Shipping Rules allow you to set, surcharge, discount, and hide shipping methods from live and custom rate carriers, giving you granular control over the shipping rates and options your customers see at checkout.
It is a good idea to plan your shipping rule carefully and consider all of the impacts it may have when enabled. Once your rule is created, you will be able to test its results by going to “Test Your Rates” in the Dashboard. Doing this will ensure your rule is working as you wanted it to.
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Examples of Shipping Rules
Here are some example shipping rules we see:
- Don’t ship hazardous goods via Air
- Hide all methods and show error
- USPS only for APOs/PO Boxes
- Surcharge rates by 20% when have OVERSIZE items in the cart
- Offer free shipping to US 48 when > $100 in the cart
- Set the shipping price to be $50 for every SHED added to the cart going to NY
The list goes on….
For more examples on how to setup other specific Shipping Rules check out all of the help docs we have here.
Creating a New Rule
- In the ShipperHQ Dashboard left-hand navigation go to Shipping Rules
- Select the +New button to create a new rule
- Name your rule in the “Basic” tab. Try to give your rule a name that accurately represents what it does. This will help you as then you can search on the rule name. You can also add some notes about what it does. Neither the name nor the notes will be displayed to customers. This is strictly for internal reference.
- Select Shipping Methods that this rule’s action will apply to also under the “Basic” tab. You will see a list for both Live and Custom Shipping Methods. You will need to select at least one shipping method, live or custom, for this rule to apply to.
- Specify the Action to Perform if the shipping rule applies to the cart under the “Actions” tab.
- Set all of the Conditions that must be met in order for this rule’s action to apply. There are a few things to note about the settings under the “Conditions” tab:
- You are not required to set a value for all of these conditions. Only set the ones you would like to apply.
- All of the conditions listed here are processed in addition to one another. (Eg. Perform this action when the weight is X AND the zones include X.)
- If any conditions are not selected the default is to match on all.
- If you have completed the steps above you can Save your new shipping rule. Once your rule is saved it is automatically enabled and will begin to work on your site.
- Use the “Test Your Rates” link in the dashboard to test your new shipping rule and be sure it works like you want it to.
Shipping Rule Configuration
Below you will find more details about each section of the Shipping Rules configuration.
Here is where you select the Shipping methods your rule will affect.
If you are hiding UPS Air methods, you will select those as the applicable methods under “Live Shipping Methods Assigned”. If you are surcharging a custom flat carrier method, you will select that under “Custom Shipping Methods Assigned”.
The “Action to Perform” is what you want to happen when the conditions for the rule apply in the cart. There are two main actions:
- Modify the price of your selected Shipping Methods
This means that we will be able to discount, surcharge, or override the rate that is returned by those methods.
You can choose to set/surcharge/discount rates by a flat dollar amount, or by a percentage value, or by both (which is rare) and then apply that Per Cart, Per Shipping Group, To each Item in a Shipping Group, or To each Box within a Shipping Group.
- Hide your selected Shipping Methods
This option will allow you to hide the Shipping Methods you selected in the previous tab from your customers during checkout if the conditions for this rule apply.
Specify the conditions under which you wish the rule to apply. Conditions can be Zones, Shipping Groups, or Filters. You can also enable Customer Groups as a Condition under Shipping Rule Settings.
Some examples of Conditions would be:
- If hiding shipping methods to Canada, you will set Canada in the Zones Include Condition
- If surcharging shipping rates for your BULKY Shipping Group, you will set BULKY in the Shipping Group Includes Condition.
- If offering free shipping after $50.00 cart price, you will set a $50 Min Cart Price Filter in the Weight/Price/Quantity Is Condition (more on Filters below).
- If offering discounted shipping rates for your WHOLESALE Customer Group, you will first Enable Customer Groups & set WHOLESALE in the Customer Groups Include condition.
Filters are used to match cart conditions to trigger a rule. You can make custom filters for Price, Quantity, or Weight.
When you have more than one filter of different types on a rule, these filters act as AND conditions, meaning they must each be true for the condition to be considered met.
When you have more than one filter of the same type on a rule, these filters act as OR conditions, meaning only one of them will need to be met for the condition to be considered met.
For a rule with these two filters, a cart with only one 70 lb “Bikes” item in the cart WILL NOT cause this rule to trigger:
Advanced Conditions & Actions
In the Advanced panel of your Shipping Rule, you can set rules against advanced conditions such as: Origin, Boxes, Delivery days, Address Type, Per Qty added costs, or Valid From/To Dates.
Some of these Advanced Conditions need to be enabled under Shipping Rules->Settings. This link for changing rule settings can be found on the main Shipping Rules landing page in the top right corner.
Some Advanced Conditions will only be available if certain advanced features to be enabled. You can remove condition or actions you do not need, for instance if you do not use Customer Groups then you can disable in the Settings and then these are no longer shown in your dashboard.
Valid From/To fields
“Rule Valid To” and “Rule Valid From” refer to what days the rule will apply; the day that the rate is being requested, rather than the estimated delivery date.
Rule Processing Order
Rule Types Order (Set and Surcharge)
By default, Surcharge Rules (that is, rules which are set to Surcharge Rates in the Actions panel) will apply before Set Rules (rules set to Set Rates in the Actions Panel). This allows you to do things like set up a surcharge rule for a handling fee but allow that to be overridden by a Set Rule which sets free shipping.
You can change the order so that Set Rules are processed first followed by Surcharge Rules by changing the “Run Surcharge Rules before Set Rules” option to “No” under Shipping Rules > Settings > Apply Actions.
Order Within Rule Types
Within each Rule Type (Set and Surcharge as described above), you are able to define a specific order in which your rules are processed. This option is less common so disabled by default but can be enabled under Shipping Rules > Settings > Apply Actions by setting the “Rule Processing Order” option to “Yes.” With this enabled, you’ll see several additional fields in the Advanced Actions panel on each of your Shipping Rules. Instructions on How to Use Rule Processing Order.
- Rule Processing Order The order in which you wish rules to be processed. Set a number between 0 and 999 where 0 will be processed first and 999 processed last. The numbers you set on your rules do not need to be sequential.
- Stop Further Rule Processing With this option selected, if the Conditions for this Shipping Rule are met and therefore the rule is processed, no further rules will be processed.
- Overwrite Set Rate By default, Set rules are cumulative (that is, if you have multiple rules setting rates the result will be the sum of the rates set for all applied rules). With this option selected, if multiple Set rules apply to a certain shipment, you can tell ShipperHQ that this rule will override all previously processed Set rules.
Percent Surcharge Applied to Each
As mentioned above, it is possible to apply a surcharge to a rate as a percentage. It is also possible to apply surcharges to each portion of a shipment at a time (rather than the entire shipment) using the “To Each Item within Shipping Group” and “To Each Box within Shipping Group” options on the field labeled “And Apply This Rate…”, found on the Actions tab when editing the rule. To understand what behavior is caused by using these options together, it is helpful to compare the way the “To Each” options will apply a flat surcharge vs a percent surcharge.
When a To Each Box surcharge applies, the surcharge is applied directly to that box. For flat fees, this comes out differently than if you had applied the flat fee to the whole cart. Consider the following scenario of a cart containing 5 boxes, given a before-surcharge shipping price of $4 for each box, totaling $20:
- Rule to Apply $1 surcharge per Cart – (4+4+4+4+4)+1=$21
- Rule to Apply $1 surcharge to Each Box within Shipping Group – (4+1)+(4+1)+(4+1)+(4+1)+(4+1)=$25
When percentages are similarly applied directly to the shipping price determined for each box, the result is the same as if you had applied the percentage to the entire cart:
- Rule to Apply 10% surcharge per Cart – (4+4+4+4+4)x1.1=$22
- Rule to Apply 10% surcharge to Each Box within Shipping Group – (4×1.1)+(4×1.1)+(4×1.1)+(4×1.1)+(4×1.1)=$22
Now that you have your rules in places, you can explore additional checkout features to create the checkout experience customers expect.
- Dimensional Packing – allows you to achieve more accurate Shipping Rates especially when getting rates from Live Rate Carriers like UPS and FedEx or when using USPS Flat Rate boxes
- Delivery Date & Time – allows you to show to show Delivery on Shipping Methods
- Address Validation – supports the ability to validate the address entered by your customers in the checkout
- Landed Cost Engine – allows you to achieve more accurate Shipping Rates in situations where shipments going over national borders are subject to duties & taxes
Verify that your carriers and rules are working and see how they will display in your checkout right from the ShipperHQ dashboard.
If a shipping rule does not seem to be working, here are our recommendations:
- Go check all the conditions in the rule and ensure you are happy they will match
- Switch off other rules so that you can focus on just testing the 1 rule
- Remove as many other variables out of testing, e.g. other carriers, origins, etc.
- Within the rule itself remove as many conditions, get back to a point where the rule is working, then add in the conditions 1 by 1
By following this you should be able to determine what is not working. As you get more confidence in the system you will find the rule creation becomes easier.