How Amazon has Ruined Shipping Products for Small Businesses

How Amazon has Ruined Shipping Products for Small Businesses


Coming up with the idea for our Agile Notetaker was a fantastic ‘light bulb’ moment.
Creating and designing the notebook was exciting and involved some seriously talented people.
Building the notebook shop page was fun and surprisingly easy.
Setting up the shipping process for the notebooks was like visiting the fifth level of hell.

There were many interesting/annoying elements that made our shipping experience such a debacle, but let’s start with the most prominent…  “AMAZON!!!!” <insert fist shake here>.

Amazon has spoiled the world when it comes to shipping. If you have Amazon Prime you can click a button and BAM!  You have your purchase, in your hands, two days later or even same day in some places for free! Don’t have Amazon Prime? That’s okay, instead of 2 days you get it in 5 days with ridiculously low priced shipping still included.

*side bar* If you don’t have Amazon Prime, get it. It’s like unicorns and daffodils all bundled up in rainbows and cotton candy, yeah, it’s that good.

So we decided that when it came to shipping we were going to be awesome like Amazon and offer FREE SHIPPING! We thought this was a great idea and we didn’t really worry about the cost. Seriously, how much could it cost to ship a 14.3 ounce notebook?  That is a question we really should have researched more thoroughly before screaming out free shipping.

The first shipping option we looked into was media mail.  Aaaahhh media mail, it’s like a fabled mermaid, far away it is beautiful and wondrous, $2.53 set postage rate for all shipments. But upon closer examination you discover it’s not a mermaid, but a manatee. A big, old, fat manatee. The manatee-ness of media mail is its impressively strict guidelines over what is actually considered ‘media’.  Some of the okayed items are books, films, educational charts, CDs, etc.

Unfortunately, our Agile Notetaker notebook was deemed NON-media mail, because it’s a notebook, not a book. And no it doesn’t matter that the word ‘notebook’ actually has the word ‘book’ in it, because books don’t have pens attached. And no, it doesn’t matter if we remove the pen, as it’s still a notebook. And no, it doesn’t qualify for educational pricing, even though it has educational information in the first few pages, as the rest of the pages are all blank, cause it’s a notebook, but nice try. And finally no, you can’t have a second opinion regarding all of this. Yes, this was the actual conversation we had with our local postal woman, and no, she did not find it as amusing as we did.

Abandoning the media mail myth, we moved onto looking into dropship companies. Dropship companies are wonderful, they do all the packing and shipping for you, including offering a lower shipping rate. But again our hopes were dashed after the first phone conversation with them.

Dropship Dude: How much product do you sell a week?

Us: um, zero.

Dropship Dude: …

Us: Well we haven’t started selling our notebooks yet so we don’t have any numbers to work with, but if we had to guesstimate, thinking positive, let’s say… 20 a week, maybe 30.

After the laughter stopped, dropship dude explained that they required a minimum of 200 orders a week… moving on.

$15 UPS and $10 Fedex were quickly tossed as low cost shipping options, which left us with the good old, tried and true, United State Post Office and their $6 Small Flat Rate Box… the Small Flat Rate Box that ended up being an inch too small for our notebook.

*second side bar* When creating a product always take into account the size of the USPS flat rate boxes.

Luckily the $6 USPS Flat Rate Envelope measured up and we were set to go. And after our first week of sales, we shipped out over 200 Agile Notetakers… who’s laughing now dropshipping dude!?!

Visit the Agile Notebook store to get your own copy with FREE SHIPPING!

photo 1
Our packers hard at work…
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