Hey everyone. I'm trying to see if there are solutions we're not thinking of to a problem related to shipping our products.
We sell a product that can cost up to $2,000 to ship alone depending on the size and time requests of customers (think heavy cargo or items that cannot be shipped through traditional mediums like UPS, FedEx and USPS; we work with specialty couriers that deliver by ground, air and water). Our manufacturers are primarily clustered along the eastern seaboard. We want to be able to pass along the cost of shipping in savings to our customers if we allow for pickup (currently we only make a slim margin on the shipping anyway, and we're convinced we can attract more customers through these savings).
The problem is we cannot list or provide the locations of our suppliers to customers until we've confirmed customer interest by securing a sale, but customers cannot confidently elect to pick their product up unless they know where the pickup location is relative to they are. We're curious to get the community's thoughts and potential solutions to the issue. Something we'd like to do when we revamp our site is build a feature where customers can input their delivery zip code and the website can approximate the driving distance and time for them by cross-referencing with supplier zip codes, which would be linked to each product on the back end. This is something we intend to do next year while we figure out a temporary solution until then.
Here are the temporary solutions we're considering:
Temp. Solution #1: See if our suppliers can agree to us listing the states in which customers would pick up for each product (having a "Pickup Location:" line beneath the product description, for example). Trying to think of other similar "vague geography" items to list that could be even more vague than state but still specific enough to give our customers enough information to help them decide as to whether a pickup is feasible. We would then charge our customers a much smaller, fully-refundable deposit to protect our suppliers from flakey customers that cancel scheduled pickups or miss their pickups at their fault. There's a large "just-in-time" component to the products our manufacturers make, and so if a customer tells us that want to pick up on Monday, our suppliers finalize the product that Monday morning and sell it that day, otherwise it eats up significant storage costs. The justification for the deposit is that it allows us to compensate our suppliers and keep them happy in the off chance a customer cancels their order.
Temp. Solution #2: Highlight the fact that customers can save up to thousands on shipping if they pick up their orders instead and to contact us for details on locations. Once they confirm their ability and desire to pick up their order based on the supplier's zip code, we'll provide them with a unique and one time-use discount code that reduces their order value by the flat shipping cost they'd pay for their product otherwise. This solution doubles as a sales lead generator, too.
Temp. Solution #3: Don't mention that pickup is an option and instead, based on the zip code tied to the shipping address provided with each order, email buyers and offer them a full shipping cost discount if they prefer to pickup instead and provide the driving distance and time in said email.
That's all I got for now. We have burned half the day trying to think of workarounds and bet one of you has a much simpler, clearer solution that we're completely glossing over. Please let us know.