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This article is for educational purposes and does not constitute legal, financial, or tax advice. For specific advice applicable to your business, please contact a professional.
For family-owned filled flatbread, dip, and sauce maker Bolani Co., nationwide shipping started as a response to changing customer needs throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
“When we started nationwide shipping, it was to balance that out because the farmers markets got so slow and we lost a lot of revenue. I was scrambling to figure out a way to not let go of my staff, so we started the nationwide shipping, which was very good for us,” said Bolani owner Billal Sidiq. “We will definitely keep it as long as we meet a certain threshold, but I don’t see that [ending nationwide shipping] happening any time soon.”
If you’re interested in offering to ship your products to your customers, there are a couple of things to know first. There are different types of shipping rates: flat and carrier-calculated. One is a fixed rate, while the other is a calculated rate from the carrier that ships your package. Based on your product’s size, weight, and the location of your business, there may be shipping solutions that work best for your budget.
What are the different types of shipping rates?
- Real-time rates: Real-time shipping rates are the exact shipping rates that carriers charge, which are automatically pulled into the checkout for an order. These rates get their name because they are calculated in real time and take into account the order weight, the shipment’s dimensions, and where the package is shipping to and from. You can set up real-time shipping with Square Online, which will show dynamic rate estimates at checkout for items you are considering for shipping.
- Flat rates: Flat rates, or table rates, are offered by carriers, such as FedEx, UPS, or USPS. This shipping rate is flat because the price of shipping is not connected to the weight, size, or shape of the items you are shipping. The rate applies to how much you can fit into the box.
- Free shipping: Free shipping for consumers has become commonplace for large companies, such as Amazon offering free shipping to Amazon Prime members. While it is easy to communicate to customers, this does come at a cost to your business. There are ways to price shipping into the overall price of your products so that you can manage your cash flows.
- Order weight: These shipping rates are based on the weight of all the items in your order. If you’re shipping to a limited area, this could be a good option, as it doesn’t take into account the distance to the destination.
- Order total: This shipping rate is based on the total price of the order. If you’re a small business owner considering discounts on shipping for your customers, this could be a good option for you. For example, you can discount shipping for customers who spend a certain amount of money on a single order.You may see this on a website as “Free shipping with $35 purchase.”
- Item quantity: Shipping rates by item quantity are determined by the number of items in an order. This is most helpful for sellers who sell items of a similar size and weight. If you sell uniformly sized candles, for example, this could be a good option and will not take into account the distance to the destination.
Create a Square shipping profile
If you are a small-business owner who uses Square, you can set up shipping areas and rates with Square Online. Go to your Square Online Overview page, select Fulfillment > Shipping. Confirm the physical address that you are shipping from.
Shipping profiles allow you to set a combination of boundaries, such as where you’ll ship your items and where you won’t. This will let you set unique shipping rates for items and regions.
If you’re looking to start shipping for your business, you can use a combination of real-time shipping and manual shipping rates. To estimate real-time shipping, which can help prevent over- or undercharging for shipping, you will need a carrier account, at least one shipping box configured to estimate shipping rates, and item weights. You can add item weights to your Square Online Overview page by going to Items > Site Items. Edit each item to add a weight.
If you’d like to hear more about flatbread maker Bolani Co., check out this episode of Paying It Forward, Square’s financial literacy podcast.
Not quite ready to make the jump? Below are some resources you can test out that will share some carrier-calculated shipping rates and give you a sense of cost.