You just started an online store selling handmade jewelry, but aren’t sure how to figure out shipping costs. It’s confusing trying to understand the different shipping options and rates. But determining shipping costs accurately is crucial—charge too much and you’ll lose customers, charge too little and you’ll lose money. Don’t stress. This article will walk you through the key factors in how to determine shipping costs when selling online. We’ll look at the popular carrier options, how to determine package weights and dimensions, and tips for setting shipping rates that cover your costs without overcharging. With the right information, you can confidently offer reasonable shipping rates to your customers. Let’s dive in and figure this out together.

Key Factors: How to Determine Shipping Costs for Online Sellers

how to determine shipping costs when selling online
Product weight and dimensions

The heavier and larger your product is, the more it will cost to ship. You’ll want to factor in not just the product itself but also any packaging. Make sure you understand how different carriers like UPS and USPS calculate pricing based on size and weight.

Shipping carrier

The major players like UPS, FedEx, and USPS all have different rates. USPS is often the most affordable for smaller items while UPS and FedEx may be better for larger or high-value products. Compare rates among carriers to get the best deal.

Shipping method

How fast do you need your product to arrive? Standard shipping will be cheaper than expedited options like Priority Mail Express or Next Day Air. For the lowest costs, go with the slowest option that still meets your customers’ expectations.


Shipping costs are also determined by where your product is going. Shipping within the contiguous U.S. is typically cheaper than shipping to Alaska, Hawaii or Puerto Rico. International shipping, especially to remote locations, can significantly impact your costs. Plan ahead for any special rates or restrictions on shipping to different countries.

Insurance and tracking

Want to insure expensive items or get end-to-end tracking for your shipments? These add-on services will increase your shipping fees. Only include them when truly necessary to keep your own costs down.

With so many factors at play, determining accurate shipping rates for your products can be complicated. But by understanding how each element influences your costs and finding ways to streamline where possible, you’ll be able to keep shipping fees reasonable for both you and your customers.

Calculating Shipping Rates Based on Weight and Destination

how to determine shipping costs when selling online
Determine the weight of your item

The first thing you need to figure out is how much your item weighs, packaging included. Use a scale to get an exact weight in ounces or pounds. The heavier and larger your item is, the more it will cost to ship.

Check shipping carrier rates

Head to the websites of major carriers like USPS, UPS, and FedEx to check their shipping rate calculators. Enter the item weight, your origin and destination zip codes, and they’ll provide you rates for each service level. USPS Priority Mail is often the most affordable for lightweight items. UPS and FedEx Ground are good for heavier packages.

Factor in packaging

Don’t forget to account for the weight of any packaging you’ll use like boxes, padding, and filler. Add a couple ounces to your item weight to ensure you purchase enough postage. It’s better to overestimate than underpay and have your package returned or delayed.

Additional fees

Keep in mind that residential deliveries, rural addresses, and shipping to Alaska, Hawaii or Puerto Rico may incur surcharges. Also, check if the carrier charges extra for pickup services or liability coverage in case the item is damaged or lost. It’s best to factor in all potential fees upfront so you can build them into your shipping rates.

Set your rates

Once you determine the shipping costs for different locations and item weights, you’ll want to build in a handling fee, say $2 to $5 extra. This covers your time and effort in packing and shipping the orders. Set clear rates on your store policies page so customers know what to expect at checkout. Review and adjust as needed based on actual costs and customer feedback.

With some upfront work determining rates, you’ll be equipped to provide accurate quotes to your customers and ensure you’re not losing money on shipping with each sale. Keep at it, and you’ll get better with experience!

Offering Free Shipping vs. Passing Shipping Costs to Customers

how to determine shipping costs when selling online

As an online seller, one of the biggest decisions you’ll make is whether to offer free shipping or charge customers for shipping costs. There are pros and cons to both options, so you’ll need to weigh them carefully for your business.

Offering free shipping is appealing to customers and can drive more sales. People love getting things for free, and the perception of free shipping makes them feel like they’re getting a good deal. You’ll likely see an uptick in orders if you promote free shipping. However, you’ll need to build the cost of shipping into your product prices to avoid losing money on each sale. This may make your items seem more expensive to customers comparison shopping.

On the other hand, passing shipping costs onto customers allows you to keep product prices lower. But customers today often expect free shipping, especially for larger orders, so they may balk at paying for shipping and go to a competitor instead. You’ll need to find a compromise, like offering free shipping for orders over a certain dollar amount. This way you can keep prices affordable for customers while not losing money on shipping for every order.

As with most business decisions, the right choice for you depends on your products, customers, and competition. You may want to test both options to see which leads to higher sales and happier customers before committing to one or the other. The most important thing is making sure your shipping policy aligns with your overall business strategy and goals.


So you’ve got your shipping strategy figured out. Way to go! You know which carriers to use, how to set up your shipping profiles, and how to charge customers fairly but profitably. Shipping’s a big piece of the ecommerce puzzle. Now that you’ve nailed it down, you can focus on other parts of your biz. Keep tweaking as you learn more. Don’t get complacent! Shipping rates and best practices change all the time. But for now, give yourself a pat on the back. With shipping sorted, you’re well on your way to selling success online! This is a crucial step in how to determine shipping costs when selling online —mastering this can significantly impact your business’s profitability and customer satisfaction.