Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Free Shipping? Or not? That is THE Question!

Selling online would be perfect - if.... the purchase could be 'teleported' instantly to the buyer's destination.  At least that is my take on it!

Okay, for instance, here is my little 'quandry' over this...


Looks like a shipping envelope to me.  It's really stiff - I don't want my lovely artwork to get bent, you know!  It is kind of thick, but not hugely thick.  It is made of some tough stuff.  It's not bendable.  That's what I wanted - and I am happy with the little package... until I get to my local post office.

If I print out my shipping lable online, it usually takes three people to decide that it is okay to send this as a large and/or thick rigid envelope. 

One time I decided to ask what it should be called when I go online to buy my postage.  One employee (very nicely - he's a great guy) said - "I don't know.  I don't buy postage online."  Well, yeah - if I worked at the post office, I wouldn't buy my postage online either *lol* 

Then all three employees gathered at the window and measured the envelope, discussed options, disagreed with one another, and almost came to a decision.

Almost.  Because the manager came in and said that they had to close the window and get all the mail ready to go.  *emphatic "now"*

Ummm....  nope, I still don't know.

And, when I mail stuff in these, the prices for shipping are different each time I mail them...

In the meantime, I have a bunch of these and I like to use them.  So I am thinking that I will just stop having a 'shipping fee' and, instead, have shipping free.

If you have thought about this I am sure you have rehearsed the 'pros' and 'cons' of Free Shipping.  I have heard some, too.  Here are a few that I have come up with:

Pros:
  • People are attracted to free shipping because they only spend the cost of the item.
  • No one can argue that you charged them for shipping and were 30 cents off. 
  • No hurt feelings when they see the postage amount!
  • It is simple to use.  Anywhere, everywhere - nada to figure out what the cost would be...
  • In the long run, things will probably 'level out' so that the increase in orders will offset the free shipping expenses.
Cons:
  • There just might be that random rush of orders going out of the country that could cost quite a bit more than the orders stateside do.
  • Absorbing the shipping costs on more expensive items is much easier than absorbing it on a $3.00 item.  Tack on shipping out of the country, and that's a big cut into that little guy.
  • I will have to watch my cash flow carefully to make sure that it's not taking a big dive because of not having the shipping paid for by the buyer.
Well, I think I am going to give 'free shipping' a chance and see what happens!  I will keep you posted and let you know what happens when I get everything all changed over.  Anbody have any other pros or cons to share?  Post them in the comments!  Does your shop have free shipping?  or do you charge for shipping?

And then there's that little mailer...

Ummm...  I still don't know what to call that little envelope critter when I buy postage online.  Maybe I will drag it down to the post office in the morning and talk to everyone before their coffee has worn off... Or maybe I'll bake them some cookies ;-)

What would you call that... thing?

*waiting excitedly for help from all my friends!*
Blessings,
Kathy

11 comments:

  1. you have big things to mail, don't you? I have jewelry and books, which are light and small. I used to sell with free shipping, and changed my mind a few months ago. It didn't really change the amount of orders... everyone knows you HAVE to ship the thing, and it costs. IMHO

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  2. I have free shipping on my ACEO's and I charge on other things. Why, I don't know - I guess the free shipping is just easier. Your little mailer (not knowing the size) almost looks like a CD mailer, they used something similar where I used to work to send CD's back and forth between branches.

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  3. Whenever I've done free shipping sales I've had no takers so I don't know if it works. I like buying things with free shipping but just figure the cost is built into the item price.

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  4. Wow. I can't believe you've had so much trouble at the post office! There is a print out they've given me to measure envelopes to see what size goes... and I usually check at usps.com for dimensions and weight. (I weigh lighter packages and envelopes on my tiny weight-watchers kitchen scale). Rigid envelopes usually do have a surcharge, but it's a fixed fee.

    This is a tough one. You don't want to lose money and then have to start charging shipping again. I would stick with charging shipping, or just try a short-term promotion with free shipping and see if that has an affect on sales.

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  5. Kathy - lol Sounds like some fun at your post office. I would call it a hard cardboard mailer. Not sure what the proper name would be!

    I have been doing free shipping for a while now as I can never decide what a good shipping fee is, but that is USA and Canada. It is $2 anywhere else.

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  6. Sure looks like an envelope to me. Maybe try a larger PO if it's not too far. I've found that larger ones have more accurate info as they deal with a larger variety of items.

    I don't offer free shipping as my packages are about $6. I stick with Priority boxes to keep things simple.

    Let us know how the free shipping goes :)

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  7. Hey Kathy ;o)

    You know on Etsy, you have two areas to fill out for shipping. Well, I always fill out the first one and the second one I leave blank. So basically, I only charge shipping on one item. It seems to work for me and customers are happy with it.

    All The Best, Stacy

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  8. It seems ridiculous that the PO employees cannot figure this out for you. If you bought postage online and then just mailed it, what would happen? It looks like a "large envelope" to me.
    I think that people are very used to paying for shipping when ordering online. As long as the shipping cost seems fair, I'm OK with it.

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  9. Story, mostly I have 5 x 7 and 8 x 10 inch prints that I ship this way. Very interesting that the number of orders didn't change!

    Marlene - this mailer is 5 x 7 inch. I was going to order larger ones, but haven't yet. Right now, I have free shipping on my original artwork and I am charging shipping for the prints.

    Beaded, I like buying things with free shipping, too - which is one reason I thought I would try this.

    tamdoll - The confusion seems to come from whether this is a First-Class Mail Large Envelope - or (because it is rigid) a First-Class Mail Package. If I take it to the PO, they weigh it, put postage on, and off it goes - sometimes at one rate and sometimes at the other rate. If I ask what it is, there are usually several opinions. They are nice people - guess this is just one of those packages that could be shipped different ways.

    That's a good idea, Pam - to have Canada and USA and everywhere else. It is funny at the PO - I don't think they have made up their minds yet! lol!

    LOL - problem is, memories - I need to drop the packages off there to be mailed. I had switched some of my larger original artwork to flat rate packages. I agree that does make it simpler.

    Magiclovecrow - another good idea! I wondered about doing that, but I have some large items and some small ones, and I am not sure how etsy calculates the shipping on multiple items. It would be fine to ship 6 ACEOs with an 8 x 10 print and have the 8 x 10 shipping, but not so good if all that went out with one ACEO's shipping amount - lol!

    Great comments everyone. I am going to do a 'summer sale' and see how the free shipping works out. Good idea to do that, tamdoll, thanks!

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  10. MAN, your PO sounds like mine. I use a lot of 6x9 envelopes for first class (cardboard or foamcore on the inside) and hopefully received paypal payment so I can do postage on line, print the label and drop in the mail slot(or put it in my mailbox with flag up).
    I don't ask PO employees anymore. They can't reach a consensus :D

    I have a little postal scale 3 lb limit and use priority flat rate boxes for the heavier stuff.

    I still do free shipping on some ACEOs.

    The deal is...if I want something, the cost of shipping won't deter me from buying it, if I don't want it "free shipping" is inconsequential.

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  11. LOL - must be the rural PO - and I didn't ask at the little tiny PO either - I went to the little bit bigger one. hehe - I still have two more bigger POs about an hour away that I can check. Online, I can only get priority unless I can get it through PayPal.

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Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

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