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Shipping, Pricing Changes

Updated: October 18th 2022

Since 2018 and in the intervening four years we identified that shipping orders had become a key headache for our company, and customers, for a number of reasons:

  • Reliability, particularly for low cost, untracked items.
  • Shipping charges (ie: the way in which customers perceive shipping costs).
  • The rise of “free shipping”. Particularly the lack of such an offer putting discouraging customer purchase.
  • Overall administration of order shipments.

The net result was a considered effort to identify reliable services (it’s an ongoing process), rewrite our stores pricing & shipping system and make some tough decisions about what services we could afford to offer vs’ customer expectations.

In the background of all of this there’s been a substantial change in customers perception of value vs’ cost vs’ reliability, all of which has helped enormously with our decisions.

So here goes… What has changed?

Tracking By Default

For all but our lowest cost order values we now offer tracked shipping services as a minimum. This allows us to ensure that lost packages can be limited to an absolute minimum. It also allows us to identify any remaining losses more quickly and ensure replacements are dispatched promptly. It also helps us to claim back for any losses reducing costs overall.

Free/Discounted Shipping Prices

A complete rewrite of our store checkout and shipping system has allowed us to incorporate a cost for shipping to be built into our pricing structure (along with all our other direct and indirect costs).

This means that shipping prices will range from discounted to free and this will apply to premium/express services as well as domestic (UK) and International orders equally. Order value will have a direct effect on the shipping options and cost offered.

The Why

When Amazon and later eBay started to offer “Free shipping” they standardised a neat marketing trick where customers deceive themselves into believing that they really aren’t paying for their shipping and our brains are happy to go along with the concept even if many of us are fully aware there is no such thing as a “free lunch”. As such, customers (ourselves included) are genuinely discouraged when they see that they have to pay for shipping or when they see how much a transparent shipping cost actually is.

As a business we have recognised the benefit of “free” and discounted shipping has to us as a business and whilst we preferred a transparent model it was time to adjust.

While our global customer base means we can’t quite offer free shipping by default, our changes take us a necessary step forward to making our offering more appealing.

Service Provider Choice

Over the last eight years in particular we’ve been identifying the best way to ship/post out orders and with Brexit we’ve been found it particularly challenging to find service providers who could actually deliver successfully. We’re now confident that we’ve identified the better partnerships and cherry picked their best service options as follow:

  • Royal Mail for Large Letter, UK items, particularly our Printer Pad products and for other goods to outlying regions within the UK (ie: Highlands, Islands, etc..)
  • DHL Parcel & Fedex for our UK priority items within the primary mainland UK zones
  • Asendia – For express postal options internationally.
  • DHL Express for rapid dispatch of International orders, albeit at a higher cost.
  • Spring for some express options within the EU and Australia.
    Also, more broadly for slower but dependable International tracked orders on a tighter budget.

None of the above are set in stone, as we’ve found that service providers can change, get complacent over time, etc… but we continue to monitor their performance and adjust as required.

The providers we’ve rejected

Understandably we do receive feedback from customers who have recommended lower cost service providers like Hermes (UK), Yodel, as well as options like RM tracked and we have tested and reviewed these over time.

Ultimately we rejected these services for a mixture of reasons ranging from sheer incompetence to unrealistic pricing and/or volume requirements that just weren’t feasible. Some required so much administrative effort to track down lost items, deal with non-delivery, etc.. that the hidden cost made them more expensive overall so we did try. They didn’t deliver and in the end, that is what counts.


As hinted at above, a lot of our hidden costs are based around ensuring that customer orders actually arrive and as part of that we’ve identified services that don’t cost us valuable time. Equally importantly we’ve found valuable tools that help us keep track of orders and when intervention might be needed.

Track17.net is an incredibly useful tool in that regard and helps us to identify when an order might be waiting for collection or there has been some kind of problem. It’s not perfect but it definitely helps.

Historical changes (2018 and before)

This is an archive of information we provided previously as much for those interested in our journey as wanting to understand how we’ve reached our current service provision.

2018 has been a particularly problematic year for ourselves and some of our International customers with regards to physically shipping orders. We have noticed a significant deterioration in the reliability and professionalism from more than one postal provider including our own Royal Mail and it’s a trend that is particularly focused on untracked packages.

Our undelivered/uncollected rate has increased exponentially for untracked items to Spain and France, while there has also been an increase in “lost” orders across the board.

Given the impact these have to our costs, our reputation and the inconvenience to our customers we have been investigating all the options available to us and balancing them against the needs of our customers. 

The short version is this:

  • The option to use untracked services will soon have to end for all but the smallest/lowest-value orders
  • Tracked services:
    • are much faster
    • are more reliable
    • cost more

Our Revised Service Provision

Since June of 2018 we have been identifying, researching and testing both existing providers and new shipping services to determine which one provide a good balance of cost effectiveness, speed and overall reliability and these are now coming online.

  • DHL Parcel is currently our primary shipping partner for the UK
  • Spring GDS is providing more responsive replacement for Tracked & Signed packages to large parts of Europe and the USA and a expedited service to Australia
  • DHL Express provides an expedited service, for urgently needed items, worldwide.
  • Royal Mail has been retained as the fall back position for countries & parts of the UK where shipping costs are still too high elsewhere
  • Fedex will shortly be on trial as an alternative UK priority service while continuing to provide priority services to the USA and some other International destinations.

Regrettably some services have issues that need to be addressed and these are currently on hold pending improvements in their service.

  • Asendia do have an expedited shipping service for a selection of countries, particularly the USA but unfortunately issues relating to exceptions handling were poor so this service is currently suspended until the issues can be resolved reliably.

Technical Hurdles

Each of the new services has a number of rules for pricing packages that require complex algorithms to identify; weight, size, country, zone and even the types of products being sent. There is no simple way to do this so we’re applying averages in the interim.

Pricing Policy Changes

This change is pending along with long overdue pricing adjustments following Brexit inflationary cost increase.

The biggest impact of shipping changes was on our pricing policy. Until the changeover we applied a clear, transparent policy of not incorporating the shipping cost into our products and providing a warts-n-all shipping cost when customers go to checkout.

The logic throughout has been the assumption that customers understand that shipping costs are like any other business expense (such as rent, electricity, wages, etc..) and they have to be covered somewhere in the cost. Unfortunately, it became clear that potential customers are now so used to being offered “Free Shipping” that they balk at having to pay for shipping regardless of the “it has to be paid somewhere” logic.

Ultimately, we reached the point where we simply couldn’t ignore this effect on successful sales so, with price increases planned since 2014 (but never implemented), we adjusted our prices to include a reasonable portion for shipping and account for our material cost increases.

Price increases are never welcome but after 8 years without change, these were long overdue and ensure our continued existence and improve reliability for our customers.

Updated on 18 October 2022

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