Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Sun Mar 9 2014 21:10:16

Seller Pet Peeves: No Shipping Calculators or Combined Shipping

By: Ina Steiner

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Shoppers are very sensitive to shipping and handling costs when perusing online listings and making purchase decisions. Just ask eBay sellers who are rated on shipping costs via Detailed Seller Ratings. Many found that even if they offered free shipping so the buyer paid zero S&H costs, it was difficult to attain a perfect score!

Given the importance of shipping costs, it is hard for sellers to fathom why a marketplace wouldn't offer calculated shipping. eBay does offer a shipping calculator, but Etsy and others do not.

One seller explained how big a problem this is in a post on the Etsy boards last fall:

"Shipping a lamp to Washington state does NOT cost the same as shipping to New York. So why do I have to pick a shipping cost before I know where the customer lives? If they live close, they get screwed and I make a little extra money, if they live in timbucktoo I get screwed unless I over estimate all my shipping costs, which shoppers don't like."

Etsy is aware of the problem, but the new shipping feature it is testing, Price Your Postage, is not a solution. It simply helps sellers look up postage rates without having to leave the Etsy website and does not allow sellers to use calculated shipping in their shops.

In reacting to last week's news of the new test feature, a seller wrote, "I already know how to estimate Shipping using the USPS web site....what we need is a way to price Priority Mail by USA Zones, similar to the "European Regions" option...so we don't have to refund for overcharges, which is so unprofessional."

Combined shipping is another problem that many online marketplaces have failed to tackle successfully. For example, sellers like giving shoppers a reason to buy more than one item, and wish to offer discounted postage for buying multiple items or multiple quantities of the same item.

It's difficult enough for sellers to try and gain shoppers' trust without adding shipping cost complications and the inevitable refunds that arise thanks to inaccurate charges.

Why are these features that seem so basic on an ecommerce website so difficult for online marketplaces to offer? Where do these shipping challenges fall on your list of selling pet peeves, and how do you deal with them?




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Perminate Link for Seller Pet Peeves: No Shipping Calculators or Combined Shipping   Seller Pet Peeves: No Shipping Calculators or Combined Shipping

by: blaumann2 This user has validated their user name.

Mon Mar 10 00:00:30 2014

The worst offender is Ecrater. Their incredibly stupid shipping deal has kept me from listing there.

Perminate Link for Seller Pet Peeves: No Shipping Calculators or Combined Shipping   Seller Pet Peeves: No Shipping Calculators or Combined Shipping

by: Mr. Me This user has validated their user name.

Mon Mar 10 00:01:45 2014

This is not a solution.....since Etsy only lets seller put in a fixed price for the entire USA, Im in SF, cal and shipping within USA varies wildly for medium or heavy items.

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by: vintagegoodness This user has validated their user name.
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Mon Mar 10 00:02:52 2014

This is SO disappointing. There is no excuse for Etsy not having a shipping calculator set up at this point. :(

Perminate Link for Seller Pet Peeves: No Shipping Calculators or Combined Shipping   Seller Pet Peeves: No Shipping Calculators or Combined Shipping

by: DonC This user has validated their user name.
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Mon Mar 10 00:06:03 2014

My experience when offering calculated shipping on Ebay was very disappointing. In order to make sure that my customers did not over pay for shipping. I changed all of my listings over to calculated shipping.Sales dropped to about zero. For some reason my customers were unable or unwilling to use the calculator.  

I am fortunate that I live in Missouri for online auction sites I charge a flat rate based on the cost to ship to Los Angeles. I make a few cents on some shipments and lose a little on others.

At my online store I calculate the actual shipping costs on combined orders and correct the shipping rate before I complete the credit card transaction. If my checkout system under charged for the shipping I eat the loss. If I can find a cheaper shipping rate that is what I charge.  

Perminate Link for Seller Pet Peeves: No Shipping Calculators or Combined Shipping   Seller Pet Peeves: No Shipping Calculators or Combined Shipping

by: Moonwishes This user has validated their user name.
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Mon Mar 10 00:52:04 2014

Just want to set the record straight from what blaumann2 said. While he apparently found ecraters shipping system not to his liking, that doesn't mean is doesn't work for all. Me, we've had over 4000 sales on ecrater so I know what I'm talking aobut. I sell on ecrater and by using the matrix (both US and international) for shipping and have been offering combined shipping with no problems for around 6-7 years now. It depends on your product line how well the matrix can work for you, but if you sell basically the same type inventory, the matrix can be very easy to use and easy to change when the PO changes rates. However ecrater, like any venue, isn't always the perfect place for every seller. Ecrater also offers other shipping options which I've never even bothered to figure out since I don't need to use them.  

Perminate Link for Seller Pet Peeves: No Shipping Calculators or Combined Shipping   Seller Pet Peeves: No Shipping Calculators or Combined Shipping

by: menco This user has validated their user name.

Mon Mar 10 01:27:07 2014

In my 40 years of experience I have come to the conclusion that it is very hard for 25year old programmers to understand real world business systems and problems. The fact that eBay's calculator even exists is a damn miracle, so griping about other sites getting it wrong is pointless.

However, since eBay does have a calculator MY pet peeve is that they limit FedEx Ground shipments to 70 pounds.

This may sound a bit arcane to those of you selling lightweight goods, but it probably makes UPS extremely happy.

Perminate Link for Seller Pet Peeves: No Shipping Calculators or Combined Shipping   Seller Pet Peeves: No Shipping Calculators or Combined Shipping

by: Trishna This user has validated their user name.

Mon Mar 10 01:29:09 2014

As a seller I can only say it is annoying.  I refund shipping on big orders, but that too is not easy and I can't do it all the time.  SO SORRY BUYERS.

Perminate Link for Seller Pet Peeves: No Shipping Calculators or Combined Shipping   Seller Pet Peeves: No Shipping Calculators or Combined Shipping

by: KathleenJohnson This user has validated their user name.
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Mon Mar 10 03:47:14 2014

Shipping, the most critical part of the online selling equation and, still, after all this time - the biggest hurdle that Sellers have.

They have flown to the moon and back with bigger, better, smaller, and smarter computers, now, smart phones - but, still, we struggle with the most critical part - shipping.

Not just eBay (which wants to micro manage how the public "thinks" about shipping), Etsy (who refuses to buckle down and subscribe to a "pay" for the code), and a myriad of other middleman platforms that leave the Seller floundering to come up with a way to get shipping paid for and, the Buyers are left struggling between inflated costs to "cover" the "free" shipping or using extraneous links to figure out what the costs are.

Truth in fact - these middleman platforms are going to have to "pay" for the code, one way or the other, and, sadly - so are the Sellers.

So, either the Sellers are going to have to educate the public on the reality that "shipping" is not free and one way, or the other, they are going to have to pay to get that package from one side of the country to the other - despite anything that eBay or Amazon says - or, your going to have to get your own website and do it yourself.

Shopping carts are in abundance out there these days as "add ons" for websites. PayPal has some great code to add that is easy to use (but replete, of course, of shipping).

Amazon offers Buy It Now buttons for website owners that includes shipping and the code is easy to install. I have installed "Buy It Now"  Amazon Buttons on mine (or, have been getting them installed). The Shipping calculations have been accurate for the customers, I have had zero issues with Amazon, and the payment from Amazon is prompt. My website package: Weebly.
My product is unique so I did not need a shopping cart - so I bypassed the monthly business package and use the Pro package with Buy It Now Buttons from Amazon.

Weebly websites has a great business package with included shopping carts - albeit a monthly/yearly cost. Other "do it yourself" websites have included shopping carts as an option also.

Instead of struggling, it is a matter of diversification and bringing control back to the Seller and, most importantly, understanding that "selling" costs and the concept of listing for "free" does not exist without some type of "cost" - it manifests as a lack of service options.

If and when Etsy gets a Shopping Cart with Shipping - the Sellers are going to have to pay for the service. My guess it is not going to be "free".



Perminate Link for Seller Pet Peeves: No Shipping Calculators or Combined Shipping   Seller Pet Peeves: No Shipping Calculators or Combined Shipping

by: Daisy909 This user has validated their user name.

Mon Mar 10 07:31:40 2014

ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Seriously Etsy, give your sellers a little bit of credit! We've been using USPS shipping rates look up already. What we need is a shipping calculator so my local customers don't over pay and my west coast customers don't under pay.
Stop cheaping out. You already make interest on my money overnight while I wait to ship an item, use that interest to get a shipping calculator so I can stop apologizing to OUR customers!

Perminate Link for Seller Pet Peeves: No Shipping Calculators or Combined Shipping   Seller Pet Peeves: No Shipping Calculators or Combined Shipping

This user has validated their user name. by: SusansAntiques
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Mon Mar 10 07:36:10 2014

I use calculated shipping on all of the sites where I sell antique pottery. The only venue that gives me a problem is eBay. I figure the insurance & signature confirmation fees into the shipping & I do that by adding a hidden S&H fee when I create the listing. However, if an item sells by best offer the insurance rate will go down. There was a time when I refunded the difference to the buyer when the amount was $2 or more. As a previous commenter noted, this looks very unprofessional. eBay charges the seller a final value fee which includes the shipping. They do not refund me on the final value fee if I make a refund to the buyer. It may seem like a small percentage but over time it adds up. I have stopped sending refunds to the buyer for the shipping difference. Offering free shipping is simply a ruse. To do so forces me to increase the price of the item. Signature confirmation is required on items that sell for $250 or more to comply with the seller protection policy. I have no choice but to include it. Free shipping simply does not work in my category. I have managed to maintain a 5,0 DSR in shipping. I think this is because my buyers realize my items are fragile, proper packing adds weight to the package & insurance is mandatory. Still, eBay hasn't helped sellers like myself with the constant promotion of free shipping. I have never made a profit on S&H fees.  

Perminate Link for Seller Pet Peeves: No Shipping Calculators or Combined Shipping   Seller Pet Peeves: No Shipping Calculators or Combined Shipping

This user has validated their user name. by: Vintage Touch
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Mon Mar 10 08:41:30 2014

I sell on eCrater and use their calculated shipping - customers have a choice of shipping methods based upon the weight of the item.  Some people hate the eCrater matrix - but if you engage calculated shipping & set it up in pounds then use fractions for ounces, it works pretty easy and I don't have any problems.  

Perminate Link for Seller Pet Peeves: No Shipping Calculators or Combined Shipping   Seller Pet Peeves: No Shipping Calculators or Combined Shipping

by: NoFreeLunch This user has validated their user name.

Mon Mar 10 09:00:20 2014

We all know that what Etsy runs their site for the shop owners on the cheap, so those at Etsy HQ can have catered lunches, a yoga room,a ski trip, time to do elementary arts and  crafts, have medical benefits, a Halloween party, take time to walk the dog they brought to work, and other perks.  
It takes a lot of 20 cent and FVF fees of people listing to give them that.
All while they don't have staff to fix a double login issue over the weekend, mess up shop owner income with  a ''test'' to the front pages of their shops that take away vital information to shoppers, or throw the USPS shipping calculator at the shops .
Then they spin it by saying the test is an improvement to your front page, and act like they invented the USPS postage calculator.
When shop owners ask for features like more sections, a true shipping calculator, or other important functions, they are told, ''No.''
Wake up shop owners, you are nothing but a sharecropper .

Perminate Link for Seller Pet Peeves: No Shipping Calculators or Combined Shipping   Seller Pet Peeves: No Shipping Calculators or Combined Shipping

by: FREDDY This user has validated their user name.

Mon Mar 10 09:24:26 2014

Sounds to me like Etsy so wants to be ebay that it will come up with more stupid statements. Postage calculator? Really. They act and sound like that they just invented that and it will be a blessing for sellers. There are many sites that have that already. I have been using it for many years.
Too cheap to have a shipping calculator.  All studies supposedly point to shipping cost as a main selling point. Then why can Chad be so blind to see that a shipping calculator will increase sales-thus increase the money for HIS POCKET. What is his rationale, if there even is one??????????
C'mon Etsy get with the times. Ever hear the expression you have to spend money to make money???????

Perminate Link for Seller Pet Peeves: No Shipping Calculators or Combined Shipping   Seller Pet Peeves: No Shipping Calculators or Combined Shipping

by: mbbn This user has validated their user name.

Mon Mar 10 10:09:08 2014

This shipping thing on eBay, etc makes me crazy.

When I shop at any on-line retailer outside of eBay or Etsy, I PAY WHAT THE SHIPPING RATE IS.
And when the package arrives, I do not look at the postage sticker and then call the company and ask for my $3 overage be refunded.

Kate Spade and Janie and Jack often charge upwards $7, 11, even $20 to ship.
IF I FEEL THIS IS UNREASONABLE, I DO NOT HAVE TO MAKE THE PURCHASE.

So eBay shoppers, please, please, please for the love of God, just pay the reasonable shipping and handling rate you agreed to when you clicked and do not email me asking for a one, two, three, etc dollar refund b/c the postage was less than your shipping.

I recently asked a penny-pinching customer if she has ever called Amazon or Best Buy to ask for a refund on the difference.  

As one of the previous posters states: you sometimes win on the shorter distances, but often we lose on the longer ones.  I often ship Boston to Cali--but I of course do not know this until AFTER the customer purchases.

So at the end of the day, my theory is this:
the shipping and handling is what it is.  I am very fair about my shipping rates.  The customer can either choose to pay it or not.  
Fortunately, more often than not a customer will not mind.  Occassionally the frugal penny pinchers send an obnoxious email requesting their one dollar back.  I oblige.  But thank God that is rare!  

Perminate Link for Seller Pet Peeves: No Shipping Calculators or Combined Shipping   Seller Pet Peeves: No Shipping Calculators or Combined Shipping

by: timeaftertime This user has validated their user name.

Mon Mar 10 10:14:00 2014

I sell on Ruby Lane.

Ruby Lane has incorporated a shipping calculator that offers combinations and choices. You can offer customers up to 3 different shipping options (both domestic and foreign) on any individual item. Also, they let you offer ''promotional'' choices such as free or discounted total shipping if customer buys several items, or so (I don't use this feature, so not familiar with it, but it is there).

In over 10 years on Ruby Lane, I have never heard anything about sellers (shop owners) being charged extra for a shipping calculator (which was not available at RL's beginning). This expense should be built into the venue's cost of doing business, not charging stores extra.

Ruby Lane at last got a cart system and shipping calculator installed some years ago, and are doing a fabulous job with the calculator in particular - it must be horrific work because USPS is always changing something, and techs must have to go crazy making everything interface and not only that, work with any kind of browser a customer may be using.

I can't believe people think shipping is ''FREE'', but that is the mindset that eBay seems determined to try to instill. (Maybe going along with the ''entitled'' generation who think they are entitled to everything free ??)

I think most people realize that while they would ''like'' it to be free, shipping costs instead are ''INCLUDED'' and to cover that cost something has to give somewhere.

Sorry to be such a promoter for one single venue, Ruby Lane, but their record keeping tools are exactly what I would have set up had I been able to do so for myself, and I have found them about foolproof; if there is a problem there is an explanation. I've been totally delighted for years, and if I've missed another venue being great it's because I have had no reason to look elsewhere.  

Perminate Link for Seller Pet Peeves: No Shipping Calculators or Combined Shipping   Seller Pet Peeves: No Shipping Calculators or Combined Shipping

by: Toledo Maude This user has validated their user name.

Mon Mar 10 11:05:41 2014

As a buyer and seller on the Internet, I know very well that my purchases come down to best price and best shipping rate.  And that pretty much is the same for shoppers who are looking at my vintage items.  

As a seller, shipping and handling charges are not about fairness for both seller and buyer, it is about marketing.

Over the years, I have gone back and forth from including a shipping and handling charge, to no charge for shipping (including shipping in the cost of the item), and now a flat rate for domestic shipping (that does not include the cost of packing supplies).

My once profitable international business was completely shut down by last years USPS international rate increases.

With a domestic flat rate, I cover shipping costs for destinations east of the Mississippi but lose money west of.   This is part of my marketing plan hoping West Coast volume will make up for shipping losses.

With the USPS continuing to increase postage rates,  I am wishing that eBay would divide the US into zones and allow me to block sales where I will lose money on shipping.  Sorry West Coast but we live just too far apart.

I would rather offer cheap shipping charges to near by buyers and have them happy.  What is the point of charging higher shipping charges to the West Coast when either the shoppers will be offended by the higher charges and not buy or leave low DSR scores from those who do buy.  

Perminate Link for Seller Pet Peeves: No Shipping Calculators or Combined Shipping   Seller Pet Peeves: No Shipping Calculators or Combined Shipping

by: Mr. Me This user has validated their user name.

Mon Mar 10 12:24:55 2014

Simple formula...
Fixed shipping (including "free" shipping which is factored into item cost) = either seller sets shipping at worst case scenario, and over charges nearby customers, or ..... seller sets lower shipping cost and risks losing money for distant customers.

Also , it is easy to bookmark usps and fedex rate calculators, so I dont see etsy doing any big favors, their rate calculator and 99cents will get you a cup of coffee at mcdonalds!

Perminate Link for Seller Pet Peeves: No Shipping Calculators or Combined Shipping   Seller Pet Peeves: No Shipping Calculators or Combined Shipping

by: Moonwishes This user has validated their user name.
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Mon Mar 10 12:29:17 2014

>>So at the end of the day, my theory is this:
the shipping and handling is what it is.  I am very fair about my shipping rates.  The customer can either choose to pay it or not.  
Fortunately, more often than not a customer will not mind.  Occassionally the frugal penny pinchers send an obnoxious email requesting their one dollar back.  I oblige.  But thank God that is rare!   <<

On those extremely rare cases (a lady in France asked for 26 cents back!) that a customers feels after the fact that they paid too much for shipping, I remind them that shipping also includes the prices of packing supplies, etc. Even PP or whatever payment venue you use takes a fee out of the S&H fee, so I don't bother refunding dribs and drabs of money back. I also use stealth shipping with endicia. If someone goes through checkout three times and pays three spate times, I've paid three PP fees, etc. My combined shipping prices take into account less fees due to purchasing everything on one invoice. I don't know why some customers do that as most of them seem capable of paying for everything all at once and get the correct combined price.

They have all the time in the world to see the S&H fees before clicking to pay. My rates are fair and take into account ALL the costs of shipping, one of the reasons that I don't offer 'free shipping'.

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This user has validated their user name. by: monkey

Mon Mar 10 13:23:38 2014

Sigh.

I'm so glad I don't have to worry about any of this.

Since I began offering free shipping, my whole selling experience just got so simple.

No shipping calculators. No refunds for shipping overage.

No hassles with combined shipping charges.

No risk to my shipping DSR on eBay.

Never had a single complaint from a buyer about shipping cost.

My listings get a bump in search.

All this ... and surveys show that buyers increasingly are attracted by the simplicity of free shipping.

I realize it doesn't work for everybody. But my experience as a seller offering free shipping has been excellent. I'll never go back to separating shipping charges.

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This user has validated their user name. by: GIG

Mon Mar 10 13:49:21 2014

I never understood why so many people assume sellers who offer free shipping always include S&H costs in the item price. I'm sure many do but in 15 years of online selling I never have.  The item's price is the item's price and shipping is truly free to the customer. I absorb all shipping costs up front including packing supplies. It's all deductible as business expenses.  In addition, my state expects sales tax on the shipping too.  If I don't charge shipping, less money has to be remitted to the state for sales tax.  I might be laying out some money up front for shipping costs but the state and federal business tax deductions leave me with more profit in the end.

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