Last week I subtracted $225 from my open-to-buy (or more accurately, I added $225 to my OTB deficit; see the end of this post for more about that) to allow for the cost of shipping a $176 order. Imagine my surprise when the bill came in at $249.12! That’s right; four cartons from the
There had to be a mistake. Sure enough, two 13-pound cartons bore labels showing that they weighed 27 pounds each. When I notified the vendor that they were overpaying for shipping, I learned that
I try to take in exactly as much money as I actually spend on shipping, with a tiny surplus to cover the cost of boxes and packing materials. Ideally, every order is charged a few cents more than its real shipping cost. Alas, that is virtually impossible to achieve in the real world, as I explained in the earlier post linked above. Last week I actually dropped my handling fee by a nickel, to 70 cents from its high of 85 cents, because my shipping fee collections were running a wee bit ahead of expenses. In aggregate, I do a good job of balancing income and expense. Getting there has taken a lot of time and attention, and a few items are still out of whack.
Google Checkout’s rate calculation bugs have been an ongoing hassle – check the “Reasons to Hate Google” tag to find those posts. You would think that a shipping lookup module would just take a total weight, consult some tables, and return accurate prices. Nope.
Reasons to Hate
Reasons to Hate the USPS: The post office revises their rate structure every year, requiring customers to re-develop our shipping modules. The parcel post bug about which I’ve written so often recurs so dependably that I suspect it’s a deliberate effort to reduce parcel post sales. And that’s just the beginning. USPS uses separate rate tables for “machinable” (standard) and “non-machinable” (oversized, undersized, and oddly-shaped) packages. In May, USPS introduced
Given the level of complexity by both carriers, it’s no wonder that so many merchants prefer fixed-rate shipping tables. Who knows? Maybe some customers really would rather pay a fixed shipping price per dollar amount – at least it’s predictable. I suspect (for no objective reason) that my customers would rather pay the real cost of shipping than a one-size-fits-all rate based on purchase price. Merchants who use flat-rate shipping tables are just dodging the issue. So I gamely struggle with the lookups, constantly fine-tuning item weights and adjusting my handling charge to approach the ideal. Until the next rate reorganization comes along and screws everything up again.
And now, as long as we’re hating companies…
Reasons to Hate Microsoft: I feel like my hatred neglects MS. That’s not a deliberate slight; they just don’t have much to do with e-commerce. But here’s something: After a Windows update a few weeks ago, MS Outlook started freezing on the first load, on both of my machines. It loads OK on the second launch, but makes me wait for a 30-second repair routine each time. I allowed Windows to report the crash to Microsoft each time in the unlikely event that somebody is collecting those. Eventually I got a link Microsoft’s solution: Upgrade from Outlook 2002, because it’s no longer supported. Thanks, Microsoft! You just moved me one step closer to migrating to web mail.
Speaking of my open-to-buy…I don’t think it’s ever going to reach zero. As much as I really want this business to put money into my pocket rather than siphon it out, I am on the verge of loaning the company enough money to wipe out my deficit, satisfy pent-up demand for reorders, and bring in one expensive new product line. It would take $3,000-4,000 to do all that. I even have that much money sitting in an
- Running with the Big Dogs
- Let Us Now Praise Famous Products
- The Zombie Store
- Legal Extortion