Ability to assign a product its own shipping method
It seems that we always run into a problem where we have a product that really needs to only ship by one particular shipping method. Even though it may qualify for many by weight. Possibly the item only needs to go in an envelope or it cannot go by media mail or it is fragile and lightweight but really only needs to ship in a box by UPS. Setting up exceptions for it in "vary by weight" loses it's effectiveness when you have hundreds of products. We have products setup where the vary by weight is .01 oz to .02 oz and that is the specific method linked to it. But that throws the weight off when it is included with other products. It makes no sense to do it this way. Able please add this as a new feature.
This feature has many votes, however, we will not be able to consider it unless we receive some comments or suggestions about why this couldn’t be accomplished using warehouses. When we are asked to change the logic of a major feature, we are very hesitant to do so as it can cause huge problems for the original design and function as it was intended to be used.
Please submit your comments by Feb. 1st or the request will be closed.
Checking to see if this was added to a newer build or if we are still waiting on it.
Hang in there....we are working on an idea that should make most everyone happy. (I hope)
At this time, the proposal is finished but needs to be reviewed by our development team to make sure it is feasible. Thanks for all the feedback! We appreciate it.
Patty D commented
I will comment again on this as I spent last week trying yet again to 'hack' around this messy issue.
We have items that MUST be tracked when shipped, yet by weight and size easily fit into letter size envelope. They are items that are used in packages and are frequently ordered with other larger items. When a large quantity that qualifies for our bulk discount is ordered we need to force them to small flat rate box. We have had to turn off our USPS account and UPS account and build tables. We have to put these three high value products in their own warehouse to force them to a shipping method and cost that covers the small flat rate box. When they are ordered with other packages in other warehouses the customers gets charged for shipping twice. It is so frustrating not to be able to deal with shipping in a more advanced manner. Any help would be appreciated.
Product A can ship via USPS or UPS.
Product B ships only via UPS, paid by the customer.
Product C ships free, but in reality ships via UPS.
All items ship from the same physical warehouse and all can be combined in a single box and be shipped via UPS, but we must set up 3 separate warehouses in order to assign the correct shipping rates. The customer will likely choose USPS for Product A because it is cheaper, so the customer will see 3 separate shipments on their order.
We'd prefer that Products A and B be combined into a unified, common (UPS) warehouse and that display be hidden for Product A's USPS option. The "Free" warehouse may need to remain separate, but we can manually combine the shipments if we need to input a single tracking number that corresponds to a combined shipping box.
We have tried to use the "ships separately" feature for large items that ship in 2 boxes, with the 2nd box created as a kit. Doesn't work for us. These are oversize boxes and Able combines the weights and ignores box sizes, so the computed rates are significantly lower than they should be. (Could be more than a $75 variance.)
While the customer should be allowed to pick shipping methods from the fewest possible options, there are times when multiple warehouses cannot be avoided. In this case we can look to Amazon's example. They present multiple warehouses to the customer, but it is less confusing than Able's presentation because they have perfected the user interface in their display.
B. A. commented
I'm just going to copy and paste Chuck's statement as -that is the problem- we deal with on a regular basis:
"If we set it to ship separately and use a warehouse for that then it shows the customer 2 shipping charges. It would be nice to have a way to default to the only allowable method when one of those items is ordered. We have tried to inform the customer to only select the allowable method for that product but you know how that goes. They choose the cheapest way mail, then we don't have enough money to ship it the allowable method. We then have to contact them to charge more or remove that item from the order."
Chuck explains why warehouses don't work effectively, you have to have multiple shipments if the customer orders a different product.
Agree that this would be extremely useful. Are there any updates? 10/13/17
Katie, one example of an issue we are having is we have a couple products that can only ship by Ground and not mail. If we set it to ship separately and use a warehouse for that then it shows the customer 2 shipping charges. It would be nice to have a way to default to the only allowable method when one of those items is ordered. We have tried to inform the customer to only select the allowable method for that product but you know how that goes. They choose the cheapest way mail, then we don't have enough money to ship it the allowable method. We then have to contact them to charge more or remove that item from the order.
Patty D commented
We have products that when the minimum qty is ordered and only that item is ordered MUST go via USPS small Flat Rate box with tracking (high value items), they weigh the same as a small qty of another item that can go via single USPS stamped envelope. Using the warehouse method we have had to artificially inflate the weight of the high value item to force it to the Small Flat Rate Box. When a much higher qty of those items are ordered or combined with other products it shows multiple shipments and our team has to modify the order and refund excess shipping. A layered shipping approach would be best.
I solved this issue for a client by creating a Shipping Class field on the product and on each shipping method. Then modified the shipping calculator so that only the shipping methods that are assigned to the shipping class of each product in the basket are rendered during checkout. The field is a simple text box so it's flexible in how the class names can be defined. We use simple A, B, C, D codes.
This Shipping Class allows them to logically group specific products into a specific ship method classification. This quickly allows them to restrict the available shipping methods during checkout to only the methods that qualify based on the shipping class of the basket products.
Works fantastic for certain products that cannot ship by Air methods or prohibited by USPS.
Elizabeth Bright commented
Disclaimer: the environment I've worked with does not charge customers by weight (yet). They offer flat rate standard shipping and for higher methods! a base + fee for additional qty for most of the rest. It is a single physical location, but has had to implement a second warehouse, due to one type of product that doesn't count towards the additional qty charge, if you've bought it with at least one of the primary type of product being sold.
I do understand that this is not directly related to the request, but after what we've been learning afterwards, if feel it's a necessary consideration to stay aware of for the suggested solution of implementing multiple warehouses. (for what is otherwise a singular physical location or, from what I read, people who use drop ship locations, and so need to act for the customer like they are a single location?)
Once warehouses are involved, multiple shipments get created and that causes the ability to offer coupons for "buy $x or more and get free shipping" (?in our case, it'd be defined as flat amount discounted?). (I believe the order level coupon for the same approach also fails if each shipment doesn't meet the order total minimum required for the coupon. I admit a grain of salt here. I can't find the forum post where I swear this had been discussed before).
Essentially, once you start requiring warehouse structure over merchants who don't actually function as multiple warehouses, they do start losing other standard features that are strong pulls for marketing. And then require customizations to return otherwise built in functionality.
Hope this helps. Sorry if not. Thanks.
Warehouses with Shipping methods works up to a point. The problem is that multiple shipments are created when they are not needed. For example, Product A ships from virtual Warehouse1 that uses both UPS and USPS shipping methods. Product B ships from virtual Warehouse 2 that only uses UPS shipping methods. The physical warehouse is the same for both items, but we must we set up two warehouses in AbleCommerce to deal with different shipping options. No matter which shipping method the customer selects selects for Product A shipping from Warehouse 1, even though in reality the cheapest route is usually to combine both shipments into the shipping method shared by both warehouses, in this case UPS. Ablecommerce has no way of knowing that Warehouse 1 and Warehouse 2 are the same physical warehouse, and therefore shipments could be combined if both Warehouses share a particular shipping method.
Is this thread still open for comments, or has it been closed? (I would like to be notified by email if possible?... firstname.lastname@example.org)
Years ago, when we used the Warehouses with Shipping methods, this was designed to work specifically for merchants who have 'special' handling or products that could only be shipped with certain methods. That said, I'm still trying to understand what the exact problem is that we are trying to solve.
The 'Calculate Separately' option was later invented for products that cannot be shipped with other items, so shipping calculations are based on the weight of the
item alone, and added to the final shipping calculation. (so multiple shipments during checkout would not be shown)
Lastly, in a later version of Gold, we added the special handling fee so you could manually bump the shipping price of any product without creating a special shipping method.
So, I realize that if you have a lot of products with special shipping needs that you would have to spend some time setting them up to work with different warehouses, but once this was done, you shouldn't really need to change it that often.
I get the feeling that one of the things about multiple warehouses that you don't like is that it creates multiple shipments for the customer and that might confuse them.
So, one option might be to have a setting that would combine shipments during checkout, and only show the ones available to both shipments. There is a big downside though....what if you had two shipments that did not have a common shipping method? Then you might have a broken checkout if there was not a common shipping method for all the shipments available.
Ryan - you have some interesting ideas here, so I will forward this info to a developer and see what he thinks about it. We also have to consider tax, shipping zones, shipping coupons, shipping max. and mins. The reason that a change like this is very risky is that shipping is affected by many other features.
Ryan A. commented
I think the biggest problem with warehouses is that you are by default left with multiple shipments when your order contains items from each warehouse. If you have more than 2 warehouses this can easily balloon the shipments for the customer and frighten them off before purchasing anything.
Here is my idea for an implementation of this idea.
On the Edit Product screen in the “Shipping, Tax, and Inventory” section, have a multi-select list box for Shipping methods. It would pull the available methods from the selected warehouse, and give the user the chance to select one or more options. The selected options would be stored as a list of IDs in a new field in the Products table, “ShippingMethods”. If no options are selected, then all are usable.
Then for the calculation ( I admit it might be complicated and might cost more resources to run especially if someone has a lot of items in their cart ), load all of the basket items and the ShippingMethods field.
- Do an initial loop to see if there are any basket items that don’t have a null ShippingMethods field.
- If there aren’t any items flagged, then go ahead with getting the shipping rates for the basket using the rest of the existing rules that are in place (Ships Separately, Multi-Warehouse, etc).
- If there are item(s) that are flagged, extend into another loop that will check to see what ShippingMethods are selected by the products and build a list(int shipMethodID, int #Products, array int ProductIDs) off of those methods (Keeping in mind that products with null fields allow all Shipping Methods and shouldn’t be used to build the list). After building that list do an extra check to see if all of the products allow the methods in that list we created.
- If yes, create shipping rates based off of the shipping methods in the list.
- If no, create new shipment(s) by separating the basket items based off of the list and ProductIDs that don’t play well with the others and try to arrange it so that as few shipments are made as possible. This is where Im getting a little fuzzy on how to accomplish it.
Granted I do realize this is “pie in the sky” thinking and that it would require a lot of changes to the rate calculations. So I’m just posting this to keep the conversation happening. Maybe someone else will be able to expand upon it and flesh out the outline.
Thanks for the reply! We have been using separate warehouses to break the shipments out and have created multiple ship methods just for each product's warehouse. But that gets complicated, we have so many ship methods. I have never been able to get "calculate separately" to function and I guess the special handling is in a later release. (We're on 7.6 & need to upgrade). Do you have a link so I can see the calculate separately in action? It sounds like it would be helpful.
Using warehouses is the best way to setup products that can only ship with one particular method. I know it may not be desirable to have the customer see more than one shipping method on checkout, but consider a scenario where the customer has a variety of products that ship in specific ways. What will happen on checkout if we were to try and show only the shipping methods that were common between the shipments? Unless you were very careful about setting up shipping methods that were common between shipments, then you could get into a situation where no shipping methods appeared and the checkout was halted. That said, I wanted to make sure you are aware of two features that we do have. The "Calculate Separately" feature for shipping gives you the ability to enter dimensions and/or weight to receive shipping costs based on that product alone. Then the cost is added to the total amount shown to the customer. There is also a newer feature called "Special Handling Charges" which allows you to enter a value which will be added to the shipment (not shown to customer). This needs more discussion before we can consider adding a new feature. There must be consideration for existing functionality which cannot be changed.