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How to Solve Multi-Origin Shipping at the checkout for Magento and WooCommerce stores

July 2021
Eco-friendly shipping around the world
Nikolay Pasholok
Product Owner, Calcurates
As businesses grow they expand, and with expansion comes the need for more fulfillment centers and warehouses. And this is the point when shipping becomes more complicated. However, with the use of shipping software, multi-origin shipping can become very cost-effective and flexible. 
Do you know how to manage multi-origin shipping for your locations and which e-commerce platforms offer multi-origin shipping? Let’s start from the beginning though!

What is Multi-Origin Shipping?

Multi-origin shipping allows the e-commerce store owner to select the optimal origin of the shipment if more warehouses are available. To better manage multiple warehouses you will need to set up shipping methods for each of your warehouses. If you enable multi-origin shipping, the order could be split between two or more locations in a way it benefits you and your customers. The customer will only see one shipping rate instead of multiple shipping rates.

How Does Multi-origin Shipping Work?

multiple shipping areas around the globe
The problem with multi-origin shipping arises when it comes to shipping costs and shipping rates. How is shipping cost calculated if the products are shipped from different locations to one destination? Let's see how multi-origin shipping works based on some practical examples here.

Imagine your customer’s order consists of two different products which are stored in different locations or warehouses, for example, New York and Los Angeles. The algorithm will select shipping options including the best carrier for these two products to be shipped to the customer’s location.

When customers place an order that needs to be shipped from two locations, retailers need to pay for all shipping costs of all items shipped separately while the customer only pays for one. Some retailers can afford to do multi-origin shipping this way but most can not.

So, you will need something to help you obtain real-time shipping rates and bake them into one shipping rate. Shipping software can help you with multi-origin shipping. Unless you are willing to calculate everything manually. That is also an option if you have plenty of time on your hands, as doing the calculation manually is otherwise too time-consuming and complicated. Allowing multi-origin shipping will help you split the order, create the different shipping profiles for each order, and bake the costs into one unified shipping rate displayed at the checkout for your customer.

Steps: Simplified Guide on Multi-origin Shipping Process

To simplify the multi-origin shipping process let’s use these simple steps to try to imagine how it works.
1
Order Placement
The customer places an online order that is shipped from multiple  locations
2
Multiple Shipping Locations
With shipping software or solution, you will be able to add multiple shipping locations (also known as origins or sources)
3
Shipping Options
Add supported shipping options as Live Rates from the carrier, Table Rates, Flat Rate, Rate Shopping, Free Shipping, and In-store Pickup for each of your locations
4
Shipping Rates
Shipping software will request or calculate individual shipping rates for every location involved in the order
5
Shipping Cost
Shipping costs will be unified into a single shipping rate
6
Single Shipping Rate
Single shipping rate will be displayed to the customer at the checkout

Origin Selection Algorithms

Problem statement: how to select the best origin if the product is available in multiple origins?

Algorithm 1: Stock quantity - The algorithm will check in which locations the product is available and if there is enough stock available.

Algorithm 2: Distance - Automatically the algorithm will select the origin closest to the customer if Google Distance Matrix API Key is selected. Otherwise, the origin that matches the customer's country will be selected.

Algorithm 3: Minimum origins for an order - if products inside the order are available in multiple locations, the algorithm will select the one that minimizes QTY of origins for the order.

Alternatively, you can use all 3 algorithms together. Note that if no algorithm is selected the main origin selected for the website will be used for all orders.
What Are the Benefits of Multi-Origin Shipping for You?
Enable Origin-based Shipping (Shipping Software)
Shipping from two or more warehouses helps you cover more geographical areas in your country. It might happen that goods from both locations will be requested within one order. With shipping software, you can obtain real-time shipping rates for each location/warehouse. This will help you to estimate the shipping cost thoroughly and be sure to make a profit.
Delivery Times
If you have the same products in multiple warehouses or locations across the country, the best practice would be to ship each product from the nearest warehouse. Distributing products among the warehouses will shorten the delivery times. In e-commerce, it is known that quick and fast delivery is an advantage over your competitors at the end of the day.
Calcurates Related Features

Does Magento Offer Multi-origin Shipping?

No, Magento supports only shipping from 1 location by default. However, Magento does offer a multi-source inventory, which is slightly different from multi-origin shipping. Multi-source inventory is a tool that gives you control over your product inventory. It helps retailers to maintain quantities for sales and handle shipments to complete orders better. Furthermore, the feature allows you to track your inventory stock, provide stock amounts to customers, and ship according to recommendations based on distance or priority.

The multi-source inventory feature is meant to be used by retailers who either own a single store or multiple warehouses, drop-off points, or pickup locations. Magento multi-source inventory helps you grow your business, allowing you to work from a single warehouse or multiple warehouses to benefit from additional settings.
Do not worry though as Calcurates multi-origin shipping is fully compatible with Magento multi-source inventory.

Does WooCommerce Offer Multi-origin Shipping?

WooCommerce configuration
WooCommerce offers a feature called Advanced Shipping Packages. The feature allows the retailer to split the shopping cart into more “packages” and ship each package with its own shipping rate and shipping method. So, the only solution here is to split the shopping cart of your customers and ship them separately for different shipping costs.
Customers will see different shipping options for each split order, “package”. The rest of the products will be shipped in a bundle,  if not specified otherwise. 
WooCommerce Advanced Shipping allows users to take advantage of free shipping for certain items as well.

How to Configure Multi-origin Shipping for Magento 2 and WooCommerce with Calcurates

Any retailer shipping from multiple locations can benefit from using the Calcurates multi-origin shipping feature. Calcurates obtains real-time shipping rates from your locations and displays a single rate at the checkout for your customers.

With multi-origin shipping, the retailer can ship items depending on the origin-based shipping method, origin selection based on the stock quantity, origin selection based on the distance, minimize the number of origins for the order. Here is some more information on Calcurates the multi-origin shipping feature.

Currently, Calcurates supports multi-origin shipping on Magento 2 and WooCommerce. For Shopify e-commerce owners we offer multi-vendor shipping for Shopify.
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