FREE SHIPPING! Wow that sounds great doesn't it? But then again, any of us who have ever bought a thing online or via a catalog know that there is no such thing as totally free shipping. More often, Free Shipping means Shipping Cost Already Added to Price of Item. This concept has worked well for sellers of new items over the years and even some used items as buyers get one cost pricing up front and don't have to start adding up the total. Marketing research shows buyers like free shipping. BUT, Marketing research also shows buyers want the best possible deal even more. In the following, I will try to explain why we, along with many other sellers of rare or unique items, CANNOT offer Free Shipping / Shipping Cost Already Added to Price Shipping and still GIVE YOU THE BEST DEAL POSSIBLE.
To fully understand, we must first understand the way the PO and UPS and Fedex charge for shipping. They calculate their shipping cost on several factors. First, how much does the package weigh. Second, How large is the package. And third, how far is the package going. The weight is a simple matter to figure out. And if it were just this one factor, free shipping (Shipping cost already added to price) would be easy for any sellers to do. However, the other two steps make it impossible to add the cost into the price and still offer all buyers the best deal. Size and distance. If a package is going Priority Mail, then the size must be under 12 inches square (12 by 12 by 12) or it is surcharged based on its size. That surcharge alone can be very expensive but truthfully depends on the distance the package is being shipped.
Distance matters in many ways. The PO, UPS and Fedex have devided the country into many segments or zones. To calculate postage, they look at your zone you are shipping from and determine how many zones you are shipping through. Then they charge you a different rate depending on how many of these zones you cross. If you look back at the size surcharge, this really comes into play when adding in zones. If you are shipping within your zone, the surcharge does not matter. If shipping into the second or third zone, it can begin to get costly. If shipping cross country, hold onto your socks because Priority Mail just went through the roof.
Let's look at an example. Take a package that is being shipped within the same zone that weighs 10 pounds and measures 12 by 12 by 20. The cost for Priority Mail (no insurrance) would be $9.80 if paid online. Parcel Post would be $9.18. Now let's ship this same package across country. We ship from Indiana so lets ship to California. The cost for the exact same package now costs $38.30 for Priority Mail. Parcel Post is $16.77. To add the cost of shipping to the price of the item, we would have to add $38.30 to the price. This would certainly distract many if not all buyers, especially our loyal customers in our area. Why should they pay $38 when their actual shipping cost is $9.80? And for us to cover the difference out of pocket is not feasible when you consider the average sale price on ebay is about 50% of what you pay at any other online antique store or physical store. If we sell a $25 item, we cannot cover $38 of shipping cost.
The same pricinpals hold true for all of the major shipping companies. So you can see that adding the cost of the shipping to the price of the item so we can offer "free" shipping is just not feasible. If we could, we would. But bottom line is, we want to be here on ebay for many more years to come as we have been here for many years already. We enjoy the hunt and the ability to offer such special deals to you at half the price you would pay elsewhere and offer you a choice of shipping options keyed to your location and shipping needs. If you don't mind paying the extra and getting it fast, we offer Priority. If you want it cheap, we offer Fedex Ground (although you have to use the UPS calculator) or Parcel Post.
Ebay requires sellers to insure all packages arrive safely. Therefore most sellers who are not shipping factory packed items, add the cost of insurance to the cost of shipping. Buyers have no say in this matter any more as it reduces disputes if an item is broken. What we and many sellers do to keep your shipping cost at a minimum, is if the item is fairly low priced, we self insure. In other words, if the item gets damaged, we cover the loss out of our pocket. That is a risk we take on lower priced items because it saves you that extra $2 a package.
Combined shipping is another problem for antique and collectible sellers. When selling a new item such as a shirt, it is easy to calculate how much more that second shirt is going to cost to ship. But with us, you may opt to purchase a large vase and a small plate or ring. Maybe a pillow case to go along. We cannot just say 1/2 off shipping for each additional item, or you are going to be paying way too much. To keep shipping cost at a minimum, most antiques & Collectibles dealers combine shipping based on the total weight, size and distance a package is being shipped. This way we can offer the best possible shipping cost to all customers. This is good business and keeps customers coming back.
At some point, the PO, Fedex and UPS will change their methods of calculating postage again, but you can be assured, it will always find a way of taking into consideration the size and distance as well as weight of a package. Just like flying on an airline, it cost more to go to Mauii than to Chicago when leaving Indiana, and so does your package.
When do we offer FREE SHIPPING? On very limited items. Postcards are a good example. We know our cost up front and the cost is the same no matter where it is being shipped. Small but heavy items is another. If it will fit into say a medium flat rate box and is very heavy, then we know it will go that way and so we price it accordingly (added to the price of the item). The third category are sales. On occaision, we offer FREE SHIPPING as a sale for typically higher priced items where we have a little more profit to work with. These are usually limited time sales.
Bottom line is, FREE SHIPPING sounds great, but when you look at the bottom line on your invoice, you may find that paid for shipping is much less expensive than FREE SHIPPING. As a wise man once said, Nothing in life worth having is FREE.