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Shipping update ...

Posted by Dave Bull on May 12, 2020 [Permalink]

Here is our shop space this morning ...

But wait ... haven't I already posted that photo?

It's similar ... but not the same one. For one thing, it's a lot warmer here now, and I don't need that little 'puffy' anymore!

But if you look at the floor, you will see that things are very different. Instead of prints sitting in the shop racks, waiting for customers to come and browse ...

... we're packing!

Our Ome shipping center is still up and running, and those ladies are doing all the processing/packing/shipping of the subscription prints. But because the Japanese Post Office has stopped accepting all shipments bound for the US, we are using the Asakusa shop as a 'staging post', getting everything assembled there, and sending the prints in 'bulk' over to the US side via FedEx boxes. (Hi Jed-san! ... and thank you for helping like this!)

From there, they are dropped into the US Postal system for final delivery to the collectors. It is all a lot more expensive for us, but given the current situation, it seems to be the only way to get things to where they need to go.

We are in the process of trying to setup something similar for the EU, but it's a bit more complex because of import issues over there. (And post for quite a few countries - Germany, France, Netherlands, U.K., Canada ... is still being accepted by the Post Office here.)

Thank you to everybody who has been patiently waiting for their prints to arrive ... We are doing what we can to find a way through all these barriers!




Added by: Maarten Daalder on May 12, 2020

While still accepted for the Netherlands, it is with great delay. Normally I would have already received the print for May. Only today have I been notified by the postal service that I can expect the print for April.

Added by: Dave on May 12, 2020

If we can really set up a local distributor for Europe, it should make everybody's life over there so much easier. We would package individually here then ship via FedEx to our distributor, who would do the import processing - pay all VAT, etc. that was required - and then ship via local post. The collectors would receive their packages domestically - with no need at all for any more dealing with Customs charges and taxes. We should have set this up years ago!

Added by: Stu on May 12, 2020

If it is “a lot more expensive” to ship to those of us in the US, please don’t absorb all of this (temporary) additional cost!! I think that all of us want you to be an ongoing and successful business, and given the loss of Asakusa revenue, not to go any further ‘into the red’ in order to get us prints more quickly!

Added by: Karsten on May 12, 2020

One word of caution for this kind of collective shipping: On customs forms, you probably need to declare item value at as-paid prices, not material value or at a wholesale price.

The reason is that customs tries to reclaim "money leaving the country" and thus cares about paid price, not incoming material. And customers paid the full price to a foreign entity. This would be different if customers paid the reshipper, and they in turn purchased items at bulk pricing from overseas - in that case, customs would be charged on the bulk price, with the extra profit staying in-country and thus not relevant.

I've seen particularly kickstarter projects try to do the "reshipping while declaring bulk pricing" trick but - technically it's still mail fraud, as far as I know.

Of course, you're setting up reshipping to simplify / speed up mail, not to save a bit of customs fees, so you're probably fine and already aware of this, but I wanted to mention it just in case.

Added by: Dave on May 12, 2020

Karsten, thank you for the input here. This is an issue we have considered, and actually, the situation is a bit 'wider' than what you have mentioned. Up to now, we as the shipper have never dealt with the Customs fees that apply at the 'other end' - the import side. Some packages go straight through with nothing being charged, others get 'caught' and have fees/duties/taxes applied. It has been kind of random, and it is of course very troublesome for our customers (and also hurts our business).

But by doing it this way in bulk, two things are different: one is that every print will now be 'caught' and will be subject to the import charges (at the full retail price, because that is how we will declare it), and secondly, it is me who will be paying these charges, not the recipient.

So ... you can see where we are going with this, and yes - after we confirm that we are able to actually get a shipment through like this, and if we make a decision to keep doing it this way even after the emergency situation - we will have to raise the prices for EU customers to cover this.

So it will be plus/minus for EU customers: receiving packages will be far easier, stabler and more consistent - no more visits to the Post Office to pay these things! - but the price will have to go up to cover this ...


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