How To Set Up WooCommerce Zone Shipping

Confused about the new shipping zones in Woocommerce? Here’s how to set up shipping zones using different rates for different weights. Ha! Poet an’ didn’t know it!

As you probably know if you use WooCommerce, they are phasing out the old, flat rate shipping and going to Zone shipping. Groan. It took me long enough to figure out the one, basic flat rate shipping. Now they want to complicate things? So I put it off. My brain did not want to focus in on that. But I knew I couldn’t put it off forever and one day the mood hit right and I forced myself to figure it out. It’s really not complicated! However it IS time consuming. So, fix yourself a big pot of coffee, or grab an energy drink. I’ll be here when you get back.

Note: This tutorial is assuming you need the correct shipping amount for items of different weights going to different areas and had flat rate shipping for individual items/weights already set up in the old, trusty, flat rate, now called, “Legacy.” If you only ship, say, one 3 oz. item over and over, then this will be overkill for you.

Note #2: This tutorial is for the US only. I did not include figuring shipping for outside the United States, but you should be able to figure that out using the same method.

Note #3: Don’t let my over explanation scare or confuse you. I tried to get as detailed as possible. You might have to take one sentence at a time and certainly one step at a time. But it really is easy! I promise!

Note #4: Please do not ask me how to do this or that. I’m just like everyone else. Not a WooCommerce expert. I have to research to figure out every new thing I do. I wrote this tutorial while it was fresh on my mind. If I had to do it again, I’d have to read my own “how to!”

Now. Let’s get started!

Setting up zone shipping in WooCommerce

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It’s best to go ahead and figure out your zones and costs and get that filled in first. But how in the world are you going to find all that? This is where the time consuming part comes in. But you know what? Because I’m a sweetheart, I’ll go ahead and save you some time. You can benefit from my research. 

I’m sure you know, there are groups of states that, when you ship from your location to any of those particular state groups, the shipping for items of the same weight is the same. (Sorry if that didn’t make sense. Just keep reading.) Those groups are zones. The post office groups them by zip codes, like in zone 3, all zip codes start with 3. I didn’t make note of the zone numbers. That’s not terribly important. You can name your zones anything you want. But here are the groups of states in no particular zone order:

  • Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Vermont
  • Delaware, New York, Pennsylvania
  • Washington DC, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia
  • Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Tennessee
  • Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio
  • Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming
  • Illinois, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska
  • Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Texas
  • Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming
  • Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington

But, but, that’s 10 zones to set up! Ack! The good news is that some of these can be combined. You’ll have to check some zip codes with weights in the shipping calculator at USPS.com to see which zones can be combined. I’m not very knowledgeable on such things, but I suspect yours would be different from mine unless you live in my area. 

For instance, I was able to combine the first two groups on the list above. It cost the same to send something to Atlantic City as it did to send something to Pittsburg. There are charts out there to tell you this, but they make my eyes cross. It’s time to get some paper out and really get to work. Make your combinations and come back when you’re finished.

To try to make the above a little clearer, here’s the step by step using the Atlantic City/Pittsburg example:

  1. Go to usps.com
  2. In the Quick Tools drop down menu on the left, choose Look up a ZIP code
  3. Fill in the blanks for City and State. In this case, Atlantic City, New Jersey
  4. A bunch of zip codes will come up. Just choose one. 08401 works fine.
  5. Go back to the Quick Tools drop down menu on the left, choose Calculate A Price
  6. Put in your own city’s zip code in the “from zip code” box and the Atlantic City zip code in the “to zip code” box.
  7. Scroll down and choose “package” or whatever you ship most things in.
  8. Below that, enter a weight. Use something over a pound or two.
  9. Click “continue.”
  10. Look at your options. You’ll want to see what the shipping is for Priority mail and “Other Options” which would be parcel post and media.
  11. Make a note of the costs.
  12. Now go back to the beginning and repeat all the steps but using Pittsburg, PA this time.

Are the shipping amounts the same? Yay! You can combine those two zones. If they are different, they’ll be different zones.

Keep doing this until you’ve combined as many zones as possible.

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You’ve now combined your zones. If you’re like me, you’ll have 4 or 5. My products weigh anywhere from 2 ozs. to 9 lbs. Because shipping is so high, I draw the line at shipping anything over 9 lbs. unless it’s a bunch of books. You’ll now make a chart for every shipping weight you might use. My chart starts at 3 ozs. and ends at 8-9 lbs and includes media rate. You’ll want to include every possible shipping method you might use. Flat rate boxes/envelopes, priority, parcel select or whatever they call it these days, or large package. (You can also add UPS, FedEx and freight, but today we’re talking about USPS only.

Here’s an excerpt of how one of my zone charts looked. Ah… okay. Mine was actually scribbled out on a piece of paper, but this screen shot will help you more than my scribbling.

zones

Here’s how to make that chart:

Note: There are spread sheets out there for what I’m telling you to do next, but gah! Those make my eyes cross AND bleed! This might be more time consuming, but for me there is less room for mistakes and to me, much easier to understand. 

Go back to usps.com and choose calculate a price. Again. Pick out a zip code for your first zone. Say California is in your first zone. In the USPS shipping calculator, use your zip code in the ship from box and any California zip code – I use 90210 – in the ship to box. Go down and choose “package”, then put in your first weight. Mine is 3 ozs. so that’s what I put in. Click to calculate and write down the prices for shipping. I only ship first class if the item is under a pound, so I only record the first class amount. Hit the back button and change the weight to the next weight on your list. Do this for every weight you have on your sheet. Then rinse and repeat for each zone.  

Whew! Bleah! Finished? It’s time to put those rates in the shipping zones you’re about to set up.

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Let’s set up those zones in WooCommerce.

  1. Go to Settings>Shipping. It will open on the page you need, “Shipping Zones.”
  2. Set up your first shipping zone. This will be as local as you care to get. I’m willing to let anyone local come and pick up an item. If you don’t want to do this, then skip this step and move straight to step 3.  But if you do…
    1. Select “Add shipping zone.” Name it. I call mine “Local.” ‘Cause I have such a great imagination an’ all like that.  Add the surrounding zip codes of places someone might be willing to travel from to pick up an item. One zip code to a line.
    2. Save your changes. You can’t move on until you’ve saved those changes.
    3. Over to the right of that Zone line, you’ll see “No shipping methods offered to this zone.” Click on the little plus sign next to that.
    4. The window that opens defaults to Flat Rate, but it is a drop down menu. The other choices are Free Shipping and Local Pickup. Choose Local Pickup. 
    5. Click the blue box that says, “Add Shipping Method.”
    6. Since you probably want to be able to ship to them as well, repeat steps 3-5, but choose Flat Rate this time, which is explained next. Start with step 4.
  3. Choosing “flat rate.” If you didn’t want to offer local pickup, start here. It repeats step 1-5 above
    1. Select “Add shipping zone.” Name it. Whatever you want. I just went with Zone 1. It includes the states closest to me.
    2. Then add the states in this zone in the middle box. 
    3. Save your changes. You can’t move on until you do this
    4. Over to the right of that Zone line, you’ll see “No shipping methods offered to this zone.” Click on the little plus sign next to that. 
    5. The window that opens has the default of “Flat rate” in the drop down menu. 
    6. Click the blue box that says, “Add Shipping Method.”
    7. You’ll be taken back to the original screen. Click on the words, “Flat rate” over to the right. Here’s where you’ll record all those shipping costs that took so long to figure out.
    8. If you already use the old flat rate system where you added all different weights and a cost to ship that weight — ex: 10 oz. – $3.78 or 1-2 lbs. – 7.97, then all your rate classes (3 oz, 4 oz, 2 lbs, 5 lbs, etc.) will be there waiting to be filled in. Do it. Fill in the costs for that first zone.
    9. Click “Save Changes” and you’ve set up your first zone! See? Not so hard!

Now do that for all your other zones.

What happens when a customer buys something is… WooCommerce looks at their state. It then matches their state with the appropriate zone chart and automagically chooses the correct shipping. When you’re listing your product, you’ll simply pick 10 ozs. or 2 lbs. or whatever the weight is. Woo will choose that weight from the appropriate zone.

I was terrified to disable Legacy, because once you do you can’t get it back. And I couldn’t find any kind of tutorial that answered these questions. I was afraid what I had put in before wouldn’t transfer over, but it did. Like if something in the store had a shipping class of 1-2 lbs. It’s still there just like it always was and WC will do it’s new thing. Before, I used the highest shipping for everyone. It would cost someone across town the same as it would someone in Alaska. Now, it’s accurate for everyone! Yay WooCommerce!

How to set up flat rate shipping in WooCommerce

Before you ask, no, I don’t know how this will apply to combined orders. Not the way we’d like, I’m pretty sure.

As a reminder, I probably can’t help any more than what’s in this tutorial, so please, save us both time and don’t ask. I *might* can clarify something written here. Or I might not.

How to set up zone shipping in WooCommerce

 

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Hi! I'm Wanda, the owner of Just Vintage and this is my blog. Just Vintage sells decor and collectibles. This blog is all about the business, our home, our DIY projects and our lives.

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