Distance Rate Shipping for WooCommerce: A 2024 Guide for Store Owners

  • Updated on: January 23, 2024

Running a successful WooCommerce online store requires many elements to work together. Moreover, one of the biggest parts of running a WooCommerce online store is product shipping. Furthermore, distance rate shipping is a delivery fee calculation feature that can make transit operations much more manageable for store owners.

Shipping is a very hectic and complex operation, and alot of things can go wrong with it. For example, you might accidentally end up switching packages if you are not careful. 

Moreover, delivery mistakes can result in a loss of customer satisfaction, and this can in turn be bad for your business; as the customer might not want to order from you again because of the bad experience. As a result, you also risk losing sales due to poor product transport procedures.

One of the major areas in shipping is distance rate calculations, this is where the delivery cost is calculated for deliveries based on distance. Furthermore, this is one area that you absolutely do not want to make a mistake in because the result can be very costly and can affect your bottom line.

Therefore, in this article, we will be taking a closer look at distance rate shipping, and showing you just how important it is. Moreover, we will also see if there is an easy way to calculate distance rate transport fees for your products.

What is WooCommerce?

WooCommerce physical store merged with a laptop.

Before we jump into the main topic of distance-based shipping for WooCommerce, let’s first take a look at what WooCommerce is. This is for people who are not familiar with the platform.

WooCommerce is an open-source, free WordPress plugin that turns your WordPress website into an online store by adding various e-commerce features such as creating products, setting prices, product delivery, payment methods, etc.

Furthermore, WooCommerce has the largest market share of any online store creator in the world, and this popularity is due to 3 main reasons:

  1. It is free
  2. It is also used by the most popular platform to build a website, WordPress.
  3. It has a huge development community with third-party support

WooCommerce is not an independent e-commerce platform, you will need to have a designed, functioning, and hosted WordPress website to be able to use the functions of WooCommerce. In addition, with WooCommerce you have much more control over almost every aspect of your online store, from customizations, software updates, plugin installation, and website security. 

WooCommerce gives you the freedom to make your online store exactly as you want it without any restrictions. The only drawback in this arrangement is that you need to be fairly competent with technology and software. 

Some key features of WooCommerce include:

  1.  Integration with WordPress, which is where the majority of websites are built on
  2. With the freedom to micromanage all aspects of your online store, you are not restricted in any way
  3. Selling all kinds of products, such as simple, virtual, variable, etc.
  4. Extensions and plugins that will add more functionality to your e-commerce store
  5. An SEO-friendly environment since WooCommerce is integrated with WordPress
  6. Open-source software that users can extensively customize and modify according to their needs

Importance of Accurate Shipping Calculation

logistical icons (truck, personnel. computer, calculator, etc.) showing the importance of distance rate shipping.

Product shipping can be a very difficult and tedious task because it involves the following tasks:

  1. Packing the product – Proper packing ensures the safety of the product from damage during transit
  2. Coordinating with a carrier for delivery – A dedicated carrier needs to be hired to ship the products
  3. Tracking the product – The progress of the shipment needs to be monitored
  4. Ensuring the product reaches the customer on time – All efforts must be made to make sure the product is delivered in a timely manner
  5. Managing returns (if needed) – A return plan must be ready if the customer decides to return the product
  6. Etc.

One of the most crucial parts of shipping is calculating the rates for deliveries. As a business owner, you will want to make sure that you include accurate delivery fees based on parameters such as:

  1. Distance 
  2. Displacement
  3. Weight
  4. Dimensions
  5. Destination
  6. Etc.

Providing your customers with accurate delivery fees is very important because alot of things can go wrong if you provide inaccurate costs. 

If you overstate the transit fee, this might cause a customer to back out of placing an order due to the overstated transit fees seeming very expensive. However, in actuality, the true fee was significantly lower than the calculated value.

On the other hand, if you understate the delivery cost, you might incur losses on product deliveries. This may not have a major effect by delivering 2-3 products. However, the losses can add up to a huge amount if you continue to understate the delivery costs for all your operations.

Importance of Delivery Costs

As you can probably tell, calculating and displaying accurate shipping fees is vital for the financial health and reputation of a business. Therefore, all efforts must be made to ensure that you provide accurate delivery fees to your customers.

The problem is that, at times, calculating the distance rate shipping cost is seen as an afterthought; a step that is hastily done in the final stages of delivering an order. As a result, many people make simple mistakes and end up overcharging or undercharging the customer.

Providing inaccurate costs is one of the top shipping mistakes that you should absolutely avoid.

Challenges of Distance Rate Shipping Calculations

objects related to shipping such as a map, truck, calulator, etc. grouped together.

As we mentioned before, transporting products is a very complex operation. Furthermore, it is a big mistake to assume that calculating delivery costs is as easy as 1,2,3. In fact, there are quite a few challenges associated with calculating accurate delivery costs.

1- Complex Parameters

Most times transport calculation needs to account for several parameters such as:

  1. Total distance or displacement
  2. Product weight and dimensions
  3. Transport method
  4. Etc.

All these factors (and more) need to be carefully considered and accounted for in order to provide an accurate delivery cost for product(s).

Even the slightest mistake, such as accidentally switching “distance” with displacement” can lead to inaccurate shipping fees.

In addition, the other important thing to account for is the number of products that are being shipped. You need to make sure that you charge more for delivering more products. 

2- Cost Variability

Certain conditions that could affect the final distance rate shipping cost need to be taken into consideration while calculating the final transit cost. These factors can make it difficult to calculate accurate transit costs.

Traveling across larger distances will require further cost adjustments so that you can provide customers with a fair and transparent shipping cost.

3- Different Shipping Methods

The distance-based shipping cost needs to be adjusted for each type of travel mode. For example, driving, cycling, and walking are three different travel modes for delivering products. Furthermore, each of these travel modes will not use the same delivery fee formula.

Business owners will need to make sure they account for the type of travel mode in their final transport cost.

4- Balancing Customer Expectations with Profitability

With product deliveries, there is always a need to meet customer expectations while at the same time maintaining a healthy profit margin.

On the one hand, you must ensure that your customers don’t feel uncomfortable paying too much for deliveries. On the other hand, you also cannot afford to sacrifice profitability for the sake of customer satisfaction. Therefore, a steady balance needs to be found between customer expectations and profitability. This is one of the biggest challenges in shipping calculation.

5- Custom and International Regulations

Last, but not least, customs and international regulations are another hurdle that business owners must jump over while shipping products.

Often times delivering products across states or countries requires business owners to pay certain tariffs or duties, and these can affect the overall shipping charges. In addition, business owners need to be fully aware of regulations to avoid delays, penalties, and canceled shipments.

How Can I Apply Distance Rate Shipping Calculations?

Shipping cost feature from Multi Store Addons for WooCommerce.

Let’s now see how you can effectively implement distance rate deliveries into your day-to-day operations.

As you know by now, delivery calculations are one of the most important aspects of business operations. Moreover, shipping calculation can also be very complex if all factors of the shipment are not accounted for.

Luckily, there exist certain software and plugins that can perform shipping-based calculations for you. Thereby, saving you the trouble of calculating the transit cost for each shipment manually, and streamlining your entire transport process.

One plugin that can assist you with distance rate shipping calculations is Multi Store Addons for WooCommerce

Multi Store Addons for Woocommerce is a plugin for Agile Store Locator that allows users to manage multiple WooCommerce stores.

One of the features of Multi Store Addons for WooCommerce is the ability to calculate the shipping charges based on distance and other parameters. This feature is known as “Distance-Based Shipping”.

Using “Distance-Based Shipping”, you can set certain rules that will automatically calculate the fee for a product based on the following parameters:

  1. Distance
  2. Weight
  3. Order Total
  4. Displacement

In addition, you can even set the following parameters for your transit rules:

  1. Base Cost –  Assign a fixed fee for your shipments
  2. Cost/Metric – Enter the charget per metric (distance, weight, etc.) of the shipment
  3. Multiple Cost/Metric – Add a multiplying factor if multiple products are being shipped
  4. Priority – Determine which rule takes priority

Benefits of the Distance Rate Shipping Feature in Multi Store Addons for WooCommerce

Landing page of Multi Store Addons for WooCommerce.

The distance rate shipping is one of the most beneficial features for business owners who own multiple Woocommerce stores. This feature enables business owners to automate their delivery calculations based on several parameters, thus ensuring that accurate delivery charges are provided to their customers for each and every delivery.

Using the distance-based shipping feature will ensure that you do not make any human errors that can arise from manually calculating transit fees. As a result, you will be able to provide fair and accurate transit costs to your customers, thus ensuring transparency, customer satisfaction, and profitability for your shipping operations.

Here is a summary of the benefits you can get from the distance rate shipping feature:

  1. Automatically calculate transportation fees based on distance weight, order total, etc.
  2. Create multiple flexible transit rules that can calculate transit fees for different scenarios
  3. Set delivery calculations for different travel modes such as walking, cycling, and driving
  4. Display accurate delivery fees on your checkout page for your customers to view
  5. Reduce time and errors by automating transportation calculations using Multi Store Addons for WooCommerce

How to Use Multi-Store Addons for WooCommerce for Distance Rate Shipping?

Three different "conditions" for creating shipping rules on Multi Store Addons for WooCommerce.

Let’s see how you can use Multi Store Addons for WooCommerce to make shipping calculations much easier.

After installing the Multi Store Addon for WooCommerce, please follow the below steps to begin using the distance rate shipping feature.

Step 1: Enable the “Store Distance Rate” Option

The first thing you need to do is to make distance rate shipping a selectable method for your customers. To do this, please follow the below steps.

  1. Click on the “Settings” tab on the WooCommerce plugin
  2. Head over to the “Shipping” tab
  3. Create a new shipping zone (or “edit” an existing zone) and enable the “Store Distance Rate” Option
  4. Click on “Save Changes”

Now the “Store distance rate” option will be available for customers at the checkout page.

"Store distance rate" option in WooCommerce.

Step 2: Enable “Distance-Based Shipping”

Once you have enabled the “Store Distance Rate” selection option, it’s time to enable the “Distance-Based Shipping” option so that the final delivery fee can be calculated. Please follow the below steps:

  1. Go to the “WooCommerce” tab on the Agile Store Locator plugin
  2. Navigate to the “Shipping Costs” Tab
  3. Enable the “Distance Based Shipping”

Once the “Distance Based Shipping” option is enabled, you will be able to create rules that will be used to calculate the delivery fee for your products based on a variety of parameters.

"Distance-Based Shipping" option in Multi Store Addons for WooCommerce.

Step 3: Create Shipping Rules

On the “Shipping Costs” section, you can create cost calculation rules by filling in the following fields:

  1. Condition – The final cost will be based on either “Weight”, “Distance”, “Order Total” or “Displacement”
  2. Min and Max – These represent the minimum and maximum “condition” for the rule to be applicable
  3. Base Cost – Here you can define any fixed costs for a shipment
  4. Cost/Metric – State the cost per metric (condition) that will be applicable to a shipment
  5. Multiple Cost/Metric – Adjust the final cost if there are multiple products in the same shipment
  6. Rule Priority – Used to decide which rules will be prioritized first

Once you have created a few rules, be sure to click on “Save Shipping Costs” to save the changes you made.

Shipping rules creation in Multi Store Addons for WooCommerce.

Step 4: Verify Distance Rate Shipping

Now that you have created a few transportation rules, we can verify if the distance-based shipping option is appearing in your store.

  1. Go to your online store and select a product
  2. Proceed to the checkout page

The “store distance rate” option will be available for selection at the checkout page.

Dstance rate shipping calculation on the checkout page.

Step 5 (Optional): Enable “Product Page Widget”

You also have the option to place a store selection widget on the product page. This will enable customers to choose a store from where they would like their selected product to be delivered.

To add the store selection widget on the product page, please follow the below steps:

  1. Go to the “WooCommerce” Tab on Agile Store Locator, this will take you to the Multi Store Addons for WooCommerce plugin
  2. Head over to the “Products” page
  3. Enable the “Product Page Widget” option
  4. Click on “Save Settings”

Now the store selection widget will appear on all product pages in your store. 

Your customer will be able to choose their preferred store from the product page.

Store selection widget on the product page.

Conclusion

The word "Conclusion" set against a blue background.

Product delivery is one of the most important parts of running an online store. Furthermore, a crucial aspect of product deliveries is calculating accurate transit costs. However, calculating accurate costs is often very complex because certain factors such as distance, weight, travel mode, etc. need to be considered for every shipment.

Multi Store Addons for WooCommerce is a plugin that is designed to help you manage multiple WooCommerce stores at once. In addition, this plugin also has a handy feature that will allow you to automate distance rate shipping calculations. As a result, you will be able to determine fair and accurate transport costs that won’t have a negative effect on your business.