Summer Shipping Update (Important!)
Posted on March 28, 2015
Big update today. This is an issue that we’ve been agonizing about for literally months.
It’s an issue that we’ve given a LOT of thought to. Because it’s a very important issue for every one of our subscribers.
And that issue is shipping our boxes in the summer. You see, shipping chocolate in warmer months is a HUGE nightmare for 3 reasons:
- You have to spend extra time adding insulation and cold packs.
- Said insulation and cold packs are E.X.P.E.N.S.I.V.E.
- You have to ship expedited (again, expensive).
Thinking about all of the extra costs we, and our subscribers, have to cover for summer shipping starts to feel like needing a breeder’s guide.
And it’s caused us a lot of stress because we know that we can’t charge $10 per box just for extra insulation materials. That’s more than half the cost of a single box!
So, we set out to fix this problem. Read about how we did it below.
(In a rush?)
This is going to be a fairly long post…lots of gory details). If you’re in a rush, here are the key takeaways:
- We managed to make shipping cheaper while also factoring in extra materials for keeping your chocolate cool in the summer.
- Your shipping price will automatically adjust up and down, depending on the months that your subscription price will cover.
- Check the shipping price table during checkout for details on your specific area.
- If you have a subscription that was started before April 2015, we will NOT move you over to the updated billing automatically. However, we highly recommend that you do, and there’s a good chance you will save some money. If you want to move over to the new shipping billing, send us an email and say “I’d like to move over to the new awesome shipping billing!”
Got a couple minutes to read the story of how we tackled this problem?
So, when trying to ship chocolate in the warmer months (anything above 70 degrees-ish), you have 2 options
- Super expensive, ugly, “done for you” boxes with insulation that cost $5+ per box. (not to mention the cost of the cold packs!).
- Expensive bubble wrap insulation… again, this doesn’t even include the cost of the cold packs! These costs $3-4+ per box.
Now do you see why you have to pay about $10 extra during the summer to buy chocolate (even if it’s just ONE bar)?.
The LOWEST extra summer shipping cost I have seen anywhere is $7, the average is $10, and I’ve seen as high as $15.
Again, that’s JUST for the summer shipping materials. Factoring in expedited shipping (you have to ship chocolate expedited during the summer), the total would be between $13 and $17, depending on proximity. (And that’s using $7 as the cost of the materials, the lowest number we’ve seen anywhere else!)
That’s a minimum of $13 for shipping every single box you receive in the warmer months.
We weren’t satisfied with these options.
$7 or $10 extra for shipping insulation materials isn’t TOO bad when you’re buying a one-time order, but for a recurring subscription? We feel that even $7 is WAY too high. $10+? Not a chance.
We were DETERMINED…maybe even obsessed…to find a better, more cost-effective solution for our subscribers.
And we did.
Here’s how we solved this problem for you.
First, we broke down the costs of each component, and decided it was MUCH cheaper to buy pieces individually.
Existing solutions were charging a premium for every piece that they were including (box + foam insert or insulated bubble wrap). So they would basically double the price of the box, double the price of the insulation, and then double the price again before selling it to us.
So, we started there. But, we went much further…
Here are all 5 things we did to punch outrageous warm weather shipping supply costs in the face:
1. Sourced Components Separately
We searched long and hard to find cost-effective providers of each individual component, but finally, we did. So now, we’re sourcing the components separately, at a lower cost.
(Oh, and we’re not charging ANY extra for the materials. We’re including them at cost).
Here is the amount we’ve been able to get the TOTAL price of the extra warm weather shipping supplies down to, per box: just $2.50. That’s a savings of about 75% compared to what most others charge.
Savings: $4.50+ per box.
2. Discovered a way to save on winter shipping
We found out that we could actually ship the boxes during the winter, when we don’t have to pack any special insulation or cold packs, via USPS First Class Mail because the total is less than 13 oz, which is $3.47 flat rate anywhere in the US. That’s compared to our normal USPS Priority Mail, which is $5.35 at the low end for people close to the Carolinas all the way up to $9.97 for people out on the West Coast.
This is important because it lowers the average shipping costs during the entire year.
Savings: $1.88 to $6.50 per box.
3. Discovered a cheaper way to ship USPS Priority Mail
We discovered a cheaper way to ship USPS Priority Mail for people located in the western half of the US for the summer months when we can’t ship First Class Mail. Again, this is important because we have to ship expedited (Priority) during the warmer months, which used to be significantly more expensive.
Savings: about $2 per box for anyone located in the western half of the US.
4. Weather Analysis For Intelligent Pricing
We did a weather analysis of every single zip code in the United States and determined which months of the year needs extra insulation + cold packs, and which months they don’t.
We then took this intelligence and…
5. Built An Intelligent Shipping Pricing System
Building on top of #4, we built out a custom shipping pricing calculator that will take the average weather conditions into account for the months that you will receive a box and ONLY charge for the summer shipping when you actually need it. Plus, it will AUTOMATICALLY update up or down as necessary for each subscription installment.
Here’s an example. If you subscribe for a 3 month subscription on June 1st, your first 3 boxes will be July, August, and September. We’ll charge the summer shipping amount for all 3 months. However, when your subscription renews in September, we’ll bump the shipping price down because the next 3 months are cooler, and won’t require special materials.
Still with us?
Here are the results!
So, if you take into account the savings mentioned in #2 and #3 above and factor in (a) the dynamic pricing mentioned in #5 and (b) the warm weather materials cost from #1 ($2.50), most people will actually be spending LESS on shipping if you take an entire year into account.
This means that people on the West Coast will actually SAVE money on shipping compared to our previous pricing — even in the summer!
If you’re on the East Coast, it’s still good news. You’ll either save a little a bit or pay about the same — no increase for better summer shipping!
Here are some scenarios over one year’s worth of shipping to illustrate the savings:
New York: $65.49/year (new shipping) vs $68.88/year (old shipping).
Seattle: $66.60/year (new shipping) vs $119.64/year (old shipping).
Los Angeles: $116.52/year vs $119.64/year (this is actually a special case because the Southern California weather, while beautiful for living, is a difficult case for shipping chocolate because it requires insulation + cold packs all year round. However, even with all that considered, we’ve actually found a way to LOWER the price, as you can see here!)
Austin: $92.40/year (new shipping) vs $99.12/year (old shipping)
What does this mean for you?
Basically, if you subscribe to Mystery Chocolate Box, you don’t have to worry about paying outrageous summer shipping costs. There are extra shipping costs during the summer months in order to make sure your chocolate arrives in good condition, but it’s the lowest out there for shipping chocolate!
Thank us later!
What if I already have a subscription?
If you already have a subscription to Mystery Chocolate Box (and you signed up before 3/22/2015), we will not change your current shipping costs.
However, we strongly recommend switching over to the new shipping pricing. If you’d like to switch over, please contact us and say “I’d like to move over to the new awesome shipping pricing!”.
Or, if you have any questions about anything else, feel free to reach out!
— The Mystery Chocolate Box Team