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Beginner's handbook Ecommerce platform guide

How to Match Printful Shipping Rates to Your Ecommerce Store’s

By Reading Time: 6 minutes

As a store owner, you already know it’s essential to set up the correct shipping rates for each of your products. I’ve created an exercise to help you sort out your shipping depending on the products you offer, and the ecommerce platform you use.

First off, if you use Shopify, Etsy, Wish, eBay, or Bonanza—good news, we automatically push shipping rates to your platform. So you don’t have to set anything up. If you require more customizable shipping rates, or you sell other non-Printful products on your Shopify store, use the Advanced Shipping Rules App.

For WooCommerce and Ecwid users, we offer automatically updating “live” rates, but you’ll need to enable them manually in your store settings

I’m recommending two different methods for setting up shipping, if you don’t use one of the integrations named above.

Two methods for matching shipping rates

I recommend either weight-based or flat (average) rates, depending on the products you offer, and the platform you sell with.

Weight-based is best if you offer a wide range of different products to your customers with varying shipping rates. However, only Shopify, Wix, Squarespace, Ecwid and Bigcommerce currently support this method.

Flat (average) rates are best if you offer a few different products on your store, with similar shipping rates—ideally, only with products from 2 different shipping categories. But what are these shipping categories?

Take a look at the 19 product categories listed on the Printful shipping page. Understanding which categories your products belong to will help you to choose between the two methods.

Printful-Shipping-Page

As shown above, in the wider shipping category “Shirts” you’ll find more specific product types; t-shirts, tank tops, ¾ sleeve shirts, polo shirts, and crop tops. Click on each drop-down to show which product types share the same shipping category.

Familiarize yourself with these categories, note which Printful products you offer, or might offer in the future, and then choose a method.

Remember, if you have products belonging to the same category or share very similar shipping rates, go with a flat (average) rate. Any more variation, and you’re going to want to use “weight-based” shipping.

Method #1: “Weight-based” shipping

To calculate weight-based shipping, for this exercise, I’ve narrowed down the 19 categories to 3 shipping groups. This is to make it simple; most of our popular products have similar rates to other categories.

In the previous section, you already checked which product categories your store includes. But you need to have some extra info handy about every Printful product you offer on your store:

  • The category on the shipping page it belongs to (e.g “Shirts”)
  • The shipping price listed for it
  • The “additional product” rate

Additional product shipping is how much we’ll charge if your customer orders, for example, 2 t-shirts–we’ll charge an extra $1.25 per shirt.

Once you know these three things about your products, slot them into a table; I used Google Sheets. Then, group them by shipping price. Every product in each group should have the same shipping rate or a very similar one (a few cents difference).

I ended up with 3 shipping groups, filled with products with the same shipping rates (A, B, C). For example, T-shirts cost the same to ship as socks and flip flops, so they both go in group A. The same goes for laptop cases and blankets in group B. Mugs cost more to ship, so I gave them their own group— C.

Table-of-Printful-products-grouped -similar-shipping-prices

In my example table above, I sell 12 products in my store, from T-shirts to Mugs. The column labeled “First” shows the product category shipping rates found on the shipping page. The column labeled ‘Additional” shows the additional rate also found on the shipping page.

Do you offer products found on my example table? Feel free to use the information there. But it’s always best to double-check the latest shipping prices as they can change over time. You’ll also find different prices for different countries and continents. I use “USA domestic” rates for the purpose of this guide. 

If you’re feeling confident with this method, you could create an extra product group (D) if you offer a wide range of product categories, including all in the above table, plus heavy Printful items like bean bags, which are more expensive to ship. But be warned, the more product groups you add to this table, the more complexity you’ll face later.

Assign “weights” to your products

The next step is to input a weight figure for each of your products. 

You may be asking yourself, “Where are the product weights?”

Well, although this method is called “weight” based shipping, the “weight” isn’t real—the weight figure will just be used to tell your ecommerce platform the right Printful shipping costs for each group that you’ve created. We’re going to match up “weight” and price later.

“Remember, the “weight” data isn’t real—you won’t need the actual weight of the products.”

Copy the weights in the table below. Essentially, the more expensive the product is to ship, the higher the figure you’re going to put for “weight”.  

Table-Printful-products-grouped-into-similar-weights
Add “weights”

Next, open your ecommerce platform and assign every individual product, depending on each group, the “weight” from your table. We aren’t assigning any prices yet.

Calculate rates for combined shipping

What if your customer makes an order with products from different shipping groups? This is where combined shipping comes in.  

Below, I’ve filled out every possible combination of product categories for my example, taking into account additional product shipping costs. 

There are 19 possible combinations—this should cover the average print-on-demand store. 

Printful-product-combinations-for-orders
Now add “Weight range”.

You’ll notice that I’ve now calculated a “weight range” in column 2, by adding the combinations of weights together. I’ve then assigned a total shipping cost to each weight range, by adding up the product weights, keeping in mind the additional price for each item.

Now, head over to your ecommerce platform and add the price for each weight-range by going to your store shipping settings. This setting is often called “Depending on weight shipping” or “Weight-scale pricing”. Here’s how that setting looks on Squarespace or with Wix

Now, when your ecommerce platform totals up the “weight” of an order, the shipping price in column 3 is charged to your customer.

So let’s say I receive an order with one t-shirt and one mug (one product from Group A and Group C). If I’ve followed the above steps correctly, my ecommerce platform will now calculate that the total “weight” of the order is 5.1 lbs, and the price for that weight is $10.98.

Remember to do some test orders to make sure it works!

Some notes on this method

Keep in mind that the weight-based shipping method won’t always guarantee that you charge the exact price, every time. Although you won’t lose profit, you’ll make more than you expected.

For example, if a customer orders 2 t-shirts and 1 hoodie, the order would fall into variation BAA. You’ll notice that B + AA (BAA) in the table equals $11.74. Your ecommerce platform will charge $11.74, based on that weight total. But since products are shipped together, not separately, Printful charges $6.50 + $1.25 + $1.25 = $9. You’d save $2.40 in this case.

This is because we take the shipping price for the more expensive product, then add the additional shipping of the cheaper items. In these cases, you’ll slightly overcharge for more profit. You can read more about this on our shipping page

Also, note that the shipping costs shown in these tables are correct as of January 2020 for “USA domestic”, but you can find the latest figures on the shipping page to slot into your ecommerce shipping settings.

Method #2: Flat (average) shipping rates

Welcome to easy mode! If you’ve skipped here from the start, congratulations.

So you’re selling products with similar shipping rates on your store, such as t-shirts, socks, and hats. It’s easy, just set that rate ($3.99) and the additional product rate ($1.25) store-wide in your store settings.

What if you’re selling products from different groups? You can set up an average shipping rate for all the products you offer. This will average out over time.

Let’s say that I offer t-shirts, hoodies, and mugs in my store and want to calculate an average shipping rate for all my products.

T-shirt ($3.99) + Hoodie ($6.50) + Mug ($6.99) = $17.48

Then, divide this total by the number of different products, in this case, 3. 

$17.48 / 3 = $5.83

So $5.83 is the shipping rate that I charge across my store. This will work effectively as long as your cheaper to ship products sell as well as the more expensive to ship products.

Finally…

If you have any questions about shipping in general, reach out to our support team at support@printful.com—we’ll be glad to help you out. 

For an overview of how shipping works with Printful, including international shipping speed and prices, check out our dedicated shipping page, or our beginner’s guide.

Or, use our experience to your advantage. When you’re busy building your brand, you might not want to spend time on the technical details of setting up your online store. Let our expert team handle any aspect of setting up perfectly for you—visit our store setup services.

I’ll leave you with Maris, for more tips on setting up Printful shipping.

Ottis keeps on top of the latest trends in Tech, Psychology, and Entrepreneurship. If there's exciting new research in these fields, he's read it.

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  1. Yashar

    Hello. I will sell every of categories of printfull. But i want to set flat shipping rate. How can set it on shopify?

  2. Joshua

    Do you know what converts/is better? Offering Free shipping but, just marking your products up for more profit or should you charge them extra for shipping?

  3. Jackie

    Hello! I’m just setting up my Shopify store integrated with Printful. Watched a bunch of vids re: shipping but they must have been before you added “App shipping profiles” automatically from Printful, because I didn’t see them mentioned anywhere?! Some questions I hope you can answer:
    (1) Do you suggest just leaving the automatic App shipping profiles as is and not change/add anything to my Shopify Shipping settings?
    (2) If I leave this as is, if someone buys MULTIPLE items from DIFFERENT Printful categories, will the shipping be updated automatically based on how you calculate it on your Shipping Page: https://www.printful.com/shipping (ie. highest price for first item, additional pricing for other items)?
    (3) Or, does the automatic App shipping profile I see on Shopify just apply to situations where the customer buys only 1 or several from the SAME product category?
    (4) What will the customer see at checkout?
    Thank you very much! I hope you can answer this, as I’ve spent pretty well my morning trying to figure out Shipping! All the best, Jackie

  4. Jackie

    Oh, and to follow on my comment above…
    Do you have any standard “wording” to add to my Shopify Shop re: Shipping Policies if using the App Shipping profile?

    Thank you once again, Jackie

    1. Madara Zute

      Hi there Jackie,
      These are very specific questions so it would be best if a customer service representative looked into this, as they can view your store settings.
      Please reach out to support@printful.com, I’m sure they’ll be able to help out!

  5. Craig Fowler

    I know the numbers for the weights don’t matter as their not really weights but how do you explain the chart where you calculate shipping prices. It shows the following:

    A 0 to .1
    AA .11 to 1.2
    AAA .21 to .3

    The “weight” range for AA completely encompass the “weights” for AAA. Unless I’m missing something this chart doesn’t make sense.

    Shouldn’t AA be .11 to .2?

    1. Alise Zindiga

      Hey Craig, thanks for pointing out this typo! It’s true that this doesn’t change anything for the price and prices are stated correctly on the chart, but I’ve still reported this to our blog team. It should be 0.2 instead of 1.2.

  6. Yuha Choi

    Hello! I use Printful – Shopify integration and I edited shipping fees at Shopify ‘settings – shipping and delivery – add shipping profiles – printful’ section manually and saved, but they seem to keep changing back again to the previous higher shipping rate the next day. I already included the shipping cost in my product prices, so my customers had to charge it twice. It has already happened three times, and I’m worried if there will be any abandoned checkouts due to this matter. Is this normal? Or is there any way to fix this? Thanks 🙂

  7. Pamela Moncada

    Hi,
    Just want to reiterate the question above –
    Regarding automatic shipping profiles through the Shopify integration: if someone buys MULTIPLE items from DIFFERENT Printful categories, will the shipping be updated automatically based on how you calculate it on your Shipping Page: https://www.printful.com/shipping (ie. highest price for first item, additional pricing for other items)? If not, how can I adjust to reflect accordingly?

    1. Alise Zindiga

      Hey Pamela! To be honest, charging an exact flat rate on Shopify is quite tricky, if not impossible. I suggest checking this article and following both links with instructions that you can find over there > https://help.printful.com/hc/en-us/articles/360014007440-How-do-I-match-Shopify-shipping-rates-with-Printful-flat-rates- It provides an alternative solution, which will help you win in some cases and lose in others. In the end, it should even out.

  8. Colene

    Hi Printful team
    The shipping is obviously one of the most important things to get right and also the most difficult thing so far for me to figure out. I feel like I am soooo close to understanding the above explanation with the categories and weights. I am wondering if there is a video or webinar where someone explains this method in more detail please? That would be a huge help!
    I am too scared to promote my store any further until I have the shipping sorted. Hope to hear back from you asap.
    Many thanks!

      1. Colene

        I have emailed twice already and no response so far.
        What is the current response-waiting time?
        Would someone then be actually giving me step-by-step guidance on how to set up my shipping correctly?
        Do you maybe have a template excel sheet to work from?
        Thanks.

        1. Daniela Bergmane

          Currently, our response time is longer than usual due to the large volume of incoming inquiries, but we reply to emails around the clock and get back to each and every inquiry in approximately 2-3 days.

          Unfortunately, I’m afraid we don’t have any more detailed guides on how to set up shipping, but you can easily compile all the questions of your interest and ask our customer support—we’ll do our best to help. 🙂

  9. Adam

    I have just started creating a store with woo commerce and have the WordPress plugin Installed. Everything is working fine.

    My question is that I am in Australia so when a customer orders an item where will it be fulfilled from?

    As in the designer there is a spot that states where the item will be shipped from.

    Most of the Items shipping is from the USA.

    Will the item actually ship from USA of from printful Australia?

    If items are made and shipped in Australia where is the pricing for shipping in Australia?

    Thanks

    1. Alise Zindiga

      We’ve only launched our partnership with two facilities Down Under, to help you sell to customers in Australia and New Zealand. Product range a the moment is a rather limited selection of shirts, canvas, and mugs. Full list available over here > https://bit.ly/3e8sku0 Shipping rates for non-apparel products fulfilled in the Australia will be updated next week. The rest of the products will be routed to other facilities according to the stock availability and capacity.

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