Tips and Tricks for Managing Shipping Costs in Your Online Business

Tips and Tricks for Managing Shipping Costs in Your Online Business
Author Bartosz Gajewski
Reading time:
7 minutes read

This article discusses practical strategies to help you manage WooCommerce shipping costs effectively. You will ensure that your online store thrives in the competition and learn about a few specific solutions, like setting flat rate shipping in WooCommerce or changing shipping costs in WooCommerce. 

Understanding Shipping Costs

For every online business, shipping expenses are a significant component requiring careful management to differentiate between profit and loss. Understanding how shipping expenses affect your bottom line while using WooCommerce is important. WooCommerce shipping prices are determined by a number of factors, including package weight, dimensions, carrier, destination, and transport timing. Store owners may minimise expenses without compromising customer happiness by choosing their delivery techniques wisely if they are thoroughly aware of these variables.

What is worth knowing about the cost of shipping? Beyond the technical details, it’s worth understanding, first and foremost, how much it matters to your store. In Octolize, we strongly believe that shipping can make or break e-commerce sales. It’s unquestionably a pivotal moment in the buying process. At this stage, though, the calibre of the experience you give your clients will determine whether or not the transaction is closed. Let’s examine the causes for desertion at the checkout report from the Baymard Institute to make sure they aren’t simply our opinions. 

Reasons for abandonments during checkout

Nearly half of respondents cited additional costs (including shipping) as reasons for abandonment during checkout! This clearly shows the importance of setting WooCommerce shipping costs for sales and protecting against abandoned shopping carts. Understanding this will help you devise a strategy that protects your margins while giving customers a reason to shop.

Setting Competitive Shipping Rates – Strategies for Customer Attraction

Now that you’re aware of how important a component of running a store is shipping cost, it’s time to take advantage and set up competitive shipping rates in WooCommerce.

The easiest way to think about conquering WooCommerce is to set shipping costs as low as possible compared to the competition or even offer free shipping on the entire assortment. However, it is more complicated than that. First of all, offering the lowest shipping rate is not profitable from a business point of view, but it may not be enough at the moment either. The so-called Amazon Effect has led to a notable increase in customer expectations for shipment. Today’s Consumers seek out versatile delivery alternatives that complement their shopping preferences and cost-effective solutions. This shows that shipping is not just cheap (or preferably free) but also tailored to customers’ specific needs. 

Recommended shipping strategies to offer competitive shipping rates in WooCommerce:

  • Free shipping – there is no surprise here: customers love free shipping. Offering free shipping, even if it’s tempered by a minimum order value or the number of products in the shopping cart, is a must these days. 
  • Fast delivery – most clients now expect next-day and same-day delivery alternatives. Moreover, they are willing to pay extra to receive their shipment earlier.
  • Display shipping cost on the product page – customers prefer to avoid unexpected costs, so displaying them on a product page can help avoid this uncertainty. This is especially effective when you offer attractive shipping costs. 
  • Transparent delivery time –  providing a specific date or an exact number of days when they will receive their package gives customers a sense of control.
  • Clear return policy – it creates a sense of security and inspires confidence in your store. Your return policy should be consumer-oriented so your potential client gains some reassurance to complete an order.  
  • Multiple shipping options – today’s shoppers are looking for more options and control over the shipping process than ever before. They have their preferences when it comes to suppliers. This causes that there may need to be more than just offering shipping by one company. 
  • Going eco-friendly – distinguish yourself from the competition by demonstrating to your customers that your business is actively working to reduce carbon emissions across your supply chain. A small eco-friendly icon or sign and a link to a clear explanation of how this works in your store can make a big difference in customer satisfaction.

Offering Free Shipping Without Sacrificing Profit Margins

Free delivery needs to be factored into the cost of the goods or distributed across many purchases. It’s never a free solution, although you should reassure your customers that it is. Because of this, the most popular way to take advantage of free shipping is to use it on orders over a particular amount or when there are a certain number of items in the shopping cart. Such actions provide your business with a real benefit in addition to spreading the true cost of free delivery across a larger number of items, allowing you to have lower margins. 

Another approach is to absorb the shipping cost into the product pricing. This doesn’t mean just increasing prices across the board; it involves a strategic recalibration of prices to cover shipping costs while remaining competitive. Analysing competitors and understanding the willingness of your customer base to pay can guide these adjustments. 

In addition, offering free shipping as a promotional event rather than a constant feature can mitigate its impact on your margins. During specific periods, such as holidays or store anniversaries, free shipping can be a significant draw for customers. The increase in sales volume during these times can help offset the cost of shipping.

Here are some pointers for maximising WooCommerce’s free shipping effectiveness:

  • offer free shipping over the amount or number of products depending on your profit margin
  • display the remaining amount for free shipping
  • make sure your free shipping information is visible

Promotional Shipping – Boosting Sales with Limited-Time Shipping Discounts 

Limited-time shipping discounts may be a great way to increase sales and get rid of inventory without having to permanently lower product pricing. WooCommerce business owners may build urgency and entice customers to buy now rather than later by providing special delivery prices for a limited time. This strategy can work especially well when introducing new items or during off-peak seasons. Stores may boost traffic and conversions by strategically organising these specials, focusing on slow-moving goods or periods of the year when sales are often lower. To guarantee maximum awareness, these shipping savings are also promoted on the store homepage, on social media, and through email marketing. 

Two ways of setting shipping costs in WooCommerce for a limited time:

  • Manually, with a built-in flat rate shipping in WooCommerce,
  • Automatically using the Flexible Shipping plugin.

How to add flat rate shipping in WooCommerce?

Go to WooCommerce → Settings → Shipping. There, edit the shipping zone in which you want to add your shipping method. Next, click on the Add shipping method button.

Flat Rate shipping method

Choose Flat Rate, and set the shipping cost in the shipping method settings. 

WooCommerce flat rate shipping

Save changes, and that’s it. 

To offer a limited-time shipping discount, you can just change the shipping cost in WooCommerce flat rate shipping method that you created when the reduced shipping cost is available. The same applies when the promotional price ends. Such a solution is not the most convenient because you must manually change the shipping cost in WooCommerce at the right time. 

How to add time-based shipping discounts in WooCommerce?

It is much more convenient to set the shipping cost to automatically change on a certain day or a certain time of the day. You can achieve this with Flexible Shipping PRO, a very popular WooCommerce shipping plugin

To do so, again go to WooCommerce → Settings → Shipping and edit the shipping zone in which you want to add your shipping method. Next, click on the Add shipping method button.

new Flexible shipping method

Choose Flexible Shipping and configure the shipping method. You can set the shipping method title and description, but the most important part of the setting is the Shipping Cost Calculation Rules table. There, you can set the shipping cost based on the day of the week and time of the day. For example, if you want the promotional shipping price to start on Friday at 4 PM and end at midnight on Sunday, you can use this configuration. 

time-based shipping discounts in WooCommerce

The first rule results in a shipping price of $20 from Monday to the end of Thursday. The second role specifies the shipping price as $20 by 4PM on Friday. The third rule is already a promotional price of $10 for Friday from 4PM. The last rule is the discounted shipping price for the whole weekend. 

All automatically calculated using one shipping method.

Minimising Costs with Smart Shipping Practices

Efficiently managing your shipping practices can significantly reduce costs. Choose lightweight packaging that will still protect your product but not add significant weight. This can be negotiated with large carriers such as USPS or FedEx in order to get their best available rate according to your volume of shipping. Another great way is to configure the shipping cost according to the contents of the shopping cart. One such solution is to set the shipping cost per product. 

How to add shipping cost per product in WooCommerce?

Just simply go to WooCommerce → Settings → Shipping. There, select the WooCommerce shipping zone which you want to add the feature to. Then, add a new WooCommerce shipping method in the shipping zone where you want to set shipping based on product category. Click the Add shipping method button, and choose the Flexible Shipping.

add flexible shipping method

Again click the Add shipping method button.

Now, you should have your shipping method added and activated. It’s time to configure it.

new flexible shipping method

You can set it’s Title and Description and any other available feature like WooCommerce advanced free shipping over amount.

After you set that up, scroll down to the Shipping Cost Calculation Rules table.

Shipping Cost Calculation Rules table

In the conditions field, select Product.

shipping cost per product in WooCommerce

Then, select the product and set it’s cost.

set shipping cost per product in WooCommerce

In my example, I have a $10 shipping cost for product name Laptops in my store. This way, you can configure WooCommerce flat rate shipping per product.

Real-time Shipping Calculators – How They Can Benefit Your Online Store?

Real-time shipping calculators on your WooCommerce store will do much to improve the customer experience by giving the customer explicit and precise prices of the service in the course of shopping time. This makes sure that a customer views exact amounts payable for shipping before purchase, hence further cutting the rates of cart abandonment. It also allows for more accurate budgeting on your part, as you can immediately adjust for fluctuating shipping rates. 

Benefits of Real-Time Shipping Calculators:

  • Enhances Customer Experience – by providing pricing transparency and accurate shipping costs upfront, customers can make informed decisions, reducing the fear of unexpected charges. This approach increases customer satisfaction and trust, encouraging repeat business.
  • Reduces Cart Abandonment Rates– addressing unexpected shipping costs, a common reason for cart abandonment, ensures customers are aware of shipping fees, promoting purchase completion.
  • Streamlines Operations – automating shipping cost calculations saves time and reduces errors, allowing for a focus on other business aspects with efficient shipping management.
  • Offers Competitive Advantage – enabling the offering of precise, competitive shipping rates can be a key factor for customers when choosing between stores.


In conclusion, managing shipping costs in your WooCommerce store requires a multifaceted approach. From finding out about how to change the shipping cost WooCommerce settings to using real-time calculators, each method really matters towards perfecting your shipping operations. Just bear in mind that the idea is not to save on costs but to better the shopping experience for customers that will encourage repeat business and finally loyalty. Handled right, shipping can also become a very potent tool in your WooCommerce arsenal, serving dual purposes of growth and customer satisfaction.

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