Small business maths; why we have to put up postage costs to the rest of the world

Small business maths; why we have to put up postage costs to the rest of the world

For a while now I've known that we had a problem with our postage costs, but it's only after moving to a fulfilment service rather than running our own office that it's been easy to check what was going on.

The postage staff are camera-shy, but here's... a picture of parcels! Sorry I can't make this exciting.


When I was first involved in online retail, which is about 15 years ago now, postage from the UK was done on weight alone. This was fabulous for us as we mostly sold hosiery, which can be surprisingly bulky if you get the really posh box packaging, but rarely weighs much.

Since then, the UK postal service has repeatedly raised its prices and changed the way it charges so that both weight and size are taken into account. Though they still seem to be one of the more economically priced and reliable postal services in the world (at least if you send things signed for), for a brand that tends to sell larger garments with heavy metal hardware (I'm talking about the suspender clips, people, we don't shift Metallica's stage set with each pair of knickers), this has been causing some issues.

I adore Playful Promises boxes for pasties and masks, but I am slightly concerned about the volume for postage.


Still, the figures are in and here's the good news; the costs of UK postage and EU postage are fine. No changes. I mean, by fine, I mean "our postage costs run significantly into thousands of pounds a month and if you ever run a business you should be aware that postage costs might easily be 20% of your turnover", but that's FINE, we can cope.

Don't even talk to me about the weight of tins. So cute. So handy. So MUCH heavier than the knickers in them.


The bad news? our average parcel sent outside of the EU costs us £14 to spend. We charge £10. These parcels are about 30% of the parcels we send each month.

That's a bit of an ouch. Actually, it makes me wonder if the reason that people charge the same price everywhere, when they don't technically have to, is NOT because VAT and ecommerce software tends to be difficult, but perhaps they are using the extra to subsidise the increasing costs of overseas postage?

Anyway; the important thing you need to know is if you are outside the EU: YOUR DELIVERY CHARGE WILL GO UP NEXT WEEK.

Sorry. But it won't affect whatever import duty your government has been charging you, and you've been paying about 18% less than our fans in the EU for the actual goods, so that helps, I think?

And now, for fun, tell me the worst ever delivery you ever got from a courier was? High on my most-hated list are Hermes, who like to deliver parcels to my hedge. Because what you need when it's raining is to pull a soggy cardboard box out seemingly hostile shrubbery!