Out of the box.

Out of the box (not that Magento ever came in a box) the shipping is reasonably robust with USPS, Fedex and UPS available.
To use any of the in built shipping correctly you will need API access which you can get through your UPS or Fedex account.

This usually requires logging in to their admin panel and signing up for those services, this basically allows Magento to pull real time shipping rates using your account pricing and discounts.

For USPS you need to obtain API details from them using their developer interface, this is usually best to have your developer take care of. For a seasoned developer with Magento / shipping experience it's very straightforward and doesn't take very long to obtain and update your site.

Don't have a UPS account? no problem Magento will still return rates based on weight and distance but at the UPS published rates.

My shipping is set up now what?

Most of our clients over the years (including ourselves) almost immediately run into needing expanded shipping requirements, for example companies who sell wine online can't ship to certain states, for them they need an extension which won't allow Magento to accept an order to states where this is not allowed.

Some clients want to charge by item or have flat rate shipping but only to the lower 48 states with different or no shipping to Alaska or Hawaii.
How about different flat rate shipping for certain customer types, the variations are wide and many.
One great company who we have worked with over the years is webshopapps.com, they offer a large range of solutions for pretty much every shipping requirement. The pricing is a bit on the high side for Magento extensions but they work really well and they are experts in this field.

Dimensional shipping?

What is dimensional shipping? For all carriers they don't just charge by weight, otherwise you could ship a 20ft inflated balloon that weighs very little but fills up a UPS truck. Carriers want to get as many items on their trucks or airplanes, so they will charge more for oversized packages.
How do you compensate for that in Magento, by default there is now way to ener the dimensions of your packages, or to combine those in the cart for accurate pricing.
If you only ship small or medium packages this isn't really an issue but if you ship large items you may run into under charging and losing money on your shipping. To combat that you need a dimensional shipping extension, Webshoppapps Dimensional Shipping

There are other companies offering Dimensional Shipping extensions but currently mostly for Magento 2.


You've got your Magento site up and running, you've configured your shipping extensions and orders are coming in. Question is how do you process and ship them, updating your customer and marketplace (if you are selling on those platforms)?

Easy solution Shipstation their app is easily installed into Magento and with some minor setup (creating an API user) it will work seamlessly with Magento.

Once you have created your Shipstation account you add your Magento site through their web based portal and it will import your orders into the easy to use interface.

You enter the order number (or scan a barcode if you have Pick Pack installed) this brings up the order with all the customer details and order. You select the shipping method, enter the weight (we recommend purchasing a digital scale, as this can enter the weight with one click). Enter the dimensions (for larger packages) click ship and it will automatically print a label (if you have this setup), we highly recommend the Dymo 4x6 Label printer as this can be set to automatically print the label and is the perfect size for any shipper. 

Shipstation automatically posts the shipping info into Magento along with the tracking number. Magento then fires off the shipping email to the customer with the tracking number. If you sell on Amazon, Ebay, Etsy etc those marketplaces also get informed.
This means that the marketplaces can confirm it's been shipped and have tracking which they all require in order for you to get paid. Shipstation takes a lot of the manual labor out of order processing.

We've just touched on the main core of Shipstation, check it out  for a whole lot more features.

Believe it or not this is a brief overview of Magento shipping, there are many more elements to consider including how to ship Internationally, LTL (less than truckload) , Freight and more. We've provided solutions for a wide range of customer shipping requirements. Got a question please email us and we'll be happy to provide information for your shipping solution.