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order processing & everything you ever wanted to know about shipping

HANDMADE FRESH

Just the Goods does not use artificial preservatives, so products are handmade on demand. As such, most orders are processed within 5 – 7 business days. There are times when I can mail your order on the same day and I will always do that where possible. At other times, however, when order volume is so high that hand-making and shipping times can be delayed. This typically happens in November/December, after I’ve returned from a temporary lab closure, or if there has been an unusually high volume of orders for any other reason. Information about temporary lab closures can always be found on the front page of this website. Please know that I’m always working as quickly as possible — I am the only person making and shipping products, while also answering your questions via email :) 

 

SHIPPING STANDARDS

Just the Goods’ charges the real cost of shipping only and never attempts to profit from shipping by adding a handling fee. Reused shipping materials are used whenever possible to help maintain honest low pricing. Automated notifications are sent directly from my website when e-postage for your parcel has been purchased and it is ready to be shipped.

Default standards are as follow:

  • 2 - 5 business days within Canada by Canada Post. Tracking included. No signature required. 
  • Orders to the US now ship from the US via USPS. Orders to the US will be transported to the US on Wednesdays. Parcels are scanned in by USPS employees on Wednesday afternoon or Thursday at their discretion. Delivery occurs within 1 - 5 business days after shipping. Tracking is included with all parcels. 
  • Parcels to other international destinations travel by air mail (2 - 3 weeks); if you desire tracking, please add this at checkout. International surface mail is no longer available. Delivery by UPS may be required if a parcel is too heavy to be accepted by postal services in other regions. 
  • Bicycle courier within Winnipeg is no longer available, and delivery by car courier is considerably more expensive, so delivery by Canada Post is the most affordable option. Due to a high volume of orders, I regret that I am no longer able to offer local pick up service.

NOTE: International orders can be delayed by customs and/or security procedures, which vary depending on the time of year and/or international relations/current events. Just the Goods can not be held responsible for delays caused by such occurrences. 

 

*** ANSWERS TO FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT SHIPPING ***

To ensure Just the Goods products are as affordable as possible—even without the use of artificial preservatives, among other mass production techniques—I work very hard to control overhead costs. For example, I maintain my own website using trusted low-cost applications. I also re-use packing materials, which has the added benefit of reducing environmental waste. Because I pay close attention to every detail, you can be sure I’m always thinking of ways to make shipping more affordable, too. And, since I believe transparency is a useful way to measure integrity, I feel it’s important to be honest about perceptions versus reality.

Shipping is a tangible, external cost that involves a complex network of people, equipment, information technology, and natural resources to move a physical object from one place to another in a reasonable amount of time with care. Even when buyers use their own body, resources, and time to obtain an object in person, there are still costs in the form of parking, gasoline, a bus ticket, or the time spent riding a bicycle to and from a pick-up location. This is all very obvious—so much that it might seem silly for me to type it—but in order to think about the concept of “free shipping” and where it comes from, it helps to remember that shipping can never actually be “free”.

 

How did we start thinking of shipping as something that can or should be free?

When e-commerce was becoming established in the mid-to-late 1990s, major corporations knew that they would need to entice shoppers by convincing them that buying online was as safe as—but more convenient than—shopping in person. They gained trust through secure payment infrastructure, and created incentives that improved upon traditional catalogue shopping. The concept of free shipping was one such incentive, and it was easy to offer because, although these major businesses priced their products the same as if they were merchandised in a retail environment, they in fact had fewer expenses. For example warehouse space is subject to lower property tax, rent, and/or insurance than carefully decorated spaces open to the public. Fewer locations also means fewer employees. Designing, printing and mailing heavy catalogues was also no longer an expense.

It is true that small producers and distributors always face challenges unique to their scale of operations, but now that the concept of free shipping has become synonymous with shopping online, it creates a standard that is very difficult—if not impossible—to offer simply because independent projects can’t access the high volume shipping discounts available to major corporations.

And with all that said, I’d like to share two articles that I think helps to address this in another yet way. The first is called “The Workers Who Bring You Black Friday: My life as a temp in California’s Inland Empire, the belly of the online shopping beast” and it was published by The Nation on November 25, 2013 to reveal the circumstances faced by those working for online retailers: http://www.thenation.com/article/177377/holiday-crush. The more recent article published by Salon on February 24, 2014 titled “Worse than Wal-Mart: Amazon’s sick brutality and secret history of ruthlessly intimidating workers” serves to explain the labour practices of Amazon, which is the largest e-tailer and an originator of the free shipping concept: http://www.salon.com/2014/02/23/worse_than_wal_mart_amazons_sick_brutality_and_secret_history_of_ruthlessly_intimidating_workers/.

 

Affordable products versus “free shipping”

Another popular strategy for creating the appearance of free shipping is to inflate the price of each product sold, thus burying the cost of shipping within. Just the Goods, however, strives to offer honest pricing that covers the cost of materials and handcraft labour without manipulative messaging that presents healthier skincare alternatives as if they were luxury lifestyle goods. This also serves to explain why I believe hiding shipping costs in product pricing is unfair:

  • First, local customers who receive their orders by bicycle courier would disproportionately bear the burden of costs for a service they are not using.
  • Second, since Just the Goods is wholly centered around truth in labeling and honest product claims, it would be dishonest to lie about what shipping actually costs a small, independent project while supporting corporate strategies that including tricking people into believing that it feels better to spend $20.00 for facial moisturizer instead of $10.00 for moisturizer and $8.00 for shipping. Now imagine buying 10 products all at once, each inflated to cover shipping as if they were mailed separately. That’s a lot of extra money spent without any value in return.

Apart from offering safe, effective, and affordable skin care products, Just the Goods is also interested in revealing how purchasing from an independent handmaker is different than buying from a multinational corporation. Could I do this if I inflated prices more than I believe is accessible and fair? It strikes me that it is important to be honest about where money has to go in order for a project to stay in business. Please scroll down for more information about how Just the Goods products are priced.

 

How are rates calculated? How can I get the best value?

Canada Post and UPS calculate volumetric rates that considers the weight of a parcel relative to its dimensions versus the distance it must travel.

USPS offers flat rate shipping options that have been applied to average dimensions of Just the Goods products to offer maximum benefit.

In all cases, the best way to get maximum value from shipping is to order more at once so the cost of shipping is better distributed per item. This is not always feasible for a single person, but sharing an order with one or more friends can make a significant difference. For example, depending on where you live and what you order with how many people, what would cost $8.00 to ship one bottle to one person could drop to $3.50 per person to ship three bottles to three people.


 

How are Just the Goods Products Priced?

Just the Goods aims to make natural skin care as affordable as possible because I’m uncomfortable with the excessive profit margins associated with so-called luxury lifestyle products, and I want people to know they really do have a choice for healthier skin care.  When I say I price Just the Goods at the absolute lowest price I can manage, what does this mean? To begin making this more tangible, I can explain that of any price you see on this website, 50% is automatically the cost of ingredients and packaging required for the item to exist.

Of any price you see on this website, 50% is automatically the cost of ingredients and packaging required for the item to exist.

The range of costs extracted from the other 50% of the price include:

  • shipping ingredients and packaging to the lab (+ brokerage fees and duty for imports, where applicable) + time/labour procuring ingredients and packaging (whether assessing inventory and buying online, or going to stores to buying materials, which also involves transportation … mostly in the form of bus tickets since I don’t drive, ha!)
  • research and development time/labour + the costs of ingredients that are discarded when trial batches fail
  • production time/labour + set up and clean up time/labour associated with each batch
  • equipment required for production ranging from mixers and graduated cylinders to bottle filling syringes to face masks and gloves, etc.
  • order packing and shipping processing time/labour + shipping materials (paper bags, envelopes and boxes, tape, printer paper and toner)
  • marketing costs (developing and maintaining a website and email account, business cards, advertising where applicable, the materials/labour of product donated as in-kind sponsorships/free samples where applicable + the time/labour in social media networking)
  • physical space costs in the form of rent and all applicable utilities required for the lab to be a functional workspace, plus the cost of modifying the space as it arises (more shelving and/or order baskets, etc., to improve efficiency as needed)
  • financial costs (Etsy commission and service charges, PayPal service charges to receive payments that are not cash, general banking fees)
  • customer service time/labour (responding to enquiries, preparing for and attending craft shows)

So indeed, when I say that I basically operate as a non profit, I mean it most sincerely. I function on the basis of need not greed, and I pay myself what is left over, keeping in mind that I regularly re-invest in Just the Goods by making larger ingredient/material/equipment purchases on speculation to reduce shipping costs or to take advantage of manufacturer discounts. Am I making a living? Yes. It is modest? Yes. Am I okay with this? Yes.

This is why I limit the quantity of free samples I provide, and this is why I can’t afford to provide shipping any cheaper than the real costs as described above. To take anything else out of product prices after all costs have been subtracted would be to make Just the Goods entirely unsustainable. And I love what I do, and I know others love it as well, so I want to be able to keep going for as long as possible =-)

Having explained all of this, I know quite well that I could charge a great deal more for my products — people are certainly happy to purchase at retail rates in bricks and mortar shops, and I’m so grateful for that! — but I have set prices at this website with accessibility in mind. And again, this matters to me more than making the maximum possible profit from every item I make and sell.

 

Additional Note

So, while I empathize with the fact that people believe shipping should be cheaper because of the widespread misinformation in the conventional marketplace that shipping is cheap/free, I ask them to consider the price of Just the Goods products versus the costs associated with the product, versus what they feel the products are worth. Next, I invite them to consider sharing an order with friends to divide the cost of shipping among multiple people to reduce the burden of this tangible cost <=-)

Having explained all of this, the truth is that I do sometimes lose money on shipping because I know people expect extremely low cost or free shipping, and I don’t want to discourage them from trying Just the Goods. Yet I still always refund overpaid shipping as soon as I’ve processed postage online after packing and weighing orders, because I believe it is important to be fair.

Thanks for reading this long text about shipping, which I created to summarize the many conversations I’ve had on the topic since 2009. I hope it is helpful! But of course, if you have any additional questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me =-)

All bests,
Milena (Updated February 8, 2017)

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