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Shipping Setup

Planning your shipping strategy for your business requires considerations for where you are shipping from, locations you want to ship to, and the options for shipping you want to provide for your customers. The BigCommerce shipping manager is where you can set up the shipping quotes shoppers see at checkout. 

Shipping Options at Checkout

To set up shipping, you will first define the shipping origin to establish how shipping and taxes are calculated, then shipping zones to establish which areas you plan to ship to. You will then select which shipping methods (such as USPS or flat-rate) should be available to customers in those regions.

To access Shipping Manager, go to Store SetupShipping.


Shipping Origin: Where you're shipping from

Shipping origin

This address determines multiple aspects related to shipping including which real-time shipping carriers are available as shipping methods and if you are using Automatic Tax Calculation with Avalara AvaTax it determines the correct sales tax to charge. For example, you won't be able to see the option to set up Canada Post for real-time shipping quotes unless your "origin" address is in Canada. The Shipping Origin address will not show up on your storefront.


Can I have more than one origin address? It is not possible using the default shipping manager. To calculate shipping quotes from multiple points of origin or other advanced shipping features, we recommend using our integration with ShipperHQ.


Shipping Zones: Where you're shipping to

A shipping zone refers to a geographical area that you ship to. Defining your shipping zones gives you control over where you are comfortable shipping. As your business grows, you can add more shipping zones as needed. If a user enters an address at checkout that is not located in one of your defined shipping zones, they will receive a shipping error message

Shipping zones can be defined as a single country, a group of countries, states/provinces, or ZIP/postcodes. You can have multiple shipping zones that offer different shipping services. For example, a store could offer USPS for the Contiguous United States in one zone and have a separate zone offering UPS and FedEx for Alaska and Hawaii.

Shipping Zone Map

To create a shipping zone, click Add shipping zone and select how you want to define the zone. More details on each type of zone creation are detailed below.

Once a zone is created, add shipping methods by clicking the Configure or Edit button next to the zone so the shipping zone to function. See set up shipping methods below for more details.

A shipping zone can be enabled or disabled by clicking the toggle by its name. Disabling a zone retains all the setting information, but will not display shipping methods for users trying to ship to that zone. This can be useful if you need to temporarily restrict a shipping zone.

Shipping Manager

To delete a zone completely click the X by the zone.


How does checkout determine if the shopper is in a zone? The shipping manager checks the address from most specific information (zip/postcodes) to most generic (country) to determine which shipping zone the address belongs to. If you create many shipping zones that an address could belong to, the checkout will display shipping methods from the most specific zone the address belongs to. So if an address belongs to a zip code that is included in a zone, then the shipping methods for the state will be ignored.


Creating a Shipping Zone by Country

A shipping zone for a whole country will use the same shipping methods in all states, provinces or territories. To add a single country, click Add shipping zone and select Add a country zone from the drop-down menu.

Add a country

Select the country you want from the drop-down menu then click Submit.

To add more than one country, click Add shipping zone and select Add a custom zone from the drop-down menu.

Country Zone

Fill in the form:

  • Name — an internal name for your zone, e.g. Europe.
  • Type — select Selection of countries from the drop-down menu
  • Country — you can add countries in one of two ways: click the box to choose from the drop-down or type the name of the country to filter the drop-down

Click Submit when finished.


Creating a Shipping Zone by State or Province

To create a zone that includes a collection of states or provinces, click Add shipping zone and select Add a custom zone from the drop-down menu.

Select States

Fill in the form:

  • Name — an internal name for your zone, e.g. West Australia.
  • Type — select Selection of states or provinces from the drop-down menu
  • Country — select the appropriate country from the drop-down menu
  • State — add states from the drop-down by selecting states or typing a state name to filter the menu

Click Submit when finished.


Can I make a zone for multiple countries and states? To add a zone for states and provinces across multiple countries, follow the same process as a zip code based zone but choose multiple states/provinces across countries, and select a country before choosing states or provinces.


Creating a Shipping Zone by Zip or Post Code

Shipping zones based on zip or postcodes represent the most specific geographic shipping areas that can be defined. They are especially useful for businesses that offer an In-Store Pickup shipping method. Postcodes include numbers and/or letters.

To create a zip/postcode based zone, click Add shipping zone and select Add a custom zone from the drop-down menu.

Fill in the form:

  • Name — an internal name for your zone. e.g. Travis County.
  • Type — choose Advanced, then select multiple postcodes
  • Country — select the appropriate country from the drop-down menu
  • Mutliple postcodes — Enter your postcodes, one per line. Do not separate by commas or add multiple postcodes on one line. Learn how you can use wildcards in your postcodes.

Click Submit when finished.

Set up Shipping for the 'Rest of the World'

The "Rest of the World" shipping zone lets you provide shipping options to customers in all geographic regions that have not already been explicitly defined in other zones.

For instance, say you want to offer free shipping to all addresses within the United States, but still want to provide $10 flat rate shipping everywhere else in the world. A Rest of the World shipping zone allows you to do this easily and without having to specifically identify all those countries.

Click Add shipping zone, then Add the rest of the world. If you already have "Rest of the World" zone set up, you will not see this option.

Rest of the World Zone


Be careful! A Rest of the World shipping zone will allow a customer to complete checkout with any shipping address. Make sure this aligns with your overall business or shipping strategy before enabling it.

Once the zones are defined, you can assign a shipping method and carriers to the zone.


Shipping Methods: How you're shipping

A shipping method determines the shipping charge that a customer pays at checkout. It can be a fixed charge, like a $5 flat rate on all orders, or a dynamically calculated charge through a real-time shipping service based on the details of the shipment (e.g. weight, origin, destination).

Shipping Options at Checkout

To add a shipping method, click Configure or Edit next to the shipping zone you want to add a shipping method.

Edit Zone

Free Shipping

BigCommerce offers multiple ways to offer free shipping. Setting up free shipping in the Shipping Manager allows you to limit free shipping to a specific shipping zone, set a minimum purchase price to meet, and offer free shipping as an option in addition to other shipping methods. To learn about other methods of offering a free shipping discount, see Setting up Free Shipping.

To apply, toggle on the switch to the right of Free shipping. There will be a Free Shipping Options pop-up with the following options:

  • Limit to order over $X — limits free shipping to orders over a certain amount
  • Use discounted order subtotal (Recommended) — will use the discounted order subtotal to determine eligibility for free shipping
  • Make products with a Fixed Shipping Cost ineligible for Free Shipping — will exclude products with a fixed shipping price.

When finished, click Submit in the pop-up, then Done.

Your Free Shipping method is now up and active. If you need to disable it, simply Toggle off the switch.


Can I change the display name for Free Shipping? Depending on your needs, you might consider a Ship by Order Total, or Ship by Weight method with $0 instead. These let you change the display name (e.g. "Local Pick-Up"), specify costs for orders that don't meet the order total for free shipping, or base shipping prices on the order weight instead.

Flat Rate Shipping

Flat rate shipping charges a fixed rate for shipping. It can be based on products in the order or the order as a whole.

You can offer as many flat rate methods as you want by duplicating them. This is useful for merchants who want to offer their own static cost for different delivery methods.

To learn more see Flat-Rate Shipping.

Static Shipping Methods

Ship By

This shipping method allows your store to use a preformatted table to determine how much to charge an order for shipping. A table may be based on the total weight of an order or the total sale price of the order. There are a few reasons why you might choose to use this method:

  • Your shipments are heavy and fall outside the weight limits imposed by real-time quote providers.
  • You want to charge shipping as a percentage of the order total.
  • You want complete control over how much to charge for each zone.

See Flat-Rate Shipping for more information.

Pickup In Store

This shipping method allows shoppers to elect to pick up their order at a physical store location. No charges are applied to this method, but you can add a handling fee. It is best to use this method in a custom shipping zone based on local zip codes. See Local or In-Store Pickup for more information.


Real-time Shipping Quotes

Real-Time Shipping Quote examples

Being able to provide the lowest possible shipping costs on your products can help you convert more shoppers into buyers and give your brand a competitive edge in the marketplace. Using real-time quotes to calculate your shipping charges gives you the ability to pass your shipping costs on to the customer.

Real-time shipping quotes can benefit both the merchant and shopper. As a merchant, you're able to ensure you don't lose any money when it comes time to purchase postage. Transparency in shipping costs helps to improve consumer confidence and assures shoppers they're not paying too much for shipping. Customers feel empowered by having access to a variety of shipping options — from low-cost ground delivery to premium, expedited fulfillment.

BigCommerce features built-in, real-time quote integrations with major shipping providers, including USPS, FedEx, UPS, Canada Post, Royal Mail and Australia Post. Your Shipping Manager shows you services appropriate for your shipping origin. For example, you won't be able to see and set up Canada Post unless your origin address is in Canada.


Calculating Shipping Costs

Shipping carriers use a number of factors to determine the cost of shipping an order, including:

  • total weight and size of the order
  • value of the order
  • shipping origin
  • delivery (shipping to) address

For this reason, it's important that you have accurate weights and dimensions defined in your product. To learn more about how the shipping calculator works see Understanding the Shipping Calculator.


Real Time Quote Providers

Real time shipping quotes require creating an account with the provider, obtaining credentials, and then putting that information into the BigCommerce shipping method. Since the process differs from service to service, we have created separate guides for each carrier:


Changing the Shipping Error Message at Checkout

When a shopper attempts to check out the shipping manager check that the order meets all the appropriate criteria. If there is something in the order that falls outside your shipping criteria, the shopper will receive an error message. By default it reads "Unfortunately one or more items in your cart can't be shipped to your location. Please choose a different delivery address."

Default checkout error message as it appears to a customer on your storefront

The most common reason the error message appears is when the shopper's shipping address is not included in any of your defined Shipping Zones. It will also trigger if the weight or dimension of the order exceeds the limits of your shipping methods. See Unable to Generate Shipping Quotes for more information.

To update the error message, go to Store SetupShipping and scroll down to Out of delivery zone message, and click Edit.

Out of delivery zone message Edit button

Update your Message. When you are finished, Submit your changes.

Message and Submit button highlighted in the Configure Fallback Message popup

We recommend changing the message to something that is clear and has a direct call to action. For example, you can:

  • explain why you don't ship to a particular location
  • provide the customer with alternatives 
  • provide contact information to help complete the order manually


I have complicated shipping needs for my business. Is there a way to handle that on BigCommerce?

If your business requires more flexible shipping rate management, we recommend you try our integration with ShipperHQ. ShipperHQ offers advanced shipping capabilities such as setting up shipping groups if you have groups of products which need to be shipped differently or shipping from multiple locations if you're shipping from more than one origin.

How do I print shipping labels?

We've integrated with USPS by Endicia to give you the option to print USPS shipping labels directly from within the BigCommerce control panel. You can also use an app like ShipStation to print labels for other carriers such as USPS, FedEx, UPS, DHL, Australia Post, Canada Post, and much more.

Can I use wildcards to add zipcodes?

You can use wildcards to account for variation in how customers enter their postcodes. An asterisk (*) can stand in place for multiple characters. For example, if you want to include all postcodes starting with 78, you can use 78*. If you are concerned that your customers will enter postcodes in 9-digit format, enter them, then copy and paste a second set ending with -*. This will ensure that both formats are accepted.

Wildcard postcodes

How do I bypass shipping altogether?

If you have physical products, there is no way to bypass the shipping module. If you are selling a service, we recommend marking your products as downloadable rather than physical, which will allow your customers to pay without having to enter any shipping information. See Creating Downloadable Products for more details.

What if real-time shipping quotes are not calculating quotes?

There could be several reasons why real-time shipping options do not show up at checkout. It may have to do with the limits of the carrier. If you are finding errors in the real-time shipping quotes, see Troubleshooting Real Time Shipping Quotes for more details.

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