Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Discussion: Shipping from suppliers

Happy July 4th! I hope you're having a wonderful day off spent with family and friends or in your workshop. We enjoyed Canada Day on Sunday, and if the Simpsons are to be believed, Bastille Day is coming up soon! I thought we'd continue our discussion about various topics today so I can have a bit more experimenting time before posting! 

I'm fortunate in that I live within driving distance to three great suppliers, and can do super happy fun road trips with Raymond to Otion/Brambleberry, but I still do some shipping of ingredients from time to time, especially for those harder to get ingredients like extracts and surfactants. It can get very expensive, especially if I've ordered from the States, and I've made the decision I will not buy from any supplier who only uses UPS because any delivery to my house always arrives with a driver with his hand out for their so-called brokerage fees that are usually in the range of $15 to $20.

Just wondering why we don't get this with other courier companies like FedEx or Puralator? Is it included in their shipping fees? If so, why aren't UPS's fees so much less than the others? 

If you're Canadian and you live near the border, consider using a package holding company just on the other side of the border for your shipping needs. I'm using Ship Happens and it is saving me a bundle! For $5, they'll hold my package for up to four weeks. The big pain is getting over the border - because it's busy, not because they want any duty or taxes from me - but when I ordered from one company that would have charged me up to $60 for shipping and $30 to fill out the paperwork, it was such a great deal!

As a note, I mention Ship Happens because they have worked well for me, not because they have offere me any kind of incentive...although my package yesterday was filed under "Nicholson" not "Barclay Nichols" and the clerk told me I should ask for Nicholson every time because they'll punch the first four letters into the computer, and Nichols doesn't come up. My name clearly isn't Nicholson, but the computer thinks it is, so I guess I must obey the computer...

A few questions for everyone - Are you finding the shipping charges can cost as much as the order? Are they costing you more? Are you choosing not to shop at specific suppliers because of their shipping costs? 

If you live outside North America, how do you find shipping from local suppliers? Do you find you have to order outside your normal shopping area to get some ingredients?

Share your thoughts! 

43 comments:

Unknown said...

Thank you for this,Susan!!!
I have stopped ordering from suppliers that will only use UPS with one exception. Sometimes, I have to get things from NDA. I wish they would change that policy!!!
When shipping is equal of more than what I want, I cancel the order. It is a pain sometime.

Unknown said...

Also, since I signed in for the subscription, why am i "unknown"?

Littlebird said...

I am lucky to live within driving distance of most of my suppliers. That being said, I do as Susan does and refuse to order from any company that ships UPS only. I've had to pay brokerage fees that were about the same amount of my total order, around $50. That left a bad taste in my mouth.

That being said I have friends in WA so they are usually willing to let me ship something there if the need comes up.

Julie said...

I live 30 minutes away from Wholesale Supplies Plus, which has a huge inventory, so I consider myself pretty lucky. Especially since they give 20% off orders when you pick them up, and that can really help. Prices are usually pretty good, and even if I can find another company that has my product for less, WSP usually ends up being cheaper after I factor in the 20% discount. So I try and wait until I have a big order and place it with them. I can find almost everything I need with them, except for surfactants and a few other things. For those I usually order from Essential Wholesale or The Herberie. Ive came across some shipping charges I didnt like before, but nowhere near my order total, unless its a small order. There is no way I would pay that much for shipping! Well, I did make an exception for the Black Cocoa Butter from Creations From Eden since it is so hard to find. Im in the US and only wanted a pound of it, but shipping was over $30 plus a fee for something or other, so I just made the best of it and ordered a couple lbs!

Nedeia said...

don't get me started :) I live in Romania and I want to order something from Lotioncrafter . My order is 100 USD in value, and shipping is more than 80 usd. The cheapest option. And I do not order surfactants or a bunch of bottles, no. I want some actives (15 grams each), some silicones (a few fl oz) and a few thickeners (2 oz each). My entire order should be less than 2 lb. are tey packed in glass bottles or something? :-) I added 2 oz of an emulsifier (less than 2 usd) to my shopping basket and shipping increased with approx 5 usd. I do not want to think at customs when USPS sends the parcel....

Tara said...

Wish I could find another supplier who carried the same inventory as The Herbarie. With $100 minimums, $25 "International Fee", and UPS only, I can no longer afford to shop there! UPS is okay within Canada (eg. NDA), but you're right -- I REFUSE to use UPS across borders!!

Anonymous said...

Grrrrrr! I live in Washington state, and placing orders with suppliers who only offer UPS as their only mode of shipping offering, are suppliers I gave up working with a long time ago. It is just too expensive.

Kelli

p said...

I think the situation for folks in Canada is SO MUCH WORSE than the situation for folks in the US. I'm in Canada and most of my suppliers are in the US and only ship UPS, so, yup, I get smacked with "brokerage" fees (my biggest was $98! on top of high shipping fees, of course). Brokerage is what UPS charges to do the paperwork required to escort a package across the border; it's a piece of cake for them, but they charge us because they can. My UPS guy is awesome - he once told me that he calculated what UPS charges for their brokerage service, and he said it's $800/minute! My strategy has been to ship to family or friends in the US and pick up packages when I visit, which requires lots of planning and is a colossal pain. As expensive as shipping seems within the US, it seems like a dream to me to have this stuff sent to me directly without paying through the nose for the privilege. End UPS rant. :)

Anonymous said...

Oh yes, i live in US and i only buy from Us and shipping cost as much as half of my order. The other day when i ordered something, there was a box for comment i thought about writting something like " your shipping rates needs to come down", but i didn't but i will.
Rosi

Ksenija said...

I have horrible problems with shipping. I get my stuff almost exclusively from BrambleBerry. 99% of USA based supplier does not ship to the Netherlands at all, and the ones that do, use USP with fantastiacally high fees. I could only find 2 companies that use FedEx, and BB has cheaper and high quality supplies so I stick to them. Imagine, even when I pay the shipping (which is alwasy the same price as my order) and tax, it is still cheaper than to order from European companies.

Nancy Liedel said...

Shipping charges range here from darn reasonable to, "you included a handling fee and other fees? What the heck is wrong with you? It's just overcharging. Be honest and put it in the original price" I shall not name the name of the companies, but we all know who does this. I have to buy from one of them. Darnit!!

I hate having to guess how much is going to be in shipping and for oils, I have decided a nice trip to Chicago, with a trailer on the Mini van and a Barrrel Buy of the three I run through is worth it. Besides, it's a trip to Chicago!!! I love Chicago.

Bastille day is the 14th this year and yes, it's always around Independence Day. The French had to tend to their own issues during our Revolutionary War. Beheadings, Mansions to be taken, looting, stuff like that. Although, when Marie Antoinette said, "let them eat cake," she was not talking 5 million dollar, tastes horrible, looks good, wedding cake. Cake was an everyday china sort of thing. The rich ate off very dense whole grain bread and would then give the, "plates," to the poor. She was a tad childish and daffy, but she was not cruel. She really thought that her, "plates," would feed the masses. Airhead in a white wig, with a gorgeous face.

Wait...It's Independence Day. I think the movie must be playing on Netflix. They always have it and I always watch it. I love, "end of the world disaster, aliens from space, not clowns," movies.

Lise M Andersen said...

I do have a supplier I order less and less from solely due to their shipping fees. They have great product though, and I've dealt with them for ages so I've considered writing them - not that I think it would make a diff. I only have one supplier in town, but they have far from everything I use. It's a pain. Don't have the same probs with Ups as you North Americans do though, so I guess that's one advantage of living in Copenhagen .

melian1 said...

i thought our shipping (in the us) was outrageous until i've been reading these comments. omg!

my shipping costs have often equaled my purchase price and sometimes more with a few shining exceptions.

my heart goes out to all you folks who have to cope with international shipping outrageousness, not to mention the pure highway robbery of brokerage fees.

catherine said...

Wow this has been an eye opener! I did not know about the ups fee in canada.

I highly recommend bulkactives.com. even though they are in taiwan (or maybe because) their shipping is very reasonable. I checked...even to europe the price is good:

http://www.bulkactives.com/shipping.htm

I've bought some antioxidants and gelmaker plus, which I couldn't find at any other store, and was pleasantly surprised to find the shipping was even less than for u.s. stores.

They also have a lot of herbal extracts. And no I'm not a paid spokesperson. :) I pay them.

coralee said...

I live in Oregon and my first love is cold process soap. I buy all my fixed oils and most essential oils from a company called Liberty Natural, I can drive an hour and a half to pick up an order. But I get surfactants and other things fom majestic mountain sage, the herbarie, wholesale... Any suggestions for me for other suppliers? Oh I have tried bramble berry too with much delight!
Thanks,
Cora

melian1 said...

oh yeah, bulkactives is excellent on shipping. not to mention their great customer service.

Anonymous said...

I live in Spain. I used to buy from US suppliers until their shipping and handling fees became ridiculous. I mean, they charge you 15$ on top of the shipping charges just because you order international. What difference does it make? Do they have to use more expensive packaging? I honestly doubt it.

What's nice is that we are starting to get really nice competitive prices in Europe. Brit sites are very expensive, but French and German suppliers are competing for the continental market and lowering prices. Besides, shipping is free and we don't have to pay customs fees.

Lisa Hoyle said...

Susan, We love this post!
We recently heard from a Canadian Customer of the same issue with UPS! We recently introduced shipping USPS as well as FedEx, But we will look into Ship Happens. Thank you for this great advice.

Best Regards,
Lisa H
Formulator Sample Shop

Julie said...

Thats just ridiculous how much hassle some of you have to go through. Im sad for you! Im going to check and see how much it would cost to ship a 5lb order to Canada to see if it really costs as much as the suppliers charge. If its not that much, we should try and find a way to help each other out to avoid all those fees.

Julie said...

Coralee
I wanted to suggest a couple sites to you. This is what I do when Im ready to place an order:

I look at about 6 different sites to compare cost and shipping, and I use Excel to keep track and see what site has the cheapest and best product. I also go through the steps to order, but dont click the final place order button, to see how the shipping factors in. I've saved probably hundreds of dollars by doing this. You wouldnt believe the price difference between stores, most products I'll find at half the cost than the original site I was going to use. So check between a couple different sites to see if they have your product, and use Excel to make a chart. The sites I use are:

Essential Wholesale, New Directions Aromatics, Wholesale Supplies Plus, Lotion Crafter, The Herbarie, Brambleberry, Bulk Apothecary (havent actually used them yet), and Voyageur Soap & Candle

You'll save a ton of money if you do this. It does take a little time to do if you are placing a bigger order, but it is definitely worth it. If I bought strictly from one supplier, I'd probably pay almost double than using my little method. Hope this helps!

Cas said...

We are located in New Jersey, USA and we use the US Postal Service exclusively. Many of our customers live in Canada and we even have several in UK and Australia. The shipping fees for "First Class International" are very reasonable and this may be the main reason why we have these customers.

catherine said...

Great advice Coralee! If I get the itch to make a shampoo/body wash/bar I will check all those sites.

Also, after reading the other posts, I decided to give herbarie another chance. I placed a non-surfactant order and the shipping was $11 for $31 worth of products. So 33% for shipping, not 100% like I'd said before. I think bc it was lightweight, non-surfactant items.

mamirican said...

I live in Texas but I still have the same issue. Once I wanted to order some fragrance oils and the shipping was higher than the cost of the oils. I however, decided to contact the company and ask them if they would ship using another method. They explained to me that UPS automatically calculates at one pound, but they were nice enough to offer to ship USPS for about half the cost but not priority mail because of the product's flash point. I thought that was really nice and I really like their products, but most of all their willingness to help a customer.

Kathy said...

Some sites have one or maybe two products I need and cannot find elsewhere. It amazes me a small amount of product results in $16-$19 in shipping, when, if the vendor would use USPS flat rate, the cost would be around $5. I feel vendors do not consider the cost of shipping and need to do more to provide the most economical way for customers. I also get frustrated with The Herbarie and Voyageur who cannot tell you the shipping costs when placing an order. What's with that! I love Nature's Garden, but their shipping is outrageous. I feel Lotioncrafter, MMS Sage and Brambleberry do a great job. Sorry for venting....I just placed an order and the shipping was grr.....

catherine said...

Shipping is an additional revenue stream. The vendor might be paying ups $2 to ship your order then charging you $15.

Always.Looking.4.1.More said...

Reading everyone's comments makes me go "Eeeek!". Profiting off of S/H charges? OMG! I might be naive, but I don't think I would have thought of that. So if a person doing business thinks to do that to their customers, I guess they might not think twice about doing other things. Can I really trust the products they're selling? Do they have any limits to what they'll do to make a profit?

I have purchased from some good companies. But I have passed by some others because of excess S/H costs. One of the companies that has been mentioned (no names given) told me that they know S/H is high but there's nothing they could do about it. So I haven't purchased from them yet. I thought that was great because it forced me to look at some other sellers that I had not before who have a better selection.

Anastasia said...

I do the same as Coralee because I currently live in Mexico and I have to pay from 17% to 23% mark up of the invoice price.
Luckily, I can find suppliers for bulk oils, lye, etc. And where I live has wonderful organic farms and natural flora and fauna I can incorporate into my products.
But USA shipping AND then the Cross border mark up kills me.

sfs said...

Wow, all these comments are fascinating. I live in Los Angeles and, as unbelievable as this sounds, don't have any suppliers around me. It kills me to pay shipping costs at all and I avoid purchasing anything online from companies that don't offer free shipping. These supplies for my products are the only exception. I'm delighted to know I'm not alone in my resentment of these exorbitant shipping charges.

sfs said...

Oh, and I agree with Catherine and Melian1 that Bulk Actives has the most reasonable shipping charges of the whole industry!

Ingrid said...

Hi Susan,

I couldn't understand why the shipping costs from Lotioncrafter appear to have doubled on my last order. (I live in Canada)
I will certainly try to buy most of these items in Canada now, really is a shame. But the shipping costs for Priority Post thru USPS were about $60 or $70,not much less than my order total.

I used to be an avid Ebay shopper, but most sellers use UPS for international shipping. I got burned by their brokerage fees a couple of times and now hardly shop on Ebay. I know what it costs to ship items, and it surely is nowhere near what they are charging.
Thanks Susan, I needed the rant :-)

Cheers, Ingrid

Formulator Sample Shop said...

I agree with you all.
Currently, We try to update our shipping rates to help our customers. On the behalf of Formulator Sample Shop, We certainly don't make money on shipping. We try to offer the lowest rate possible. When a customer tries to order something on our website and the shipping may be off, We appreciate their comments and look right into it.
We also try to offer USPS Shipping at all times to help save costs! If anyone has any quesitons or looking for lower shipping rates, Please feel free to cotnact us for lower rates. We try to provide the best rates.
Thank you.

catherine said...

Hmmm...I didn't mean anything disparaging pointing out shipping can be an addl revenue stream for some suppliers. I don't think that necessarily means a vendor is less trustworthy, etc.

Having said that I think it's great we are talking about this...the comments have given me great advice on comparing all suppliers. And frankly I hope they're reading this and thinking about how they can all be more competitive, with shipping and any other pricing, customer service, etc

Also, fyi, I just learned that you can email herbarie and get a quote for shipping beforehand. Not as convenient as displaying the shipping cost in the shopping cart, but better than being completely in the dark.

VickiPS said...

I'm in Australia, and so far have not ventured to purchase supplies from overseas because I'm not sure whether I'd be hit with import duties. One of the difficulties here is that none of the suppliers are large companies or chains, and all (or nearly all) are primarily online sellers. I deal with 6 suppliers just to get the ingredients and extras (e.g. packaging) that I need at a reasonable price. Naturally that means paying 6 different lots of shipping fees. I try to minimise costs by waiting until I can make up a decent-sized order, not just get one or two things. Also, several suppliers add a surcharge for small orders under a certain amount. I think the most I've paid for shipping was AUD$20 for a litre of isopropyl myristate, as it was only available at that time from casting and moulding and theatrical suppliers. All of the suppliers I've dealt with offer a couple of choices for shipping, usually Australia Post or a courier company, and I've been pretty happy with the service. Generally it costs me between AUD$9 -- $15 for each order, which does mount up pretty quickly. It's a Catch-22 situation, since it's hard for a hobbyist to economise by ordering in larger quantities.

Anonymous said...

"Formulator Sample Shop said...

I agree with you all.[...] We certainly don't make money on shipping. We try to offer the lowest rate possible."

My question to FSS is: why do you have to add a 15$ fee on top of shipping rates to all international orders? Many others don't do that, hay do you??

Julie said...

I just wanted to post again to tell you all I've found another site that has amazing prices and will ship lye! I know I have a hard time finding suppliers that will ship it. The site is:

EssentialDepot.com

BB costs $10 for 2lbs of Sodium Hydroxide. Essential Depot has it for $3.44 for 2lbs! They also have oils and all types of other goodies. Also, they have a pretty big selection of items that ship for FREE, so make sure to look for that, and all the other items still ship for a very good price IMO!! Just wanted to share this with everyone, hope this helps!

BTW- I posted the method about using different sites, I just put Coralee in bold at the top because the message was directed to her. Lol no biggie, just wanted to clarify in case anyone had a question :D

coralee said...

Thanks Julie :) it was great advice!
On another note, one way I have cut costs is to start making my own hydrosols. You can buy a distillery set and make all different kinds!

Formulator Sample Shop said...

Dear Anonymous,

Thank you for pointing that out to us. We just noticed the 15.00 fee noted in our FAQ's, However, we do not apply 15.00 for international shipments. We provide the following for our international customers:

1. Opportunity to provide USPS shipping for lowest prices
2. We also can accept our customers account for UPS, FedEx or DHL # to ship against.

Thank you again for pointing that out, Our webmaster corrected the website.
https://www.formulatorsampleshop.com/help_answer.asp?ID=12#24

Have a great day!
Lisa

Julie said...

Your welcome Coralee. I actually just purchased my first hydrosols, Im excited to use them today! I did consider making my own, but it sounded too difficult. I read a do it yourself method with items around the house. Maybe I will invest in a distillery kit. Can I ask where you got yours?

coralee said...

I ordered mine from amazon 140.00$ but I use it all the time now. I do suggest getting a cheap fish tank pump to go with your set, that way you can recirculate your cold water instead of running it down the sink for an hour:)

Anonymous said...

Try living in New Zealand..then you will discover shipping costs that can average 1.5 times the value of what you wish to order...thats if they even ship to here.lol

Deirdre Garza said...

I'm very happy to live relatively close to Voyageur where I can get most of what I need. Plus, they're great to deal with. I have considered ordering things from US suppliers from time to time as the variety really is amazing, but the shipping is definitely prohibitive. I rarely do roadtrips to the US, but it would be fun to check out Otion sometime soon.

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