1. How are you preparing for the new changes to shipping with the new dimensional weight?
First, by replacing some of our cartons with smaller ones. For example, we now use a 60x7x5 box that could hold 6 tools, but that size will have a dim weight of 13 lbs and we don't ship 6 tools at once very often. So we are replacing it with a smaller 60x6x3 box that can hold 4 tools and only has a dim weight of 6.5 lbs.
Second, by experimenting with UltraCart's packaging program to set item dimensions and carton fill percentages so that the computer put items in shipping cartons the same way that we do, especially items that nest or fill empty spaces. This is trial-and-error experimenting for now, but will get better when UltraCart publishes some more documentation on how to best use the packaging program.
2. You have multiple UltraCart accounts, does it make it easier to ship from different accounts?
Our two stores carry very different products (garden tools and laundry drying racks) so with two accounts it does reduce the possible combinations of items. But mostly we use separate accounts so the Carts can have the same appearance as the stores they serve, and I can keep the records and accounting separated. FedEx and UPS do combine our volumes for both stores when determining our discount.
3. How have you been shipping your products in the past?
In boxes big enough to hold many tools, which didn't cause any extra cost when shipping by weight. We just stuffed in some filler paper when sending only one or two tools. That practice will completely end by 2015. We used to use UPS primarily, but after switching to UltraCart we switched over to FedEx so we could more easily print shipping labels straight from the control panel.
4. What specific areas of UltraCart will you use to insure you are getting the lowest rates for you and your customers?
Primarily we will be using UltraCart's packaging program for this. Since the FedEx/UPS shift to all dimensional weight means the actual weight no longer matters, I want to add a marketing message to let customers know that they can add a few more items to their carton (order) without any additional shipping cost. Or maybe offer a few tiers of flat rate shipping depending on carton size (Small, Medium, and Large rates). Still unsure how to actually do this, but learning more about the UltraCart packaging program should give us some ideas.
5. What advice would you give new UltraCart users to help them setup their shipping?
#1 is start now. You can experiment now without worry about costly errors. You are still getting charged by weight, so if the packaging program puts things in the wrong size cartons while you are learning, it doesn't really matter yet.
#2 is that the item dimensions you input will often match the true dimensions, but they do not have to. If you have items that can nest (bowls and garden hoes are examples) it is potentially valuable to input item dimensions that are smaller.
#3 is to share solutions. If you come up with good methods or tricks for the packaging program, post them on the Ultracart Forum. And request a great User's Guide for the UltraCart packaging program ;-)
Thanks for sharing Greg!