Every week we get the same question... Can you give me freight prices so I can set up my website?
If anything drives us nuts more than anything else it is trying to come up with a fair and easy way to calculate freight - after 22 years... still working on it!
I want you to just think about the variables here for a minute....
- are you sending an A4 flat packaged print, an A2 rolled in a tube, a 150cm wide canvas rolled in a tube, a stretched canvas anywhere from 30x30cm to 140 x 280cm, a framed artwork with glass or acrylic that needs extra packaging for protection, or a metal mount or acrylic that is heavier than all the others.
- Then you have to know where it's going - next suburb, another capital city, a rural town off the beaten track, from Brisbane to Broome or maybe Brussells.
- You need to know the weight of each product and it's dimensions once packed.
- You need to choose the right freight company - how long will take, some cost less but take 3x as long to get there.
- You may want to add insurance which bumps up the price but isn't necessary on everything.
I hope you can now see why there is no easy solution here.
HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH FREIGHT ON YOUR SITE?
There are a few ways you can tackle this. Here's how I see them..
- Your website offers "Free Delivery" or Delivery included" - we do not recommend this unless your prices are high enough to absorb potentially hundreds of dollars on freight costs! Look at the variables above again.
- are you adding on a cost of delivery to each piece or absorbing it in the price of your art?
- if they buy 3 pieces, are they paying three delivery charges?
- are you selling only rolled reproductions or framed/stretched ones?
- if you are adding it into the cost of the art, how much are you adding on for delivery and how do you know if that will be enough? It costs a lot more to post a parcel from Brisbane to London than it does to Toowoomba. Large parcels will cost more than smaller ones.
- Have you allowed for insurance on larger pieces?
- Do you try and calculate an average cost based on the size or vary it?
- Do you allow one price for national and one for international deliveries?
- You charge a flat rate delivery fee -
- this can work if your products are all similar in size and the cost covers any variations
- the fee should include costs such as packing and postage/freight and insurance
- can catch you out if you offer both rolled and stretched or framed products - big difference in packing and freight cost plus more risk.
- Delivery cost is POA -
- You quote freight as an extra on every order.
- Every parcel gets charged according to it's size, weight, volume, destination and courier of choice.
- more complex but more exact method of costing.
What do we do here?
Because we send out a lot of parcels - anything from a small tube or flat packed A4 print to a 100 x 300cm Gallery Floating Acrylic in a custom-built wooden crate - we work with a flat rate of $22.50 for most small tubes and small parcels and progressively increase the cost based on size, weight and delivery location.
We have a paragraph in our terms and conditions on our websites that states we reserve the right to charge extra for freight of larger, bulkier items and different locations - we always quote on this prior to commencing the order. The insurance alone from one of our couriers costs $25/$1000 cover so it can add up.
We can spend a lot of time packing our parcels and we can't really charge you for that time - you only get charged for the materials and freight/insurance cost. Trust me, we don't make a profit on freight! We might pick up a little on small parcels, but large ones cost us money almost every time.
There is no ideal way to charge for freight. Unless you have a huge 6 figure budget for your website to incorporate custom freight costs from Australia Post and your choice of couriers, calculating weights and volumes of the packaged product, it's always going to be one of those jobs that you just have to figure out for yourself.
Here are some things to think about...
PACKAGING - a padded envelope with cardboard for an A4 will cost you around $3-5, a 3" tube can cost $3-10, You'll need some bubblewrap - $50-100/100m roll. Maybe you need to make cardboard boxes - we make our own, we buy 1.3 x 2.6m sheets in lots of 250, that's over a metre high of cardboard!
POSTAGE COSTS - Express post is around $15 minimum, more depending on size and location. ALWAYS pay the $3 extra for signature on delivery!
COURIERS - Usually cost more but no guarantee of a safer, damage free delivery. You can set up accounts with companies like www.transdirect.com.au or www.sendle.com.au and get some reasonable deals... but remember that's for the freight only, you still have to pack the goods. It usually costs extra for insurance also. To be honest - claiming the insurance is a nightmare, the paperwork is brutal and you never get the full amount, some places will only cover you for your costs, not the full amount of the art. Read the fine print. NEVER use TNT for art freight - they do not cover it AT ALL!
DAMAGES - You need to build into your costings a percentage for breakage and loss for those items that get lost or damaged in transit that aren't covered by insurance.
If you have any other suggestions that will help your artist friends, please let me know and I can add them here.