One of the most frequently asked questions I get is about shipping so this week it’s all about the ABC’s of shipping.

Occasionally, someone will reach out and ask if I have free shipping. I always respond, “I would love to offer free shipping but I’m a small, local, one-woman business owner”.

Shipping costs have risen dramatically since the pandemic. No doubt, the rising cost of oil has been the main contributor. I try to absorb some of the cost but I’m not Amazon, nor do I aspire to be. And hey, I’m not dissing Amazon. I occasionally buy from them too. You can’t beat their prices, free shipping is always an option, and you can have it delivered the next day!

I do subsidize my shipping costs though. I charge a flat fee shipping rate: $12 within the Ottawa area and $18 everywhere else in Canada. Previously it was $10 and $15, but it just wasn’t enough so I had to pass at least some of the increase on to you, my customers.

I use Canada Post. I have a small business discount with them about 7-8%. At first glance, the rates seem reasonable but then you add on the fuel surcharge and suddenly there’s close to 30% added to the shipping charge. And sometimes after the fact, when the package has been paid for and delivered, I get an extra charge on my credit card for a few dollars more. Apparently, that’s an adjustment for the actual fuel surcharge. Funny, it never goes the other way.

The ABCs of Shipping by Colleen Kanna, Photo of packages wrapped up and ready to be dropped off at the Post Office

Customer packages wrapped up and ready to be dropped off at the Post Office

I also offer free shipping if you make a big purchase over $250. Then I will cover the whole shipping cost.

And if you’re local to Ottawa, you can do free curbside pickup in Kanata. I often get customers asking me how they can do local pickup and avoid the shipping fee. So, I thought I would cover that here:

When you’re viewing your cart during the checkout process, scroll down to the shipping section. Click on “change address” and input your Ottawa postal code. Then the system will automatically select the Local Pickup option. Or you’ll have the option to select that.

The ABCs of Shipping by Colleen Kanna, Customer order ready for pick up

Customer order ready for local pick up

Otherwise, if you’d rather save yourself a drive out to Kanata, then you can select the $12 flat rate shipping fee. Anywhere outside of the local Ottawa region, the flat rate is $18.

I often get courier/shipping companies reaching out to me for my business. I always say I will happily switch to them if they have lower rates and good customer service. How they work? They get a volume discount with all the major carriers like UPS, Purolator, and FedEx to name a few. At best, their quotes come back with similar rates. Then they try to sell me on the convenience. The courier companies will come to me to pick up.

However, for me that’s not a time saver. I operate out of my home studio in a condo building with no concierge. So, that means I always have to be here when they give me that 4 hour window for pick up. At least with Canada Post, I can drop off packages at the Shoppers Drug Mart outlet down the street at my convenience.

And I have to say in the 7 years I’ve been in business, I’ve only had a few delayed or missed deliveries with Canada Post. They’re pretty reliable. And usually the issues occur in remote areas. I’ve never had a parcel arrive damaged. Plus, I always add on the free insurance should that ever happen.

I will also add that I do wrap my packages well. I try to find that balance between making them look nice and using environmentally conscious materials. Many customers have commented how it’s like unwrapping a present complete with a hand written card.

Wrapping up COKANNA customer packages

Wrapping up customer orders

Now, the holiday season is a bit of a different story. Of course, parcels take a lot longer to arrive. But, we’re used to that. They give us plenty of notice.

All that to say, if you’re thinking about early Christmas shopping and would like to order something for delivery outside of the Ottawa region, then the earlier the better. I would say you’re safe up to the end of November and after that, you take your chances.

If you have any thoughts, ideas, comments, or stories about shipping, I would love to hear from you.

Until next time,

~ Colleen

Colleen Kanna

I’m a recovering Chartered Accountant and Breast Cancer Champion turned Fashion Designer. My COKANNA Canadian-made bamboo clothing is all about comfort and style. Giving back to the community is important to me so I support local breast cancer organizations who treat the whole person and not just the disease.