Author Archives: Karen Baker

Prep up for Magento Imagine 2016

In just under a month the best of the Magento ecosystem will reconvene for the Imagine Conference in Las Vegas. As a veteran of the event I thought I’d share some tips for people attending for the first time.

When to Get There

The Sat/Sun are fully of pre-Imagine events, I’d definitely advise get in Sunday morning/lunch at latest so you can ease gently into the Imagine ‘experience’, trust me it get’s busy!

The community runs:

  1. PreImagine with KalenHackathon – Starts Saturday, wonderful place to learn, meeting all types of developers & exchange ideas/learn/code
  2. Great Dam Run – I seem to have volunteered for this event for some mad reason, please sponsor me as I aim to do a 5K for the first time in many years!!
  3. Pre-Imagine Party – Infamous and sponsored by the wonderful Magento community this is THE event to attend at Imagine, its intimate, a great way to network especially if you are new to the ecosystem, full of very intelligent people where everyone is an equal and everyone is your friend

Formal sessions at Imagine start Monday morning, evening reception is unlike any other conference and the first keynote is Tuesday morning.

Where to Stay

I assume most of you have booked already. If you haven’t then suggest you either stay at the Wynn, or very close by.  You will do a lot of walking around and the schedule is fairly tight, with the last keynote in the evening really being a pretty much straight run to the evening reception, so staying close by allows you time to go get changed, take a break and just chill for 5 minutes!

Footwear

This deserves it’s own section! Be prepared to walk. A Lot.  You can reasonably expect to be doing 5 miles per day, I reached 10 miles each day last year, you need some decent footwear! If you are working on a booth it’s an absolute must to wear shoes that are worn in, and with plenty of padding. Personally I go with the sneakers, there is no way I’m walking in uncomfortable shoes for 3 days.  The Wynn is very large, and breakout rooms tend to be spread out, another reason for staying there.

Food

You won’t have to worry too much about food during the conference, it’s laid on for you.  I’ve found tho that because of all the networking (& drinking) it can be easy to just miss the evening dinner completely, so just bear in mind. I tend to go have Keynotebreakfast meetings in the Wynn restaurants (which always get packed) and use that as the alcohol recovery time 😉

Sleeping

It’s a bit like having a baby really, make sure you sleep before.  It does depend on your personality type of course, and just how stupid you want to get, but its been known for people to be on the tables gambling until the extreme early hours before. But given the need to get to the keynotes would def recommend try to get some sleep in where you can. Ultimately we are all there to do business so everything in moderation…Actually sod it just enjoy the time lol.

What to Wear

Business Casual, if you are a dev you don’t care anyhow.  Women tend to get dressed up in the evening in my experience, but it really does vary a lot.  Definitely need changes of clothes for day/night tho if you can.  Weather will be warm and all the evening events are outside (unless we get an unexpected storm roll thro like in 2013 I think it was), so prepare for that. Dancing does happen on occasion.

Meetings

It’s best if you can to arrange meetings beforehand if you need to have longer chats with partners/friends/foes/etc.  The event really does flash by extremely quickly and if you are not organised you can miss having vital conversations, especially with people that are much in demand (like the Magento team for instance).  Make sure if you are having lots of meetings that you schedule in some free time, otherwise the event can just overwhelm you. Make sure you have space to just enjoy it.Wynn

Sessions

The keynotes at Imagine are legendary. The Buzz Lab are an external company that do a lot of work alongside the Magento team around video production, staging, etc and what they produce is just amazing. Every year is different, and its definitely fair to say you leave the keynotes feeling invigorated, ready to fight another day and just buzzing. Thats the Imagine effect.  So don’t miss them!

Schedule beforehand which breakout sessions you fancy if you can, and don’t overload yourself. Make time to go see the exhibition stands, and of course come see us at ShipperHQ. We were previously flying under the WebShopApps banner, trust me its the same team, just with an amazing new product that absolutely nails what merchants need for shipping rate management in the next 4-5 years.

Lastly on Wednesday afternoon there are some amazing Barcamp sessions where you will see subject matter experts giving hopefully useful technical detail around subjects chosen by the community.  I’ll be speaking here about building shipping extensions in Magento 2 so please come along and see my talk!

Networking

Always difficult, and as Imagine has gone on it’s so much different now, there are much larger teams, people are more closely aligned, a lot of the community are very close friends, etc etc.  What I can say from personal experience is that this is probably the most friendly commNetworkingunity of people you will ever meet at a conference. It’s not like IRCE or Shop.org, its a much more intimate affair, and 99%+ of the people there are open to conversation, thats why they are there.

So let me say this. If you are in the event and spot someone on their own, or a couple of people looking at their mobiles constantly then go say hallo, introduce yourselves and just spend a little bit of time getting to know their story. You never know what you have in common, I’ll tell you this, you definitely have Magento and thats a good start. And if you do find events awkward then come find myself & the ShipperHQ team, we are more than happy to extend our welcome to you.

And Lastly

Just enjoy it.  You have the opportunity here to meet amazing people, learn about whats hot in the world of Magento and Commerce generally today, plus just get a break to expand your mind and think bigger for a little bit. Put on that out of office, turn the phone on silent and immerse yourself in what is still the greatest conference in the calendar.


 

About Karen & ShipperHQ

Karen Baker is the founder of both WebShopApps & ShipperHQ.  The wife of a small merchant, in 2008 Karen decided to take her software engineering skills learned in the corporate IT space and apply it to eCommerce.  She decided she could do things better around how shipping is calculated/displayed and manipulated in the checkout.  8 years on WebShopApps has over 17K paying customers, with many now having transitioned or transitioning to the ShipperHQ platform which brings together all the WebShopApps capabilities into a single cohesive offering.  ShipperHQ are Gold Sponsors of Magento Imagine, and have been Gold Technology Partners with Magento since 2011.  ShipperHQ is proud to be a 100% founder/staff owned company based on the key principles of hard work, passion, innovation and customer service.

Bigcommerce – A platform to pay attention to

My first experience of Bigcommerce was arriving at their offices in San Francisco to be greeted with this totally frantic environment. There were some seriously smart people around, it was like your typical tech startup scene you see on TV, with Star Wars trophies, people drinking beer, industrial feeling.  What I sensed most tho was the sheer passion of the team. They were in a hurry to build something great, they had hunger.

I’ve had many experiences with Bigcommerce since that time, including now living near their Austin offices which have a very different feel to them.  I’ve seen the arrival of Brent Bellm as CEO (who I greatly admire) and a gradual steadying of the fast growing ship, an order to some of the inevitable chaos you get when you expand so quickly, but whilst retaining that wonderful innovative hunger & passion to succeed. 

When we at ShipperHQ showcased Bigcommerce our shipping rate management platform what I saw then for one of the first times in eCommerce was an understanding from technology product managers of the value we provided. They totally ‘got it’, they understood the pain points of merchants and they saw that our product could solve it.

With everything in technology its hard to meet all merchants needs all of the time, I don’t think I speak alone as a company founder when I say we have a mountain of things we would like to do to make it easier for people, to improve, to simplify. We are extremely focused as a company in meeting merchant’s needs, you are our bread and butter, its all about you.

My experience of Bigcommerce thus far is that this is a platform that is still growing, changing, expanding. And for many merchants it suits them very well, it offers flexibility, is simple to get up and running (and very fast) but with an ever-growing list of great well-thought out integrations that add real power, plus some superb development in-house to innovate the platform. A great example of this is the recent Stencil addition. Stencil is a theme framework which allow developers to, amongst other things, develop locally, create fully customizable themes utilizing the latest technologies such as handlebars,js, SASS, SCSS.

Bigcommerce is really starting to show that SAAS doesn’t mean inflexible.  This is also true within ShipperHQ. We are bringing you what is without question the most flexible rating solution in the world today. Dimensional shipping, promotional rules, estimated delivery dates, rate shopping, dropshipping, all of these and much more. We hope later this year to switch on the other features in ShipperHQ such as Store Locator/Pickup, Calendar/Time Slot delivery, Address verification. We are also working extremely hard now to partner not just with carriers but with other solutions across the labelling space in particular, to make it easier for you, to make it faster for the merchant to get their product out, with less cost. 

I’m mightily impressed in Bigcommerce, this is a company with drive and passion.  As Integration Partners we have an extremely close relationship, I would say not a day goes by without some form of interaction with the Bigcommerce team, and at all levels from the support engineers upto the senior execs. This says a lot about the company in my mind. 

No product suits everyone, we all know that, my view Bigcommerce packs a punch and I believe they have the team and the technology to continue to be a formidable force in the eCommerce platform landscape, and the ability to hit the mid-level market very effectively in 2016.

About Karen & ShipperHQ

I’m the founder of ShipperHQ. My husband was a small merchant, I got into this space in 2008 to help make his life easier.  I’m located in Austin Texas where I live with my husband and 2 kids. Originally I’m from England, I came here in 2013 to build up the global business and stop having to work in the evenings so much! ShipperHQ is bootstrapped, we work hard, we hustle, we care about our customers. We aren’t faceless. Contact us via phone, email or chat if you want to know more about our product.

Magento 2 Shipping – ShipperHQ

We are (more than) excited to announce the release of ShipperHQ for Magento 2.

Included in this extension is the MatrixRates capability, maintaining our commitment to the open source community by releasing for free the most popular shipping extension on Magento Connect today.

What is ShipperHQ?

ShipperHQ is a highly flexible carrier agnostic rating focused solution for eCommerce.

Or put otherwise watch this video.

 

ShipperHQ takes over shipping rating in your checkout. With our capabilities you get the most advanced rating engine in the world today. I’ve not seen anything like it, we feel its unique in its proposition, and when teamed with Magento you have an extremely powerful capability. We are delivering beyond enterprise level functionality to the mainstream.

Key Features

There are many capabilities in ShipperHQ, I’ll list the main ones:

  1. Live Rating via Small Package with new carriers being added weekly
  2. LTL Rating with carriers such as Echo, Estes, YRC, UPS Freight®, FedEx Freight, ABF, Con-way, Old Dominion pre-integrated, support for accessorials, freight classes and more
  3. Support for International Shipping via Pitney Bowes
  4. Multi-origin capabilities to allow for accurate rating in a Dropship environment
  5. Time in Transit – so delivery dates, calenders, estimates on # days to arrive – a truly enterprise level solution, not just a date picker
  6. The most intelligent Shipping Rule Engine in the world – need to stop free shipping to AK, HI, or add a handling fee on oversize items, or add a packing weight to the calculation – all covered
  7. Dimensional Shipping – A unique solution thats propriatary to us, we have customers who were losing over 50K per year now making a profit on shipping with this 1 capability
  8. Address Validation/Residential Selector
  9. Backup Carriers – What happens when FedEx goes down?  We solve this issue
  10. Support for advanced Custom Rates. Forget ProductMatrix, we take it to a whole new level
  11. Shipping Analytics
  12. Store Pickup/Collect from Store
  13. Local Delivery within radius
  14. Same-Day Delivery
  15. And much more

What we have seen over the last couple of years is consumers want to know more, they want their goods sooner, and they love a promotion. ShipperHQ delivers on all.  With us taking on Amazon is a reality.

In phase 1 of the Magento 2 release we deliver the base capabilities that do not affect the checkout user interface.  We will be adding all the UI features such as calendar, split checkout, address validation in later releases, with the final component set to drop on April 1st 2016.  On Magento 1.x all these capabilities are already available.

Why ShipperHQ?

Back in 2010 we were getting a lot of requests from people for shipping functionality. We often couldn’t meet their needs, even with the many shipping extensions we had.  So we built out, we built more extensions, and we tried to bolt more on. Even back then I was very aware that this was not a cohesive solution because shipping is big, its moving fast as an industry and its complex.  We ended up with 100 git hub repos, 60+ demo stores and customers in over 80 countries.

At some point you have to change as a company.  I knew Magento 2 was coming, I also had demand from other platforms for our services. SAAS was the way forwards.

Some people look at an extension and think its a small body of work. Well in ShipperHQ we have over 100K lines of code just on the rating api side.  Let me assure you that what we do is not just a carrier, or an api hook, there are complex mathematical algorithms around logic such as Carrier Rules, Dimensional Packing, Time in Transit, Origin selection, etc etc.  To sit all that code inside PHP on a platform that moves and shifts, is different from site to site, well its just not possible, its not the way you progress as a company or a technology solution.

By building out ShipperHQ we have managed to do a number of things:

  1. Progress the technology and shipping features whilst waiting for Magento 2
  2. Reduce the time to market of a complex product set
  3. Bring you a single cohesive merchant friendly solution that allows you to move platforms, versions, etc and keep your configuration isolated from that
  4. Use Enterprise grade solutions – We use Java for our server API which gives us many advantages over a PHP based application. I used Java when writing Foreign Exchange trading systems 10 years ago, it’s mature and it works

Who is ShipperHQ For?

With over 70K people using WebShopApps shipping codebase and over 16K paying customers we have worked with many organisations over the years. Currently on ShipperHQ we serve from the smallest Mom/Pop store right upto sites such in the Alexa top 10K. As an indication one of our clients alone had over a million rate requests to ShipperHQ in December.  We regularly work with Enterprise merchants, ShipperHQ has been live now since 2014 and the majority of our initial customers were at the Enterprise level – they helped architect this system!

I firmly believe in localised staff that speak your language.  We have staff in the UK/US and Australia that do exactly that. We are available on the phone, via email and via chat. Shipping is not always easy, buying software is often more about the company than the code. The savings you make from shipping are very clear, our product pays for itself in minutes for many sites. 93% of customers on a site consider shipping as part of their purchase, thats how important shipping is. So don’t neglect it.

Agencies/Developers

As part of the release of ShipperHQ we are also announcing the formal release of the ShipperHQ API, together with a test bed for agencies/developers.  If you want to use ShipperHQ but would rather write your own Magento 2 integration or if you want to use ShipperHQ on another platform entirely then our REST API allows you to do this.

Next week we will be providing access to ShipperHQ via github.  In this way you will be able to obtain the very latest code when you need it.

We are improving our consultancy services, plus also offering training for agencies in ShipperHQ.  You then have the choice for your merchants, if you want us to do end-2-end configuration we can, if you want to provide we can support you. We will have further details on this shortly.

Our committment to open source and Magento means over the coming months expect many free extensions from the ShipperHQ team. We will be providing free shipping capabilities across the board and hopefully continue to contribute to this great and wonderful community.

Who is the team behind ShipperHQ?

I think its important people understand who we are and why we care.  ShipperHQ is a bootstrapped company, I started it back in 2008 almost by accident, my husband was a small merchant and I built his first website on Magento 1.0 when it came out. The shipping didn’t work so I fixed it. Luckily I have an extensive background in software development so Magento wasn’t a major struggle.  This company was born from that experience.  We aren’t some faceless VC-backed company, this is a company of blood, sweat and tears.  I have a fantastic team around me, a team made up of unique individuals who each bring something great to the table. Its a privilege to work with them.

My goal for WebShopApps back in 2010/2011 was to be the largest shipping extension provider on Magento. My goal now as a company is to revolutionize shipping in eCommerce. I believe it can be less complex, should be simpler, and will be easier to manage, thats my goal. We still want to tackle many key areas, but with our partnerships with heavyweights such as UPS® and Pitney Bowes, together with our deep relationship with Magento I believe we will do this. Are you ready to join us?

How do I get it?

You can download direct from our site.  We will be listing on the new Magento Marketplace as soon as it becomes available.

And lastly

I’ll leave you with this. We are the only rating solution on Magento that is a UPS Ready® provider. We work with UPS® on a daily basis to make merchants lives easier.  Its a fact our rating is more accurate than Magento’s. And we have the support contracts with UPS® to back it up.  This is ShipperHQ by WebShopApps. Come talk to us.

I want it now! The importance of timely shipping rates

A Story

It’s the week before Christmas. Life is busy.  That great train set you had safely tucked away on the sleigh since November, well your son just informed you that trains are old news and he really wants a drone.

So now what?

You could argue give him the train 😉

Or you go buy a drone.  But its 1 week to go.  Do you go to the website that says this?

 

 

or this (please ignore my bad dec box, its late, I want to sleep tonight!):

 

The answer should be obvious.  You will go with the one that guarantees delivery.  In fact you would probably pay more to get it guaranteed on a certain day, the free shipping really is irrelevant at this point – YOU NEED THE DRONE.

Time in Transit

The benefits to displaying the time of delivery, the transit time, or for perishables/flowers/etc giving the customer an actual calendar to pick a date (and potentially a time slot) is pretty obvious.  The reality is that most eCommerce carts by default do not offer this option to customers. Furthermore many of you may be aware that if you order say ‘Overnight’ that doesn’t mean tomorrow its on your doorstep. You may have missed their cut-off window for the day, it might take a day to get the goods out, or it might be Friday, in which case Monday is the earliest (assuming its not Home Delivery FedEx which never delivers on a Monday!).

Perishables

Selling cupcakes & birthday cakes?  We see a ton of stores that just offer In-Store Pickup here because they say they can’t ship it.  Well they can, but only in the 1-day timeframe.  Or worse they offer shipping everywhere then have to cancel orders with customers when its outside their area. They can’t offer non-perishables as its all confusing then, some can ship, some cant, etc etc.

Up-selling Shipping

It’s important to look at the up-sell possible on shipping which can be gained with Time in Transit.  Customers in general are going to pay to get stuff faster.  So you may lose money on say a free shipping promotion over $40 of goods, but if you incentivize them to purchase Next Day or 2 Day then overall you can come out with a win. Especially if you add a little percentage cushion on that Next Day delivery to give you a bit of profit.  Here is a great example of how one store holds back their produce if you need it shipping free.

Same Day Delivery

People want things fast, Amazon is keying into this with Same-Day delivery in many key cities, and online merchants with their own stores need to step up. At ShipperHQ we see the advance of services such as Postmates/UberRUSH/Roadie really changing the online landscape in the next 12-18months for retailers, if you are in NY you can readily serve that local market within hours. What with the desire of customers to ‘shop local & shop niche’ we believe it provides good opportunity for merchants to take on the likes of Amazon.

In fact same-day delivery has been around a little while, we have had stores offer this loading up a custom set of table rates to serve customers.

How do I solve this?

ShipperHQ.com. Come talk to us. Your cart, your shipping, your rules.

 

 

ShipperHQ becomes a UPS Ready™ Provider

The ShipperHQ team are proud to announce today that we have been approved as a UPS Ready provider. This makes us the first dedicated shipping rate management solution to achieve such status, and follows on the back of us being the first open source UPS Ready provider last year with our Delivery Options for UPS extension which adds support for UPS Access Point™ in Magento.ShipperHQ

For ShipperHQ to achieve this we have had to go through a rigorous amount of testing by UPS®, they don’t just approve anyone and have very strict standards. We have had the pleasure of working closely with the UPS Team in the last year. One of the reasons we have focused on UPS first is that we see them as a highly reputable and profesional organisation that has the same level of customer commitment and values as we have within ShipperHQ.

What makes us especially proud is that we are a fully bootstrapped, independently-owned, profitable business that has grown from the demand and with the support of merchants, agencies, and developers within the Magento ecosystem.  We pride ourselves on great customer service from staff that truly understand merchants first-hand and the complexities of Shipping.  We are not a company of spin, expert marketing and gimmicks, we are a company of true substance built on a solid foundation of knowledge in this space.

ShipperHQ Summary

ShipperHQ was born out of our desire to provide a single platform for Shipping Rate Management. Over the past 5+ years we have worked with many thousands of merchants, large, small, and everywhere in between, and produced over 300 extensions for Magento.  In 2014 we sold into over 70 countries worldwide, we estimate our extensions power shipping on over 70,000 Magento sites, and we have key partnerships in place with Web Design Agencies across the globe.

ShipperHQ StatisticsWe are now able to offer support across multiple eCommerce platforms, with integrations currently with Magento and Brilliant Retail. In the summer will be adding support for both WooCommerce and Prestashop, and we hope to announce more soon. We also provide an API so, if you prefer, you can integrate directly with ShipperHQ yourselves on whatever platform you’re using.

So what do We Offer Merchants?

Here are a few of the capabilities we offer in ShipperHQ:

  • Real-time Carrier Integration – currently we support over 20 carriers including Small Package and LTL, with a carrier-facing API allowing developers to integrate any carrier in the world into our solution. We expect to support over 40 carriers by the end of the year as part of the base installation.
  • Offline Shipping – At WebShopApps we produced the most intelligent ‘offline’ custom shipping solution in the world within our extensions. We have taken this experience and in ShipperHQ we offer an advanced shipping rule engine, allowing you to set up rates based on criteria such as destination, weight, price, qty, product type, origin, customer group, and much more. We can categorically say that there is no other solution in the world as advanced as this, we have checked!
  • Intelligent Rate manipulation – Our Rule Engine allows you to manipulate any rates for your precise needs. If you need to offer UPS for the Continental US, USPS for PO Boxes/APOs, refuse shipment of oversized or hazmat items to Alaska, we support it. If you want to offer shipping promotions such as buy 3 get Free Shipping, incentives, it’s there.
  • Time in Transit Capabilities – We support showing the estimated delivery date, selection of delivery date and estimated time in transit for FedEx, UPS, and Offline Shipping.  Combined with the Rule Engine you can specify logic such as Perishables need to arrive within 1 day of dispatch, and it’s going to get the best rate for that.
  • Multi-Origin Support – If you have multiple warehouses or are Dropshipping, we support it.  You can select the carriers for each origin, restrict the shipping methods, and even restrict the country, state, city the origin serves.
  • Dimensional Shipping – Over the past 4 years we have worked with merchants to solve real-life dimensional shipping scenarios.  There is not a “one-size fits all” solution for this and anyone that says otherwise doesn’t understand the space. What we offer are a variety of algorithms and choices for setup, which allow you to tailor it for your specific needs. Our offering is totally unique and proven ‘in the field.’
  • Shipping Analytics – Having trackable metrics for your shipping lets you make sure you’re serving your customers well and helps you avoid surprises. If you want to know where your customers are shipping, the types of rates that are being returned, the average weight of the products in your customers carts or more, we have it.

Intelligent Rate CalculationAll of this culminates in a solution that will save merchants time and money and give them competitive advantage. The stats point to the fact that Amazon Prime is winning the customers, and a large part of their success has been because of the free shipping they offer. New companies such as Jet.com have at their core reducing shipping costs, it’s is very evident that your shipping policy lies at the heart of the success of your store.

We are confident with our solution Merchants will have true competitive advantage, plus get full control of their shipping costs.

Most of all, we give you choice. It’s your site, your company.  We aren’t going to push our own rates, you can use your own, we aren’t going to advise on carriers that might not be right for you, its ultimately totally agnostic, you, the merchant, are in full control.

UPS Capabilities Offered

As part of the UPS Ready program we have been approved for the following capabilities:

  • Rating – We have full integration with UPS rating, covering all available options, including international delivery
  • Locator – We are the first UPS Ready UPS Access Point Rating solution. UPS Access Point provides merchants with the ability to offer customers pickup at store capabilities, thus allowing customers to pick up their deliveries from the grocery store, the pharmacy, UPS Store™, and 10,000 other locations in the US, Europe and Canada
  • Time in Transit – We provide the ability to give real-time estimated delivery dates, time in transit, and even calendar based selection
  • UPS Freight – We offer UPS Ground Freight with support for accessorials such as liftgate, destination type, and NMFC classes

 Benefits of being a UPS Ready Provider

UPS RegistrationUPS works closely with UPS Ready providers to make sure that they have the most up-to-date information about UPS services. New shipping options, changes to existing options, or even technical changes that may impact your site are all communicated up-front with UPS Ready providers. This means ShipperHQ can be proactive, ensuring that merchants have access to the options they need.

Contact us for more information & to setup a no-obligation trial.  Connect with Karen, Daniel or Genevieve at Magento Imagine in April, IRCE in June.

Feel free to reach out and we will show you why ShipperHQ is the platform for now and the future!

 

Dimensional Weight – Part 1 – Introduction

What is Dimensional Weight?

Dimensional Weight is the calculation of the weight of goods in terms of their dimensions.  The length, width, height of a package is used to give a volume, then this is usually increased by a multiplier to give a dimensional weight.

For example we may have an item that is Length 25inches, Height 20in, Width 32in.  If we use UPS as an example then for Domestic US Air shipments the Dimensional Weight is calculated as (25*20*32)/166 = 96. The Dimensional Weight would be 96lbs.

Dimensional Weight Calculation

How does Dimensional Weight affect Shipment Pricing?

Traditionally the calculation of shipment pricing has been done using the origin, the destination and the weight.  I’ve clearly made a generalization in this statement as there are other factors such as the packaging container, account type, etc which affect pricing, but you can think of this as the general rule.

But, with countries such as the US space is of a premium. If you think in terms of an aircraft, let’s say I wanted to send 500lbs of cotton wool. Well this is going to take up much more room than say 500lbs of lead weight. So what logistics companies such as UPS and FedEx have done is created a calculation which takes into account this Dimensional Weight, if its relevant.  They look at what is known as the Billable Weight.

The Billable Weight can be simply viewed as the greater of the Dimensonal Weight and the Actual Weight.  So if we have the 96lb Dimensional Weight example from above the Billable Weight would be 96lb unless the actual weight is greater.  So a 120lb piece of gym equipment would result in a Billable Weight of 120lbs. A 34lb bike would result in a Billable Weight of 96lb. The lower value is ignored.

Billable Weight

Why is this Important?

And the reason this is important?  Because you will be charged based on this Billable Weight, and not the actual weight. So if you were shipping that bike and only using the actual weight you would have charged the customer a much less lower price than its actually costing you to ship.

Why is this even more important in 2014?

The advent of online commerce has resulted in an explosion in shipments. Just a few years ago most goods were purchased via a visit to the local mall or the Home Depot/Warehouse.  Now we are seeing a mass move to getting our goods via the mail.

From a logistics carrier perspective they have been playing catchup with this move to online commerce too, and having to rethink how shipment pricing works as a result of the pressures on them in terms of space, fuel costs and sheer amounts of parcels now being delivered.

What has also happened is that companies like Amazon have realised its more efficient for them to have less box sizes, and use a larger box with more empty space rather than try to pack what we would call efficiently.  The best way to think about this is when you receive goods from Amazon do you notice that often there are ‘packers’ in the box and a big box with not much in it?  This is because this is easier for Amazon.  Its not easier for the carriers as this space is all taking up room in their vans and planes.

This image from Japan sums up the issue perfectly.

amazon-packaging-reality

So, in 2014 Logistics Companies are fighting back. They want to pack more densely, and if they can’t then they want to charge appropriately for this. There have been three key announcements in recent weeks around Dimensional Weight based shipping:

  1. FedEx announced they would be moving to dimensional pricing for Ground and Freight from Jan 1 2015
  2. UPS announces Dimensional Pricing from Dec 2014 on Ground shipments (is already in place on Air/International)
  3. UPS Freight announces a move to Density Based Pricing (aka Dimensional Pricing) in a move away from long held Classification Pricing (NMFC codes)

How does it work in Magento?

Right now in Magento there is no support for Dimensional Based Pricing. And its not easy to implement. Why? Because generally a package is made up of more than 1 item.  So you can’t just enter dimensions on products like you do with weights and solve this issue.  It’s deeper than that.

In Part 2 I’ll go over how we solve this at WebShopApps and in ShipperHQ.  In the meantime feel free to contact us or take a look at our Dimensional Shipping Extension if you are in need of a solution today.

 

The Evolution of eCommerce Shipping has Arrived

WebShopApps have been working hard over the past year and the US team are now proud to launch ShipperHQ, the first carrier agnostic platform for managing and manipulating shipping rates.  Initially rolling out to Magento Enterprise customers, we’ll be adding support for Magento Community, Shopify, and BrilliantRetail by end of June, with other platforms including Big Commerce being added in Q3.

For many of our customers, shipping is becoming a big part of their business. As competition in the online space grows, and as the eCommerce companies themselves continue to expand at a rapid rate it’s becoming ever more paramount to be able to offer customers the most accurate shipping prices possible, whilst having the flexibility to offer ad-hoc shipping promotions, loss-leaders, etc.

With the ShipperHQ platform, we’re working to bring together our deep experience and powerful software developed over the past 5 years into a single, simple to use interface.  Our aim: to empower merchants to control their shipping without the boundaries and restriction of technology holding them back.  With ShipperHQ we believe we have the future of eCommerce Shipping in our sights.

ShipperHQ will allow merchants to use their own carrier rates, set up special promotions, manage dimensional logic, implement multi-origin drop shipping, and give customers accurate timings on when deliveries will arrive. All of this inside a single consolidated solution that will only grow as we add and expand our capabilities. With partnerships in place across small package and LTL freight logistics providers we’re well positioned to provide merchants with the power they need, without the hassle of custom integration.

If you want to see the future of eCommerce shipping, stop by our lounge (#60) in Magento’s Imagine eCommerce conference marketplace! We’ll be glad to walk you through the powerful capabilities and shipping-centric dashboard of ShipperHQ or schedule a demo for a later date. Won’t be at Imagine? Contact us to set up a demo.

About WebShopApps

Far away from the VC backed world of Silicon Valley, a small company that recently moved its headquarters from the UK to Dublin, Ohio is changing the face of shipping within eCommerce.  WebShopApps was founded in 2008 by CEO Karen Baker and now, via a combination of paid and free apps, has over 70,000 merchants using their shipping rate software within the eBay-owned Magento ecosystem. WebShopApps are proud to be Magento Platinum Industry Partners, and innovators in the space of shipping rate software.  Watch this space!