Every week we receive countless emails, messages, and phone calls from customers regarding the current cost of shipping. As a small business owner, it is a relentless battle to find the right balance between customer service and profitability, all the while being bombarded with complaints and advice from consumers, who are using their Amazon, and/or other big box store shopping experiences as their frame of reference.
Now don't get me wrong..I do my fair share of online shopping, which started during the intial COVID crisis out of sheer necessity, and has continued due to the time constraints of working 6/7 days of the week. I know many of you can relate. However, I also understand and appreciate the difference between ordering a set of sheets from Amazon or Walmart, and ordering a hard to find part for an older piece of outdoor equipment that is no longer being made by the manufacturer, from a smaller, boutique type shop, with limited stock availability, because I do not want to purchase a new one. I also understand that purchasing unique, hard to find, and/or obsolete items, comes with some risk, and that I should be prepared to spend a little extra to make sure my item arrives in good condition, and not just thrown in a regular envelope with minimal postage and a prayer.
The cost to ship anything with some sort of guarantee it will arrive to the customer intact costs money. Parts getting lost or damaged in the mail also costs money. First off, we are expected to replace it, which in this industry doesn't happen quickly, and in the case of obsolete parts, may not be possible at all if the customer has purchased the very last of our stock. If we are unable to replace it, customers then expect that we will refund the order in full.
What the consumer doesn't see is the actual labour involved in finding some of these parts, getting them ready to ship, which also includes hourly wages paid to the employees, as well as the additional costs borne by our business, such as CC fees for online transactions, and the cost of packaging. Not to mention the increase in fuel surcharges that the carriers offload on to the business itself. So protecting a customers order, with some basic tracking and insurance is not only beneficial to the consumer, but it is absolutely necessary to help to mitigate the losses we accrue when we need to resend, re-order, and/or refund the order to the customer.
A small business does not have the luxury of large warehouse spaces, and the deep discounts offered to the larger big box stores by the postal service or privately owned couriers, and yet we continue to be compared to these huge corporate conglomerates. In the simplest of terms, it's like comparing apples to oranges.
So before complaining about the cost of shipping, I implore you to keep in mind the type of business you are ordering from, where they are located, as well as the unique nature of the product you are looking for. For a small business such as ours. a $2.00 screw that you think should just be put into the regular mail, in a regular envelope, is actually worth so much more than you realize. And isn't that worth protecting?