View Full Version : mega detailed zone based rates

06-22-2010, 11:11 PM
Well, one look at these shipping modules and you will surely come to the correct conclusion: I am completely insane. But if you go to the trouble of specifying the details prompted for, I think you will find the capacity to handle different situations to be exceedingly large. I don't know if they'll be anyone else's cup of tea, but I designed these to accomplish what I wanted my website to be able to do, starting from the regular zone rate module.

So you'll notice there are 5 of them. The first is uninsured, the second is insured, then partially insured, then 2-day and then 1-day. I must define what I mean by "partially insured". Say you send something that's 103 dollars. Do you want to insure it for 103 dollars? Probably not, you probably want to insure it for 100 dollars, because that 3 dollars of extra coverage is going to cost you as much as 100 dollars of extra coverage and it's not worth it. The partial insurance module finds the next step lower from full coverage.

The big deal here is that it lets you specify intense detail and you get enormous power as to what it can do. Consider the 2nd and 3rd zone rates, the 2 insured ones. It prompts you for TWO shipping tables and TWO insurance tables and an insurance block rate. Each shipping table takes weight as its input, each insurance table uses cost as its input. It assumes you want to insure the cost of the subtotal plus shipping (before the cost of insurance). Why does it do such a monstrous thing as have two tables for each? Well, it also prompts for weight and cost thresholds for jumping from the first to the second table. I notice that from the US, you can't send a first class international package if it has a value of over 400 dollars. So even if it is still less than 4 pounds, it has to use the second, more expensive method, if the value goes over 400 dollars. Or within the country, for low weights, it's better to send by USPS, but at some point, FedEx gets cheaper, and certainly if you have insurance thrown in, it gets cheaper sooner. If it meets either the cost or weight threshold you set, it uses the second table you give it instead of the first - BUT if it doesn't, it tests which is cheaper. In other words, before insurance, USPS may be cheaper, but the insurance itself costs less on the FedEx package, so although USPS is the winner in the shipping table alone, FedEx is the winner with insurance costs factored in. This finds the best.... but on top of that, it also lets you specify a block insurance rate. There are 3rd party insurers out there, like u-pic. You don't need to pay USPS or UPS or FedEx what they charge for insurance. And instead of it being something odd, like $1.75 for the first 50 dollars, 50 cents for the next 50 dollars, 50 cents for the next 100 dollars after that, $1.95 for the next 100 dollars after that and then one dollar for the next 100 after that like USPS currently charges, U-pic charges a flat cost per 100 dollar block. But this also depends on whether it is usps tracked, usps untracked, or FedEx/UPS. So there are thresholds built into the block rates as well, so you use the appropriate block rate if the price or weight is such that you will be using FedEx or usps or whatever. There are two thresholds built into the block rate. So for under 13 ounces, I send things first class untracked, and that's $1.15 per 100 dollars from upic, but over 13 ounces it's priority mail which is 1 dollar per 100 dollars, and if it's enough, it goes fedex, which they charge 55 cents per 100 dollars for. So it then finds the cheapest result among all 3, the primary table if below the cost and weight threshold, the secondary table, and the block rate. The downside is, as you may guess, a lot of data to enter in, and a lot of data to figure out in the first place.

It also lets you override the "maximum weight you will ship". Each zone gets its own value, and you also are prompted to choose your split method. For instance, Fedex gets prohibitively more expensive if you pass 70 pounds, so if you send something 80 pounds, you'd want to split it into 2 boxes. But do you want equal sized boxes of 40 pounds each or do you want to send one 70-pound box and one 10-pound box? It's probably cheaper to do 70-10.

Yes, I obsessively put the capability of handling all this and more in here. You will be blown away when you see it.

I am including in the root directory in the zip file a file called values.txt, which has the values I use on my website. They are based on data I have collected from usps's website about international rates, and reasonable expectations about fedex costs. The 2-day rates are absolute worst case scenarios within the contiguous states - Washington state to Florida. At the very least, it should give you an idea of how to enter the parameters expected by these modules in the format it expects, if the prompts it shows you when you install it aren't enough. Really it needs to be more specific than within the country, to divide it into zones, at least by state, but I didn't know how to modify it to do that. The zone rate doesn't let you specify within a country, the table rate doesn't let you specify more than one zone.

I also threw in my little modification of the flat rate. It seems to me that's what it ought to be used for. Just a small handling charge for when the customer has it billed to their shipping account.

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