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Inside Scoop: How Does Online Shipping Work?

by Household Essentials • July 26, 2016
This quarter's "Inside Scoop" is looking at online shipping.  Online shipping is confusing, and it seems different on every site!  How do companies decide how they'll ship?  How much should it cost?  Are companies charging too much?!

Anyone who has shopped online has felt the sticker shock of shipping cost.  We're going to pull the curtain back and take a close look and what's going on behind the scenes in online shipping.

Who Determines the Cost of Shipping?

The carrier does.  This usually means the USPS, UPS, or (in our case at Household Essentials) FedEx.  These carriers tell companies--and you--how much it costs to send a package that weighs XYZ (actual weight) and that measures X x Y x Z inches (dimensional weight).  Some carriers use actual weight to determine cost.  Others use dimensional weight.  Others use both, selecting whichever of the 2 is greater for each individual item.

Saavy, if inconvenient.

What About Free Shipping?

Free shipping can happen in 3 ways (usually):
1) The Company Pays (freight, or shipping cost, is paid for by the company instead of the consumer) 
This works only if there are enough sales to cover the cost of freight.  Many small companies or companies new to selling can't offer free freight outright.  It is fairly costly to pay for everyone's shipping, as you can image.  However, if sales are pretty good, sometimes paying shipping can help make them better by encouraging more people to give your product a try.  It's a bit of a balancing act for each company.
2. Paid-For Memberships (a version of "the company pays")
Some companies, like a big one you are probably imaging, offer paid-for memberships to cover shipping.  These memberships provide certain benefits, like free shipping, while also inspiring loyalty.
3. Higher Retails (you pay, but you don't always know it)
In exchange for free shipping, some companies will adjust the base price of all merchandise.  This spreads the cost of shipping expensive and less expensive items out across everything. This is pretty nice for everyone involved--company and consumer.  Everything is just a little more expensive, but nothing is A LOT more expensive--and no freight on the shoppers end.

Into the Looking Glass: Household Essential's Shipping

We just started selling household organization solutions on our own website within the last 1 1/2 years.  This has been a great learning experience!  We've long shipped on behalf of other companies.  (This is called drop ship: another company or store gets the order, then we ship it.)  do not have free-shipping on ourShipping cost is set by our carrier--in this case, FedEx. 

FedEx sets the prices for how much it costs to move a package that weighs this much or that is this size, etc.  More and more, shipping is based on dimensional weight and not physical weight.  This is because it's the size of a package that limits how much can fit on a delivery truck.  Weight can limit things too, but it's far less common.  Hence, dimensional weight (i.e., the size of the box). 

SECRET REVEALED: Items that can ship flat or compactly will cost less to ship overall because they require a smaller box and have a small "dimensional weight".

We make no money on shipping costs.  Everything you pay in shipping goes to shipping your order. 


What's the Difference Between Overnight, Standard, and Smart Post Delivery on

OVERNIGHT: FedEx delivers orders the next day.  

Overnight Shipping Disclaimer
"Overnight" means that FedEx delivers the item the day after they get it in hand.  FedEx received orders the day after they are placed initially, just like our warehouse.  So an order placed for "overnight delivery" on Monday will be received and shipped out on Tuesday and delivered on to you on Wednesday.  We apologize for the confusion this will undoubtedly cause.  We strongly encourage ordering in advance to allow ample time for delivery.

STANDARD: FedEx delivers via normal shipping and processing times.
SMART POST: FedEx picks up and attaches tracking information, then it sends the order on to your residence through the USPS.

Smart Post Disclaimer
Because Smart Post uses the USPS for delivery, your delivery address when using Smart Post needs to be one that gets USPS delivery.  In some cases, this may mean using a PO BOX instead of your home address.  If your home address does not receive USPS delivery but it does receive FedEx delivery and you'd like to have your order delivered to your door, please choose Standard or Overnight delivery and use your home address.

Because Smart Post uses the USPS for delivery, your delivery address when using Smart Post needs to be one that gets USPS delivery.  If your home address does not receive USPS delivery, please choose Standard or Overnight delivery instead to ensure your order's delivery.