I am getting back to my work this week. We enjoyed a long visit from my daughter, son-in-law and 2-year-old grandson last month. As you can imagine it takes a few days to come down to earth again afterward. This morning I have been spending my time ironing and thinking about shipping costs for on-line orders.
I have been ironing because I am participating in a marketplace event this Saturday at Fords Colony where we live. All our silk scarves have been packed away for several months now. They need pressing to be ready for display. They'll all need relabeling now too. I have to update the labels to reflect our new location and contact information. I am managing to fit in some creative work this week, but there is a great deal of house-keeping I need to do to be ready for this event. I have not participated in any in-person selling events since I left Western Avenue Studios at the end of April.
I have been thinking about shipping costs because I read an interview with Josh Silverman, CEO of Etsy this morning. In the interview he answered several questions posed by Etsy sellers. The issue of "free" shipping came up several times.
One of the things that drew me to Etsy as the platform for our new on-line sales venture was the enormous amount of help available. Etsy provides a great deal of assistance in helping sellers maximize their sales. As a professional market researcher in a prior life, I appreciate the value that good data can provide - and I understand the need to pay attention to it. Etsy has the size and dollars to collect types of information that I could not afford on my own.
Today's key information for me was that on-line customers are increasingly unwilling to pay an additional charge for shipping. Needless to say, the whole idea of "free" shipping raises the hackles of small merchants. There are very real out-of-pocket costs for shipping items to customers. In all our years of selling fiber art supplies on line, we always passed through our shipping costs as an additional charge. We believed that we were being transparent and that customers should understand what they were paying for.
I have to admit that I have reconsidered my position based on the Silverman interview. He was very matter-of-fact in saying that "this is what customers are telling us." You can choose to build those costs into your prices or not, but if you choose not to, it may hurt your sales. In my mind, it boils down to--do you listen to the customers or not. My market research days tell me that it's always best to listen to the customers and respond the best you can.
So one of my housekeeping tasks for the next few days will be to figure out my best estimates for shipping our various items and update their prices accordingly. I realize that one way of being transparent is showing the customer right up front what the total cost of the product will be. I also realize that if I build in the shipping cost, I will have a standard way to ship each item which will streamline my processes. A "win-win" situation, as they say.
Here's my grandson telling me "Get to work Grandma Ann."