Why isn’t shipping from fulfilment services cheaper?

I'm selling a self-published textbook online. I didn't expect a lot of sales, so I went with a simple website and a direct Stripe integration via payment links. It's working so great, I started packing books every single day.

I sell worldwide and used DHL (I'm in Germany) to ship the books. The most expensive rate for a single book shipped anywhere in the world is 15EUR. Granted, it is super slow (~40 days sometimes), but the cost is ok for myself and the customer. I looked for fulfilment providers which could help me with the overhead of shipping but

  • most only have DHL Express or UPS to ship worldwide, meaning 30–40EUR for a single 800g book (the book costs 60EUR, so this is a crazy amount to pay for shipping)
  • in general their EU rates are also not cheaper than DHL for consumers (e.g. one fulfillment provider offers Germany->Spain for 19EUR, whereas DHL for consumers is 8.50 (!!) and a Warenpost account would be only 12)
  • DHL Warenpost international for businesses is more expensive for some countries, but it is still cheaper than what these providers offer

I only found one provider offering worldwide service via PostNL for a flat 10EUR. I've been using them for a while, but they mess up often (wrong weights, stuff stays stuck in packing for days) and sometimes they send parcels out with UPS instead, which means sending them an email requesting a refund. A mess.

I'm thinking about going back to doing it myself, but I'm curious what would be your strategy to ship worldwide at reasonable prices. I see Shipcloud has ok prices for EU, and then I would have to use DHL Warenpost International for non-EU orders because their non-EU rates are again "astronomical".

I'm curious

  • why don't these providers have better rates than a consumer/normal DHL business account since they have much higher volumes? At least for EU.
  • What is your recommended setup? A good month now is 100 books, 30% of which is non-EU. I'm planning to publish another book in 2023 so the traffic will increase for sure.

submitted by /u/themariachi
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