While I'm a big fan of PayPal, it's important to know its limitations. One limitation is the choice of shipping options for the online merchant.
There are a number of 3rd party products than can enhance your PayPal offerings, but I'm talking about the straight-out-of-the-box approach that many Web site owners are going to start with.
While building your Buy Now or Shopping Cart buttons, click on Add More Options at the bottom of page one.
From the second page you'll see Shipping Cost Calculation (Optional); assuming you haven't already created a shipping profile, click on Edit.
You can now choose between Flat Amount or Percentage.
- Flat Amount: Calculate a flat shipping amount based on the total amount of the purchase.
- Percentage: Calculate the shipping amount based on a percentage of the total amount of the purchase.
Whichever you choose, PayPal then gives you up to 5 tiers of dollar amounts, and allows you to plug in what you want to charge. In addition, you can edit the price ranges as you see fit. For example, if you choose the flat shipping charge:
$0.01 - $49.99: $5.00 shipping
$50.00 - $99.99: $9.00 shipping
$100.00 - and up: $13.00 shipping
Similarly, if you choose percentage of sales:
$0.01 - $49.99: 10% of total
$50.00 - $99.99: 8% of total
$100.00 - and up: 6% of total
Save this information, and you've created your Shipping Profile.
PayPal also allows you to override your shipping profile for a particular item. For example, if something is especially bulky, heavy, or mildly explosive you may want to charge more. Or, if it's a service, you'll probably not want to charge any shipping.
However, to do this, you'll need to be comfortable with editing HTML. The PayPal User Manual (PDF, 12MB) has details on that, so I won't go into it here.
Although PayPal doesn't offer every shipping option an online merchant may want, you can always approximate your shipping costs with a little creativity. Also, there are 3rd party options available for specific needs.