It’s Complicated! Where Reality Meets Expectations
Shipping & Things
We get lots of questions every day from our customers. There are enough about shipping and packaging and the ordering process that warrants some time to go through the process of an order.
Our online store was designed after the famous Amazon online store. We now feel we exceed Amazon in many facets because we continue to simplify the software and processes. This makes it easier and less expensive for us.
eCommerce is complicated
When you click to add an item to your shopping cart, it begins to trigger all sorts of activity, commonly referred to as “Calls.” That simple click alerts our inventory system to hold your item. It informs the merchant bank and transaction system that an order is in process and to get ready to approve the credit card about to be entered. It engages the security systems to make sure no one is monitoring your activity. It tells our manufacturing software that an item is about to depleted in inventory and consider building more if close to a bottom threshold. So, that little add to cart button does a lot, and when you checkout, the entire process is streamlined because it knows your plan when you start. There is even more in the security features and fulfillment that is triggered as well.
Fulfillment is Key to Keys
When you have placed an order, much happens after your transaction is approved. Your order is transmitted instantly to our fulfillment computers, alerting the system that an order has been placed and to reserve the items for you. Imagine a virtual tray that collects all the items in your order reserves them, assigns locations, and sends a picklist to our fulfillment team. Your order is assigned an order number and location immediately, and a picklist is generated on an iPad with barcodes. When your order begins to be picked, it is scanned and loaded into a tote with your order number and products listed. As the person selects the order, they scan each item, and it is accounted for by the software. Miss an item or add too many, the software “red flags” the order showing the error.
Over ten years ago, we worked with Disney Imagineering to adopt an eco-paper based system that uses recycled Kraft paper and tissue to wrap each item. It is called Geami and uses a machine to expand the flat paper role into a cushioned system wrapped and placed into a recycled box. Your invoice is added, and the box is sealed with a gum paper tape that is recycled and made from organic materials. A label is generated and placed on the box. Your package is racked for the USPS carrier, who arrives every weekday at about 2 pm. If we had received your order overnight or early enough in the morning, it usually ships that same day. It all depends on how many orders are in the queue that day.
Shipping Day Hours
So, as you may have guessed, there is a thing as an end of shipping day, and it is not the end of our workday. 2 pm Pacific time is our end of the shipping day. We keep packing until USPS shows up, and then the next shipping day begins. Then our business day ends at 5 pm PST…maybe? If there are too many orders in the queue, we call in reinforcements from our manufacturing team to help ship products and assist in the picking and packing process.
There are four facets to what it costs to ship your order:
- The cost of the box which ranges from $0.85 to $2.00 each
- The cost of the Geami packing material which is about 10X the price of Kraft paper and the box tape which is custom recycled
- The labor to pack the box.
- The cost of the postage.
First, we do not markup the price of our products or shipping costs. When the box is weighed by our team, the software creates a call to the USPS API rate system, and it generates a label with postage. The packing materials and postage are a cost of doing business and not a profit center. Too many businesses charge way more than they should to ship. We feel this is a separation between the real businesses and those playing at a business.
Why Free Shipping?
Many companies, including Keys, offers free shipping if you order a certain amount. In our case, it is free USPS Priority Mail shipping for domestic orders over $75.00. Why? Remember the cost of the box, materials, and labor? Well, it costs us the same to ship a $25 order as it does a $100 order. The postage is only slightly higher, and the labor is the same. So, we offer you an incentive to buy more and get free shipping with little cost difference for us. The same is true when you buy three or > than six of a product. You get a discount because it is easier for us. Of course, it is easier to grab three or six of the same product, so there is a method to our madness. That’s another story.
First Class or Priority Mail
One of the biggest questions is why we do not offer First Class Mail Package. We do offer it, but there is a catch. USPS only accepts first-class boxes up to 14 ounces. At that weight, usually, only sample sachets and single light products qualify for first class shipping. If your entire package weight is over 14 ounces, the software will not show you the first-class postage option. Frankly, postage prices for the first-class package at 14 ounces are the same as Priority Mail.
Oh, people also ask why we don’t use padded envelopes to save weight. We do, but not for full-size products. They do not protect the products well enough.
The Tip of the Iceberg
Above is a quick overview of what it takes to get your package out of the shipping bay. It is a ton more complicated, but I think you get the picture that it is not easy. We continue to streamline the process and improve. We wanted to give you a glimpse into the world of online shipping. I hope you appreciate us more. 😉
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