WooCommerce Shipping Methods & Order Statuses: What You Need to Know

If you sell physical products on your WooCommerce store, then you’re going to need to learn a bit about shipping.

If you’re just starting to use WooCommerce, you might feel a bit confused by the different types of shipping methods and all the order status terminology out there.

So in this blog post, we’d like to clarify those things for you. We hope it helps!

WooCommerce Shipping Methods  

Through WooCommerce Core, you can choose from three different kinds of shipping methods: flat rates, local pickup and free shipping.

You can do flat rate shipping if you want to charge your customers a shipping fee based on the number of items in their cart or a percentage of their total order cost.

Free shipping, just like it sounds, makes shipping free of charge for your customers. Offering free shipping can be a very effective way of getting your customers to buy more; for instance, you could offer your customers free shipping only once they spend a certain amount. You could also offer your customers free shipping with the use of a coupon. Or you could provide free shipping only with a certain order amount plus a coupon.

Local pickup lets your customers pick up the order themselves, so long as they are located in a zone where this is possible.

If you want to charge based on things like product weight, order total, shipping destination or the order count, you’ll have to install an extension, like Table Rate Shipping. With Table Rate Shipping, you can add your own rules and costs to create the shipping rates that you want.

Bottom line? Out-of-the-box WooCommerce shipping methods are fairly extensive…but if you want to get even more specific, then you might need to install an extension.

Order Statuses

In order to sell things on your site, you’ll need to set up a payment gateway. A payment gateway is a plugin that lets your customers pay for things on your site using a payment system, like PayPal or Stripe.

After your customers make a purchase on your site, you’ll receive an order status from the payment gateway. Some of them can be a bit confusing, so let’s clarify exactly what those different statuses mean (Confession: I did steal this information from the WooCommerce site—gotta give credit where credit is due!).

On hold: Inventory is down but payment hasn’t been confirmed yet

When you’ll see this: This normally happens when you have to manually confirm the payment, like when customers pay via bank transfer or check. If you set the payment gateway to “Authorize” instead of “Capture” the charge, then you will also see that the order is “On hold” and will have to manually change the status to “Processing.”

Pending: Order has been received but buyer hasn’t paid yet

When you’ll see this: If your payment gateway doesn’t set the order status to “Failed” or “Processing” (which means that the payment was successful), then the status will stay as “Pending.” This is often due to a “misconfiguration of payment notification URLs or a plugin conflict,” per WooCommerce.

Processing: Inventory is down and the payment has been received; the order is waiting to be fulfilled (next step is to ship)

When you’ll see this: If your order is not digital or downloadable and payment has been successful, then you’ll see that it is “Processing.” In other words…success!

Completed: Order has been fulfilled and is complete; you don’t need to do anything else

When you’ll see this: Only after you ship off the order to your customer, the status will become “Complete.”

Failed: Payment failed or was declined

When you’ll see this: If the order was abandoned before the payment process, then you’ll see that it “Failed.” You’ll also see this status if the “hold stock” window expired or for the same reason as “Pending” (due to a “misconfiguration of payment notification URLs or a plugin conflict”).


Navigating WooCommerce can be overwhelming and tricky if you’re not used to it (and sometimes, even if you are!). Hopefully this blog post helped clarify a few things—at least as it relates to WooCommerce shipping methods and order status lingo. Got more questions about shipping on WooCommerce? Or want some help setting up or maintaining your WooCommerce store? Let’s talk shop!

Mary Blackiston

Mary is the Content Marketing Specialist for eScale. In her free time, she enjoys yoga, rock climbing, blogging, traveling, and soaking up as much eCommerce knowledge as she can.