Shipping Prices Killing Merch Sales?

Discussion in 'General Music Discussion' started by Vyn, Mar 21, 2019.

  1. Vyn

    Vyn Not a Sparkly Vampire

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    Wasn't sure where to post this one however here seems to be the best bet.

    I've noticed that shipping costs lately have become fucking ridiculous. An example of this would be I was looking at pre-ordering the Keith Merrow deluxe bundle. The bundle is $65USD, happy to pay that, it's supporting Keith and Sheet Happens have done some awesome stuff as well.

    ...Then come to the shipping: $53 USD shipping charge. I understand I'm international and thus it's going to be a higher price than to ship to just another US State, but fuck me. Only method available, no other options either:

    Shipping.PNG

    Has anyone else been stuck in a situation like this? Is it hurting potential merch sales? I'm more than happy to pay money for a band's merch - I'll usually budget $100USD+ extra when going to a live show just to make sure I can buy stuff to support whoever is playing. $53USD for shipping a book, CD, shirt and a pick tin though is just extortionate.
     
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  2. KnightBrolaire

    KnightBrolaire what is shred may never die

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    really depends how they ship it and how much the package weighs. usps charged me close to 20$ just to ship a pickup to canada and nearly 30 to australia. if you get tracking it's like 50$. Fedex and UPS are slightly better but not by much ime.
     
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  3. Ordacleaphobia

    Ordacleaphobia Shameless Contrarian

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    No, definitely not just you.
    I've held out on picking up merch because of shipping on more than a few occasions. Most recently I was looking at picking up a hoodie that was like $70 because I was super into the band and needed a new hoodie anyway, so paying a higher price didn't bother me- but shipping for just the hoodie was going to be $28 (and the distributor was in SoCal! Like a 5 hour drive away!) I've shipped guitars cross-country for that. Shelved the order. Happens all the time.

    In fact, I don't think in the last few years I've ever paid less than $10 in shipping for any order at all. I think it's an upcharge by the distributor to pad the margins a little, because for almost every single item I've seen I can go to my local post office and ship it for less myself.
     
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  4. Vyn

    Vyn Not a Sparkly Vampire

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    I understand that it goes by weight and that for certain volumes they calculate an expected weight to charge accordingly. What bugs me is that I don't even get an option to have an un-tracked package. Perfectly happy to risk it for the biscuit on this one.

    $28USD for DOMESTIC shipping? Fuck.
     
  5. Metropolis

    Metropolis SS.org Regular

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    45 dollars of shipping costs when shipped to Finland, if it would ship inside European Union cost would be something between 5-10€. CD only is 18.50$... It's still very light package, but long distance might kill it. Shit, I forgot 24% of VAT and duty tax depending on product.
     
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2019
  6. Acaciastrain360

    Acaciastrain360 Don’t need no money, cus suicide is free

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    Yeah recently got stung by getting a t shirt from Australia.... $25 shipping PLUS £12 import/duty tax to pay when it got here :(
     
  7. wankerness

    wankerness SS.org Regular

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    Something changed with international shipping rates from the US a year or two ago, I remember a ton of complaining and explanations on it from a disc forum I go to. It was out of any control of the sellers, but sure caused a whole ton of the international posters to assume it was price gouging at first.

    Not to justify some of the examples above, but still, there’s going to be a pretty big charge if you order from the US to most countries that isn’t negotiable unless your seller wants to eat the shipping cost!

    As a US resident I’m glad there was no increase the other way :p

    Edit: there’s also a huge extra charge that sellers often add to make the package trackable, due to buyers constantly claiming they never received packages and getting a full refund from PayPal or whatever since basic international shipping had no tracking ability and thus no seller protection. Some bad apples ruined it for everyone else with some stores.
     
  8. Winspear

    Winspear Tom Winspear Vendor

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    A band told me the other day that the cheapest shipping for a CD, USPS slow regular mail from US to UK/EU, is around $14! Insane. I can ship the other direction for $5, or $8 with tracking.

    One of my plectrum dealers in Australia has my picks listed on ebay and gets some complaints from people trying to buy internationally - they only offer secure shipping and it's too expensive for cheaper orders.

    I've learned something in 5 years of business shipping packages of on average $25 value. Forcing expensive secure shipping on the customer isn't the best idea. List both options and the cheaper one almost always wins (though yes, you'll get some customers emailing expecting a tracking number still and you'll have to tell them to just sit tight).

    I'm certain these companies could make more sales and more profit if they just shipped standard mail and sucked up the occasional losses. On occasion, a nice customer will also understand it's not my fault it got lost and offer to pay the cost price of replacement. It's also saved me considerable time processing my orders as letters I can just dump in a mailbox, rather than messing with the post office, tracking codes etc. Tracked items have gotten lost too, perhaps as often as untracked. I can claim on them, but with the time spent overall I'm still not sure it pays off.

    Still, $14 minimum for a CD is pretty steep. But it's a lot better than the $30+ that is often forced when I buy merch from the US. The band I spoke of in my opening statement was offering to pay half of the shipping cost themselves. That's pretty brutal - I was surprised they are turning much more than $7 profit from a CD sale to be honest.

    I know it's difficult to manage, but if I was US based with no option to avoid the high costs, I'd be looking at having a friend distribute from the EU for me.
     
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2019
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  9. Nlelith

    Nlelith Motion Designer

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    When I want to buy one or two items from a single US store, international shipping prices can turn me off, yes. But thanks to that and the fact that many US shops won't even ship to my country, there's freight-forwarder services. Whenever I feel like buying a bunch of merch/physical CDs/strings/etc. I just do it with their US address, they consolidate all the parcels and ship it to me with a flat rate depending on the weight. Merch stores shipping cost to US is cheap/free most of the time, so in the end I save a lot of $.
     
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  10. Hollowway

    Hollowway Extended Ranger

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    I heard a super interesting radio show on shipping costs. Planet Money, I think. The idea was that our government will negotiate shipping costs with other countries. It came up because some US companies couldn’t figure out how products from China were cheaper to ship to the US thank products from the US within the US. The answer was that the US negotiates crazy low rates for China to ship to us, but we have to pay crazy high rates to ship from the US anywhere.

    Edit: Found it. Listen to it. It’s crazy. https://www.npr.org/sections/money/2018/08/01/634737852/episode-857-the-postal-illuminati
     
  11. Vyn

    Vyn Not a Sparkly Vampire

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    If that's actually the case, that's beyond fucked.
     
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  12. Jonathan20022

    Jonathan20022 Engineer

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    That's unfortunately what you get when you have an unsigned solo artist without the connections and benefits that the label would bring via distribution and footing some of the cost with merch companies to make it more affordable for the fans.

    Shipping overseas has always been pricey, and someone's footing the bill. You think Keith/Sheet Happens looks at a shipping bill like that and they're probably not going to want to already lower their margins even further than they probably already are. There's always the digital variant + buying merch if and when bands come nearby you. I stopped preordering physicals awhile back because of the absurd shipping costs even domestically.
     
  13. diagrammatiks

    diagrammatiks SS.org Regular

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    That’s exactly the case. All international shipping is subsidized to some degree by trade agreements. Small package shipping from China is basically free.
     
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  14. Vyn

    Vyn Not a Sparkly Vampire

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    The common point I think here is not expecting them to lower their margins (which I assume are built into the cost of the item, not the shipping component, I'm assuming the shipping charge is just what the company they use charges), the point is why can't they offer a cheaper postal service without tracking for those who want to risk it.
     
  15. MaxOfMetal

    MaxOfMetal Likes trem wankery. Super Moderator

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    Because it's not worth the headache.

    All it takes is a couple of crazies/assholes to ruin it. If a $20 t-shirt I buy gets lost in the mail, I calmly email the seller and we work it out. No big deal. It happens. But there are plenty of folks who just want to watch shit burn who will inflict the internet upon all those who even slightly inconvenience them, regardless if it was their choice of shipping.

    I think @Nlelith has the best solution here.
     
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  16. Descent

    Descent SS.org Regular

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    Yeah, USPS revised their rates, I could send CDs to EU for about $5 shipping, now cheapest is $15 and we are taking a hit on the packaging, which if factored brings it up to $17, for a $5 CD that we sell locally.
     
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  17. apatheticbassist

    apatheticbassist Member

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    The reverb shipping rates are always trash.
     
  18. Jonathan20022

    Jonathan20022 Engineer

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    What Max said basically, I import stuff regularly from EU and Japan and I've lost maybe a dozen items over the years. Paid for the no tracking option forever and just switched over. Lost about $220 in products that way since the companies do not cover you unless you opt for tracked/insured shipping. Yeah it's $2 - 4 saved per shipment, but pretty sure I would have spent less than the amount lost in products cost by now :lol: so now I just opt for the tracked and shipped option on everything.

    If I put an unrealistic number like 2000 sales for that package you're looking at and their postal service ends up losing 3% of them in transit. That amounts to 60 units lost, which you either have to replace (if you care enough about your company to go above and beyond for the customers) or you end up going through month long bulk disputes with the postal service to maybe get compensated for them losing the shipments. As much of a hassle as it is to be forced to pay the expensive shipping cost, it's still a service that can fall through the cracks and cost both the company and the customer quite a bit more than just offering the tracked and insured shipping cost. I'm absolutely sure it hurts sales, but at the end of the day I'm sure they still make great numbers and don't end up having to foot the cost of lost orders that inevitably always happen.

    I also don't understand why you're okay with potentially losing an $88 order for a $20 savings, instead of just paying the cost and covering all the scenarios there.
     
  19. Lozek

    Lozek Desk Magnetic Contributor

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    Yeah, it's definitely changed in the last couple of years. My most recent example, I was about to pick up some merch from ESP and they have a link to a 'European store', which still ships from the US and pretty much doubles the cost of purchase. Nope.
     
  20. Albake21

    Albake21 "Just get a used Ibanez Prestige."

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    The biggest reason why I always end up not buying merch is the shipping. Merch is already expensive, but if I love the band, I don't mind paying the premium for it. Every. Single. Time though, I put what I want in my cart and as I'm ready to order, I see that pricey shipping fee and back out. I haven't ordered merch online in over two years because of this.
     
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2019
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