Shipping 101: A guide for the perplexed

March 2nd, 2013

Working out which shipping method to use can be complicated. There are also some quirks with the way international shipping works that mean that doing something like consolidating your orders can end up costing you more than shipping them separately. Here are some of the most common quirks to watch for.

  1. It often cheaper to not consolidate low value orders. Economy shipping has a weight limit of 4 lbs (1.8 kg) and a total value limit of $250. For example, if you have three orders that each weight 2 lbs, then the total weight if they are consolidated would be 6 lbs. This is too great to ship economy and so would cost US$99.17 (US$79.17 + US$10 + US$10) to ship. If you were instead place the three orders separately then the shipping and handling would only be US$68.40 (3 x US$22.80). You would of course get tracking on the shipment if you were to consolidated, but you will be paying almost $32 extra for this.
  2. You can only ship one pair of shoes in their boxes, or two pairs out of their boxes, via economy. Shoes are one of the most popular items people like to order, but if you want the cheapest shipping try to stick to these limits. If you want to order more than 2 pairs of shoes then it normally makes more sense to split your order up into multiple smaller orders than order a whole lot at once. The general rule is unless you are ordering more than 10 pairs of shoes at once then it will be cheaper to ship the shoes economy in sets of 2 without their boxes.
  3. Express shipping is cheaper 99% of the time than economy shipping when the weight is over 4 lbs. This might seem totally crazy, but because of the way shipping works express shipping is almost always cheaper for larger items than economy shipping. The only exception is moderately sized items that are light and bulky. We know this is difficult for you to work out, so just put a note in your order that you would like the cheapest shipping when you fill out the order form. If it turns out your order is one of the exceptions then my US partners will ship your order economy.
  4. Orders over $250 can’t be shipped economy. It can often make more sense to split an order in two than ship as one high value order. For example, you are ordering two items that each cost $200 and weigh 2 lbs then then it would cost US$64.87 to have them shipped together. If you were to place two separate orders (and not mark them consolidated) then the total shipping cost would be only US$45.60 (2 x US$22.80). Anytime your order exceeds the economy shipping limits then it will likely cost more to ship.
  5. Shipping is based on weight only for economy shipping, but weight and volume for express shipping. This is one of those crazy shipping quirks that make our life so difficult. Use the shipping cost calculator on my order page (button on the top right hand side) to see how this works. Play around with different weight and volumes and see how the costs of different methods change. You will see that the economy shipping methods don’t change with volume changes (unless you exceed the max size), but express shipping is very dependent on volume. A small 1″ or 2″ change in the height of a large box might cause the shipping cost to go up $30 to $40.
  6. Sea freight only makes sense for orders over 120 lbs. Sea freight is a great new options if you want to order a really large and/or heavy item, but because of the complications involved in sea freight it really only makes sense to use it for large items.
  7. Snowboards and guitars are too big to ship via mail. These are two of our most popular large items to order. Both are relatively light and would be ideal to ship via USPS mail but they are just too large. They must come by UPS (courier). While there is a lot of variation in size for both these items, you can assume a minimum of 20 lbs volumetric weight for snowboards and 40 lbs for guitars.
  8. If you don’t know the shipping weight don’t worry. On the order page under the international shipping you can always select “estimate cheap shipping for me” or “estimate fast shipping for me” and we will then estimate the shipping cost based on our experience. Any information you can provide us on the size and weight  is helpful. If we can’t estimate the shipping cost we will let you know in the quote.
  9. We repack for free if it will save you money. If it will save you money to repack your items my US partners will do this automatically and no extra cost. This can make a huge difference in the shipping cost since many stores in the USA ship in items in massive boxes.
  10. The estimate is just an estimate and does not affect the final shipping cost. Unless you have a fixed price quote then the shipping estimate is just there to help you estimate the total cost. In the end the shipping cost will be determined by the actual package size and weight not our estimate.

One response

  1. International Shipping comments:

    Nice information sharing here. Customer has no doubt, what is paying for shipping?.

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