Shipping, Taxes, and Processing Orders with WordPress 2.9 eCommerce

4 min read


Locations and tax setup

There’s no doubt that tax law is complicated, but it’s a necessity. It’s far beyond the scope to discuss tax law in all countries, so be sure to do your own research regarding taxes for your own state, country, and region.

For businesses located in the USA, here are a couple of links to get you started:

Within the USA, most businesses charge state sales tax based on the shipping information that the customer provides. While nine times out of ten a customer’s billing and shipping information are the same, the times when the billing and shipping information differ can lead to some interesting scenarios.

For example, if your store is based in Kansas, a customer in Kansas who buys a product and ships it to Texas would not have to pay tax on that order at least not to the state of Kansas. On the other hand, a customer in Georgia who buys your product and ships it to Kansas would have to pay tax on the order. Again, tax law is undoubtedly complicated, so be sure to look up any laws specific to your own state.

On to business—the first thing to do is to verify that your Base Country/Region is correct. You can find this under the General tab of the WP e-Commerce Plugin Settings, as seen in the following screenshot:

WordPress 2.9 eCommerce

Next, verify that the tax percentages are correct for your state or region. This is just underneath the settings for Base Country/Region.

Finally, switch to the Checkout tab at the top to consider one more setting. Just, under Checkout Options there is an option to Lock Tax to Billing Country. This is shown in the following screenshot:

WordPress 2.9 eCommerce

What this option does, once selected, is lock the billing country to the shipping country. For stores in the USA, it also has the effect of locking the billing state to the shipping state. This certainly simplifies matters, but it doesn’t quite solve the tax scenarios outlined earlier in this section.

Shipping Options and Calculators

Configuring a store’s shipping options is potentially one of the most complicated tasks that new store owners face, but it doesn’t have to be. Much of it depends on the type of products that you are planning to sell. The absolute simplest scenario involves selling digital downloads only, in which case you don’t need to worry about shipping at all.

When dealing with tangible goods, one’s shipping needs grow increasingly complicated depending on the diversity of the products involved and anticipated location of the customers. For instance, selling books as well as clothing will create different shipping needs than selling only books or clothing. Also, planning to sell to customers worldwide will necessitate more complicated shipping needs than limiting one’s customer base to only one or two countries.

Unlike creating and modifying a product catalog, configuring shipping settings is a task that only needs to be done once.

General Shipping Settings

To view and modify your shipping settings, switch to the Shipping tab at the top of the Settings page, as seen in the following screenshot:

WordPress 2.9 eCommerce

Under the General Settings, you have the option to globally enable or disable shipping. If your shop is comprised of digital downloads only, then you can safely switch the Use Shipping option to No and rejoice! You no longer have to worry about any shipping confi guration. The following screenshot shows the relevant panel:

WordPress 2.9 eCommerce

Those, who do sell tangible items should leave it set to Yes, as shown above. If your store is located in the USA, add the Zipcode for the area from where you will be shipping items. This is really only necessary if you plan to use one of the external shipping calculators (UPS or USPS), but it doesn’t hurt to add it anyway.

If you subscribe to the third-party Shipwire order fulfillment service (, set the Shipwire option to Yes and enter your relevant login information. Shipwire is a service that collects and stores your products for you, shipping them to customers when necessary. While convenient, Shipwire comes with a cost, currently starting at $30 per month.

One neat aspect of the e-Commerce plugin is that you can opt to allow for free shipping, provided that the order price is above a certain threshold. At the bottom of the general shipping options is a toggle to Enable Free Shipping Discount, as seen in the following screenshot:

WordPress 2.9 eCommerce

Enter a threshold amount of your choice, such as $50, like seen above. Any orders that customers place with a value equal to or higher than that price will automatically qualify for free shipping.


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