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Solving a shipping conundrum with Magento

Posted by: Clare Rose

The University of Nottingham Students’ Union sells merchandise to customers around the world. It comes in a variety of shapes, sizes and weights, which means different items cost different amounts to ship. 

Working out the total shipping cost for any combination of items to any country is a surprisingly complex operation for the site’s backend.

What’s on the market
First, we looked at Magento’s standard shipping function. Unfortunately, while it’s detailed enough for most retail sites, it doesn’t support the level of customisation we needed. So we searched for pre-built extensions to do the job, and found a few candidates.

One extension let us choose shipping by country, but would have needed hundreds of rules set up for each product. This would have been too time-consuming – especially since it’d have to be maintained.

Another extension offered shipping zones, blocking countries together to simplify costs. Unfortunately, we could only choose one shipping price per zone, so that wasn’t suitable either.

If in doubt, make it yourself
Luckily, we have the in-house capability to build our own extensions, so that’s what we did. Our solution lets you set a price for the UK, EU, and the rest of the world for each product. These are then combined for all the items in your basket. It sounds simple, but then good ideas often do.