Tuesday, July 7, 2009

How will you ship my order?

We prefer FedEx Ground (which we refer to on your invoice as "FXG") for small package delivery because it is non-union (UPS and the Teamsters have stung us more than once with strikes) and because FedEx Ground drivers are independent businesses (they are not employees of FedEx; each FedEx Ground driver contracts with FedEx and is in effect a sole proprietor). Also, it doesn't hurt that FedEx is a good Tennessee-based company like us.

However, if you prefer UPS, we are happy to ship on your account and sometimes choose to use UPS when it just works out better. Mind you, we like our UPS drivers; it's the union and company with whom we've had problems. Ironically we send most of our overnight shipments by UPS because FedEx has a quirk in their system which requires a separate driver to pick up air shipments. The fewer times we have to answer the door the better.

Whenever possible, we send smaller orders by USPS Priority Mail - basically whatever will fit in a Priority Mail Flat Rate envelope that has a value less than $100. The flat rate envelope is a real bargain at $4.95 to any U.S. address and it is trackable at usps.com.

IMPORTANT: Please take the time to make sure we have your correct PHYSICAL ADDRESS as well as MAILING ADDRESS. With the way that delivery companies are highly systematized now, the fact that your local driver knows where you are is not good enough. We are required to have exact addresses for everything including street number and street type (avenue, boulevard, etc.) or we get charged extra - which of course ends up getting passed on to you, the customer.

We normally send truck shipments via Roadway (now YRT) unless you tell us otherwise.

Monday, July 6, 2009

When will my order ship?

Soon. Real soon. In most cases.

Chances are overwhelming that your order will ship within 24 hours of entry, whether out of our main office in Nashville or one of our supplier warehouses. Almost all orders ship within 48 hours.

However, there are exceptions. The biggest exception is when sewing or cutting machine parts on an order total less than $50.00. Although we keep the most commonly ordered parts in stock in Nashville, there are about a half a million possible other parts! We have to meet minimums with supplier warehouses so we group our small parts orders and bring them into Nashville twice a week. That might tack 3-5 days to your order, sometimes more if it's a specialty part.

Then of course there are those times that we or our supplier simply get caught short on stock. We'll try to warn you about that but don't always know it at the time you place your order.

The best rule of thumb is: if your delivery time is critical, don't assume. Ask!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Small-Order Surcharges

The young men and women who spend their summers selling books for the Southwestern Company are advised to take a cold shower first thing in the morning. This isn't to wake up quicker nor to ward off the summer's heat but to start the day off doing something they really, really don't want to do. That way the inevitable rejection they're going to face throughout the rest of the day doesn't seem so daunting.

So I'm christening our blog with perhaps our least popular subject, small order surcharges. Here's the policy in a nutshell:

Orders which total less than $25.00 (before shipping and/or taxes) incur a $10.00 surcharge. Orders from $25.00 to $50.00 incur a $5.oo surcharge. Orders over $50.00 incur no surcharge, just shipping and taxes as applicable.

So in essence, we have a $50.00 minimum but you can order less if you're willing to pay more.

We started this policy around 2001 when the recession was sending more and more small orders our way and fewer big ones. Some days it would get absolutely ridiculous. We were chasing our tails. And operating more like a charity than a business, as we were most definitely not making money on $50.00 orders. Only a very large volume business like Amazon can do that. Many companies much larger than we are have tried it and failed. And believe me, folks, supplying to the sewing industry these days is anything but a large volume business.

Now the good news is that in this recession, we've softened the policy somewhat. Now if you are a regular customer (which we simply define by whether you've placed more than one order over $50.00 in the last twelve months), we waive the fee.

In any case, it really works to your advantage to order more at a time. The cheapest we can get anything anywhere these days is about $5.00 and I'd say our average package costs closer to $10.00 to ship. If you place a $20.00 order and it costs $5.00 to ship it, 25% of your cost is in shipping alone. Add our surcharge in and it's 75%! But if you go ahead and order $50.00, it's only 10%.

For you sewing folks, I like to use the analogy of someone coming to you with a custom job. If they just want one item you're going to charge them a higher price for it than if they order ten of the same thing. In fact, probably almost the same price for ten as it costs them for one! You know the reasons: most of the cost to you is in your setup and labor. Same here.

Thanks for reading up on this fascinating subject. I look forward to covering more scintillating topics in the future.