How Do eCommerce Sites Handle Multiple Ship From Locations?

I’ve been closely following the release of a new open source eCommerce platform called Magento. This month we should be expecting the first beta release, and there are many people excited to try it out. Magento has a blog that normally touches on certain features they are working on, and I chimed in a couple times with my insight.

One thing that I’ve always had a problem with on eCommerce platforms is how to handle multiple ship from locations. It seems that no packages out there deal with this concern, and quite frankly, I’m surprise it’s not a bigger issue than it is.

What Is Multiple Ship From Locations?

The idea behind this is that an eCommerce store has either multiple locations/warehouses or they have more than one supplier that drop ships to their customers. In my case, I have multiple locations for my automotive manufacturing business, ActiveTuning. Some of our parts are made with my business partner in Wisconsin, and some of the parts are made on my end here in Virginia. On top of that, we do have relationships in place with some suppliers that can drop ship to our customers.

So where is the problem with this? When 99% of our business is done online, an important part of the eCommerce platform is being able to provide accurate pricing for shipping, not only for our sake, but also for our customers. We don’t want to overcharge our customers just as much as we don’t want to lose money shipping a product to our customer. For ActiveTuning we use a heavily modified version of osCommerce for our platform, but the way it calculates shipping is based on the zip code of our main store location…which is in Wisconsin. So when there are parts that are supposed to ship from me in Virginia, the eCommerce software is quoting customers for shipping prices based out of Wisconsin. This is a potential major problem because something that may cost a lot to ship, I could lose out majorly on. On top of all this, I’m really thinking about getting into more resale, which means I need drop shipping to be a possibility. How do I manage shipping prices for my online customers if a product may ship from Texas, but it’s quoting from Wisconsin. If it’s something like an exhaust system that may cost $50-$100 to ship, I could lose money.

In this day and age I would think many eCommerce stores have multiple suppliers that drop ship, so I’m wondering how they handle the whole shipping situation. If anybody has any insight, please enlighten me!

A Solution?

The only solution that I can think of is for the eCommerce platform to support multiple locations on the administration side of things. Then each product can allow you to choose the location in which it ships from. Then the checkout portion needs to be smart enough to realize if a customer is ordering multiple products that are shipping from separate locations to understand that it will be multiple packages and charge accordingly.

This seems pretty complex, but maybe it has been done? Maybe there is a better solution?

  • http://www.meridiancrest.com Scot Smith

    Maybe I’m just forgetful but I seem to think most places (like Amazon.com) still only have one distribution center. The way you’ve outlined for multiples seems like the best idea I could come up with for something like that.

  • http://www.nexternal.com Alex

    Hi David,

    I work for Nexternal Solutions (www.nexternal.com). Our ecommerce solution allows merchants to setup an unlimited number of Ship From Locations. You can then assign a product to a Ship From Location so that shipping costs can be calculated accurately. Let me know if you would be interested in learning more. Also, if you are getting heavily into drop shipping, I think you’ll like our solution for that as well.

  • http://www.ablyrics.com Vit

    I’ve been looking for such solution recently and
    I discovered that ableCommerce software ($995) supports Multiple Ship From locations. Also there is 3DCart, which is hosted solutions, starts from $39.95, I think…

  • http://www.davidpitlyuk.com David Pitlyuk

    Thanks for the suggestions Vit, I’ll be looking over them for sure.

  • Craig

    OScommerce had a solution that worked pretty good. Basically you would enter the ship from location in the Manufacturer details so when you assign the manufacturer to the product it will know where it’s shipping from. The trickiest part is the shipping costs, and at that point maybe you just charge a flat fee maybe a variable one that changes with the amount of different locations.

  • Jeff

    Yes, this is exactly what i am looking for, and I need an affiliate system to add commissioned sales people by customer and track sales and commissions by affiliate/sales person. Thank you for the direction.
    JM

  • Jon

    I need this exact thing also. I admin a website on OSCommerce as well as one on Magento. I did some research a couple months ago on drop shipping on Magento. The availability is pretty bleak. I only found one person who said that they got multiple origins working on Magento. They said that they couldn’t make it available to anybody and that it involved a lot of changes to the core.

    Magento has lots of features. Drop shipping is becoming a big thing so I wonder why it doesn’t have it. On the other hand, if somebody makes an open source plugin for it, I think there will be lots of people that will worship whoever does it. Let me know if you find any solutions. =)

  • Mike

    Nexternal Solutions supports multiple ship from locations. I use them for my business and have different products that ship from three different locations. The system ties in to my UPS account so it quotes accurate shipping costs. I was also considering Magento but Nexternal is a different animal. I found them on Google which brought me to this page:
    http://www.nexternal.com/ecommerce/magento_commerce_shopping_cart.asp

  • http://www.kezoon.com Free Online Store

    Thanks mate, great little post. I am currently working on the Magento platform. I’m moving onto a dedi soon.

  • http://www.dropshippingweb.ch billige Kontaktlinsen

    I would love to hear more about this topic.

  • http://www.dropshippingweb.ch billige Kontaktlinsen

    How do you use dropshipping?

  • http://www.landmarkinfoservices.com Ross Stanek

    I have a little different scenario. I have the same products that can be shipped from both warehouses. I need to be able to calculate shipping based on the best warehouse to ship from. So which ever one is closest to the customer should do the shipping and calculate the cost. Does anyone know of a package that does this?

  • Bill Paxton

    I am also looking at carts that will accurately calculate shipping from multiple locations. From what I can see (not being an expert) Digishop Pro seems able to do this. Can anyone verify?

  • http://claremontdesign.com CDesign

    I think there’s a better solution for this and one thing that I am thinking is providing a specific landing page and grouping a shipping location for products. It simplify it a little.

  • http://www.tweakmagento.com ryan

    Use magento for this, it has plugins for you which will determine the shipping price with the company you use based on weight, location etc… plus you can also set free shipping above set amounts and discount rates etc

  • Sohail

    This is an interesting problem and I am trying to search for a good solution for it. What happens when items are scattered over different ship-from locations? How do we calculate shipping cost before order fulfillment?

  • http://innoexts.com InnoExts

    You can handle multiple ship from location with the ‘Multi-Warehouse’ Magento extension. The extension allows to manage both multiple stock locations and a single warehouse.It has a wide variety of features and options to configure multi warehouses/single warehouse and stock management in a required way.It provides global inventory control across multiple distribution centres;different discounts/prices on the same item depending on the depot;and also many other functions to suit a wide range of retailers’ demands.
    http://innoexts.com/multiple-warehouse/