Ethical Superstore Delivery

We’ve changed our Standard Delivery rates

From 21st March we will be increasing the cost of our standard delivery from £3.95 to £4.95. We wanted to be totally up front with this and explain our reasoning and show you what goes on behind the scenes in getting your order, picked, packed and shipped safely to you.

What has Changed?

Quite a lot has changed in the last couple of years which has had a significant impact on us all. Way back in 2007 when deciding a what to charge for shipping we did this based on what the average cost of picking, packing and shipping an order would be.

Our delivery page from 2007!

Because we sell such a varied range the costs to process orders can vary massively. One customer may order a single item of jewellery, whilst the next order is a larger grocery and cleaning order comprising of 30-40 items, some of which being very big, heavy and bulky such as 5 litre washing liquids which need to be packed alongside fragile glass products. This makes the packing process very complicated with our packers having to deal with a huge variety of orders, no two orders are the same!

We calculated that on average an order would cost around £4 to pick, pack, ship and cover all of the packaging costs, remember this was back in 2007… So we thought the right thing to do would be to charge what it cost, so we set our shipping charge at £3.95 (for orders over 750g which was the vast majority of them).

Going back to 2007, according to The Bank of England, £3.95 in 2007 would be the equivalent to £5.61 in 2020, which is of course before the pandemic and the rapidly rising inflation in 2022, however we have not, until now increased our our shipping charges.

The last couple of years has seen big increases in HGV surcharges, yearly increases in courier charges. We have also continually increased wages for our warehouse staff since 2007.

All of this has lead to the average cost we pay to get your order picked, packed and shipped is considerably more than £3.95, meaning we absorb this extra cost. On many orders we do not make a profit because the order is too small to cover the fixed costs of processing it, however this is part of business and something we will always do so we don’t have to introduce a minimum order limit, we want to make shopping as easy for you as we can and encourage more people get on their own ethical shopping journey!

We choose environmentally friendly packaging

Ethical Superstore was started with the aim of making it easier for people to make more environmentally friendly choices and this has been a core part of our business. One area where we are different from most other online stores is our packaging. We chose to use environmentally friendly packaging, we do not use any plastic in our packaging (we will only have plastic in our packaging if it is from the manufacturer of the item and we feel it is better left on the products). This means we do no use cheap bubble wrap and plastic tape. Instead we use a paper based bubble wrap alternative which creates an innovative honeycomb structure using craft paper. For void fill we use paper which is crumpled in a specific way to give it volume and enough strength to protect the items in an order. Our tape we use to seal boxes is paper based which takes longer to set meaning we need to adapt our processes to fit this. Our delivery notes included inside your parcel are printed on 100% recycled paper, all gift wrapping is also 100% recycled. Where we can we will reuse boxes from our suppliers to give them a second usage.

No plastic packaging here!

Doing it this way, the right way is far more costly than simply using the cheapest least environmentally friendly methods and materials. Because we have chosen to do this where many others do not, the cost is naturally higher but we hope as other retailers are forced to follow our lead, the costs for environmentally friendly packaging come down as their adoption increases.

What’s involved in shipping

The costs of postage and packaging is not simply the charge from the courier plus the cost of packaging.

Each order can consist of hugely varying types of products and they can be anything from a single item to 50+ items in each order. In our warehouse our staff will pick and scan around 8 orders at once on a route around the warehouse adding items to each order as they go around. One trolley of up to 8 orders will take around 20 minutes to complete.

The next stage is packing these orders, for this the trolleys are moved into the packing area. The items in each order are checked to be correct, these must all be packaged up together in an appropriate box, sometimes these have to be split into multiple boxes if the weight is too high. Our packers are very experienced in packing a variety of products safely to ensure they can withstand any impacts on the way to you. Depending on the order this can be a very time consuming process with many items such as glassware and ornaments needing to be individually wrapped.

Once these orders are packed they need to be set up on pallets and ready to go onto the delivery truck.

Of course sometimes that is not the end of the process! If items are returned we need to process these which involves not only the warehouse staff but also our contact centre if we need to confirm a redelivery with the customer, and of course the new or replacement order to be picked and packed if this is needed.

The myth of ‘Free Shipping’ from Amazon

After reading all of this you may be wondering, how can Amazon offer ‘free shipping’ with Prime if we need to charge £4.95?

Well £7.99 a month isn’t free! For it to be working out cheaper than our postage you would need to be ordering at least twice a month, with all of these orders not qualifying for our free shipping (when you spend over £50). And if you were doing this, i.e. ordering two £25 orders then simply ordering one £50 will mean you get free shipping and help the environment by doing fewer but larger orders!

You perhaps wouldn’t get the online streaming service but in reality most of the programmes and films on this are not included in the subscription. We don’t feel offering a streaming service with a totally un related service like an online service is good for the industry as it locks customers to one shop, hurting smaller independent retailers and shops.

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