This module allows Zen Cart store admins to define the dimensions and weight of each shipping box. These values are then used by supported shipping modules for calculating the most accurate shipping rates by using a boxing algorithm to pack products into the available shipping boxes.
This module is currently compatible with:
- Endicia XML Exporter / Importer
- FedEx Web Services Shipping
- UPS United Parcel Service
- USPS United States Postal Service
The algorithm works first by determining the smallest box that can fit all of the products. If a box is found, the dimensions and weight of the box plus the weights of all of the products are used for rating. If a box is not found, the largest box is used then products that can fit inside of the box are subtracted from its total volume until there is no more room to add products. Then this process is repeated with the remaining products.
As it is difficult to replicate the real world with an algorithm, one must consider that the algorithm will not always be accurate. For example, in the above example while the volume of the box becomes smaller as products are added, the dimensions are not. Therefore even though there may be available volume for multiple products, in reality they may not actually fit.
The algorithm also has an advanced feature called product nesting. This is when one product can fit inside another to save space inside of the package. A company selling cups could stack the cups one on top of the other with a percentage of each additional cup nesting inside the prior cup. Therefore the package weight would increase by the number of cups, but the volume would decrease at a slower rate allowing more cups to be packaged than if they weren't nested.
Administrators can also designate a product as "ready to ship." This means the product ships in its own box and the dimensions and weight of the product are used as the package weight and dimensions. Therefore these products would skip the abox algorithm.
Any product that doesn't have dimensions applied will be rated using the Zen Cart default algorithm which simply adds up the weights and divides by the maximum weight setting in your Shipping/Packaging configuration.