Sunday, March 8, 2009

The Shipping Experiment

Last week I completed the first round of my cheese shipping experiment.

The results were just about what I expected, and this is a good thing.

I needed to do some shipping experiments to gauge what shipping cheese would entail, and this encompassed which shipping service I would use, what kind of materials I need, and how much I should expect for shipping charges.

My goal is to get the cheese to anyone in the lower 48 (i.e. the entire United States minus Alaska and Hawaii - sorry folks who live there!) as quickly and as cheaply as possible while still maintaining high quality control standards.

See, this past Christmas my Mom and I had a nice package of cheese sent to our relatives in Florida, and we spent FIFTY DOLLARS on postage. We spent slightly less on the actual cheese. I think this is wrong and I want to make sure my customers aren't going to spend FIFTY DOLLARS on postage, especially in the middle of the winter. I know it went to Florida from NYC (that's where the cheese seller was located), but it didn't need to go overnight and it didn't need to cost so damn much.

So I sent a test package of cheese to five far-flung friends/family. I bought the most perishable cheese I could ever imagine sending, and I wrapped each person's piece in the double-layer cheese paper I plan to use in my shop. (Most mailorder cheese places wrap their cheese in plastic. I think that's awful.)

I placed the cheese in an insulated inner envelope specially designed to keep things cool, then I put the envelope in a priority mail box from the USPS. I wanted to see if I could get away with NOT overnighting the cheese. Of course, this was last week when it was cold, so things may be different in a few months. I may also choose not to ship cheese anywhere during the hottest months, and only overnight it during hot-but-not-hottest months. That will take more experimentation.

It seems like most other cheese mailorder places use UPS, and they charge A LOT of money for shipping. I find I can use the US Postal Service for a fraction of what UPS is charging, and I can use the priority mail flat rate, which for most boxes of cheese will cost $10.35 in postage. I might charge a few dollars more for handling fees (materials, labor), but it won't be any fifty bucks.

Are the other mailorder businesses using UPS for some reason I have yet to discover?
Until I do, I'm sticking with priority mail flat rate from the USPS.

So completing the first round of this experiment brings me closer to being able to:
1) Continue developing my Cheese Subscription Program
2) Sell cheese mailorder.

My work this week involves somehow finding out Jersey City's Municipal Health Code for food-related establishments. You'd think this would be somewhat easy information to find, but lemme tell you, it's NOT. I'm starting to get pretty frustrated with the whole "dealing with the city" thing. People who already own their own businesses usually give a little chuckle at this point and say, "Welcome to the Club, my friend."


  1. UPS and Fedex suck. I've used both as shipper and receiver and UPS truly sucked all the time. Stick with the PO. Even now, I buy more from businesses that use the PO. They're fast enough, they're cheap. Good detective woek, girlie.

  2. So why does everyone use UPS? I don't get it... And yeah, I'm sticking with the PO until I have damn good reason not to.