When it comes to shopping online one of the biggest stressors is shipping. Cost and time in getting products are huge factors in determining what retailer gets one’s business. “Free & Fast” is very appealing when shopping around and certain retailers have found a way to try cornering the market to push out competitors that can’t offer the same.
Once I started selling, the stress of shipping grew enormously. When I first launched Pop One Stop, I thought I could offer free shipping. However, it was soon very evident that doing so meant I ended up paying more to sell a product than had I not sold it in the first place, which kind of goes against the idea of starting a business. At the same time, I have no interest in profiting off shipping either as it is a pass-through cost. Thus, begs the question, how to deal with this headache?
What I didn’t know when I started listing on eBay was that there are shipping discounts offered to sellers. It varies depending on the service, but I wasn’t happy keeping the markup so I started refunding the excess shipping cost back to the customers. It took a while to realize that there was a setting that would allow me to directly pass the shipping discount to the customer. Luckily, Shopify has the same setup, where the shipping discounts are given directly to the customer.
As I’ve stated earlier, my goal is to stay in this game for the long haul, so hopefully someday I will be able to offer free shipping for all purchases. However, at least as a start, I am offering free domestic shipping on purchases of (at the time of writing this post) $75 or more.
Now, onto handling. If you’ve read Pop One Stop’s origin story, then you know I am sympathetic about poor handling practices. To combat that, I try to make sure all orders are securely wrapped with bubble wrap and empty spaces filled with air cushions. I don’t think that’s asking too much, especially when a fair number of items offered are for collectors that like to keep their items in good condition. Based on the condition of some items I have received it seems that either the people packaging them up, or handling the package thereafter, are playing keep-away or, worst yet, dodgeball, with the boxes! I will always try my best to make sure your items are cared for while they are in my possession. After the shipping company takes possession, I can only hope that the shipping preparations help the items make it unscathed to their final destination.
Another issue when it comes to placing orders is, once you’ve done your part and hit “Pay” on the website, sometimes it seems as though the seller isn’t aware of your purchase until days later, at which time they saunter over to their inventory and begin processing your order. If you’re anything like me, you want the item you purchased as soon as possible (remember, many purchasers these days are “prime” conditioned). Thus, I try to keep a very short handling time, usually 1- or 2-days max. In some cases, if I receive an order early enough, I can ship it out same day! The only problem I have experienced with that is when a buyer changes their mind and cancels after I have already packaged up their item or sent it on its way!
Bonus soap-box rant:
In the midst of the current pandemic, it seems that more people are shipping items than ever before and that can lead to strain on the various shipping providers, especially overseas deliveries. I have had several instances where it has taken months for an item to be delivered to the customer. This is very frustrating for both the customer and myself. In the worst case, the item arrived 6 months after it was shipped, and a month after I refunded the customer. I don’t have a good solution for this other than asking everyone to please be patient once the package has entered the shipping stream.
There aren’t many reliable international package tracking services that I have found, which has made me appreciate USPS (our primary shipping provider) even more for domestic service! So, while it definitely provides challenges, I am very happy that we are able to offer international shipping!
What are your thoughts on shipping, handling, and all that good stuff? Please comment below!