Shipping is probably the biggest frustration with shopping online for both you and for us. The one problem we can’t do anything about is when people think that we are somehow responsible for delayed shipments. The old adage “you can’t please everyone” remains true.
However we can put in the effort to provide you with more accurate information and more choices. We’ve made a number of important shipping changes that we hope you will like.
More clarity in delivery time estimates
Our shipping options previously had generic estimates like “2 – 3 days”. The problem with that is it does not account for how long it may take us to fulfill the order, whether you ordered on a weekend and it actually cannot ship until Monday, and whether day #3 in that “2 – 3 days” is a day that they actually do not make deliveries on.
For example if you order on a Friday night and select an overnight shipping option, some may think that means they’ll get their package the next day on Saturday. In reality that shipment is likely not to get shipped out until Monday and delivered until Tuesday at the earliest. Your delivery estimate should really be the same as if you ordered on Sunday, or even early Monday morning instead.
We’ve put together an algorithm that calculates fulfillment time, weekend fulfillment delays, shipper provided delivery estimates, and non-delivery days to put together more accurate delivery estimates. It also gives it to you in the form of an actual date like “Thursday, April 12th”. We may need to tweak it further over time, but this already gives you a much more realistic idea of when to expect your shipment.
Keep in mind that these are still just estimates, and there are always outliers that may take longer.
In fact, during this process we actually tried to create our own shipping estimates for USPS going by zone (distance away from us). We figured that with all the complaints about late deliveries, the USPS had to be just making up their delivery estimates. After crunching actual delivery times of thousands of recent shipments, we found that they are statistically correct. The average delivery time for Priority Mail is indeed 3 days regardless of destination. Some wasted time on our part, but that was interesting to verify their claims.
Affordable alternatives to USPS
So the first issue we ran into is that UPS started to implement some policies targeting the vapor industry that are really unfriendly to us. Their rates were really never very competitive anyhow, and we shipped very little with UPS. So we dropped UPS and looked into FedEx.
FedEx offers a service called Smart Post, which is a hybrid service. The package is carried by FedEx all the way to your nearest post office, and then your mail carrier takes it over the “last mile” to your home. Its priced very competitively and is available for all packages between 1lb and 70lbs, which is basically 3+ bottles.
Where it got more interesting is the availability of “One Rate” for Express Saver (3 day), 2-Day, and Next Day options. One Rate is where they provide a box and that box ships for a flat price regardless of weight. We were skeptical at first due to our experience with USPS’ flat rate gimmick where it is almost always cheaper to ship by weight in your own box, unless you’re shipping something ridiculously dense like Iron Ore. It turned out to be the opposite with FedEx to be the exact opposite, express shipping options became very affordable compared to their normal price.
Discounted shipping upgrades on Free Shipping qualified orders
As many of you know we offer free shipping for domestic orders over $40. We automatically give you the cheapest shipping option. The problem with that is while you might be able to get a $8 shipping option for free, if you wanted to upgrade to a $10 shipping option you had to pay the full price.
Keep in mind, that was not out of greed, just that this required custom programming to get done. We really don’t lose money by doing this because the resistance to paying full price for an upgrade was so high that nearly nobody ever did it.
Our solution is to take the actual cost of your now “free” shipping option and apply it as a discount to all other shipping options. So now you can upgrade their shipping by just paying the difference in price, which in some cases is even under $1.