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Our Eternal Struggle With the USPS

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Small business is fun and challenging and hard and miserable and gratifying and exciting and redundant and boring and awesome...usually all within the same day. And one thing that makes us here at Apericots happy is meeting so many other cool people who own cool small businesses and make cool stuff. And the knowledge that other people, people like us, have done what we're trying to do and have succeeded. That gives us confidence to forge ahead in such an uncertain endeavor (i.e. any small business). 

So, having said that, I'm whining today about what seems to be a universal struggle with small businesses: shipping. 

We are locked in a seemingly neverending battle with the United States Post Office, and it totally sucks.

See, back in 2014 when we bought the business, shipping our items, most of which are 2 or 3 ounces (aren't baby clothes just the cutest?!) cost a certain amount. A decent amount, exactly what we'd expect to pay. Then, 2 months later, in February 2014, the price went up about 30 cents. To you, it might not seem like a lot...but times that by 10,000 (or more) orders per year for a really small business like ours? Very big deal.

Then, in February 2015, prices went up again, this time by about 15 cents. Again, not huge by itself but for a small and growing company, a big deal. But we dealt with it, as every other small business did too. We talked to people, searched and posted on forums, and debated what to do.

Now, February 2016, another price increase, this one close to 50 cents. So in 2 years it's gone up almost $1 to ship a 2 ounce item. It is pure insanity at this point. And I know you, dear reader (aka mom) are wondering why this matters? Maybe it doesn't, I just wanted to rant because it's so frustrating. But that brings us to the real point: the customers.

By the way, this is just for USA shipping. Don't even get me started on international. What cost $7 to ship to Canada is now $10. What was $10 to ship to Europe is now $13. USPS is pricing out our international business, and it really sucks.

The consensus on every forum and e-commerce website we've read is simply this: Raise prices. And yeah, it does make the most sense. But I feel like there's a point where it's just not going to work to keep raising prices. (By the way, we haven't raised shipping prices just FYI). I think with Amazon Prime, we're all getting used to free shipping and to get to checkout and see another $4 or $5 or $6, especially for a 2 ounce baby item? At some point people are just going to stop shopping with you. And I absolutely get it, I've done the same thing many times when I've gone to check out and seen an exorbitant shipping cost.

So we feel stuck. Shipping through UPS/DHL/FedEx/etc for everyday orders is just not feasible. It would be triple the cost, at least. And not to say USPS is all bad, as our mail carrier who comes to our home and hauls away hundreds of orders, rain sleet or shine, is really great. It's just a difficult situation to be in to try and keep costs down for our customers and yet be getting mauled by the post office. Any ideas, anyone? 

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