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Shipping, Handling and Taxes

All about Standard Shipping

UPS QuickCost/FedEx RateFinder/USPS Shipping Calculator

Sales Tax Issues

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All about Standard Shipping

Q1: I need the cart to calculate my shipping charges for me. How can I set that up?

A1: Americart currently supports seven "calculated" methods for determining shipping costs. Those seven are in addition to our "Multi-Method Lookup Table" and UPS/FedEx Calculators. All are detailed in the configuration form which can be found by logging into your account Login Here

Just make your selections during account configuration.


Q2: I want to offer my customers both UPS ground and FedEx overnight. How can I do that?

A2: We offer a convenient method for allowing customers to choose whatever shipping methods you care to offer, along with cost adjustments for them. We use a system of "default" and "premium" shipping.

"Default" shipping is the carrier and cost you set up during account configuration. It is usually your least expensive method, although it does not have to be. A simple example would be UPS ground at a flat fee of $5.00 per order.

"Premium" shipping methods are other ways your customers can elect to receive their order. An example would be FedEx Overnight at the default rate plus a surcharge. The surcharge can be calculated in various ways:
<form action= method=POST>
<select name=item>
<option value="a-1358^=shipping=^Method 1^base+0">Method 1</option>
<option value="a-1358^=shipping=^Method 2^base+5.25">Method 2</option>
<option value="a-1358^=shipping=^Method 3^base+-3.00">Method 3</option>
<option value="a-1358^=shipping=^Method 4^base*1.3">Method 4</option>
<option value="a-1358^=shipping=^Method 5^base*1.5+4.25">Method 5</option>
<option value="a-1358^=shipping=^Method 6^flat12.25">Method 6</option>
<option value="a-1358^=shipping=^Method 7^subtotal*.09+10.00">Method 7</option>
<input type=image name=add src=addtocart.gif>

To use this, make a "shipping" page on your site with the above code on it. Obviously you'd set the methods to what they really were, be it FedEx, UPS, 2ND Day, UPS to Tazmania, whatever. And don’t forget to use your own cart ID!

The first five of the six take your "default" shipping rate and do something to it. The sixth one ignores the default and sets the rate exactly.

The seventh may be the most powerful of all, since it ignores what you have as the default and calculates a % of the item subtotal as the rate and will also add an amount to it. This gives you a lot of power to offer second shipping methods totally independent from the default.

To see alternate shipping methods in action, visit Wayne's Widget World at sc/asdemo.php, put an item into your cart, then follow the link at the top of the widget page to the "Need your widget in a hurry?" shipping page. You can then select from several alternate methods. Notice that the cart display then shows the new shipping method and cost.


Q3: Some of the things I sell are services which don't have a shipping cost. I can't just turn shipping off since I need to charge for my tangible products. What can I do?

A3: You can "exempt" any item you wish from shipping.
In the product "item" variable, add the prefix =SF= to your partnumber field. Old number: xyz-1 New number: =SF=xyz-1
This is the companion exemption to =TF= which is used to exempt a product from sales tax.


Q4: I charge a percent of the order cost as a shipping charge, and this works well for me, but one of my items is very bulky and expensive to ship. Is there any way to tack on a little extra to the shipping charge for this?
A4: Yes. Use the =AS= tag similarly to to =SF= tag above. When the cart sees this tag, it looks in the shipping field of the "item" variable (field six) for a cost, and adds that to the shipping total:
<input type=hidden name=item name=item value="a-1358^=AS=pn1^Bulky Item Desc^28.32^1^5.00">

The above example charges an EXTRA $5.00.

Another tag is =SS= which will substitute the value listed for the usual charge. For instance, you charge $1.00 shipping for each item ordered. If you use the =SS= tag for a certain item, it won't count against the $1.00 per item, but will be charged the amount in the shipping field of the "item" variable (field six).

Note: =SF= and =SS= are equivalent if you have the shipping field of the item variable blank or set to 0. =SF= ignores that field and sets zero always.


Q5: Most of my items are shipped under a flat $5.00 fee, but I have a few heavy items that I need to charge $10.00 to ship. The problem is, if they order just a heavy item, their shipping works out to $15.00, which is too much. How can I get the cart to NOT apply the flat fee in such a case?

A5: Just mark it with the =SS= tag and put 10.00 into the shipping field of the item variable (field six). When you order the item by itself, only the $10.00 will be applied. If you get that item along with any of the "normal" items, it will apply the $5.00 flat fee also.


Q6: I'm confused by all the shipping options. Should I give up?

A6: Of course not. Americart is a powerful program with many features, but you don't have to use all of them right away. You can just set a flat fee and then display the "shipping cost is estimated" message in the cart display. Later, you can go back and tune things up as you please. It's easy to reconfigure your account. The important thing is to get things functional, then build from there.


Q7: The calculation methods are great, but I also need to set a minimum and a maximum shipping fee amount. Can I?

A7: These shipping switches can be set in the cart configuration form:
Minimum Shipping Fee: to be applied if your chosen method results in too low a charge for small orders.

Maximum Shipping Fee: to be applied if your chosen method results in too high a charge for large orders.
Free Shipping over x: the threshold you set over which shipping is free. This is a great sales tool.


Q8: I have free shipping with my orders. How do I turn shipping off?

A8: When configuring your account, just ignore the section on shipping. No mention of shipping will be made in the cart display.

You may also want to put the message: FREE shipping with all orders!" in the "merchant message" section of the configuration form.

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UPS QuickCost/FedEx RateFinder/USPS Shipping Calculator

Q9: What does the UPS "QuickCost"/FedEx "Rate Finder"/USPS Shipping Calculator do?

A9: That system accurately calculates the parcel shipping cost based on weight, from the merchants (origination) zip code to the customers (destination) zip code. The rates are identical to the ones calculated at the UPS websites "Quick Cost" calculator and the FedEx website "Rate Finder".


Q10: How do I use the UPS/FedEx/USPS Shipping module?

A10: 1) Make sure to provide the weight of each product in your cart's item variable code (field 9). value="a-1358^pnum^product desc^6.32^1^^^^weight^" (substitute 1.2 for "weight" above for 1.2 pounds.)
2) Configure your cart to use the UPS/FedEx/USPS Shipping module from the Americart configuration form Complete the fields for "UPS QuickCost / FedEx Rate Finder / USPS Shipping Calculator"


Q11: I am not a U.S. based merchant, can I use the UPS/FedEx/USPS Shipping module?

A11: No, the system is only available for U.S. based merchants and will not function properly without a valid U.S. origination zip code.


Q12: Can I use the UPS/FedEx/USPS Shipping module in conjunction with some of the "calculated" shipping methods?

A12: No. If you previously used a "calculated" method of shipping with Americart, you will need to disable it. Instead, you can use the Multi-Method Shipping lookup table along with the UPS/FedEx/USPS system, which is great for adding that certain shipping method you want to offer.


Q13: What if I need to ship something free, can I still do this?

A13: Absolutely, just use the =SF= tag in the item part number of your product item variable code. ie., ^=SF=partnum^


Q14: I ship a lot of merchandise to International destinations, can the UPS "Quick Cost" Shipping module support this?

A14: Yes, the module supports the following International shipping options:

  • UPS Worldwide Express (Any non-US destination fast as possible)
  • UPS Worldwide Expedited (Most non-US; slower, saves a bit)

You can also use the "Multi-Method Shipping lookup table" to add international shipping options at the rates you desire.


Q15: I understand that the UPS "Quick Cost" Shipping module will calculate accurate rates for a shipment, but what if I need to send certain items in separate boxes?

A15: The UPS/FedEx/USPS Shipping module has a special tag =SHIPSEP= that when included in the item part number of your product item variable code will tell Americart that this item needs to be shipped in its own box. ie., ^=SHIPSEP=partnum^. Americart can calculate accurate shipping charges for an unlimited number of packages in a shipment. As far as we know, this functionality is unique to the shopping cart.


Q16: I want to be sure that my shoppers understand what the various shipping choices I am offering them mean, and when to select them. Is there some way I can add explanation on the "shipping method select" page?

A16: If you offer more than one shipping method, when the shopper adds the first item to the cart, they are presented with a shipping method selection page. To guide the shopper in their choice, you can add your own html or text to the bottom of that page. Here is a link to the Shipping Method Select Page Footer Upload Form:


Q17: What if I need to assess a surcharge for packaging material, can I do that?

A17: Yes, In the "UPS Shipping Method Fee Structure" of the cart configuration form you can enter the amount you wish to add to each box for handling.

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Sales Tax Issues

Q18: I must charge sales tax in my home state. How do I tell the cart to do that?

A18: In the "Sales Tax" section of the cart configuration form, enter your state in the first box, and the tax rate in the second box.


Q19: Some of my items are subject to sales tax and some are not. How do I tell the shopping cart what products to leave out of the sales tax calculations?

A19: In the product "item" variable, add the prefix =TF= to your partnumber field. Old number: xyz-1 New number: =TF=xyz-1


Q20: I must charge several different sales tax rates based on what county, etc. people live in my "home" state. How do I allow a variable rate?

A20: If you charge Sales Tax in more than one state, you need to get the shopper to select their state so tax can be calculated.

This demo illustrates how to do that. This type of "forced visit before checkout" page can also be used to make shoppers agree to your policies, etc. Basically whatever you want to make sure that people go there and click what you want them to.


Q21: My state requires that I charge sales tax on the shipping fee also. Can I do that?

A21: Yes. There is a checkbox in the the cart configuration form to select that in the sales tax section.

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