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Survey: Fixed cost or calculated--which do you prefer?
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dccollectibles



Posts: 2537

PostPosted: Fri May 17, 2013 9:37 am    Post subject: Survey: Fixed cost or calculated--which do you prefer? Reply with quote

Once again we are considering a complete overhaul of shipping. Due to eCrater's resistance to add alternative shipping options or individually handling each listing rather than mass grouping, I believe we may be able to offer better shipping options through fixed cost. The matrix has been a complete wash for us and calculated USPS frequently results in minimal budge outside the cost box. We would like to offer things like media rate for certain items that qualify and Free Shipping for instance. These things have not been possible through calculated shipping, as the calculator rules all. It's still better than the matrix, but far from perfect. One positive this option offers is to allow for a multiple item order. However, for whatever reason, this hasn't been a popular feature for our customers, despite the combined shipping savings it offers.

So in the interest of fairness and an effort to provide a better quality of buying experience, we are asking the community--all the sellers AND buyers--which do you prefer? Are you happy with calculated usps shipping or are your prices fixed? Have you tried both and found one or the other a more satisfying fit, and why? If I were to judge based on past orders, I would be leaning toward fixed cost. But this was also before all the Google Panda updates wreckage across the board, so it's not very accurate at this time.
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MoonwishesStore



Posts: 16585

PostPosted: Fri May 17, 2013 9:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sorry DC, I stick with the matrix as it is the most fair thing for my customers and the easiest for me.
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tigercreekgifts



Posts: 6293

PostPosted: Fri May 17, 2013 10:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just like Moonwishes, I too stick with using the matrix. Before I took over this store and a few years ago when it was owned by my aunt, she originally had it set for fixed shipping because she knew nothing about USPS rates or how to combine shipping plus she assumed she'd never have any multiple items orders. Well, then all of a sudden she gets a ton of multiple item orders and then has to figure out how much each buyer was over charged. I remember her telling me that didn't go over well because she miscalculated how much the buyers overpaid and ended up refunding them too much money and so, ended up eating some of the shipping costs and losing some profit.

So then she decided to switch to USPS calculated (with my help) and she studied up on package weights and got some guide charts from her post office. That worked well for a while until she realized that with the multiple item orders the USPS calculator was still overcharging buyers even though she entered in the correct item weights. It was due to the way the calculator charges in weight brackets instead of by actual weight. So again, she was left to figure out how much was overcharged and again she over estimated and refunded too much money so eventually, she told buyers she couldn't offer them a refund for the excess charges until she went to the post office to verify exactly how much the cost would be, which was alot of trouble and she had to make extra trips to the p.o. losing even more money to pay for the gas to get there and back.

I saw how much of a hassle this was. When Lily was running the store after my aunt, she also used USPS calculated and didn't have any trouble with it but, when I took over I decided the calculator was too much of a hassle to deal with so I put the store on hold all day, got a list of costs by weight from my p.o. and figured out how to set up the matrix. I have never made a mistake and never had to eat a shipping charge. So yes, I prefer the matrix because once you get it figured out I found it to be much better at getting the exact and correct amount of shipping for multiple item orders. The matrix takes more work to set up initially but, it's worth it in the end.
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dccollectibles



Posts: 2537

PostPosted: Fri May 17, 2013 10:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Not sure how much "more time" means, but I spent over a week once trying to get the matrix "just right" and it never panned out. In my experience it just doesn't work for a variety of larger items and for some reason or another effectively killed our sales in what should have been the busiest buying season of the year. So unless lightning strikes, or we change our name to "JustStamps" I'm never going back there again.
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kepssportscardsandmore



Posts: 186

PostPosted: Fri May 17, 2013 2:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The matrix works fine for me and I have used it for 5 plus years.
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AudioGasoline



Posts: 1015

PostPosted: Fri May 17, 2013 2:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Matrix here too, but I luck-out a bit because my items are all relatively uniform in weight and can all ship via the same postage class (media).
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MaggietheCatsMeows



Posts: 2799

PostPosted: Fri May 17, 2013 3:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Shipping is a nightmare for me no matter what I use. Currently 4 of my stores use the matrix which includes the lowest weight is free shipping in NA. My 5th store is fixed shipping item by item and is not set up for shipping outside US and Canada. The problem with fixed shipping item by item is that every time the shipping goes up you have to edit each listing and I have about 500 items in the store.

I'm going to have to change my matrix for the 4 other stores as with eCRATER charging 2.9% where I have shipping included in the price of the item, it means I am paying 2.9% on the shipping. As slow as sales are currently, it isn't going to break me but if and when sales pick up, hopefully in the near future, it will definitely make a dint in my profits.

I sell on several sites and the only one that has a good shipping set up is ArtFire where you create your own shipping profiles including countries you will ship to and costs. When you list an item you merely choose the shipping profile you wish to use for that listing. You can have as many profiles as you need. Then when postal rates increase you can edit the profiles.

I desperately need to redo my matrix but to do it I have to edit every single listing. When you have about 5000 items listed, that is one helluva job and means having the stores on hold for weeks.
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oakteakstore



Posts: 1050

PostPosted: Fri May 17, 2013 8:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I use fixed shipping. My items are so variable in weight, size and fragility that is is much easier for me.
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A-Better-Way



Posts: 3242

PostPosted: Fri May 17, 2013 10:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yep, fixed, and free shipping here, same I do at ebay, one price, free shipping.
Now if i had a stock of the same thing, it might be more pratical to use the matrix, or calculated for the quantity shipping.

Also everything is free shipping, if they ordered 5 or 10 things, it would still be free.
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thecornerstonecowboy



Posts: 84

PostPosted: Sat May 18, 2013 5:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Matrix. I have a spread sheet that I set up and use for reference at all my sites.
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dccollectibles



Posts: 2537

PostPosted: Sat May 18, 2013 10:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Interesting responses so far. Keep them coming.

But before the thread strays too far, I would like to get a possible feel for which method (between fixed and calculated--for the purposes outlined usps and matrix are pretty identical in this) preferred by your buyers, if there is one. Anyone use all methods at one time or another? What was your success rate? So far, I'm really leaning toward fixed, but if for some reason or another it deters purchase in the post-Panda era, I'd surely like to know that. You can set up U.S. domestic and international differently to at least favor multiple purchases one over the other, but that means the other is unfortunately left out. If the whole arrangements wasn't so deeply entangled that could be avoided, but as is it obviously can't.
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cosmicray



Posts: 7025

PostPosted: Sat May 18, 2013 10:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

My LEGO parts store uses the matrix (because I have twiddled the columns to give better resolution).

My LEGO sets store has valid weights and fixed costs. At certain times of the year, I will turn on USPS Calculated shipping so that I can offer both Priority Mail and Express Mail at the customer's choice. At other times of the year I use fixed shipping (which is actually subsidized).
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FoxAndFish



Posts: 1558

PostPosted: Sat May 18, 2013 11:31 am    Post subject: Re: Survey: Fixed cost or calculated--which do you prefer? Reply with quote

dccollectibles wrote:
So in the interest of fairness and an effort to provide a better quality of buying experience, we are asking the community--all the sellers AND buyers--which do you prefer? Are you happy with calculated usps shipping or are your prices fixed?

It's not so much what a seller or the customers prefer. It's what works with the products each of us sells. If you sell products with relatively uniform size and weight, or that require only one USPS class of service, a matrix or calculated set-up could work. If you sell products of varying sizes and weights and types, matrix and calculated will not work. I sell everything from small, feather-light jewelry to outsized vintage equestrian gear to 40-lb multiple-volume book series. This requires using most USPS classes of service...First Class, Priority, Media, Standard...both confirmation services and insurance depending on value. The only eCrater shipping method that works is fixed. This requires weighing everything accurately with appropriate packaging and changing every price whenever there's a USPS rate increase. And this results in some off-puttingly high shipping prices to accommodate far zones for Priority and Standard, which I reduce for closer zones...but customers by and large don't bother to read about shipping discounts in the Terms and FAQ. Even if eCrater allowed us to select shipping method by item, as other selling venues do, it wouldn't solve the zone problem.
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tigercreekgifts



Posts: 6293

PostPosted: Sat May 18, 2013 12:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

dccollectibles wrote:
Anyone use all methods at one time or another? What was your success rate?


Actually, yes. I think I forgot to mention that when I took over the store it was still running off of the calculator. It worked out ok at first but then I got a few multiple item purchases and the calculator somehow doubled a guys shipping. He was charged $27.98 shipping on a package that only cost $13.99 to ship. He didn't complain about it either, he was willing to pay it but I refunded him anyway. Instead of combining the 2 shipping costs the calculator was charging it twice. As for the other handful of buyers I had that bought the same thing and were also double charged, they all either didn't follow through with payment or they did and immediately asked for a refund.

I was able to save some of the sales (the people who asked for a complete refund) when I explained to them that they were accidentally overcharged so with those buyers, once I refunded them the overcharged difference they kept the orders. As for those who didn't pay when they saw the shipping total during checkout well, I lost those orders. 3 large orders for $135 each! I was MAD! I tried contacting the buyers and I let them know they were overcharged and offered to send an invoice for the correct amount but, they never responded back. The package weights were configured right but, buyers kept getting double charged and I couldn't figure out why.
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MoonwishesStore



Posts: 16585

PostPosted: Sun May 19, 2013 7:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Seems I remember your aunt having trouble like that and even more trouble trying to fix it all.

I don't think the actual shipping system is anything that buyers care about or prefer as they don't know what is going on in the background to tell them how much their shipping will be. What they do want is fair S&H amounts.

The interesting thing is that other sites don't allow at all for combined shipping. I sold two items to someone on Amazon and she was charged full shipping for both. She wrote to me and said she assumed she would get combined shipping. Since anyone checking out on Amazon has a chance to see their invoice and what is being charged, I don't know why she wrote about it after the fact. I had to write and tell her that I had nothing to do with what was charged, whether it was combined or not, etc. It was all in Amazons hands (and they take a chunk out of the S&H so almost impossible to figure out a refund even if you wanted to do so, but now if you give too many refunds on Amazon your seller performance score goes down). I suppose a buyer used to Amazon won't blink an eye when a purchase isn't combined here, but those that are used to more cut rate venues will be looking for it, if not 'free' shipping.
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