Shipping in MultiMerch
Shipping is a crucial part of every online marketplace selling tangible goods.
This guide covers the MultiMerch shipping system in detail.
MultiMerch shipping – the basics
MultiMerch supports two different shipping flows – marketplace shipping and seller shipping.
Only one shipping flow can be enabled in the marketplace – different shipping flows can't be combined.
In a marketplace shipping flow, the marketplace is responsible for handling shipping, calculating shipping rates and dispatching products.
Sellers only do the selling and have no control over shipping configuration.
The main benefit of this option is that you can use any regular OpenCart shipping plugin for custom shipping rate calculations and integrations with third party shipping APIs.
The main drawback is the fact that the marketplace has to deal with shipping – this won't work for many online marketplaces and platforms out there.
This is how OpenCart handles shipping by default in regular single vendor online stores.
Seller shipping uses MultiMerch's own shipping architecture to give sellers an option to manage their own deliveries.
Here, sellers can specify different shipping rates for individual products to different locations via different carriers as well as use combined shipping rules for weight-based shipping.
Combined shipping makes it possible for your sellers to specify a single set of weight rules which MultiMerch will apply to all of seller's products and calculate the final shipping rate at checkout automatically.
As of MultiMerch 8, the seller shipping flow can not be used with OpenCart's default and third party shipping plugins.
Configuring shipping in MultiMerch
Choosing your preferred shipping flow will be one of the first steps to do after a successful MultiMerch setup.
MultiMerch shipping configuration can be found at Admin > MultiMerch > Settings > Shipping.
Here, you will be able to choose one of the two shipping flows as well as specify whether to allow combined seller shipping, per-product shipping or both.
Delivery times are also created here – these will be available for sellers to choose from when creating shipping rules.
For example, you may specify delivery time in hours, days and weeks – or completely custom times in a free text format.
OpenCart shipping extensions
If you've decided to use the marketplace shipping flow, you'll need to enable one or more of OpenCart shipping extensions.
These can be found at Admin > Extensions > Extensions > Shipping.
Each shipping extension will use its own method of calculating customer's shopping cart total at checkout – from free shipping and manual calculations to integrations with third party services.
In this case, shipping rates will be calculated per cart and sellers will have no say in shipping.
MultiMerch shipping methods
MutiMerch uses its own system for seller shipping – here, you will need to create a set of shipping methods (carriers), which will then be available for sellers to choose from when specifying their rates.
For example, you may create a method called Local post – in this case, sellers will be able to choose the shipping rate for a specific product via Local post to one of the available locations.
MultiMerch uses OpenCart's system of geographical zones for shipping locations.
These locations consist of Countries, Zones (regions within a country) and Geo Zones – combinations of the former two.
You can configure these in Admin > System > Localization > (Country / Zone / Geo Zones).
Countries and Zones are created and populated by OpenCart automatically, so in most cases you'll only need to create a set of Geo Zones.
A Geo Zone is a combination of countries and regions.
For example, you may decide to create a set of shipping locations based on regions within your country (if running a local marketplace) or go global and only let sellers specify different shipping rates to different continents.
Using seller shipping in your marketplace
If you've enabled seller shipping, your sellers will see a few new interfaces in their accounts.
First, sellers will be able to specify shipping rates for individual products when listing and editing their products.
Here, sellers can specify different shipping rates to different locations via different carriers.
In addition to predefined geo zones, MultiMerch also allows sellers to specify a catch-all Worldwide location that will be used if no other locations match customer's delivery address.
If combined shipping is enabled, MultiMerch will let sellers create combined weight-based shipping rules in their Settings.
This works in a similar manner to product shipping, but lets sellers define different shipping rates to different weight ranges.
Combined shipping saves sellers trouble of manually defining delivery rates for each of their products.
Finally, if both product and combined shipping settings are enabled, sellers will be able to specify a single set of combined rules and override them for individual products if needed.
At checkout, MultiMerch will use customer's delivery location and let the customer choose one of the available shipping methods for each of the sellers and products.
If no delivery options to customer's location are available, the customer will be notified that products that can't be shipped will be removed from their cart.