Today was the day I set aside to add the hundred or so new products we've taken on since I last added to our online shop. For months now our online shoppers have been missing out on some fabulous new lines. And today I planned to remedy that. But first things first, I needed to fix the postage costs. As a consumer I always resented the high postage charges incurred with relatively small online purchases. So when I set up the online deli I weighed every single item for sale so that the web site could estimate how much it really would cost to post something and charge the customers that price. It is not 100% accurate. Once packaged some combinations of products weigh less than expected, some more. The model I use to estimate the weight of the packaging is regularly tweaked and I keep a record of the packed and unpacked weight of every parcel I send so I can use the data to create better models in the future.
The postage calculator was working nicely, until this month, when Royal Mail dramatically changed their pricing structure. Not only does weight effet the price, but size as well, and the standard parcel service no longer exists. Even the post office staff aren't quite sure how the new system works. I sent the same item on two different days, one day it was a "Medium Parcel" another it was a "Small Parcel" (as even though it was too tall for the measuring slot it got a special exception!). I carried on charging my old prices for a while whilst I worked it all out. But it needed to be changed. I was charging £2.20 for second class post for items which now cost me £5.20 to send! And so came about today's little project.
Sadly it wasn't so little. Involving weighing, and measuring, and a few formula. I felt like I was back at school attempting some huge homework project! Our online shop now offers ELEVEN different postage services (if you include "collect from shop").
- Royal Mail First Class Standard "Small Parcel" (only available for small items costing less than £20) and Royal Mail First Class Confirmed "Small Parcel" (aka Signed For) (only available for small items costing more than £20)
- Royal Mail First Class Standard "Medium Parcel" (only available for items costing less than £20) and Royal Mail First Class Confirmed "Medium Parcel" (aka Signed For) (only available for items costing more than £20)
- Royal Mail Second Class Standard "Small Parcel" (only available for small items costing less than £20) and Royal Mail Second Class Confirmed "Small Parcel" (aka Signed For) (only available for small items costing more than £20)
- Royal Mail Second Class Standard "Medium Parcel" (only available for items costing less than £20) and Royal Mail Second Class Confirmed "Medium Parcel" (aka Signed For) (only available for items costing more than £20)
- Royal Mail Special Delivery next day.
The Royal Mail services are now quite a lot more expensive for the sort of parcels we send a lot of. Our most commonly used service was the (less than 2kg) Standard Parcel at £5.30. The closest equivalent service is now £9.10. So I've also added an economical courier service, collect+. I anticipated this might be necessary and have been offering the service to those who ordered by telephone over the past few months. We've not experienced any problems.
Needless to say it has been a lengthy process. I'm already aware of products which won't be in the right shipping category. Royal Mail will class up to six packs of spring roll wrappers as a "small parcel", but my model will class two or more as a "medium parcel" and some teabags which the model says are a "small parcel" but will actually be a "medium parcel". I'll take a hit on the tea bags and am working on a discount code built into bulk purchases of spring roll wraps to compensate for the postage cost.
But seeing as I have spent an entire sunny day tapping away at my computer, have not added a single new product to the online deli , I think it might be time to call it a day. If anyone out there wants to buy any of the wonderful new products you've seen on our facebook page, but can't find in the online shop, please just email me!