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!
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?