Free Shipping: What It Actually Means

Free shipping has always been a point of contention for me. It's expensive to ship pottery!! 

Last year Etsy started a campaign to have all their sellers offer free shipping. What they meant by free shipping was actually shipping included. They offered tools to help you build the cost into the price of your items. I took issue with this because I thought it was important for customers to pay the exact shipping it cost to ship, no less no more. I felt that this was the most honest way to do business. So I resisted Etsy's emails, but over time Etsy became more insistent. On July 31st of last year Etsy made it so that if you didn't give in to free shipping they would bury your listing at the bottom making it more difficult for shoppers to find your items.  

So I left Etsy and started my own website with Shopify. It was so difficult and confusing at the beginning but I was determined to not go back. I had no choice them made it impossible to keep selling my potheads there. After time I started to like having my website with Shopify. It's not an online marketplace like Etsy just a way to setup my website. I have to drive all my own traffic there, which I was okay with and has worked out fairly well. 

Since then I have had a few things on my website but it wasn't my main priority.  I focused on selling at markets and custom orders and things like that.  It was always in my plans to improve my shop but it was definitely the thing that got pushed back when I was busy. With this Pandemic I needed to go online because all my markets were canceled and sure enough the time to get it done came as well. 

Here I am with my website all nice and good except . . . it just won't calculate my shipping totals correctly. It's fine if you buy one items or maybe two but if you buy anymore than that the shipping is the same according to my website.  In real life that is not the case.  They way Shopify is set up it does the shipping by weight and won't let you determine how many items actually fit in the box. I've contacted them and there's not easy way to set it by item without having a flat shipping price.  

It's so annoying.  I can't believe it's worked out like this but after offering free shipping as an incentive I no longer care.  This is what I am doing:

The average price to ship something is $10 and it's $7 bucks to ship to other places in Florida, it's $10 to ship to the midwest and it's $18 to ship to the west coast.  So I am adding $5 to Potheads and Mugs and I am taking a hit with the remainder.  I am okay with doing this because honestly it's the price of doing business.  It cost a lot more to set up at markets than I am going to lose with free shipping.

First to be at a market, there is the fee to be there.  It's anywhere from $50-$125 or even more.  This doesn't always mean you are getting anything for price either.   Theres the time to advertise and draw in the customers, not all markets have their own customer base and some don't spend anything on advertising. Then theres the time traveling to markets, the physical set up and sitting in your booth for hours in the heat (Florida). So taking a loss on a little bit of shipping is totally worth my time and it sort of makes things easier in the long run.  

Don't get me wrong there are lot of great things about markets. Like meeting your customers, getting an immediate payout, having fun with your vendor friends and getting to check out other small business.  I look forward to and really hope that I can participate in some this fall.  Thank you for reading. 


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