E-commerce News and Insights
Mar 6, 2019

WooCommerce Shipping Zones: A Step-by-step Setup Guide

Using WooCommerce Shipping Zones is one of the most cost-effective ways to charge your customers for shipping during the checkout process. Here’s why: the major carriers have different shipping rates based on the distance the package will travel from the origin and destination addresses. Shorter distances usually mean lower prices and vice versa.

These distances are broken up into Shipping Zones (more about that later). By setting up WooCommerce Shipping Zones in your WooCommerce shopping cart, you’re able to pass along the correct shipping rate to your customer.

(Editor’s note: if you don’t want to set up Shipping Zones in your WooCommerce store, you can set a flat shipping rate and then pocket or pay the difference for each order.)

This article will take you step-by-step through the process for how to set up your WooCommerce shipping by Zones.

Table of Contents

Is Setting up Shipping Zones Right for my WooCommerce Store?

Every business has unique needs when it comes to shipping, so it’s great that there are different WooCommerce shipping methods you can implement to support your business.

We recommend setting up WooCommerce Shipping Zones if your business meets the following criteria:

  • You have one location where all of your orders ship from. This can be an office space or warehouse, as long as most of your orders are coming from the same ZIP or postal code.
  • The weight of your packages stays pretty consistent across orders. WooCommerce Shipping Zones work best if all of your packages have the same shipping weight. You can always ship heavier or lighter packages, but keep in mind that you will need to eat the additional shipping costs that your customer does not cover.
  • You always ship with the same carrier and service level. If you use USPS Priority Mail for all of your packages, for example, this is perfect for you.

Step 1: Determine Your Shipping Rate

You’ll want to have a crystal clear idea of your shipping costs. If you already know your rates, skip this step. Otherwise, we’ll walk you through how to figure out what your carrier will charge to ship your items.

Find Your Average Package Weight

Figure out how much your packages weigh. Ideally, they will all have the same weight. If not, you can decide whether to go with the most-common weight or find an average package weight.

For this scenario, we’re going to assume all of our packages weigh two pounds.

Select Your Service Level

Next, decide which carrier and service level to use. For more information, check out our guide on all of the common USPS service levels for domestic packages.

Today, we’ll focus on USPS Priority Mail rates, since that’s the most-popular service level for e-commerce businesses.

Note Your Rates for Each Zone

Most of the carriers’ prices are based on the package’s weight, dimensions, and distance it travels. That distance—from the origin address to the destination address—is categorized into different Zones. The longer the distance, the higher the Zone, and the more expensive the package will cost.

Use your package weight to look up the shipping price for each Zone. We have a wide sampling of prices in our 2019 USPS postage rates blog post. If you can’t find the weight and service level mix you’re looking for, you can also reach out to our sales team for a personalized rates analysis at sales@goshippo.com.

For today’s example, here are the USPS Priority Mail rates by Zone for a package weighing two pounds.

Step 2: Identify and Prepare Your Shipping Zones

To determine the Shipping Zones for your business, identify the ZIP or postal code for the address where your products are shipped from (also known as origin address). This might be your warehouse, storefront, or other inventory location.  

Then, enter that zip code into the USPS domestic zone chart calculator to determine the Zones for any U.S. domestic shipment. Here’s an example of the results we get when we use the first three digits of Shippo’s ZIP code.

In this example, our warehouse is located in San Francisco. A customer in New York would fall in Zone 8 (pretty far and expensive). While a customer in Los Angeles, California would fall in Zone 4 (closer and less expensive).

Group All of the ZIP Codes by Zone

Once you’ve identified which ZIP or postal codes fall into which Zone, then you’ll want to organize that information so that you can add it to your WooCommerce store.

Start a list of all the ZIP codes that fall under Zone 1, then do the same for the rest of the Zones.

To make it easier, use the following WooCommerce shortcuts: wildcards (e.g. CB23*) and fully numeric ranges (e.g. 90210…99000).

As you’ll see below, we grouped the ZIP codes for each Zone from our office in San Francisco as an example. Your table will look different than this, depending on your origin ZIP code.

Now, you’re ready to input this information into your WooCommerce store.

Step 3: Set up Your WooCommerce Shipping Zones with Accurate Rate Information

Once inside your WordPress dashboard, go to WooCommerce > Settings > Shipping.

  • Select Add Shipping Zone.
  • Enter the Zone Name. We recommend following the numerical names given by the USPS.
  • Select Limit to Specific ZIP/postcodes
  • Add the postal codes for the specific Zone (copy and pasting from the table you created above).
  • Select Add Shipping Method and choose Flat Rate.

  • Click the blue hyperlinked Flat Rate.

  • Consider changing the Method Title. This information will be revealed to your customer during the checkout process. You might want to change it to the carrier and service level (i.e. USPS Priority Mail) or another consumer-friendly title.
  • Enter the USPS Priority Mail rate for that particular Zone in the Cost field.
  • Save changes.
  • Do this for all nine USPS Zones.

Step 4: Generate Labels With Shippo

Once you’ve set up your WooCommerce Shipping Zones, you’ll want to sync your store with a shipping software like Shippo that offers a WooCommerce shipping plugin to create shipping labels that cost the same amount as the price you’re charging your customers.

Shippo is a free, out-of-the-box integration with WooCommerce. Here’s how it works:

  • Shippo automatically imports your WooCommerce orders into the Shippo dashboard.
  • You can then select your orders and create labels (either one at a time or in a batch).
  • When you create a label in Shippo, it automatically updates the fulfillment status in WooCommerce.
  • When you change your address or order status in WooCommerce, the change will sync with Shippo.

Sync your WooCommerce store with Shippo in just three easy steps. Check out our Help Center article for the instructions.

Congrats! Once you complete these steps, your WooCommerce Shipping Zones will be set up and you’ll be ready to ship orders to your customers. Test it for yourself by creating a few new orders and selecting unique ZIP codes.

Questions? Contact our shipping experts at sales@goshippo.com.

Happy shipping!

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Michelle McNamara
is a Senior Marketing Manager at Shippo

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