Saturday, June 3, 2017

Fancy Boxes / Labels for Shipping Supplies vs. Take Home Boxes

If you've adopted anytime recently, and not brought a carrier with you, you may have noticed we have new Take Home boxes.  It's been awhile now, but if you adopted in the past (think like more than maybe 8 months ago), you may remember that we used medium priority mail boxes to send home our animals in.  Some may think that's not professional if they'd like, but it wasn't even our initial idea -- the place where we got our prairie dogs from, as well as Ryerson Chinchilla (for supplies, though), and many others, also use priority mail boxes instead of carriers, as carriers can run a pretty penny.

Ever go to Petsmart?  They sell those cardboard pet carriers for $9.99.  Yikes.  See here 

Hardly cost effective to buy those in any quantity.  Granted, those are a big bigger than what we need, but at $10 a piece?  Not happening.

So, in the effort to keep costs down for the adopter, most places look for cheaper alternatives.  Hence, priority mail boxes come to mind, which are free.  Sure, they're not supposed to be used for that, but come on, despite the post office being in debt, so they say... postage keeps going up.  Do we believe that they're really broke?  Not really.  So, they could manage to have a few boxes disappear.  Anyway, this isn't a post about that (though, shipping costs are getting a bit ridiculous).

Back to the carriers.  So, last year, at the Kane County Pet Show, I believe, we had another rescue donate to us, some cardboard pet carriers.  Off the top of my head, I can't remember what rescue (but if you're from that rescue and reading this, thanks!!), but they gave us three boxes of them.  They said they'd ordered them for cats, and they were too small (and they would be).

So.... free carriers!

So, we started using them.  By the time we got to the third box, I was finding them mighty useful, and I didn't have to poke air holes in them and look all ghetto with the priority mail boxes, and I didn't have to tape them shut.  Win win.  So I went to look to see where I could find them and how much they would cost to continue to purchase.  First I found them on Amazon, and I bought a case off of there.  I figured, if they came from another supplier, it would be on the invoice, and maybe I'd be able to get them a little bit cheaper, buying them in bulk.

So I got the box, and lookie that, they were what I was looking for.  Something around $2-3 per carrier, which isn't horrible.

In case you haven't seen them, this is them:

They're big enough for a single adult chin, and I've even squeezed two weaning size chins in there.  Decent sized for what I need them for.

So after I got them from Amazon, the invoice said they came from MedVet.  So I went on their website.  Cheaper from there, but still close to $2ish per carrier, once shipping was figured in... if I was ordering a box or so at a time.  But... they have their website set up, it's something like (without looking it up), up to $100 of product is $10 to ship, up to $300 is $5 to ship, over $300 is free shipping.  So... to maximize what I was going to spend on shipping and boxes and get the best possible deal, I spent juuuust over $100, which is 8 cases of 12 (so 96 carriers), so I paid $5 shipping for 8 cases.  While these do fold flat... I had a box sized like it could fit a human-sized coffin show up on my doorstep a few days later.  I'm sure the neighbors were wondering what I'd ordered now.

Anyway, so that gave me a lot of carriers, and I would put shavings and a little hay in the carriers for the people to take home.  So, then I thought, what would make them even more professional looking would be a sticker.  So, I went to and ordered stickers, and got those.  Sticker only goes on one side, but good enough...  looks like this:

Great pic, I know, that one got stepped on... but I already  had this pic on my phone, and you get the idea.

With the sticker (which I ordered 200 of, so I'll be re-ordering carriers before stickers run out), these boxes run me right around $1.75ish per carrier.  Not bad, considering the chins are $50-600, so I can spend a few extra bucks on the carriers to send them home in (though for super long trips, I still suggest people bring their own, better ventilated and chew-proof carrier).

In case anyone wants the link, these are the carriers -- here

The reason I bring this all up is not just to tell you about our move from being el-cheapo on the carriers to actually having something nice, but because of a conversation I had with someone the other day about boxes used to ship out supplies.  For shipping out supplies, I could practically be a hoarder when it comes to saving boxes.  I have all shapes and sizes and I will try to find the size that best works for your package, so you don't end up paying more for shipping than needed.  However... that means someone gets the Mr. Coffee box:

Packages waiting for pickup in the AM

With the exception being that flat rate priority mail box of pellets, the other two boxes (other than Mr. Coffee) are used as well.  The small one is a Barkbox (and says so, in large print, on the long side) and the other one came from when I ordered something for the rescue.  So they're not as "perfect" as they look in the pic.

The conversation the other day, centered around the fact that, well, I now have these fancy carriers for the chins to go home in, the Take Home boxes, so why am I using second-rate boxes for shipping supplies?  Mainly to save you money, but... wait, no, all to save you money.  If you all want me to start going to office depot and paying $2-3 per box that I use, just so your wooden shelves and rosehips can arrive at your door in an un-blemished, unmarked box that's never been used before, by all means, let me know and I'll go pick up one for your order.

But for most people (probably just about everyone, as no one's ever actually complained yet), you want to save money, especially on shipping and handling.  I know I've wrote about the cost of items before, and this is another time when it's important.  Those herb samplers and supplements that cost $8.50?  I have a blog post on here, where I detailed out costs, and they cost me over $8.50, based on calculations, to make.  The toys?  If they've gone up, it's because I've realized, hey, $5 doesn't really pay for the hour it takes me to make two of them, especially when talking about the loofah toys, where I have to ship the loofah here, cut it up with the saw, dye it, let it dry, then cut and sand the wood pieces, drill and re-sand the wood pieces, cut the wire, and assemble this all and add a hanging clip.  Worth $5?  Not for me to make them, to be honest....more like $7 covers all the time, effort, and materials.  Same with the herbs.  If it's $1.50, I may be paying $1.25 for that amount of that herb, and let's not forget, I have to ship it here, bag it (those ziploc bags cost too!), and label it (and, with anything that I don't make, I have to pay for it, out of pocket, before I ever sell it... that adds up!).  The point behind all this is that there's not a lot of money to be made on an order.  Most items don't have even $1 of markup on them, and the cheaper items have very little, so while the rescue makes something... it's not $20 of profit on a $25 order, maybe more like $5 of profit on a $25 order.

So, if I was to buy boxes, which tend to run $2-3 depending on size, for every order... I have nowhere to absorb that cost, as I can't take it off of the profit of the order, or I'll be making negative money on some orders!  Therefore, I would have to add it to the cost of shipping.  If you've ordered, well, ever, then you know the shopping cart's a bit fun to deal with when it comes to calculating the shipping costs.  For example, I have an order going out in the morning... the cart calculated shipping for her at $61.50, and actual shipping came out to $11.22.  That will be upped to $12 to cover the cost of tape and other packing materials, and she will receive a refund of $49.50.  If I was buying the box, the box for her items would be likely a $3 box, so shipping would go up to $15, and she'd get a refund of $46.50.  Maybe not a big deal to some, she may look at it as, "hey, big refund!" either way, as many companies charge exorbitant shipping and don't refund a penny when shipping really is cheap, but for me,.... I question if it's worth the extra $3, just to have a pretty box.  As it is... she's getting the Mr. Coffee box, and getting $3 more back in her refund.

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