A couple of months ago, I revealed plans to retail some of Spur's excellent developers through this website. I had hoped to be up and running by now but I've had a couple of problems, one to do with setting up the shopping cart system and a personal issue that's taken a lot of my time. So I thought this would be an opportune moment to let you know that it's still on the cards - and getting closer.
The only major issue facing me just now is shipping. It's always been my intention to keep shipping costs to an absolute minimum and I thought this would be straightforward. Well, that was a lesson learnt the hard way! I used to look at the shipping charges of some of the big photographic retailers and wondered why they didn't keep them down a bit as such high prices must surely put some people off.
It turns out that shipping is a mine field and I can now understand why big retailers just have a sort of costly blanket charge almost regardless of what you buy. I'm determined not to take the easy route and just do the same which is why it's taken me a little longer to sort this out. However, since readers of this blog are also likely to represent most of my customers, I'd like to include you in my thoughts on the subject. That way, if it all goes wrong, you can take half the blame.
Seriously, though, what has to be weighed up are the various options open to me and, by extension, to you if you should find yourself in the market for Spur products - which I hope you will. One of the issues I have to consider is whether to use a shopping cart at all or just ask you to email me your order. With the cart system, it's impossible to make all the cheapest options available so sometimes you would be paying more than you might otherwise have done for shipping. With emails, I can guarantee that I'll ship your developer by the cheapest means acceptable to you. My concern was that an email system might have left the website looking less professional but my sounding board, Phil Rogers, said something to the effect that people would rather save money - and he's probably right.
The first question I'd like to ask you - and please let me know your thoughts in the comments section - is would you rather pay a bit more for the convenience of a shopping cart system or do you favour the cheapest option via email ordering? How much extra would the shopping cart be? It could be as much as £3 to £4 on some small orders although there wouldn't be too much of a difference on larger orders.
The second question is another important one as far as cost is concerned. If I were to use a carrier like UPS, I could take advantage of their system where I drop the parcels off at a local agent and you collect them from a nearby agent at your side instead of having them delivered to your door. The agent is usually a shop in your community. Using this method, I could post to you via the next day service of UPS a couple of 250ml bottles of Spur Acurol-N for a shipping charge of not much more than about £1.25. Using Royal Mail, it would be about £4. The same next day UPS service but with delivery to your door would cost almost £8! Personally, if I were on the receiving end of a parcel, I'd happily walk five or ten minutes to a local shop to save more than £6 or pick it up on the way back from work.
So the options seem to be:
1. Email all orders for the cheapest possible shipping.
2. Have the convenience of a shopping cart with something like a one-size fits all shipping cost.
3. Either way, accept deliveries to the carrier's agent in your vicinity for the cheapest shipping or insist on a home delivery.
Your opinions would be very valuable.
Overseas readers will have noticed that I haven't even figured out the shipping for them. It looks as if Royal Mail is the cheapest but they also limit shipments of chemicals to 1 litre which is really helpful! More work needs to be done.