The issue of shipping charges is one we have to address on a weekly basis during datebook season (July-January).Â We often receive emails (and now Facebook comments) like this one:Â “I love Quo Vadis – but shipping costs of almost 8 bucks on a 16 dollar book???? are you kidding?Â Where in CT can I just buy one without paying enormous shipping??”
She has a point, and she’s right…but there is no agreeable solution we can offer her.
Quo Vadis and Exacompta Prestige planners are sold at independents – stationery and small office supply stores that have survived, bookstores, college bookstores, art supply places and others scattered around like small paper oases.
Most people shop for office supplies at Staples, CVS, Wal-Mart and other big box stores.Â They buy for convenience and price – two good reasons.Â But we can’t compete on these priorities.Â We tend to sell to people who like the Quo Vadis formats, and also appreciate and are willing to pay for good paper.
We do not sell at Staples because we cannot give them the profit margins they require with an American made product with French milled paper.Â If we made our products in China we could afford to sell at Staples, and the shipping issue would be moot, because there’s a Staples, or Office Depot, or Wal-Mart in every town.Three major buying groups control most university bookstores, so individual store managers have little leeway with with products they can carry.
Most retailers offer free shipping on orders of $50 or more.Â So if you can,Â bundle all your notebook, stationery and planner purchases into one group. Our retailers tell us they lose money on under $25 online sales.Â In other words, they cannot afford to sell and ship for free an $8 refill, or even a $20 refill.Â They offer shipping as a service to people.
I can tell you retailers are not making money on shipping.Â USPS Priority Mail is about $4.95, and add the cost of the mailer and customer service.Â It adds up pretty fast. In fact, shipping may be cheaper than driving to stores with gas at almost $4 a gallon.
Many Quo Vadis customers have been customers for a long time – 5, 10, even 20 years or more.Â Once people get hooked on a format, it becomes their life companion.Â But the marketplace has changed, especially in the last 10-15 years, and as neighborhood retailers disappear, stiff shipping charges for refills adds to the frustration…and cost.
I’m sorry, and I can sympathize with people’s annoyance since I’m an online shopper, too.Â But I don’t have a ready answer or solution to this problem.