Shipping prices in Canada - Deciding to use General mail?

JWithers
Tourist
12 0 2

Hello,

So I've been through the process of designing packaging only to find out from Canada Post that the minimum postage price within the country is $11.62, which is honestly a nightmare for anyone posting small, relatively cheap items. 

I've redesigned my packaging so that it can go through the standard mail system i.e thinner than 2cm so that it should reduce the price from $11.62 down to $1.20, which means I can offer free postage and therefore have more customers.

So...does anyone else do this and what happens with shipping labels etc? Is there any possible way to track the items? I guess the liability on items not turning up reverts to myself? Does anyone have an inventive ways of getting round such high shipping costs for relatively light, sub $20 items?

My dimensions are 6"x4"x1" and the weight is always around the 0.1-0.3kg max.

Any help would be highly appreciated!

Cheers,

Joseph

Replies 17 (17)
Aria
Shopify Staff
Shopify Staff
853 34 340

Hey, Joseph!

Aria here, I'm on the Social Care team at Shopify.

I feel your pain. I'm in Canada too and I am in the process of starting my store selling enamel pins which as you know are super small. My padded envelope is 18 × 12 × 1 cm because that's the smallest size allowed by Canada Post. I would have gone smaller if I could. The cheapest parcel price would be $9.36 which is almost two thirds the retail price of my product so it's a bit nuts.

I investigated the possibility of purchasing Lettermail online but I haven't found a way yet. I will go to the Post Office to double check the details with them. I'm pretty sure you can send things to the US using Lettermail as well so it would just be customers outside of North America who would have to pay for parcel rates. I would have Shopify Shipping set up to give people options so if they do prefer to pay extra to get a tracking number, then they can. When I set up my free shipping rate, I will make it very clear that this does not include tracking.

I've used Lettermail to send small parcels before and it has always been fine, I've never lost anything. Admittedly, that was luck. When I'm sending a larger volume of parcels, the chances of something going missing will be greater. Due to my low wholesale costs, I can afford to replace the odd parcel that goes missing.

Going forward, I'd like to transition to having a fulfilment company fulfil my orders for me, rather than doing my own shipping. Printful does this from their facility in North Carolina. There's also a company called Canada Prep and Fulfillment who have warehouses in Vancouver and Toronto. Fulfilment companies can often negotiate lower rates with carriers due to the volume they ship. This is how Amazon can afford to offer so much free shipping, even in Canada.

I will reach out again when I have more information on the logistics of shipping with Lettermail. I'm going to look into that further tomorrow.

Does this help?

Aria
Social Care Guru
Shopify

Aria | Social Care @ Shopify 
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JWithers
Tourist
12 0 2

Hi Aria,

Sad/Nice to hear that someone is in the same boat! I guess the main issue I have is that if I put no tracking on the site then there are going to be that selection of people that see this, order and then claim it never arrived, just to get two. Maybe if I put a no refund on this option? It is bloody annoying that they don't do a small package price, it pretty much kills a lot of small businesses. I'm thinking about doing a local pick up option, a free shipping (no tracking, no refunds- returns accepted) and then a paid shipping option. With that 9.36 price that you found, did it include tracking? I hope that my main customer base will be in Canada, I'm working on the logistics side of things to stop any issues once the store is open on november 1st.

Whats your thoughts on labels? I guess with it being the lettermail option, would it be a case of hand writing them? As i know shopify charges for label printing and the only advantages i can see is for discount on expidited parcels and speed at post office? Obviously that could get quite tedious with the more volume of parcels going out the door!

Cheers,

Joseph

Aria
Shopify Staff
Shopify Staff
853 34 340

Hey, Joseph!

Aria again!

So, I went to the Post Office today to ask a bunch of questions. I was told it will cost $1.80 to ship my envelope Lettermail, anywhere in Canada. From past experience, I was sure there was a Lettermail option for the US but she told me since it contains an object, I would not be allowed to do that. The cheapest rate for the US is therefore $7.18 which does not include a tracking number. All parcel rates within Canada include tracking numbers, so that answers one of your other questions. I agree with you, it is annoying there is no small package price within Canada that includes tracking. The good news is, you can purchase Lettermail online if you have a Canada Post business account which doesn't cost anything to set up.

When coming up with your refund policy, there are many factors to consider. I will share my perspective though. Successful businesses are built on trust and trust goes both ways. If potential customers don't trust your business, they won't place an order. Yes, there are a minority of people who are dishonest and will try to get whatever they can from you but the majority of people are not like this and they don't like gambling with their money if they know they will lose out if a parcel gets lost through no fault of their own. I used to work for Amazon. Love them or hate them, I found them good to work for (not Shopify great by a long shot but I enjoyed my time there). Other than the awesome people I worked with, the best thing about working for Amazon was the freedom they gave me to be kind and fair to customers. They are up there with Costco and Walmart for having one of the best refund/exchange policies I've ever come across. It was always that way, even when Amazon consisted of Jeff Bezos selling books from his garage. It's no surprise the most successful retailers we know also have the best customer service policies in the business, that's what got them where they are, it's why people trust them enough to order again and again. That being said, replacements for lost shipments are tracked carefully. If parcels going to a certain customer mysteriously disappear every time, they will receive an email from Amazon saying sadly their address poses too great of a risk and they can no longer place orders. Everything will be blocked. They will never be able to use the same email address, billing address, mailing address or credit card number to place an order on any of Amazon's websites. This is rare but it does happen and I think it makes more sense than making things difficult for honest customers who genuinely didn't receive what they ordered. My advice would be to factor the occasional refund or replacement into your list of essential business costs along with the cost of products, shipping supplies, Shopify subscription fee, credit card fees, advertising costs and so on. It's fair to make someone wait a certain length of time before replacing the item though. I would consider the maximum shipping time and add two days to that (to factor in unforseen delays), excluding weekends and holidays. Keep an eye on the media too as Canada Post has been threatening to strike.

A local pickup option is a great idea. You can consider this when targeting your advertising. You can set this up directly in your admin by creating a special free shipping rate, making it clear they will be picking up or for a more sophisticated option, you could consider the Store Pickup Click and Collect app.

As for labels, I purchased the DYMO® 4XL Label Printer (USB). This is by no means essential, other printers can work too. As well as shipping labels, you can also use it to print a professional looking address label from your Shopify admin, without paying for shipping. There are options for that. You could use the Address Labels app. You could also use Order Printer which is installed in your admin by default. It doesn't include an address label template though. That's not such a big deal because you can add a template but I don't know the code for the address label and I haven't been able to find it. I asked our Theme Support team so I'll check back tomorrow to see if I have a response. If we need to, I can just escalate to Theme Support for you to ask them to stick that template in for you.

Anyway, I'll check back tomorrow to help you figure out what to do about labels. Let me know if you think of anything else.

Aria
Social Care Guru
Shopify

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JWithers
Tourist
12 0 2

Hi Aria,

Thanks for the great response again!

So at $1.80 using lettermail is there an option to put a tracking number on the letter? I think that I have been there before and they have offered me a tracking number on a letter. I will head down there today and find that out, if so that could be the best bet! Also with this side of things it is the perfect opportunity to have some contact with the customer using notification emails, as they are the most read type of emails, so i don't want to miss out on sending them as lettermail is the only viable option.

I 100% agree with you on this one, take the risk myself but be savvy with the destinations matching the billing address maybe? You are right about amazon and trust and I think that the only way to build a viable business is on trust. How would free returns work with lettermail, have you had any? I guess you would have to transfer them some money maybe or something? hmm....

That is interesting about the shipping labels, how have you dealt with the 4x6 inch label on a small package? I think using a label maker is the way forward, and that one does look smart, just the labels are massive! 

Thanks for your help, its great to talk to someone passionate and excited about their own venture, with a wealth of knowledge!

Cheers,

Joseph

Aria
Shopify Staff
Shopify Staff
853 34 340

Hey, Joseph!

Aria here.

From past experience, I feel like adding tracking to Lettermail bumps it up to parcel price but I didn't ask that the other day. Perhaps you have the answer already but I will check on that for you.

You can still send shipping notification emails to your customer if you are shipping with Lettermail. They will receive that by default when you mark your order as fulfilled. You can easily send additional, manual notifications if you want to.

I would consider using the Returnly Returns & Exchanges app to handle your returns. You can set the rules yourself and it can really simplify things for you.

My standard size shipping labels that are intended for my printer will easily fit on my small envelopes. I checked all of that before I placed my orders for all of my shipping supplies.

No problem, I'm happy to help any time. I hope you have a great weekend. I will be around on Sunday and Monday if you need anything else.

Aria
Social Care Guru
Shopify

Aria | Social Care @ Shopify 
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JWithers
Tourist
12 0 2

Hey Aria,

So I've been doing some more research into this as I know shipping can be a nightmare for small businesses.

I've found this if you sign up to a canadapost small business account - https://www.canadapost.ca/shop/mail-pack-ship/larger-volume-business/p-102203.jsf?execution=e1s1

It restricts things to canada national delivery and 1.5cm in height which could be tricky however at $16 for 10 of them it gives you xpresspost tracked delivery for $1.60 per item if I'm reading this correctly.

I spent over $100 on ecoenclose padded mailers so that I am not killing the planet and my items arrive in great condition, but now I'm thinking this would be the best option.

What's your thoughts on this?

I know your business mainly operates in the U.S but it could be an option for any canadian buyers and as your items are small!

Cheers,

Joseph

JWithers
Tourist
12 0 2

https://www.canadapost.ca/shop/mail-pack-ship/small-business/p-102205.jsf?execution=e1s1

In fact you can get national delivery with a 3cm thickness for 26.38 for 10. Although the envelope is unusually large it makes sense just to put your product in there in another envelope if it isn't that thick lol. 

I find it painful how I have just found this out by doing constant resesarch, even though I have been into a post office maybe 5 times to get prices and no one has suggested it?

I presume they just aren't trained/ do not care.

 

 

Scrap this, i think at a closer look they mean you can spend $16 flat rate for 1. No savings to be had. I was being over hopeful.

Aria
Shopify Staff
Shopify Staff
853 34 340

Hey, Joseph!

Aria here, sorry for the delay.

I should have read to the end of your most recent post before I got excited, haha!

At this point, I don't know if my customer base will mainly be Canada or the US. I am using Instagram and Facebook groups to drive free traffic. If I end up having to pay for advertising, I will deliberately target Canada only. We'll see how that goes.

For now, I'd be happy if I could figure out how to purchase Lettermail shipping online. I set a reminder to call Canada Post tomorrow to ask them about that. I'm sure their customer support staff have had different training to the counter staff in the Post Office. I will also try to find out the most affordable way to get a tracking number but I suspect we'd be stuck paying parcel rates for that. I'll check back in.

How are you getting on with your store and business plan otherwise? Since you mentioned local pickup, I'm wondering if you're already selling your product locally. How long have you been an entrepreneur?

Aria
Social Care Guru
Shopify

Aria | Social Care @ Shopify 
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hannah6040
New Member
1 0 0

Hi Aria, 

I'm wondering if you figured out how to purchase Lettermail shipping online (either through Shopify directly or through Canada Post)? 

Aria
Shopify Staff
Shopify Staff
853 34 340

Hey, @hannah6040!

I spoke to Canada Post and they told me it's not possible to purchase Lettermail Shipping online. I certainly haven't found a way when I searched either.

For a workaround, I created an address template that will print out perfectly on my shipping labels. I then purchased sheets of stamps. You get 6 stamps to a sheet and each stamp is worth $ 1.94 which is how much it costs me to ship each envelope within Canada. This way, I can still just print the label and stick a stamp on, without having to line up at the post office every time I receive an order. 

Aria | Social Care @ Shopify 
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pagexrage
Excursionist
12 0 4

Hi Aria, I'm so glad this thread exists as we just launched a store and have been banging our heads against a wall trying to find a way to ship our tiny, inexpensive product in an envelope - the shipping rates on parcels would have us dead in the water! Are you still using stamps? We're working with a fufillment service, so thinking we could get them to auto print out an address template (do you have a recommendation?) and then can just add stamps for domestic orders.

What have you found to work for international orders?

Thanks so much!
Paige

Aria
Shopify Staff
Shopify Staff
853 34 340

Hey, @pagexrage!

Yes, I'm still using stamps because I haven't found a way to purchase letter mail online. For the address template, I literally just used the Pages app on my Mac (Word would work as well or Google docs or any word processing app). I had to do a bit of trial and error to create the perfect printable template then I kept it. 

For international orders, I can't do letter mail. It exists for sending things to the States but it is paper only and I am sending a metal object (enamel pin). Those orders just have the shipping calculated at checkout and I purchase the shipping label online. 

You would need to speak to your fulfilment service to find out what they are willing to do. 

Aria | Social Care @ Shopify 
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pagexrage
Excursionist
12 0 4

Do you know how to get in touch with Shopify decision makers? It seems tons of store owners are having the same issue. This workaround takes so much time.

Aria
Shopify Staff
Shopify Staff
853 34 340

Hey, @pagexrage!

It's not Shopify decision-makers we need for this, it's Canada Post. For whatever reason, they don't allow letter mail to be sold online, it's not available on the Canada Post website either. 

Most of my parcels ship to the states but when people do purchase from Canada, I keep sheets of stamps and just print the customers address on a shipping label sticker and put the stamp on. The whole thing is almost as quick as printing a regular shipping label. 

Aria | Social Care @ Shopify 
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Matt147
New Member
1 0 0

Hi,

I came across your thread and felt i could give you an idea on how we work this thing out.

We sell all our products using Canadapost oversize lettermail.  At this time, we ship only to Canada using this method.

PROS:

  • You get the lettermail oversize mail rate which vary by the weight (per 100g increments) and the max you will have to pay is 5.30$ for 500g or under
  • This allows you to offer free shipping on your store or flat 5$ shipping for example
  • I've never had a complaint for lost item
  • 5-10 business days is the delivery standard and even with the covid situation, Canadapost seems to achieve it
  • Can be managed directly by you at your workspace or office
  • Can be dropped off in a standard street mailbox (no need to go to the post office)

CONS:

  • No tracking number or insurance
  • Relies on trust between you and your customers

HOW TO USE IT FROM YOUR OFFICE:

  • You have to buy/rent a postage meter and add some funds in it.
  • We use the pitney bowes solution and so far, we are very satisfied
  • This tool prints "stamps" directly on your packaging or on a label that you can apply to your enveloppe

Here is a few links to help you out:

https://www.canadapost-postescanada.ca/tools/pg/manual/PGletterml-e.asp    SEE SECTION 4

https://www.pitneybowes.com/ca/en/shipping-and-mailing/postage-meters/mailstation-2-mailing-system.h...   This is the model we use

https://amzn.to/3rAxvd4  This is the envelope we use

Hope this helps !

 

 

Frekkle
Excursionist
14 0 4

Hey guys 

I am too in this position! 
I have no new info- same as everyone else. Letter mail- $2 no tracking, $10 for registered mail with tracking.
I might be wrong, but doesn’t this feel absolutely shady and very rinky-dink small business to “mail” products?!?!
But some of my items are under $10, it is not possible to send it registered mail for $9. 
Someone posted in this thread, attached a link for a 10 pack of prepaid envelopes with tracking through Canada Post. I tried looking for that item in Canada post, I cannot find it. If anyone has this information, please share. 
thanks!!!