Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Shipping Charges Explained...
...Well, Kind of
Written by Joe

This young man might like to know the reasons behind shipping costs.

One of the most commonly asked questions by our customers is “why are shipping rates so high?” This often happens right after the first of each new year. I’ll try my best to explain shipping charges in this post.
All of our spawn products are heavy, wet, and wood or grain based. We also ship wax, another dense heavy object. As you may already know, shipping this kind of product can be expensive.
Field and Forest Products is marking its 30th year in business, and for each of these years there has been an average price increase of 5% by our major carrier, UPS. While 5% may not seem like much, one has to bear in mind that the key word here is “average.” In general, lightweight packages weighing less than 30 lbs. saw an increase of 7.5%, whereas packages weighing upwards of 75 lbs. saw a price increase of only 1.69%! On top of the overall price increase, package surcharge fees also went up. For instance, delivery to a residential address (this includes all you farmers out there) adds another $2.80 to the standard delivery charge. Add to that an extended delivery surcharge to certain zip codes and the surcharge jumps to $3.30.
When placing an order, one thing to remember is that “bundling” of spawn orders reduces the cost per bag to ship. For instance, shipping one 5.5 lb. unit of sawdust spawn to a zone 5 residential address would cost $15.28. Adding an additional 5.5 lb. unit would only add an additional $1.19 to the shipping charge, thus bringing down the cost per unit to ship. The bottom line: try to get all your spawn ordered and shipped in one box (or maximize each box for larger orders requiring multiple boxes) if possible. How much spawn will fit in a UPS box? As a general rule, a UPS box can hold up to: 8 large bags of sawdust spawn; 12 large bags of grain spawn; 12 large bags of plug spawn; or 15 sheets of thimble spawn. The only bundling we cannot offer is that of seasonal spawn ordered out of season. This would include Almond Agaricus, Pink Oyster, Morel, and Portabella or White Button box kits.
On the upside, UPS guarantees time in transit and their software allows us to send our customers an email notification when their order ships, providing them with accessible tracking information. Field and Forest Products also has negotiated rates with UPS. We pass the discounted price on to our customers. For orders weighing over 200 lbs., we are a UPS tier 1 shipper, qualifying our large shipments for the largest discount UPS allows, which is about 10% over our negotiated rates.
What is Field and Forest Products doing to keep shipping costs to a minimum?

In order to keep shipping charges to a minimum for our customers, we seek out alternative carriers for customer shipments and use them whenever possible, passing along the savings. When placing an order online it appears as if UPS is the only shipping option, BUT this is not always the case! Due to the variety of shipping options available to us, we manually calculate shipping charges on all online and phone orders to determine the best shipping option available so that we may provide our customers with the best rate and delivery time possible. Savings, when using an alternate carrier, are directly reflected on your invoice. With the myriad of shipping options available to us, it would be difficult to program our website to accurately calculate which combination of items would fit in a particularly box size, etc., and then select the best possible option. Placing all of those options on our website would most likely confuse our customers as well. This “customized” approach is somewhat unique in the mail order world, as it takes extra resources in staff and packaging supplies, but it makes us feel good to try to reduce shipping costs to our customers whenever possible.
Jeni packing an order into one of our USPS priority boxes, an option for smaller orders!
Other Carrier Options

In the Midwest, we are fortunate to have an alternative carrier, Spee-Dee Delivery Service, whose costs to transport packages is around 50% lower than standard ground charges by the two nationwide carriers. We use SpeeDee Delivery Service for package shipments to all addresses in Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, eastern Nebraska and zip code areas 630, 631 and 633 in Missouri. The only downside to using Spee-Dee Delivery Service is that their software is unable to send email notifications to our customers to let them know that their package has been shipped.
Nationwide (including HI and AK), we ship orders of single large units of spawn and multiples of smaller unit sizes, as well as small tool and supply orders via the US Postal Service. The Postal Service in recent years has introduced additional packaging options with very competitive rates of flat rate and regional boxes, perfect for small businesses like ours. The downside to using the US Postal Service is that package delivery times are not guaranteed and there is no real-time tracking. We have noticed over the years, however, that the US Postal Service has upped its level of service and packages are more often than not delivered in 2-3 working days.

What you can do to help keep your shipping costs to a minimum:
•Order online or call for a shipping price quote, rather than placing an order by mail
•Bundle orders to ship all at once (or in quantities that will maximize the space in each box for larger orders when possible).
•Order over 200 lbs. of spawn and supplies :)
•Call to see if we can deliver your order to various conferences (posted on our website) that we attend. Please note that this option is “first come, first serve” based on vehicle space! 

If you would like a quote on shipping costs, we are always happy to accommodate your request. Please let us know if we can be of assistance. We can be reached at 1-800-792-6220 or via email,