What are the shipping options for Australian users of Shopify and Bigcommerce?

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What are the shipping options for Australian users of Shopify and Bigcommerce?

From real-time shipping to Express Post, flat rate parcels, international air mail and courier, here is a handy comparison of Australian shipping options in Bigcommerce and Shopify.

If you are setting up an online store you are going to hear about Bigcommerce and Shopify. They are the platform behind literally tens of thousands of online stores. One of the differences between the two is the range of shipping options you can offer your customers (if you are an Australian business). Andrew Bleakley is an ecommerce and shopping cart specialist with experience in both platforms. We invited him to share what he knows on this topic and he kindly contributed the following insight.

At some point in the process of selecting and building a new online store every retailer is confronted with the task of managing shipping providers, choices and costs. In any online store scenario you will likely have two types of shipping options.

  • Real time calculate shipping costs using online services provided free of charge by Australia Post
  • Fixed table rate shipping  costs setup in advance

Neither is better or worse but with 67% of online orders abandoned you can not afford to over-charge at the shipping point and wherever possible it is better to present a list of shipping choices and let the customer pick what they want to spend.

With that in mind let us look at the shipping options available by default using two of the most popular shopping cart packages, Bigcommerce and Shopify.

Here are the Bigcommerce shipping options for Australians:

  • Australia Post Real-time Shipping Prices
  • Express Post Parcels
  • Regular Parcels
  • Express Courier International Document
  • Express Courier International Merchandise
  • International Air Mail
  • International Sea Mail
  • Manual Shipping Setup
  • Flat Rate Per Item
  • Ship by Weight
  • Ship by Order Total
  • Flat Rate Per Order

Here are the Shopify shipping options available to Australians:

  • Manual Shipping Setup
  • Ship by weight
  • Ship by Order total
Unfortunately for many Australian businesses neither shopping cart currently supports courier delivery services like Fastway at this stage but shipping tables can be found online with instructions for creating approximations in Bigcommerce and Shopify.
Be aware that although Shopify advertise a business plan that does support real time shipping calculations it does not include Australia Post. Several companies and Shopify partners have pledged to produce an Australia Post shipping module but none has ever eventuated and there is no indication any is close to deployment.
With Shopify's rate based lookup tables you can use the customers delivery address to provide some degree of flexibility and emulation of real world shipping costs but as with all static look up solutions you run the risk of shouldering the cost if there is a mis-calculation or losing a sale by providing a higher that expected shipping cost. Simple stores with very limited delivery ranges and products types will be able to effectively setup Shopify's rate tables using the very simple interface, but as with all estimations there will be times when you will either over or under-charge the buyer. 
In my opinion, to really ensure you provide customers the lowest viable shipping cost without having to absorb any mis-calculation you should be using full integrations like the Australia Post solution offered by Bigcommerce. When you load your products into Bigcommerce you supply weight and if possible length, width and height and your customers will always receive exact shipping costs based on delivery postcode and shopping cart contents.
You can enable or disable specific Australia post products that either don't apply (like international document courier) or that you do not wish to offer - like Express Postage - and you will not have to change anything when Australia Post updates its pricing, that will be handled automatically for you.
Whatever you are selling you will be better able to control you customers' shipping costs and options by using Bigcommerce and in doing so you can help limit cart abandonment.
Andrew Bleakley is a Wordpress, shopping cart developer and SEO from Byron Bay Australia. He makes exceptional web sites, fully optimised to ensure the best user experience and the most complete search-engine indexing. Visit his web site and follow him on Twitter.
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