What's wrong with free shipping?! We love a good deal, of course we do, that's why online shopping was invented! But the free shipping trend is starting to really impact on small and independent businesses and their ability to exist.
Let's be clear, there is not such thing as free shipping. Couriers and the post office don't just waiver the fees because I wrote 'free shipping' on my online shop. Either the customer pays an obvious shipping charge, or it's integrated into the price of the item - which personally I dislike as if you buy multiple items, you'll be paying for multiple shipping charges - or the maker just bites the bullet and pays it themselves, eating into whatever money they would have made and usually not valuing the time, skill and effort that went into making the item in the first place. As a buyer of handmade items, part of the joy of it is knowing the maker is being justly compensated for their work, which they're not if they're giving things away.
Okay, I hear you say, I'll pay the shipping charge. Wait a minute, those greedy blighters at Canalside Creations want £4 to post a coat hook - I know it doesn't cost that much! Well you'd be right in some respects, but wrong in others.
We're a small indie business, and we don't ship enough product to get us a decent courier deal. So we rely on the Royal Mail, and a standard, not signed for small package to the UK costs £3.00 to send 2nd class as of April 2019. Here's a little break-down of shipping costs:
So as you can see, we are not making a bucket load of money on those £4.00 shipping charges. In fact, if you think self-employed makers deserve a decent wage for their time, we're probably losing money. Of course I do try to re-use packaging where possible (it's hard to come by boxes the right size!) and to combine my trips to the post office, but since I'm not actually charging for my time and travel, it's still fairly impossible to make any money on this.
The eagle-eyed among you may have realised that despite my ranting, we do actually have some listings in our Etsy shop with free shipping. What a hypocrite I am! True perhaps, but when your main selling platform insists on 'free shipping' as a search criteria, you have to play the game in order to be found by customers. I don't really like it, but Etsy is our main source of revenue, so I have to play along with their rules.
This is not even a criticism of Etsy as I'm sure they've spent a lot of money doing market research and this is what the market has told them they want. I don't expect folk to know the intricacies of what goes into running a handmade business, so hopefully this helps explain it a little, and who knows, maybe we change a few mindsets!
When you buy online, you expect to get a good deal. We all shop around and that's fair enough. But when you buy handmade, you've also got to remember there is a person directly behind that product, who is either making a decent living, or they are not.
Like what you see but not quite what you're after? Send us a message and we'll see what we can do for you.
Canalside Creations is a handmade craft business run by us, a husband and wife team, and inspired by our two small children. Each and every purchase makes us do a little happy dance and means we can keep running our little business and spend more time home with our little family. Thank you for supporting handmade!