Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Shipping is Not Free

I recently received an email from a potential customer stating that the reason she did not order from my website was because of the "high shipping charges."  With the proliferation of "Free Shipping" offers on the web today, I can understand why this person might come away with the perception that the shipping we do charge is high.  However, I can assure you that Couture Allure does not make a profit on shipping.  In fact, the opposite is often true.  Let's take a look at it, shall we?

At Couture Allure, we pride ourselves on our careful and thoughtful packaging.  We don't crush your vintage dress into a Flat Rate envelope.  We don't throw your vintage coat into a used grocery bag.  We don't send your vintage beaded evening gown in a Tyvek envelope so it can get crushed and smashed as it makes its way to you.  Each item we sell is carefully folded with tissue paper to cushion it.  The item is then wrapped in more tissue and placed in a brand new, clean plastic bag with a printed packing slip.  We then pack most items in boxes.  The only items we ship in envelopes are non-beaded dresses going to international destinations.

At Couture Allure, we use the US Postal Service exclusively, since their prices remain far lower than those of UPS or FedEx.  99% of our domestic packages are shipped via Priority Mail so they reach you within 2-3 days.  For the past several years, the USPS has increased shipping costs annually.  We have only increased our shipping costs once in the past 5 years, and that decision was not made lightly.  All other postal increases were absorbed by us.

Here's an example based upon an average shipment weighing 1-2 pounds with insurance for $150 shipping halfway across the country from Boston to Kansas.  According to the USPS website, the shipping cost for that average package via Priority Mail is $8.75 with insurance costing another $2.90.  That's $11.65 in postage.  Couture Allure charges $11.00 for that shipment, which means we absorb $0.65 of that cost.

Of course, postage is not the only cost that goes into shipping that item to you.  Consider the costs of tissue paper, new plastic bags, packing tape, paper for those packing slips, blank shipping labels, printer ink for the packing slips and shipping labels,  bubble wrap and packing peanuts for items that need them, boxes and envelopes for international shipments, and the percentage that PayPal or the credit card companies take from the payment you send us.  Those items add up to another $0.55 to $0.75 per shipment.

Is Couture Allure making money off of shipping costs?  No, we certainly are not.  And those companies that do offer free shipping?  Be assured that they are hiding the shipping costs by raising the price of the item you purchase, using a slower method of shipping, producing the item you buy from lower quality materials, or lowering their overhead in other areas to compensate, usually by laying off workers and having their goods produced overseas. Here's an interesting look at the free shipping question from MintLife.  Here's another look at the actual cost of free shipping from Fair Indigo, a maker of fair trade garments.  Finally, here's an article about not so free shipping from MSNBC.