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Advanced Shipping Calculator To Drive Conversions

Advanced Shipping Calculator

Basket shipping calculators and estimators have found a place in almost every Miva store these days. But in our opinion, they aren’t quite performing up to snuff. So the Glendale developers have come up with a solution to help you drive conversions.


If you keep up with our blog posts (hint: you should!), you’ll know that we talk a lot about the emerging and evolving customer expectations in the eCommerce arena. It happens in every industry. An innovator adds a revolutionary new feature to a base product. It’s exciting and fresh and everyone loves it! So everyone else adds it too. And before long, that innovation has become industry-standard. Now if you DON’T include that feature, you’re behind the times, and will lose out to your competitor. Once upon a time, pockets sewn into clothes were a delightful novelty for the very wealthy. But over time, they became so rudimentary that every peasant had the modern addition to his trousers. 

It may have taken pockets in men’s clothing a full century to really take off, but in the tech industry, shifts happen at lightning speed. You won’t find many eCommerce sites these days that don’t have a shipping calculator somewhere in the checkout or basket. In fact, most Miva eCommerce themes come with a default Shipping Estimate feature already implemented.  

But are they really that great? Or did store owners and developers move onto the Next Big Thing before the feature was really perfected? Much like pockets in women’s clothing, the average shipping calculator has some deficiencies that our developers were tired of perpetuating.

What’s So Advanced About Our Shipping Calculator?

By keeping both the store owner and the end-user in mind, our developers have successfully reinvented the wheel. Or more aptly, they’ve added more spokes and stronger cogs, to give the user a smoother experience, and the store owner easier maintenance. 

Behind The Scenes – Before

The first innovation made to the feature is to the benefit of the store owner/site operator. Miva has a default shipping calculator that comes standard with most themes, and can be otherwise added. Unfortunately, the list of countries, states, provinces, and territories is hard-coded into the feature’s programming. That means, by default, your basket shipping calculator will display every country, regardless of where you actually ship to.

You may be thinking that Miva has a section in the Store Settings, under the Countries tab, that lets you manage your location settings.  And that’s true. But for whatever reason, the shipping calculator does not reference those values. So while you can easily dictate where you want to allow and disallow shipping for checkout, that won’t change what shows in the Estimate feature drop down menu. You are left having to hire a developer to search for and edit the location list within the code of the tool to eliminate countries from the calculator.

Behind The Scenes – After

Our developers have made it so that the shipping calculator automatically uses the location settings you determined in the Miva admin. No more hiring a developer or trying to dig through code to edit your settings. They can be managed easily in the Miva admin Store Settings. 

It might be tempting to forgo that step and leave those disallowed locations in the tool. After all, shoppers won’t be able to select them when they checkout, so it won’t cause any trouble when you ship. 

It will, however, have an affect on the user experience of your site visitors. Consider the people who found their country in Miva’s standard Shipping Estimate feature, but are then prohibited from completing their checkout. They will likely feel as though their time has been wasted (and rightfully so), resulting in negative reviews. 

For shoppers who do live in an accepted location, you can create an easier and faster experience for them by removing the potentially massive list of superfluous locations. Tailoring your shipping calculator to your customers is a small but effective way to polish your presentation and exceed customer expectations.

The User Interface

The other changes made to the shipping calculator are centered around how the user interacts with the tool. The following additions make the shopping experience more intuitive for your customer by doing some of the work for them. What type of things can our improved Miva shipping calculator do?

  • Saved Information. The tool will recognize if your customer is logged into an account. The shipping calculator will pull the information from the data saved in the “shipping information” portion of the account.
  • Information Recall. Oftentimes, shoppers will add items to their cart, begin the checkout process, then keep shopping, or navigate to the FAQ page, for example. In a case like this, even if the user isn’t logged in to an account, the shipping estimate tool will remember the location data that was already entered, and use it to provide shipping estimates.
  • GeoIP Lookup. The calculator can automatically find your customer’s country and state using their IP address, so they don’t have to enter information at all. Even better, this action only takes place if the user doesn’t have saved data. Maybe your customer has an account with their home address in Michigan, but is shopping while on vacation in Majorca. The GeoIP won’t override their saved information to give them shipping estimates for Spain.
  • Smart Field. The shipping calculator will show or hide the “other state/province” field depending on the other information that is already collected. This provides a cleaner-looking interface and smaller forms.
  • Customizable Messaging. The ability to add and edit error messages means that you can now tailor the feature to your brand. You can also provide your shopper with more detailed instructions when they encounter an error.

How Does a Shipping Calculator Help Conversions?

It seems like a lofty claim that our Advanced Shipping Calculator will help increase sales on your site. However, it’s no secret that abandoned carts are a problem with online retailers. In general only about 1 in 5 carts convert into sales. That may seem like a shocking number to you. But even more troubling is that 50% of shoppers who abandon their baskets do so because of hidden or surprise shipping costs! Another 21% ditch their carts because they are asked for too much information.

Being upfront with the shopper about shipping costs, and making it as easy as possible for them to see the information (without filling in forms),will help curb your abandonment rate. That will turn dropped carts into new sales.

Adding Our Advanced Calculator To Your Site

A shipping calculator is entirely intended to make the shopper happy, so it didn’t make sense to our developers to stop halfway. By tweaking the user interface, they were able to produce a site feature that makes the customer experience even more rewarding, which results in higher conversions for you. And by fine tuning the way you control it from the back-end, you can save time and money customizing your shopping experience. 

To add the Advanced Shipping Calculator to your site and improve the state of your pockets, contact us today.

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