Table of Contents

Virtual Shipping Methods

Colin Updated by Colin

A Virtual Shipping Method is a placeholder method chosen at the order level. This Virtual Shipping Method will be replaced with a real shipping method at the shipment level. The selection of the real shipping method depends on the criteria defined by the Virtual Shipping Method. This will result in a real method being assigned automatically to each shipment based on whether the real shipping method:

  • is enabled for the Virtual Shipping Method
  • has a valid Shipping Account; if required
  • is enabled in the Configuration for the Merchant
  • is valid for the Shipment; considering
    • origin and destination
    • package weight and dimensions
    • package contents (Goods Type and Regulations)
  • will reach the destination by the computed Delivery Date (if appropriate)
  • represents the cheapest overall cost (see Rating) including all dimensional weight divisors and other surcharges

Adding a Virtual Shipping Method

Navigate to System > Shipping > Virtual Shipping Methods to manage existing Virtual Shipping Methods that are pre-populated and add new ones. Click Add New to create a new one, details on the fields are given below.

Once added, a Virtual Shipping Method must still be enabled in the System > Configuration > Shipping Methods > Virtual Shipping Methods section of the configuration. The set of enabled methods may be overridden at the Merchant scope so that different Merchants will be able to see and use different methods.

Service Code

Shipping Methods all have a code that starts with a carrier code, followed by an underscore, then any upper and lowercase letters and digits and underscores. For Virtual Shipping Methods the carrier code can be anything but there must be at least one underscore with characters before and after.

Real Methods

Choose the "real methods" that this virtual method will shop between. All selected methods will be considered as candidates when performing rate shopping and be eliminated using the criteria described at the top of this page and then sorted by a shipping cost generated using the Rating Data and finally the cheapest option will be chosen as the "winner" for a given shipment.

Rate Quotes

The shipping cost quotes for a Virtual Shipping Method may be derived in one of two ways:

  1. The "Cheapest Real Method" option will use the computed costs of the real shipping method which is found to have the lowest cost. In the case of multiple packages this may be the sum of shipping costs from multiple real methods, each of which are evaluated independently.
  2. The "User-Defined Rate Tables" option uses the Rating Data tables to assign the final real shipping methods just like the previous option, but the cost provided in the rate quote will be derived from separate rate tables that are assigned specifically to this Virtual Shipping Method. That is, the quoted price will be static, but the resolution of the cheapest real method will be dynamic.

Desired Delivery Date

By enabling this option you may require that the customer's desired delivery date is specified with the order data, and then this date target will be used to exclude real shipping methods which would not arrive on time.

Max Days In Transit

Set a limit to the number of days a shipment is expected to be in transit to be considered valid for this Virtual Shipping Method. This allows you to shop between two similar rates which have different service levels. For example, you can shop between FedEx Home Delivery and FedEx 2Day while still promising the customer a 2-day delivery. If the Days in Transit indicated that FedEx Home Delivery would take 3 or more days for a given destination then FedEx Home Delivery would not be considered even though it is cheaper than FedEx 2Day. In this way you can promise a service level without always paying or charging the higher fees associated with the faster services.

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