on the shipper's preferences and all the variables of the product figured in, it is still not enough.
If we set the international shipping to allow for something going to Canada, then we don't collect enough if it goes to Japan. If we adjust it for Japan, then we overcharge for Canada! There's no winning with this system unless you are shipping only one product....and it's digital...in which case you can just collect your money and not have to worry about shipping at all!
In other words, it will not adjust for the different zones, even if shipping within the U.S. It expects you to keep statistics, read all the postal charts and try to come up with a happy medium on your own that doesn't rip off customers or cost you money! There's GOT to be a better way!
I'm amazed that eBay has not fixed this problem, since they own PayPal, and obviously have a lot more money to throw at this problem in order to keep their payment system the best in the world (which it should be!). Even eBay itself has a better shipping calculator on their own program than what PayPal has. If I sell something on eBay, the calculator has always done a fair job of coming up with shipping costs, based on the method and where it goes. Not so with PayPal.
A really good payment processor should have all of the U.S. zones and country codes built into the calculator, so that all we have to do is give the size, weight, method and carrier. It should be up to the processor to keep up with all the current costs of various shipping methods used by the different carriers, and be able to calculate the costs accurately based on that information!
All of the articles give a lot of good insight into general things to consider when choosing a payment processor, but it takes a long time to read all that stuff, especially when you get into reading customer reviews. Those are helpful, but reading through all of them is like watching grass grow! And most of the time, they don't really answer the questions we have on the capabilities of the product!
What I would like to see is a review site that has a chart showing the capabilities of each processor. I realize there are a lot of complex variables with each one, which may make that difficult, but they could always add footnotes to it for the extra information. At least the chart would be quicker and easier to read, and give most of the information at a glance!
If anyone knows of a shopping cart out there that automatically adjusts shipping costs based on U.S. zones and country codes, please pass that information along, in the comments to Ina's blog, or contact me through any of my sites! Although the rest of this information on features and processing costs is helpful, it does not solve all the problems that we online sellers and shippers are facing! I don't mind paying a little more for a processor if it solves my problem, so all this talk of cost of operation is a moot point to me. I want accurate shipping costs calculated! That alone will please more customers, prevent shopping cart abandonment, and increase sales enough to cover the cost!
John W. Abert
Azgrand Internet Marketing
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