(Scroll to the bottom for a list of tips.)
Shipping. Until the Transporter from Star Trek (or the Replicator) is available it’s necessary for nearly every purchased product. Amazon changed the whole mindset around shipping with Prime: two days and free. When you checkout with an online purchase you’re hit with an unknown sum in addition to the total you’ve been keeping in your head while adding items to your cart. The sticker shock of the shipping cost causes you to re-think the purchase.
I’m guilty of the same behavior. I get it. I also understand the reality. Every product has shipping costs associated with it. It’s either built into the product price, added to the price, or it’s some type of purchase for ‘free’ shipping for a period (Amazon Prime subscription).
At Fetching Foods shipping is a costly activity and we spend a bunch of time optimizing shipping. It also causes the most stress, especially when weather or other conditions push out deliveries. In nearly every case we’re shipping raw food that has to remain refrigerated or frozen. It’s not like sending a book or a shirt across the country. If the shirt of book is delayed by one day, it’s an inconvenience. If raw meat is delayed by one day it can easily be ruined. That means a disappointed customer, hungry pet, and us scrambling for a quick replacement.
We try to reduce the number of liners and coolant in the winter/cooler months. As the weather warms we add more liners and insulation and more coolant. Speaking of which, we have an excellent summer shipping solution, as you’d correctly assume, since we’re based in Vegas. We’ve shipped from the peak of the Vegas summer to Arizona, Northern California (during the fires), and sweltering Georgia successfully. Don’t expect your winter package to look like your summer package.
When you get to shipping during checkout, you’re paying for the shipping of the product only. We cover the cost of dry ice, ice packs, boxes, insulating material, and other items necessary for shipping. In other words, shipping costs us money. Every. Single. Shipment. It’s a little burden sharing.
You may be thinking “that’s not a wise business model”. You’re correct, but an environment created by Amazon’s low shipping prices has set expectations.
For a while we were even bridging the gap for some shipping costs. We had all options available to select from at checkout, FedEx Ground, Express, Two Day, Next Day, etc. Human nature and free shipping that many of us are use to resulted in people picking the absolute cheapest options, without any thought to the transit time. (For a while we even had “free delivery only to the Las Vegas area” as an option — guess how many times that was selected by people wanting free shipping — we now have to pay a monthly fee to use software that automatically determines if you qualify for free local delivery based on where you live.)
We have customers who hail from the farthest, most remote places on the east coast that select ground shipping. Ground shipping is okay when it doesn’t take 6 days to get there. These were the type of orders we were bridging on the costs, paying for an upgrade to a 3-4 day ship. But then we figured that’s not fair for the people who are closer and paying the full price. There’s that thing about not consistently losing money when running a business too.
Currently there isn’t any software available, at least that we’re aware of, that will offer shipping options based on transit time (several companies say such a feature is in the works). That caused us to remove the ground option from the shipping choices. Ground is a fine choice for 700 miles, even 1200 miles from Las Vegas. Further than that and you enter into the 4+ day transit time, which is approaching a limit of how long raw meat can remain sufficiently cool with our insulation and cooling solution.
That’s nice and all, you’re thinking, but how do I cut MY shipping costs? Here are some ways:
1) Contact us to help optimize your shipping. Place your order. Select your shipping. We look for overpayments from the estimator that sets the pricing at checkout for every order. We’ll do a refund if it’s more than $7 of the actual cost. Sometimes we can ship on a different day, select a different service, and use a few other tricks to cut the price some. Once we’ve optimized your shipping we will refund the difference from what was paid when you placed the order.
We use FedEx which has a superior rate to USPS and UPS, We usually use UPS which has a better price than FedEx, at least for us. Some folks insist on a carrier. That usually increases the cost of shipping. Let us know if you MUST use a carrier, otherwise we’ll select UPS or FedEx that will get your order to you the fastest and for the best price.
3) We can confidently ship raw products with a transit time up to 4 days. Beyond that requires it special handling by us, like extra coolant and insulation, which means more weight. That translates to more cost since a larger, heavier box is needed. In the end it usually doesn’t save money to go with a transit time of 4 or more days, because the weight and size of the package will increase to keep the contents cool for a long trip.
4) We didn’t think this one up, really: buy more, ship less. Shipping costs aren’t linear. If it costs $20 to ship 5lbs of food to you, it won’t double to $40 for 10lbs. It’s more like $5-$8 more for 10lbs. Our long-time customers on the east coast order once every 4-6wks. They get enough food to cover their pets’ needs over that time. If they had weekly, or bi-weekly shipments, the shipping cost would be double, triple, or more over the same period.
4a) Another way of looking at this is shipping cost per pound. Consider this example: it costs $20 to ship 1lb to you. That’s $20/lb. Because the rates aren’t liner, it may cost $28 to ship 10lbs or $2.80/lb. It may be $33 to ship 20lbs, which comes to $1.65/lb, or a $23 savings by shipping one order of 20lbs instead of two 10lbs orders of food!
5) Shipping around holidays is the most expensive. From Thanksgiving to Christmas expect to pay up to 20% more. To avoid this, see #4 🙂
6) If you’re concerned about the transit time, you can always select a faster shipping option. If you select an option faster than ground we’ll always send with that rate. Order more in this case — buy for two months rather than one. Faster rates require less dry ice (read: a lighter package), which means cheaper. If we can do it less then we’ll return the difference if it’s more than $7.
We’d prefer you to save money shipping. If you’re spending money it should be on food that your pet can benefit from, not on transporting it to you. Let us know if you have questions. We’re here to help.