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08 May 2018

It Costs How Much?!? 

Marketing strategies for helping your customers get over the high cost of shipping. 

If you’ve ever had a few reptiles or aquatic critters to sell, you’ve likely run into customers that are outraged at the high cost of shipping. Most people in these hobbies understand that living animals need to be shipped Priority Overnight and that such shipments are not cheap. But there are always more out there that are new to buying online, or haven’t had anything shipped since the 90’s or early 00’s, that are stunned by how expensive it can be. 

Every year, without fail, FedEx and UPS raise their base shipping rates. They’ll also typically raise other rates as well, such as fuel surcharges or residential delivery fees. They sometimes change their formula for determining how much a box costs to ship, which also results in increased prices. The obvious result is that shipping packages has become very pricy. These ain’t your daddy’s shipping prices! 

Every day, we field questions from concerned business people about the cost of shipping. They have countless stories about losing customers because it costs too much to ship. 

First off, please understand that everyone is in the same boat. Prices go up for everyone. If you want to have a business that extends beyond your local area, and you want to ship through legitimate and responsible sources, then you’ll need to calculate those costs in your business model. 

That said, the sticker-shock of shipping does not have to be a nail in the coffin on your sales! There are ways to help mitigate that stumbling block for your customers. Here are a few: 

1.) First and foremost – Sign up for an account at ShipYourReptiles or ShipYourAquatics. Chances are, if you’re reading this newsletter, you’ve already accomplished that critical step. 

2.) Next, if you feel that your rates are too high, reach out to us and ask about it. We like to get to know each of our customers in a personal way so we can know best how to meet their individual business needs. We can customize your discounts! 

3.) Understand that just because a particular shipping label costs you $73.56 (as an example), that does not mean that you are obligated or expected to then charge your customer exactly $73.56. You can charge less for that label, then make up the difference in other ways. 

4.) Be sure to take advantage of our On-Time Insurance. For just $2.50 per label, you can set yourself up to be reimbursed for any packages that are delivered a few minutes late. If you do more than two or three shipments per year, those kinds of savings can add up and offset what you might have “lost” by offering your customers lower rates. 

5.) Be prepared to “lose money” on shipping costs. If you’re taking care of your business properly, you’re not really going to lose money on shipping, but many people just starting out have a hard time seeing the bigger picture of an overall profitable year or a growing business. It might look like you have to eat $10 or $15 worth of shipping costs in order for your customer to be comfortable enough to follow through with the sale, but that sale contributes to the overall growth and health of your business.

If you’re working with high-dollar animals, the profit margin on each sale is high enough to make it much easier to offer discounted shipping costs to your customers. If you’re working with more common animals that sell for less than $100 each, it can be trickier, but still possible. If you think discounting your shipping costs by $15 would help bring more sales, try increasing your retail costs on your animals by $10 or $15 to offset that difference. Even if the total cost of the sale is exactly the same, a lot of your potential customers will find it easier to follow through with the sale if the cost of shipping stays lower than the cost of the animal. 

For instance – a $60 ball python might cost $60 to ship, for a total of $120. Your customer will look at that and wonder why they would double the cost of the item they are buying just to ship it across the country. But if you charge your customer $75 for the ball python and only $45 for shipping, the total is still $120, but they’ll feel like they are getting a much more reasonable deal on shipping. 

Of course, you have to take all this into account in the first place. You can’t raise the cost of the animal after a customer has inquired and received a shipping quote. It will take some planning ahead, some guess work, and a willingness to not fret about whether or not each individual sale gains or loses a few dollars on the shipping label. 

If you have a well-made website or online business presence, communicate clearly, and conduct your business in a professional manner, customers will line up to pay a few extra dollars for animals that come from someone they are confident in. 

And as always, we are here to help you! If you want more help figuring out how to market your animals for the best sales possible, let us know and we’ll do all we can! 

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