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In Times of Uncertainty, Bridging the Gap Between Technology and Humanity

In Times of Uncertainty, Bridging the Gap Between Technology and Humanity

Every small business is unique and faces unique challenges in the best of times. As you navigate today’s challenges, exploring options to ensure sales with minimal disruption, now might be the time to consider taking your business online.

There are many things to consider when adding an e-commerce channel.

Legal and Regulatory Stuff

Taxes, payment gateways, shipping, and product liability are just a few areas to explore as you expand from bricks to clicks.

Since your business is (likely) incorporated already, your e-commerce site with the same name and owner should fall under the same legal shelter. Other issues to check off the list:

  • Create and adhere to shipping and return policies
  • Trademark your company logo and symbol
  • Ensure that published site content is copyright free

Of course, you cannot pay close enough attention to matters of consumer data privacy. A standard set of Terms & Conditions should cover the vast majority of your site’s transactions.

Least favorite of all, as a business with a physical presence, also called nexus, (and every state defines this differently) the vast majority of products are taxable and you are required to collect sales taxes. 

Building a Business Plan & Budget

Generally speaking, your budget will be driven by the sales volume you project in your e-commerce business plan. And as with traditional business plans, you’ll want to understand and leverage your competitive advantage, identify target customers, and develop a digital marketing plan which can include costs associated with email campaigns, social media content, and video production among other tools. (Site platform and host information are in a separate section.)

ECommerce sites don’t have to cost an arm and a leg. You can hire a freelancer or build your own WooCommerce site for $5,000. If you have a simple store that should be a great starting point. However, the more inventory you put online, the more features, functionality and security your site will require. 

WordPress is utilized by more than 60 million sites worldwide.

Selecting a Platform & Host (important!)

Your online store’s platform is like your car’s engine, and ideally you should never have to open the hood. That said, every platform comes with a learning curve and it can be fun to see what tools make the most sense to showcase your products or services.

The WordPress platform – an open source and software content management system (CMS) – is utilized by about 30% of the top 10 million websites or more than 60 million sites worldwide.

There is a reason for its ubiquity. Part and parcel to your platform is your site’s host, the selection of which should entail a comprehensive analysis of the service provider and available perks. Success factors include: 

  • Server reliability
  • Uptime scores
  • Customer service
  • Security (SSL certificates)
  • Availability of site backups
  • Registration and maintenance costs
  • Account limitations (our lowest level WooCommerce plan can handle 500 orders an hour)
  • and eCommerce and email options 

If your business already has a website, WooCommerce may be a good option as you extend to online sales.

Inventory Tracking, Product Fulfillment & Delivery

Knowing what to sell can be a challenge. Many brick-and-mortar stores that expand to e-commerce start by initially limiting online inventory to their top 10 or 20 items and grow from there as they gain comfort tracking sales and as the site gains new customers.

Remember that for each item, you’ll want to include product information such as cost, sizing, color choices, return policies, and shipping details. Stringent shipping and delivery protocols are increasingly prevalent across the retail spectrum.

In addition to logistics planning for how to fulfill new orders from potentially anywhere, you can reassure customers that your store has adopted universal precautions when it comes to inventory management, packing and shipping

An analytics program will help you see which channel customers are coming from.

Marketing & SEO – How will customers find you?

We could share pages and pages about digital marketing and Search Engine Optimization (SEO). The bottom line is that websites must meet specific requirements set by search engines like Google. This is why an SEO strategy is critical.

SEO trends will inform your site content and ensure that customers see your store in search engine results. Across these trends, descriptions of products and services should include natural and identifiable keywords that search engine crawlers will seek out to connect prospective shoppers to your site. It’s also important to make site page titles and meta descriptions unique to each page.

While security may seem irrelevant to SEO, it can impact a customer’s experience: a seemingly unsafe (or “not secure”) website will propel site visitors to the exit door. Voice search, mobile, video, dwell time, load time, and length of high-quality content all contribute to how people find and engage with your site.  

Customer Engagement Amidst “Social Distancing.”

Your new online store can be built with diverse and creative tools to maintain your connections with customers used to walking in your door – and to cultivate new customers.

Videos, social media, blogs, and virtual community gatherings can all be effective here. Bear in mind, however, that such features will add to the cost of your site’s construction and maintenance.

Incentives to Return Customers to Your Physical Location

Whatever our new normal looks like, most of us look forward to physically returning to our favorite boutique or market or restaurant. Until then you may want to incentivize customers with:

  • Bounce-Back Coupons for In-Store Purchases or Discounts
  • “Date TBD” Special In-Store Event
  • New In-Store Loyalty Program
  • Gift cards (for online or in person)

If you’ve put off exploring your online options, now is the time for action in order to expand your sales footprint and ensure brand continuity. Hostdedi can answer all your questions and we can connect you with the resources you will need.  

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Free Trials for Managed WordPress & Managed WooCommerce Hosting

Free Trials for Managed WordPress & Managed WooCommerce Hosting

TLDR: We’re excited to announce 14-day free trials for our Managed WordPress & Managed WooCommerce hosting plans. No credit card needed.

We’ve always been proud of the services we offer. Hostdedi makes running a WordPress store incredibly easy, offering the fastest hosting for WooCommerce on the market.

Charts and tables are boring to look through. Plus it is just better to take something for a test drive and see exactly how fast it can be.

That’s precisely why we’re offering free trials. You can now experience how fast your WooCommerce or WordPress site will load with our optimized technology.

You can:

  • See automatic daily backups
  • Relax as we update your plugins with visual testing for verification
  • Discover the value in our bundles services which come with our hosting plans.

While you are trying out your new hosting plan, if you have questions you can interact with our knowledgeable 24/7/365 support team who can help you with any problem or answer any question.

A Free Trial Is About Trying Before Buying

Have you ever tried something new only to end up underwhelmed and disappointed?

I recently had this experience at breakfast. I wanted my usual – a breakfast burrito with eggs – but the waiter suggested the southwest vegan scramble, so I went with it! 

It only took one bite to realize my mistake. I went back and forth on whether I should ask the restaurant to make me another one. On one hand, the tofu was not for me. On the other, I knew the risk when I ordered! 

In the end, I ate the vegan scramble even though I didn’t love it because I didn’t want to pay for a second breakfast. It wasn’t bad enough for me to deal with the hassle of ordering again. The whole situation was awkward. I didn’t get what I wanted but it was easier to just stick with it. 

This is exactly what we want to avoid with our free trials. 

When you sign up for a free trial you’re testing a theory about what you think you need. We want you to be able to experiment without fear and see for yourself why Hostdedi is the right platform for you.  So dabble away – there’s no risk and no hassle because we only ask for credit card information after you’ve had some time to make up your mind.

Starter & Spark Plans

Our free trials automatically use our Starter (for Managed WooCommerce hosting) & Spark (For Managed WordPress) plans. Both of these will show you how fast your website will load on our infrastructure and should be great for most websites.

14 Days of Experiments

Every host says they’re the fastest & most reliable. We don’t want you to take our word for it. We want you to see how much faster we are.

  1. Go to GTMetrix (free) and run a speed test on your current website
  2. Copy your site over to Hostdedi
  3. Run a GTMetrix speed test on your soon-to-be new website
  4. Celebrate 🎉

You can do that in one day.

From there there’s a lot more you can experiment with. Test our bundled software, migrate your production site to a staging website and install new plugins and then move it back, test our automatic & manual backups and while you’re at it test how easy it is to restore those backups.

Free Migrations

Once you’ve tried our platform we’re confident you’ll want to move over. That’s why we offer free migrations. Just select one of our plans, reach out to support, and they’ll start the process to migrate all of your data.

Try Before You Buy

If you’ve never purchased Managed hosting, you’re in for a treat. We take all of the friction out of running a WordPress or WooCommerce site.

  • We automatically backup your site
  • We have staging sites so you can experiment with plugins to see how they work before installing them on your production sites
  • We automatically update plugins & WordPress itself using visual testing to verify those updates won’t break your site
  • And a whole lot more

You can read more about each of our managed hosting services and sign up for a free trial. Check out our Managed WordPress & Managed WooCommerce hosting and let us do the tedious parts of website maintenance for you.

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Liquid Web Hires Technology Veteran to Expand Sales Reach

Liquid Web Hires Technology Veteran to Expand Sales Reach

Lansing, Michigan,  April 27th, 2020 –  Liquid Web  Family of Brands, the market leader in managed hosting and application services to SMBs and web professionals, announced, today, the hiring of Adam Williams as Liquid Web’s Chief Revenue Officer to oversee revenue operations for the Liquid Web and Hostdedi brands.  Williams brings nearly 20 years of sales leadership experience to his role, which includes leadership roles with technology providers, Microsoft and Rackspace. 

Williams will expand both the direct sales and channel organization to handle the rapidly growing product portfolio for the Managed Cloud and Managed Applications brands.   Building on the company’s reputation for expert and helpful service, Williams’ goal is to provide the right solutions across the product portfolio for Web Professionals and Agency Partners the companies serve. “Finding a company like Liquid Web that takes that personal customer connection a step further is amazing and humbling.  I am excited to apply my experience to see how we can continue to wow and serve customers,” says Williams.

“We could not be more excited to add Adam to our team to further champion our efforts to build relationships with our customers, aggressively advocate for the products, programs, and processes to help them grow their businesses,”  said Carrie Wheeler, EVP & GM, Liquid Web.   “His passion for customers, technology experience and ability to execute is a cultural alignment that excites us.  Adding a leader of this caliber furthers our commitment to powering the online content, commerce and potential for the Web professionals we serve”, said Wheeler.

About The Liquid Web Family of Brands 
Building on 20 plus years of success, our Liquid Web Brand Family consists of four companies (Liquid Web, Hostdedi, iThemes, and InterWorx) purpose-built to deliver software, solutions, and managed services for mission-critical sites, stores and applications for SMB’s and the Designers, Developers, and Agencies who create for them.  With more than 1.5 million sites under management, The Liquid Web Family of Brands serves over 45,000 customers spanning 150 countries. The company has assembled a world-class team, 10 global data centers and an expert group of 24/7/365 solution engineers. As an industry leader in customer service*, the rapidly expanding company has been recognized among INC. Magazine’s 5000 Fastest-Growing Companies for twelve years. For more information, please visit www.liquidweb.com, or read our blog posts at https://www.liquidweb.com/blog. Stay up to date with all Liquid Web events on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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5 Tips for Attending a Virtual Conference or WordCamp

5 Tips for Attending a Virtual Conference or WordCamp

Whether you’re working from home for the first time, or you’re a experienced virtual commuter, you’ve probably been spending more time online these days. Chances are you’ve been invited to or seen a virtual conference as they’ve started springing up to replace the in-person events that have been cancelled across the globe. 

As a remote worker, I’ve been attending meetings online for a while but participating in WordCamp San Antonio this year marked my first virtual conference. The event was well organized, packed with information, and attended by people from all over the world!

Here are my top 5 takeaways for virtual events.

1) Remove distractions

It’s easy to assume that enjoying a virtual conference will mean being able to clean the house, watch the kids, or get some light handiwork done. Unfortunately, multitasking doesn’t really work for most people. Attending a virtual conference is similar to enjoying an in-person conference. 

During in-person conferences, the only distractions are the people in the same room (and maybe the computer or phone in front of you). Once you step into a conference hall to listen to a speaker, you have one focus. Remember to retain that mentality when you step into a virtual conference room by removing external distractions. For instance, it helped for me to close the door to my office during sessions so I wouldn’t hear people in my house watching Netflix.

2) Be on time

Arriving late to someone’s talk means missing critical information that sets the stage for what you’re there to learn about. Arrive on-time to virtual talks in the same way you would in-person. Heck, why not try showing up a few minutes early to make sure your audio and video setup is working well?

Consider setting a reminder on your phone, or adding an appointment to your calendar.  Online sessions are often recorded (and therefore watchable later), but don’t rely on that (sometimes recordings can fail). Attending live can also give you the opportunity to join the chat and ask real-time questions.

3) Take advantage of time in-between sessions

One of the great things about a virtual conference is that you can switch between rooms quickly. Saving the 5 minute commute in-between sessions gives you more time to network and meet new people virtually. At WordCamp San Antonio, attendees were even encouraged to ask speakers questions in-between sessions. 

At an in-person conference, one person can sometimes monopolize the limited ‘between’ time of a speaker. At a virtual conference, a speaker can usually field more questions, and the answers are accessible to all!

4) Make sure your environment is comfortable

If you’ll be attending the conference all day, you’ll want to make sure your environment is as comfortable as possible. Bring snacks to keep your energy up and remember your favorite beverages. Consider using a pillow, moving your computer screen, and adding external speakers or headphones if you’re watching in a place with lots of distractions.

5) Get dressed

This last tip might seem a little silly, but it’s one of my favorites. When I don’t get dressed like I’m attending an IRL conference or meeting, I don’t feel as confident. If I don’t feel confident, I might not feel like sharing my video camera (a must for remote workers and remote conferencers) or engaging as though I’m attending a real conference. Getting dressed is my way of telling myself (and others) I’m ready for business.

In the office with my best business shirt.

What virtual conferences have you been to? 

Have you attended a virtual conference lately? Are you working from home for the first time? I’d love to hear from you. Send me a message on Twitter @ifyouwillit.

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The 11 Questions You Should be Asking Your WooCommerce Developer

The 11 Questions You Should be Asking Your WooCommerce Developer

As WooCommerce has grown in popularity, the community has seen an influx of web developers and designers offering their services to merchants. Within this group are incredibly talented and knowledgeable developers, as well as ‘green’, less experienced developers. Ensuring you’ve got a developer that can deliver what you’re looking for means this search can turn into a time-consuming task.

With a group this diverse you do not have to accept the first WooCommerce developer that reaches out. Selecting the wrong developer can mean problems down the line, with inexperienced devs unable or unwilling to complete a project to specification. To avoid this, it’s important to gain insight into the developer’s capabilities and background before committing and collaborating together.

Let’s take a look at some of the questions you should ask any potential WooCommerce developer, to ensure you find the right fit for your business.

1. Where Are They Known?

One of the first hurdles is figuring out who to even start talking to for your project. While WooCommerce does provide a list of experts, it won’t be an exhaustive list of all the people that can build great WooCommerce solutions for you.

WooExperts

If you’re building a specific type of store, start with a search to see who is writing about building WooCommerce solutions that match your needs. Not everyone can build that custom classifieds site you’ve been dreaming of building. If you find a specific author of interest on a blog like this one, it can be worth searching their name to find out what else they’ve talked about doing on their own site or on other blogs. This may also bring up talks they’ve done for local WordPress conferences (called WordCamps) or a YouTube channel where they talk about code issues they’re working on.

While not everyone that’s great writes or does videos about their work, it’s a good place to start.

2. What does their Customer vetting process look like?

As you start reaching out to different developers, take notice of their process to vet clients – because a good developer or agency will have a process. They should have a form to fill out, or a series of questions to answer before they start to dig deeper into your project.

It may feel a bit off-putting to jump through another hoop or two to get to talk to someone about your project. Remember, a process is an indication of an experienced shop. They have a way to gather information so they can have the best chance of delivering on what their customers want. If you send a single email and get an instant quote from someone that can start tomorrow, at least take a step back and verify that whomever you’re talking to isn’t promising they can do the work just to get the work. Good developers are often busy.

3. What makes a successful project?

Planning Notebook
Photo by rawpixel.com

Once you get in touch with a prospective developer, the first question I recommend you ask is what does it take to make a project successful? They should have a list of ways in which you’ll communicate, and they’ll likely they’ll have a project management system that they prefer and want you to use. Not having a project management system is not a clear signal that it won’t work, but expect more experienced agencies to have one.

One big red flag to look out for is if they deal with everything via email. It may be an indicator that they will work with your billable hours inefficiently. Don’t be afraid to ask questions! You want to know how your project is being handled. For example, popular freelancer Jason Resnick has all his clients use email, but all of that email gets sent back into a project management system that he uses to triage tasks. He works within the project management system while his clients deal with email alone.

4. Are we going to use an existing theme or build something custom?

For many sites, it doesn’t make sense to launch with a custom design. It will take longer to build, cost more, and doesn’t guarantee that you’ll earn any more than if you went with an off-the-shelf theme customized to fit your branding. In fact, many times online shoppers benefit from templates because they know where to find what they’re looking for. Make sure you ask if the agency you’re talking to is planning to build something custom, or customize an existing theme for you.

If you have your heart set on a completely custom theme, make sure you understand the tradeoffs you’re making and what benefits you may get out of something custom. No one may have your exact look, but you also won’t be getting updates for free for compatibility issues or to add features to your site. You’ll get both of these features if you go with an existing theme. Ask your developer if this is a possibility if you are set on a completely unique look.

5. What will it cost?

Outside of your initial development costs, there may be some ongoing fees that you’ll need to pay. Usually that will include hosting, email marketing, and perhaps backups. Some agencies will want to host your site for you and then offer updates or further work included in their fee. One huge red flag to watch out for: if the agency quotes you a one-time price and makes no mention of ongoing expenses, they are likely not truly knowledgeable about what it takes to be effective online.

This can also help you figure out how much access they plan to give you to the site. If they’re hosting your site, then you may only have access to update content. They can access files and make changes to your site, but often they don’t want to give that access to clients. While this may be fine, especially for less technical clients, long term it can be an issue if they go AWOL and you’re left with a site you can’t access, or if you decide to move to a new development team. Make sure you understand the tradeoffs.

I’ve had many site owners come to me unable to get access to their site so that we can start a copy of it and get going on a new project. To prevent this you can ask for access to your hosting, files, and the full WordPress admin panels. This puts you in control and allows you to grant access to others, or move the site without needing to wrangle it with the agency who may or may not be responsive.

6. What plugins do you generally include?

Unfortunately, sometimes you have to ask for every single function that you want on a site. Even the basics like having Google Analytics installed must be specifically requested and billed. You want to understand what the developer you’re talking to includes and what they don’t include.

I generally view adding analytics and hooking a site up to an email marketing platform like Jilt as table stakes – like tires on a new car. You just get these things because you bought the car. Make sure that your expectations and their expectations match.

7. How are we going to drive and ensure solid conversion rates?

Shopping on Mobile Phone
Photo by PhotoMIX Ltd.

Making sales is the lifeblood of your online business, and while WooCommerce does a decent job of making sales easy out of the gate, you should be making sure that more thought will be put into driving good conversions for your site. Asking about conversions is a great way to see if your potential WooCommerce developer understands that your site is an investment that needs to work for you.

Many of my clients are selling one-off products like a single book. This means that we send users directly to the checkout page skipping the cart page to reduce steps in the checkout process. In general, reducing steps in checkout will help you increase sales.

On The Sweet Setup, we use Smart Offers to show additional courses that may interest customers after checkout. This approach ensures that we don’t get in the way of checkout, but we still get to upsell other products to customers.

A good developer will have some of these strategies up their sleeve and be able to talk to you about which ones should work for your store.

8. How are we going to address site security?

ManageWP administration

While security is important for every single site, it’s extra important for your WooCommerce site because you’re storing customer data. No, WooCommerce doesn’t store payment details, but you still have emails, passwords, and addresses in the system. The developer you choose to work with should have a plan to deal with any security issues for your site.

In the same vein, they should also have a plan to deal with backups of your site. It’s entirely possible that your site could crash and leave you with nothing online. I always set up clients with a third-party backup plugin. I do this even if the host has its own backup system, because 1 backup isn’t enough – 2 backup location counts means you have a failsafe and a failsafe for your failsafe, too. This is also referred to as redundancy.

Editor’s note: Managed WooCommerce hosting on Hostdedi already has 30-day backups included with every plan.

9. How will we deal with theme and plugin updates?

If the developer you select is planning to host your site for you, this will often include them doing theme and plugin updates for you. A good shop will perform them on a staging server so that they can be tested and then rolled out to the main site. Not every client wants this though; in fact, most of my clients update things themselves.

Hostdedi’ Managed WordPress and Managed WooCommerce hosting products include daily backups, and automatic updates with visual regression testing. What this means is that Hostdedi will automatically update your theme and plugins, and then test to see if anything looks different. If something goes wrong, you can roll the site back and get in touch with your developer to fix the issues and update the site when it’s ready.

10. What happens if I want to add features later?

If the agency you choose gives you access to everything and you’re paying your web host directly, then you are fully in control of future feature updates. You’ll likely start by reaching out to the agency you used to build the site for a quote and then get on their schedule to have the updates made. This is fairly standard, but sometimes you get stuck waiting for updates just because of other projects that have come up at the same time you’re asking for site changes.

If that happens, as long as you followed these steps to have access to your site you will be able to find another WooCommerce developer that can help you with the changes. In fact, you should ask a prospective developer about others working on the site in the future. The truth is that any competent WooCommerce developer should be able to deliver work that others can build upon in the future.

11. What’s your warranty?

Finally, you need to understand the warranty that is being provided on the work. Will the agency you use stand behind the work they do, and for how long?

Officially, my warranty is for 60-days as long as WordPress, the theme, and plugins are all the same. I say it like that because sometimes a plugin will update and change how it functions and I can’t anticipate that even when I build sites using best practices.

The reality is, as long as it’s a reasonable request and I feel that I likely should have caught that issue in the beginning, I generally fix things for my clients if things go wrong. Ultimately, I want happy customers and having someone fix things quickly for them is one way to make sure that happens.

Whatever the warranty is, make sure you see value in it and understand its limitations before you pay anyone to work on your site.

By using these key questions as you look for a WooCommerce developer, you can help ensure that you’ll be working with someone that fits the way you work, getting the project you want done on time and within budget.

Build your high-performing WooCommerce store with Hostdedi

Create a store that converts traffic with Hostdedi’ Managed WooCommerce hosting solution. It comes standard with Jilt to help you recover abandoned carts, performance tests whenever you need them, and the platform reduces query loads by 95%, leading to a faster store.

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Ecommerce Tips: How to Ship Large and Heavy Items

Ecommerce Tips: How to Ship Large and Heavy Items

When it comes to shipping, consumers definitely prefer fast & cheap (or free) — but determining how you ship your products & how you pass along or absorb that cost is tricky. And it becomes an even greater challenge if you sell large or bulky items.

In this article we’re going to provide clarity into:

  • How to pack boxes and calculate shipping costs
  • How to save money while shipping large and heavy items
  • What qualifies as a large item
  • And finally, how you can ship large item with the three major carriers in the US

How to Pack Boxes and Determine Shipping Costs 

Products that are bulky (heavy or not), can be a challenge to ship. Your packaging must account for the item’s size while still allowing for packaging materials and filler. In addition there are both weight & size limits. If your package exceeds either of these limits you may need to find a different carrier or service. 

Understanding Dimensional Weight

If you think about how shipping carriers move packages around they do so with trucks. And these trucks have two limitations:

If either of these are maxed out the carrier has to use more trucks & drivers which is one of their main expenses. To take both of these limitations into account carriers now use a formula combining both the dimensions & weight called Dimensional Weight.

How to Calculate Dimensional Weight

Here’s how to calculate dimensional weight: 

  1. Measure the package dimensions in inches. 
  2. Multiply package length by weight by height. 
  3. Divide by 139 for FedEx shipping and UPS Daily Rates. Use 166 instead for UPS Retail Rates. 
  4. The result is the dimensional weight of the package. 

Usually, carriers have you weigh your package and check the dimensional weight. They’ll generally charge whichever is higher. Make sure to compare the pricing and recommendations of carriers before shipping. 

Cheapest Way to Ship Large Packages

Depending on the shipping carrier and their specific requirements, costs can be calculated in different ways and packages can be categorized differently. You can do this in advance of customer purchases and set up your website to calculate shipping charges. 

All of the major carriers offer free web tools and APIs to make this easier. For instance, USPS allows you to customize your customers’ online shipping experience with their free tools. Both WooCommerce & Magento offer software to help you calculate shipping costs with major carriers.

You can also keep your shipping costs as low as possible by: 

  • Weigh and measure your packaging materials. 
  • Try a variety of different packaging types. 
  • Use the lightest, most compact and cost-effective packaging materials possible.
  • Customers like fast shipping, but consider offering a discount or incentive for longer shipping times since this may save you money. 

Shop around and compare carrier pricing for products you frequently ship. Keep in mind that these requirements are subject to local differences. These guidelines apply to most packages shipped within the US. For other countries, check with the carrier. 

Why Does Package Weight Matter? What are Heavy Packages? 

If you know which shipping carrier you plan to use and the basic dimensions of the item you’re going to ship, you can develop a plan and get an accurate cost estimate. Weight and outer package dimensions are a big deciding factor in how much you’ll be paying for shipping. 

Shipping Carrier Limits

Of course the packaging you use for shipping is part of the cost, too. Large and heavy products can be expensive to transport and may also require special packaging that’s durable and designed for heavy or bulky items. This may require custom-designed cushioning or reinforced box materials. 

Custom materials may cost more and can also add to the weight and bulk of your shipment. The added mass ultimately means more fuel and resources used by the carrier to transport your product. Carriers pass these costs along to retailers as higher shipping charges. 

Each carrier has their own definitions for a “large” package. Heavy items must be packaged appropriately before carriers can ship them, so be sure to read their requirements carefully.

USPS shipping requirements don’t allow packages heavier than 70 pounds. So, if you have an item over that threshold, you might want to consider using a private carrier such as FedEx or UPS. UPS has special packaging requirements starting at 70 pounds while FedEx starts at 75 pounds.

How to Pack Heavy Items for Shipment and Determine Shipping Costs

Each shipping carrier has different guidelines & requirements for heavy & bulky items. With this in mind, here’s how to pack those items and determine your costs. 

FedEx Guidelines and Pricing for Heavy Items

FedEx limits

Weight limits

FedEx Home Delivery ships packages up to 70 pounds. Packages that are heavier than this are considered “heavy” and may be shipped through FedEx Ground if they are under 150 pounds. For items above 150 pounds, consider using FedEx Express Freight or FedEx Freight instead — these services accept shipments that are up to 20,000 pounds. 

Outer Box

Use corrugated cardboard for the outer box and package non-corrugated boxes inside instead of shipping these boxes on their own. For instance, if a guitar you’re shipping came inside a non-corrugated box, you should place the entire box inside a corrugated cardboard box for shipping. Use double-wall boxes if the item you’re shipping is heavy but under 150 pounds. 

Inner Boxes

Separate items inside the box in their own sealed boxes if they may be damaged under normal handling conditions. 

Safety Labels

Boxes that weigh over 70 pounds must be shipped via FedEx Ground, or FedEx Express Freight or FedEx Freight. If a box weighs over 75 pounds, you are required to attach a FedEx yellow and black heavyweight safety label. These are placed over the diagonal corners of the package. To get these labels, contact FedEx or visit a FedEx location. 

Filler

If you use filler material to cushion items, center your items away from box corners and wrap items carefully with cushioning material. 

Pricing

Your charges for shipping are based on weight, the FedEx services you choose, and the destination. 

To get the most up-to-date information on weights and standards, view the general packaging guidelines from Fedex

FedEx Requirements for Large Packages

Size

FedEx Home Delivery and FedEx Ground services require packages to be under 165 inches in both length and girth. For larger shipments, you may use FedEx Express Freight services or FedEx Freight. Using FedEx Freight, you can ship packages up to 21 feet long. 

Large Packages That are Lightweight 

Compare the true weight of the package with the calculated dimensional weight. FedEx charges the heavier of these two. 

UPS Requirements and Pricing for Heavy Packages 

Box Strength

Packages weighing more than 70 pounds must meet the UPS Box Strength Guidelines. Use strong packaging designed for heavy objects. Choose brand-new boxes that haven’t been exposed to humidity. 

Sealing Boxes

Ideally, seams should be stapled or stitched shut. Glue may tear or break during shipping, and rip your package apart. Use heavy-duty, reinforced tape with three strips over the top and bottom seam and also seal the middle and edge seams completely. 

Safety Labels

The UPS safety label program begins at 70 pounds. Above this weight, packages should have yellow and black warning labels provided by UPS. The warning should be placed directly to the right of the address label. Write down the total weight on the white portion of the safety label. 

Filler

Avoid box filler that shifts or doesn’t protect heavy items. For instance, packaging peanuts and polystyrene pieces may not cushion fragile shipments enough if the items are also heavy enough to crush the filler pieces. UPS recommends that you consider alternatives that are more appropriate for shipping something heavy such as cardboard that’s custom developed for shipping. 

Pricing

Your pricing depends on the UPS service you choose, your package’s final destination, and your package’s weight. A “Large Package” or “Over the Maximum” surcharge may apply. 

Review the UPS guidelines for packaging heavy shipments. 

UPS Large Package Guidelines

Size

The maximum package size for UPS is 165 inches in both length and girth. Freight Services may allow for larger maximums, so it’s worth it to find out what specific requirements apply to what you’re shipping and where you’re shipping it. 

Large Packages That are Lightweight 

Compare the actual weight with the dimensional weight. UPS will charge you for whichever is higher. 

Large Package Surcharge 

UPS applies an additional charge for packages that exceed a length plus girth that’s over 130 inches. Unless you use Ground Freight Pricing, you’ll pay for at least 90 pounds. 

USPS Guidelines for heavy items.

USPS Limits

Weight

Packages above 70 pounds aren’t allowed. So any package you ship through USPS won’t technically be a heavy package. Under this weight limit, your packages could still seem heavy, so you may need to pack accordingly and be mindful of how you fill the boxes and protect your items. 

Boxes

Choose a durable box that’s large enough for the item and appropriate filler. If you reuse a box, make sure all logos and writing are completely crossed out. 

Closure 

Close the box with all flaps down and seal with tape. The packaging tape you use should be at least 2 inches wide. 

Pricing

Generally, pricing is determined through the USPS Flat Rates or through the package weight and destination. 

To get the most up-to-date information on weights and standards, view the general packaging guidelines from USPS.

USPS Guidelines for Large Packages 

Size

The Postal Service will ship packages up to 130 inches length and girth combined through their Retail Ground service. Normally, their limit is 108 inches. 

Large Packages That are Lightweight 

Flat Rate pricing applies for packages up to 70 pounds which allows you to use size to determine pricing. If you’re unsure, check with your local post office. 

Read more about USPS guidelines

By controlling costs and being smart about shipping, you can increase your profits. Don’t be afraid to experiment with shipping and look for the right shipping improvements for you. 

Are You Ready to Grow Your eCommerce Business With Hostdedi Managed Hosting?

In addition to the shipping strategies we’ve listed here, a great hosting plan can be instrumental to growing your business. Fortunately, Hostdedi has you covered.

Our Managed WooCommerce hosting plan is ideal for growing businesses. Specially designed to convert more sales, Hostdedi’s managed hosting for eCommerce is packed with cutting-edge technologies to reduce query load times and cart abandonment rates. Best of all, our plans arm you with more than 20 different performance tests so you’ll know you can accommodate tons of web traffic.

Hostdedi also offers a Managed Magento plan which makes sure your site stays safe, is backed up, gives you staging sites, and auto scaling so when you get a lucky traffic spike your website stays online to accept all of those payments.

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Is Safe Harbor Right For You?

Is Safe Harbor Right For You?



If you’re a Magento developer or systems integrator you’ve likely been bombarded by emails, blog posts, and notices that end-of-life (EOL) is coming. That means no new features & no security patches which puts Magento 1 stores at risk.

While many store owners are preparing to migrate to Magento 2 or other ecommerce platforms, some will simply not be ready before Magento 1 reaches EOL to take strategic action.

If you’re still trying to figure out the right course of action for your clients or for your Magento store follow our decision tree.

Is Safe Harbor Right For You?

Safe Harbor enables businesses to keep their sites on Magento 1 after EOL by providing security and technology updates for an extended period of time.

So, whether you’re still weighing your options, or already have plans to migrate, Safe Harbor can offer the flexibility you need until you’re ready to move off of Magento 1.

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In a Remote Working World, Fundamentals Are More Important Than Ever

In a Remote Working World, Fundamentals Are More Important Than Ever

Executive Vice President and General Manager of Hostdedi and Liquid Web on adapting and maintaining personal connections while managing teams remotely.

A remote work situation requires the same fundamentals of managing people and maintaining the community of an office environment — it just magnifies the importance of diligently sticking to the fundamentals.

Now more than ever, the fundamentals of team management matter. In the face of current global realities, remote work is a gift, offering us the unique opportunity to innovate while, first and foremost, protecting the health and safety of employees and their families. 

As companies around the world are navigating how to best operate online, many managers brand new to remote team management are faced with the challenge of learning how to lead in an unfamiliar environment under stressful circumstances. 

I’ve been managing remote teams for nearly three decades. For most of my career, I worked for companies that operated on a global level. Early on, I had to learn how to manage teams around the world, often through the challenge of employees across many different time zones. In some roles, 100% of employees telecommuted. In others, only 15% worked from outside the office. In many ways, because I’ve built a career in technology, I’ve had broad exposure to the ins and outs of the trials many managers are now tasked with navigating. 

Here are some strategies for managing remote teams. 

  • Re-review individual objectives. If you are a manager or leader, take the time to re-review each individual’s objectives and recognize where specifics may have shifted. Perhaps more time may be needed on some projects, or adjustments need to be made for projects requiring physical presence.  As an individual contributor, seek clarity about moving forward under new circumstances. Clarity is critical in times of uncertainty – seek it out at all levels.
  • Set ground rules. When embarking on a new way of working—especially with teams who are newly working together remotely—it is vitally important to have frank discussions about how the team wants to work and what your expectations are from each other. What time of day can you depend on them to be online? Under what conditions will they be unavailable, and how will they let you know? By level setting ground rules, you provide helpful structures for what will become the new norm of interaction. 
  • Check-in often and individually with your team members. The power of maintaining personal connections is vital for all remote teams, but its importance cannot be understated in times of uncertainty. It can be tempting to just drop a note on Slack to check on your team. Resist this. Setup individual check-ins with each member. Do it often. Allow time for chit chat and asking about family.  Check in daily with brief video chats. Connect virtually over a cup of coffee. Technology is incredible, but it is imperative that, as often as possible, we maintain the personal connections that make us human. 
  • Decide which office rituals you’ll maintain online as a team. Take some time to determine which regular meetings are essential and should continue taking place with your remote team. But just as important as deciding which structures to maintain is understanding what you can let go of. Do you need to force everyone to sit through a four hour video call? Probably not. Determine what things are important, what you’re going to gather for, and what you’re going to decide to let go of for a while. 
  • Commit to fully engaging when the team is together. When working remotely, probably the greatest challenge is managing distractions—both your teams’ and your own. When you’re not face-to-face with someone, it can be difficult to make sure that everyone is giving their full attention, but it’s essential for both morale and productivity.  

A remote work situation requires all of the same fundamentals of managing people and maintaining the community of an office environment—it just magnifies their importance.  

When you’re physically separated from your team, it can be tempting to do things like sort through emails while you’re on conference calls. You have to resist these urges and offer your full attention. Set up dedicated times in the morning and afternoon to tend to your email so that your team knows you’re fully present and expect them to be, as well. There’s so much you can get away with if you’re all in one room. While working remotely, it’s important to pay attention to basics around how to run a good meeting. 

  • Encourage trust. For people new to remote work, one of the most crucial parts of building a healthy and productive work environment is wrapping your mind around the fact that you’re going to have to trust people. Trust that your team members will get the job done. This confidence will allow them to trust you, too. 
  • Determine your responsibility. You have a responsibility as much as your teammates to be online and communicative and trustworthy. The best way to do this is to put a schedule in place and stick to it. A lot of people think working from home is rolling out of bed and going about your day in pajamas, but getting up and showering and getting dressed can really help to put you in a ready-to-work, focused mindset. Find the place in your home in which you can be most productive. Face your day the same as you would face it if you were going out. 

Just as in team management, the fundamentals of how you care of yourself are also magnified and take on a greater importance when working from home—especially as we confront the possibility of long stretches in isolated environments. Eat nourishing foods. Drink lots of water. Set up a space that makes you feel good. Schedule short breaks that allow you to get up and walk around between meetings. Move your body and remember to check in with yourself. Make sure you’re caring for your physical and mental wellbeing. 

We are all making adjustments to the ways we live and work. There is so much right now that feels out of our control. What we can control is how we show up for our community and how we can encourage them to show up for one another. We do not have to lose our sense of togetherness—we can strengthen it. This experience will push us out of our comfort zones, but that is the space where growth can take place. 

You will get to know your co-workers in this period in ways you would not have before. You’ll get to know their pets and partners and kids. Frustrations will arise, of course, but do your best to embrace and enjoy the moments of joy and spontaneity that will accompany this new way of working. 

Let us also embrace this as an opportunity to innovate how we think, operate, and work together. We will all come through this changed. My hope is that we are changed for the better, forging community in new ways, and understanding what it truly means to be a team.

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