Wednesday, February 16, 2011

So we're all in agreement, right? Right? RIGHT?!

Something I've learned in my 7+ years of selling online: No matter how fervently you cling to a cherished belief that you feel is universal, it isn't. Examples:

A birthday card in the mail is better than an eCard, right? Somebody picked out the card especially for you, wrote a personal note and slapped a stamp on it. Isn't that better than an emailed version? But there are people who are horrified by cards in the mail--on an ecological level--because they use up paper.

Or take shipping. When I sell a choker, I ship it by first class mail, which is suitable for anything up to 13 oz. It saves the buyer a few dollars in postage and arrives within a week. I was surprised to learn that many jewelry makers ship Priority Mail, which costs $5 or so and arrives in about three days. I'm scratching my head over this. Would someone rather pay several dollars more to get the package in three days instead of five? If it were for a wedding, sure. But just an everyday choker? Maybe most people do prefer that. I don't know.

Another example regarding shipping fees:

I tend to set a basic shipping fee for a ball of yarn. If the yarn happens to be heavier or lighter than most of my yarns, I will adjust the cost of the yarn itself. When I list yarns for sale on Etsy, it is much faster for me to select YARN on the drop down shipping profile menu and then skew the price a few cents higher or lower if I think I need to. It's not a huge adjustment. Most yarns weigh around four ounces, but some weigh three or six. Most customers seem to have no problem with this concept since the end result is sort of a wash. But some people are adamant that the product is the product and the shipping is the shipping and they hate it when sellers do not fine-tune their prices to be very precise.

I saw a heated discussion of this in an online forum and it surprised me. One seller in particular was vehement about it. But anyone who has sold a wide variety of merchandise online knows that shape, weight, packaging, fragility, insurance, zip code, distance from the seller, customs laws, etc. can wreak havoc on the best shipping policies and end up costing the seller or buyer a little extra (or a little less) money.

But come on, this is not rocket science, nor is it Ethics 101. If customer A buys a yarn from me for $10 and customer B buys the same yarn a year later for $5 because it went on sale, well, where's the fairness of that? It was purely a matter of who bought it when and how much in demand it was. And whether or not there was a recession.

Anyway, not a month goes by that I do not hear of someone's outrage over a practice or principle that I thought was universally accepted or at least tolerated. No such animal.

dj runnels
Life's an Expedition

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