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The e-commerce.

USPS Global Flat Rate w/out getting burned!


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I'm shocked this isn't asked more often as it seems like a problem everyone would have. Then again maybe I'm missing an obvious solution that is right in front of my nose. :)


USPS Global Flat Rate Shipping isn't based off of how much something weighs but how much you can fit into an envelope. But, and here's the catch, something that weighs very little might not fit into a "Flat Rate (small)" envelope.


Question: So what happens when someone buys something from me, choses the lowest shipping option (which in this case is the 'flat rate (small)' envelope) and then the item doesn't fit into a small envelope??? Answer: I take it out the nose in shipping costs.


The question is, how do I fix this? How can I still offer USPS Global Flat Rate Shipping without this offer of a type of shipping which I can't realistically use, being offered to my customers?


Is there some way to enter measurements and have shipping offered to the customer that goes along with what sort of package the item could realistically fit into?


I'm REAL puzzled on this one and I can't open my store to the public until I get it fixed as I am expecting a large portion of my business to be from international orders.


If anyone knows how to handle this... PLEASE... share. I'll adore you and worship your name forever... *WRY GRIN* Or something like that.





Wanna-be WebMistress

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You've stumbled across two of the major problems with the USPS module and the USPS API that the postal service offers.


The stock module makes no provision for limiting the shipping methods offered, so I would suggest that you install USPS Methods, which will allow you to eliminate options that are not suitable for your particular situation.


The second issue is with the USPS API itself. It makes no provision for being able to enter the dimensions of the package you are shipping, so there is no way for it to know whether something will fit in a particular package or not. There are several people here who are working on various solutions which might help to solve this problem, but I can't tell you when to expect a solution for this issue.


What we have done for the present is install the USPS Methods contribution and have eliminated the envelopes that are so restrictive as to what can be mailed in them. This eliminates a less expensive shipping option that might be available for a particular order, but helps protect you from getting burned with too-low shipping quotes.


The other thing that you have to be mindful of is the total size of packages that can be sent internationally is smaller than what you can ship domestically and varies by country. Again, there is no current solution to this problem, so you have to watch the size of the products you are shipping.

... if you want to REALLY see something that doesn't set up right out of the box without some tweaking,

try being a Foster Parent!

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Thank you,


I appriciate the tip and the information. I wish there was some way to make it work though. We sell such a varity of things picking one method of shipping over another is really not the best thing for our business... though I suppose we have little choice otherwise.




Anyway, thanks again and if anyone out there would like to share otherways they've handled this issue... I'd love to hear all about it!


*big hugs*



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What I did, was check the competetors sites to see what they were charging. Luckily, I sell clothing and most fits in a shirt type box. We settled on $20, which so far we are breaking even on. Some countries are a little higher and some are lower, so it has evened out. I just wish I knew of a way to track packages going overseas with the USPS. Other methods are just too expensive, I think a package to Nigeria through UPS was going to cost around $90.

Is it reality or just a dream, for some there is no difference.

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  • 4 months later...

I got similar problems as DEE and whereditgo.


I can probably eliminate the small envelope for the intl' customers (which isn't working for me at this time).


I sell DVDs and CDs now if someone buys 1 DVD or CD and chooses the flat rate option, its fine, but I have had customers buying 3-4 DVDs and then choose $5 (small envelope) :(


Lack of tracking for intl' packages is also killing my business as I have had couple of cases where customers didn't receive the delivery (or may be they did...who knows). I had to refund the money as there was no tracking available and I didn't insure the packages as I already had put a lot of amount from my profits into shipping.


Now I am planning to find a shipping by item module and have a flat rate for each item. I read it on usps (not sure though if I understood it right) that they offer a delivery confirmation (a card that is mailed back and nothing elctronic sorts) if it is a parcel post or insured post.


My question to people who have been shipping to International locations is that, what should be an average rate for a CD (4-5 Oz) and a DVD (8-9 Oz) for international shipping including insurance and delivery confirmation?


The prices I checked for insurance + delivery confirmation were little less than $4.00. So shipping price of $10 per item + $5 per additional item would be ok? I don't want to pay shipping charges from my pocket but on the other hand don't want to earn profits from shipping charges and make my products incompetitve.


Hope someone has a solution/advice to this. Thanks in advance

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This is a real problem!!!


It would be cool if you could enable or diable shipping options per product. This could be done forcibly by the person adding the product to the catalog, or it could be done intelligently based on dimensions and weight of the product.


The latter would be awesome where you could basically put the weight and dimensions of a product in your catalog and then it would intelligently figure out whether you could use various USPS boxes, FedEx boxes, etc!! I wish I was a better programmer and I would try to make this happen :)



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  • 6 months later...

What I ended up doing was modifying my osC to have a volume for small and large Global Priority envelopes then I can put some sort of volume on my packages and my modified USPS shipping module won't give the user the option of small and large packages if the volume of their order is above what will fit in the package. Seems to work pretty well for me so far.


I don't remember what all I changed to support this. I was making tons of changes when I was launching my site. But I thought I would throw it out there as an idea people could look into doing.



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