Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Shipping cost rant

I just received a six-pack of wine from a Paso Robles Rhone Ranger, and I was nervous.  It's pretty hot to be shipping and I had suggested that they wait until fall, but they shipped anyway.  They charged me a fair amount, which I thought was kinda steep, but it was worth it - the package was extra large and filled with cold gel packs, they sent it overnight, and somehow managed to get it routed through Canada.  Pricey, but perfect execution.  Cheers to Booker Vineyard, who also has really really excellent wine, BTW.

That is my success story from the spring allocation season, and I'm not going to name names here, but I do feel a certain need to vent a little spleen about some of the practices I think are getting out of hand.  I paid $30 for one bottle shipped UPS ground.  I had several producers who didn't disclose their shipping costs until the manifest arrived.  And I complained to one winery who told me they weren't responsible, but that I should pass my complaint on to their fulfillment company.

Folks, that is freaking ridiculous.  That's what a Bordeaux winemaker might have said 200 years ago when my cask got oxidized because there was a naval battle going on in the Channel and they had to wait until England re-established the blockade against Napoleon.  Talk to the negotiant!

It is not right to charge $30 to ship an $80 bottle of wine.  $50 to ship a 3-pack is too much!  In this information age, it's easy to look around and see your peers doing the same thing for better pricing.  I'll name 2 more wineries who are doing a good job - Kistler ships a whole case inclusive of the price of the wine, and Araujo charges $20 to ship one Eisele Cabernet but at least they send it priority overnight.  I have no problems with those prices.  Those make sense to me.

This is a crowded market, even for highly allocated wines.  I remember being on all kinds of waiting lists prior to the recession in 2008, and instantly I was getting allocations.  And I have several stories of cult Napa properties that have raised prices only to see big inventories build up as winebid sells their juice for half price. I read about Caymus actually reducing its price.  This is not the time to be generating ill will among your customers by overcharging for shipping.

Here are a few principles I have come up with that should be elementary:
- State your shipping prices up front
- Resist the urge to pad extra profit into shipping.  It's obvious to the
   consumer and it makes us angry.  If you feel your wine is worth that
   money, price that into the bottle itself.
- Stay in contact with your chain of distribution.  The shipper's name is
   not on the label, yours is.  We blame you for overcharges.

Thanks for listening.

1 comment:

  1. Yeah, I once paid about $25 shipping on a $35 bottle. It was a special bottle and a gift, but still. Grr.