Friday, February 22, 2013

Online Record Stores and Labels Deal With Postage Increases

The Cost Of Shipping Vinyl

When we started selling vinyl records online back in 1999, shipping rates were pretty cheap. You could send a record overseas for less than $5 back then. Almost every year since, USPS has raised shipping rates, especially for international packages. Not once have the rates been lowered.  You would have to think that maybe once they would decide to drop them in an effort to drum up more business. But it hasn't been the case.

Ineffective governance and rising fuel costs have certainly contributed to the problem of skyrocketing shipping rates. Plenty of folks are upset about the changes. I was able to find four pretty good articles online referring to the subject of higher shipping rates for vinyl.

Billboard
Boston NPR
The Vinyl District
Stereogum

Our international sales were extremely brisk throughout the 2000's, but since 2010, they have been sluggish. Much of it appears to be due to shipping rates. Customers do have limits to what they will pay for shipping, and who can blame them? We are doing all we can to keep these costs down, but we are powerless to control USPS rate changes. All that we can do is regularly provide the best vinyl and services we can, and hopefully attract some international sales.

One positive change from the recent updates is that USPS First-Class International mail is now able to be tracked to all destinations. This new and better service comes at a price: The price increases on First-Class were among the largest of all. Overall shipping prices are up between 5 and 15% for the USPS services that we use to ship records, which include Media Mail and Priority Mail.

We've absorbed some of the increase in an effort to bring our customers the lowest possible shipping rates (while also remaining a viable business - there's no such thing as free shipping!). Media mail is going up to $4.25, up from $3.99 and that's not too bad if you ask me. Thankfully, we still have Value Select Mail as a great economy option for international buyers, starting at only $7.99 for one record shipped to Canada. Also new for the first time are bulk shipping rates. If you are in the market to buy 50 records or more you can enjoy some nice discounts, and these new bulk rates can be used to ship our Wax Packs as well. Check out the new bulk rates on our FAQ page, or just add items to your cart to see the shipping options and their prices.

As governments around the world look at parcels as a way to extract more revenue, this trend of rising shipping rates is likely to continue in the future. We can only hope that rate increases in the future are limited. Or maybe it's time for an aggressively priced new competitor in the shipping market?