I’m getting ahead of things somewhat – writing about setting up calculated shipping fees for shipping guitars before I even write about setting up your guitar website and your online guitar store. That will sort itself out in time.
I’d been using flat fees up til now – sometimes that worked, but sometimes I felt customers were overcharged and other times I took a hit on shipping fees.
I decided to switch to calculated shipping fees, and I’ll be reporting on how that is working. But first, let me explain the process of setting things up for selling your guitars with calculated shipping fees.
I’m using UPS because there’s a UPS store only one mile from my house and a plugin to connect my WordPress WooCommerce pages with UPS shipping rates was easy to find and install.
The “Flexible Shipping UPS” plugin requires a “UPS Access Key”, for which you must first setup an “account”. You might think that going through their registration process and getting a user ID is “setting up an account”. But UPS has more than one definition of an account!
Once you’ve registered, you must click on your profile and setup a payment method. I haven’t figured out just why they want my bank card info, since my website will be collecting payment from my customers and I will be paying in-person at my UPS Store. I guess I’ll soon find out what’s up with that!
Follow the steps to setup your payment account and you will then be granted an access key, which you will enter into the settings tab for your plugin.
This is the scale I’ve been using for the past year and a half. Lightweight, quick and easy to use and so far, it’s taken a beating. It’s worked fine for everything from heavy, double-neck Carvins to ukuleles.
But knowing the weight of your guitar isn’t enough. The box and shipping material are going to add weight also.
Most of my guitar boxes weight just under two pounds and my bass guitar boxes weigh just a tad over two pounds, so I just round them to two pounds and figure another pound of packing material.
Strats and Teles are usually between 7 & 8 pounds, so I’d figure 11 pounds shipping for them. My guitar boxes for strats & teles are 44″x16″x5″.
It’s important to enter this info into each product page or you just might end up having to ship a guitar for free! I found that multiple updates can quickly be made by selecting the category of guitar (Stratocaster, etc.) and filtering to “In Stock” only, then set Bulk Actions to “Edit”. Now you can set weight, and dimensions for all your Strats at once. If you have several dozen guitars, this is a real time-saver!
Other Shipping Services / Plugins
Once I’ve had time to try everything out, I’ll be sure and add my observations either directly here or as links to new articles, so “Stay tuned!”
WHOA! I just tried PirateShip and you’ve gotta read this! (writing article now, will add link soon)
Code Customizing You’ll Want
With a WordPress/WooCommerce website handling your online guitar sales, you’re pretty well set and won’t need a programmer for customizing your website…(much).
Ah, but what about those few times that you do need a programmer? Like, for instance, the above plugin (and presumably ones for FedEx, etc.) does not allow for adding a “handling fee” to help cover cost of packaging.
With guitar shipping boxes costing $15 or so and packing materials, etc., your actual shipping costs can easily be $20 higher than your UPS shipping fees.
Also, the WooCommerce product page “Additional Info” tab shows dimensions and weight as though they were the actual size and weight of the guitar rather than the packed product in the shipping box. I can imagine a buyer thinking, “A 12 pound Strat??? No thanks!” LOL!
These are the kinds of issues where you’ll want some custom coding. But programmers are expensive. And there are a lot of awful ones mixed in with the “good ‘uns”. So what do you do?
I’ve written custom code to add a “Handling Fee” (or “Packing Fee”, or whatever you want to call it), and the amount I want to charge (I’m currently charging a $12 Packing Fee), and to change the “Additional Info” tab to say “Shipping Size”. I also have custom code to handle other issues such as the ability to hide certain categories and products out of stock and reports that I can’t live without.
All GuitarFlippers who choose to host on my super-fast web server (I’m a hosting reseller for a top-level, national hosting corporation), will have the option of using my website templates, plugins and customizations – at no extra cost!
I also offer your choice of any of Elegant Themes Divi designs, at no extra charge.
My hosting services come with support, unlimited free email accounts, automated backups, free restores and extra security features. I’ll be setting up pages with details and registration forms shortly. Until then, feel free to contact me for help in getting your online guitar sales website setup for FREE and hosted (unfortunately, not free!) on our servers.
My Facebook Marketplace Experience
I’m just now getting started selling, with shipping, through Facebook Marketplace. I’ve been using them for a long while for local pickup sales, but this will be my first experience with letting FB handle the money.
They’re currently holding sellers’ funds for a full 5 days after delivery is confirmed. So this may not be a viable route for beginners with shallow pockets. But with such a huge user base and with FB trustworthiness far exceeding that of Craigslist, it’s difficult to justify not using their services.
Stay tuned and I’ll post a link here with my experiences – probably posted first in my blog and later assembled as a permanent page.