UPS, FedEx and USPS are the most commonly used shipping services used by website shopping carts but what happens when you can’t connect with the shipper’s server?
UPS, FedEx and USPS are the most commonly used shipping services used by website shopping carts. They are especially handy because they have APIs that shopping carts can connect with to get real-time shipping costs based on the destination, weight and other shipping parameters. Before the APIs were available, websites had to use complicated, hand-made tables and keep them updated to determine shipping costs. These tables were fairly accurate in most cases but they couldn’t account for changes and odd-shaped packages which could dramatically increase the shipping costs. The solution was to add extra to the shipping costs to cover cost overruns, however, this over-charged some customers more in hopes that it would cover customers that weren’t being charged enough.
There is a downside to the convenience of shipping APIs. In order to get accurate shipping costs, each website has to connect with the shipping provider’s server and this leads to a dilemma. What happens when the website is unable to connect to the UPS, FedEx or USPS servers? The answer is, you don’t collect shipping, your customers get errors and often they are unable to checkout. I have seen some shopping carts allow the order to go through with no shipping, which could be worse.
Is there a solution?
Almost all shopping carts still have the manual table of shipping costs and since websites usually have a shipping API, this table is almost never filled out. It is a good idea to take a few minutes and fill out the table to use as a fall back. It doesn’t have to be perfect and you will need to update it occasionally, but if you have the table filled out, you will have something to keep you selling in the event of a shipping failure.