By-Weight Shipping Charges
When your customers purchase prints and products, there are two ways to charge shipping. One way is to have a simple fixed shipping price. The other way is to compute shipping charges based on the total weight of the order and the country to which it is being shipped.
If you opt to use the more complex by-weight shipping, you must perform three steps:
First, each standard sale item in your price plan must be given a weight in grams.
Sale items which are not physically shipped (virtual items, electronic delivery, digital downloads) must have a weight of zero grams.
Next, you must select a shipping profile, or you can create your own.
A shipping profile describes how much it costs to ship a given weight to any country in the world. You can set pricing based on a single country, or a group of many countries. You can set prices based on tiers of weights (i.e. 100-999 grams cost $2.34) or you can use a linear formula (cost is $2.34 base plus $0.01 per gram) or a mixture of both.
Shipping profiles are managed alongside price plans. This allows you to create a few perfect shipping profiles and then use them from each of your price plans. You may also use "system" shipping profiles which are maintained by us.
Finally, when editing a price plan, you must go to the Shipping tab and select the shipping profile which you wish to link to that given price plan. Selecting a profile in this way will override any of the legacy fixed shipping prices that have been defined.
Comparison with Fixed Shipping Prices
Before April 2010, all price plans used fixed shipping prices. Photographers would set one price for domestic delivery, one price for Euope, and another price for outside-Europe delivery.
When using fixed shipping prices, the price of each individual sale item should include an allowance for how much extra it costs to ship that item. For example, you might sell a 10x8 frame for which you want to receive $20.00. You know that each frame costs about $4.00 extra to ship. You would set the sale price at 20.00 + 4.00 = $24.00.
This fixed shipping logic continues to be available and remains the default on all price plans created before April 2010.
The fixed shipping logic should work fine for photographers who mostly sell domestically and who can set prices high enough so that any possible order is more or less profitable.
The new by-weight shipping option provides more flexibility. It is particularly useful for photographers who are making low-margin or at-cost sales, and who are selling bulky items to a variety of countries. In those cases, increasing each sale price to allow for the possible extra cost of international shipping would make an item too expensive domestically.
The new by-weight shipping option also may work better for photographers not based in Europe, as they will have the freedom to define lower-cost international shipping zones that include their neighboring countries.
Finally, the new by-weight shipping options allow you to effectively block orders from certain countries, by giving them a 9999.99 shipping base cost.
Base Weight of Each Order
In your shipping profile, you assign a "Base Weight" that will apply to all orders. This covers the weight of your standard packaging and inserts. By default, all shipping profiles begin with a base weight of 200 grams. You may adjust this to fit your needs.
The final order weight is sum of the base weight plus the per-item weight of each item in the order.
For example, assume your shipping profile base weight is 200g. You define a 10x8 print with weight 15g and a 6x4 print with weight 10g. Your customer orders ten of each. The system calculates 200g + 10*15g + 10*10g = 200g + 150g + 100g = 450g. The system would then price the shipping based on whatever price tier you had defined for 450grams in the end-customer destination country.
Express shipping is an optional service you can offer with each order. Express shipping is only ever offered on domestic orders (those where the end-customer is in the country selected as domestic/default for that price plan).
Express shipping is typically more expensive, but results in faster delivery. Your customers will often choose express shipping, regardless of cost, if they are buying gifts at the last minute.
Express shipping might mean that you pay extra for faster service with your shipping company. However, you can decide to ship all orders in the same way and yet still offer express service. In that case, "express" service is defined by you putting the order at the front of the queue, quickly doing the processing, and rushing that order to the post office a couple days ahead of the others.
As such, if you configure a price plan to offer express shipping, and yet you select the same exact shipping profile for both standard and express services, then we will assume that the value-add from express service is that you are rushing things by a couple days on your end, before the order arrives at the post office. We will thus quote the expected delivery time as being two days faster than standard shipping. We will only shorten the expected delivery time in this way when the same shipping profile is selected for both standard and express delivery.
Handling things in this way means that you can choose to maintain just one shipping profile, and yet still offer faster-than-normal express delivery. (Creating and maintaining a shipping profile is a huge job. It is best to avoid trying to maintain multiple shipping profiles, i.e. one for express and one for normal.)
When using certain partner labs, each price plan comes in two modes. One involves the partner lab shipping directly to the end customer. The other mode is "D2P" or "Direct to Photographer", in which the partner lab delivers to you, the photographer (or you pick it up at their location), and then you review/repackage the order for delivery to your end customer.
Whether you use the D2P option or not, the shipping charges are calculated based on shipping to your end customer. If you use D2P, it is assumed that you will pick up orders in bulk from the studio at neglible cost, and will then mail them yourself to your end-customer at the same cost as the partner lab would have charged. This logic is the same whether you are using Legacy Fixed Shipping costs or using the new by-weight shipping profiles.
If you have a partner lab doing your prints, you should ask them for the per-item weights.
If you are printing for your own location, you must calculate item weights on your own. Use these tips and techniques:
Remember to include all per-item packaging, such as a cardboard sleeve or separator tissue paper that may be bundled with each print.
A kitchen scale or post office postage scale is good for measuring items of only a few grams.
To more accurately weigh small items, weigh them in groups of 10 or 100, then divide the total weight by 10 or 100 to get the single-item weight.
For best results, weight items exactly, rounding up to the nearest gram. Do not try to "pad" the weights — it is better to have exactly-accurate data in your weight field. Later, when linking to a shipping profile, you may define an "add percent" of 10%, 20% or more as padding.
In our sample price plans, we assign a weight of 10 grams to small prints (6x4, 5x7). Larger prints like 10x8 are assigned a weight of 15 grams.
These links may help when creating shipping profiles:
See also: Fixed Price Shipping charges