OTTI Think Tank III: Shipping


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OTTI Think Tank III: Shipping

Postby Chip » Jul 5th, '13, 11:29

I have noticed for some time that international shipping is brutal ... no surprise there, right? But these last 2 rounds have really blown me away. Generally speaking, international shipping has been around twice what I list as the charges in OTTI and NOTTI topics, and sometimes almost triple. B-R-U-T-A-L!

However, for several rounds I have been subsidizing the international shipping with OTTI funds. Why you may ask? I think on some level I find it hard to justify the actual international shipping charges for a handful of 10 gram samples. And OTTI is all about participations. And certainly the international participants add an interesting dimension to OTTI.

Unfortunately, the charges are unavoidable ... and they are what they are. TBH, I am at a bit of a loss as to what to do about it.

Hmmm ... thoughts?
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Re: OTTI Think Tank III: Shipping

Postby Chip » Jul 5th, '13, 11:33

The overall price objective is to set it so OTTI operates barely in the black. To operate in the red means actual money is literally coming out of my pocket as OTTI is not subsized by anyone other than yours truly. This is "ideally" best as OTTI is therefore not "influenced" by outside sources/money.
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Re: OTTI Think Tank III: Shipping

Postby Drax » Jul 5th, '13, 12:22

In case the cause isn't clear, the USPS re-adjusted its international shipping rates about 4 or 5 months ago. Many rates doubled, some tripled or worse.

Before throwing out any ideas, a few things are a bit fuzzy to me, and I could use further explanation to help clarify them. For example, here's one of the standard OTTI info statements:

Chip wrote:Any surplus $$$ will roll over into the OTTI fund. Surplus at the end of the 2013 will go towards charity. For instance, The TC Japan Relief Fund has raised over $1300 for this effort (Through OTTI and Teaware Special Offerings).


So, what I gather is that any surplus from the last couple of OTTIs has actually gone toward subsidizing international shipping, and then any extra goes into a roll over fund, which then might go to a Relief Fund if there's any extra left over at the end of the year?

Speaking of which, I know I probably missed it, but where is the thread that identified the place(s) where that Relief Fund money was donated?

I would certainly appreciate any correction or clarification where required.
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Re: OTTI Think Tank III: Shipping

Postby lordmage » Jul 5th, '13, 13:05

while i have not been around long, i believe your thoughts on the fund and its use are fairly applied in terms of the international shipping.
in terms of left over: if any, at the end of the year.
i figured the donation would be a vote thread.
"who are we donating to this year 2013" type of thing were we the members for a short period could vote on a select few. selected of course by yourself and or ms chip. given the hard work you put into it. i think it is more then fair for you to have a say in the select few that are voted on.


Edit: can you tell i admin at a forum even thou it is about to close with it's disuse.
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Re: OTTI Think Tank III: Shipping

Postby BioHorn » Jul 5th, '13, 19:02

r.e. rise in shipping costs:

This is not only an OTTI problem, it is an international tea-friend problem! With the dramatic increase,the days of me sending you some nice little hunk of some aged pu are over. :|
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Re: OTTI Think Tank III: Shipping

Postby lordmage » Jul 5th, '13, 23:46

OTTI and Notti might be best served by a intermediary for example if the first place being Sir Chip's place Mt fuji. Packing them all for their respective places them mailing one large box to a receiver in the international location then that person breaking said box and mailing the smaller sizes locally. an extra step but could save some money with international rates but if this method don't save money and it is all in my head disregard,
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Re: OTTI Think Tank III: Shipping

Postby Chip » Jul 6th, '13, 00:20

lordmage wrote:OTTI and Notti might be best served by a intermediary for example if the first place being Sir Chip's place Mt fuji. Packing them all for their respective places them mailing one large box to a receiver in the international location then that person breaking said box and mailing the smaller sizes locally. an extra step but could save some money with international rates but if this method don't save money and it is all in my head disregard,

My Mt. Fuji location is a metaphor ... :mrgreen:

Teas are shipped to me in the USA for distribution.
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Re: OTTI Think Tank III: Shipping

Postby lordmage » Jul 6th, '13, 01:21

Chip wrote:
lordmage wrote:OTTI and Notti might be best served by a intermediary for example if the first place being Sir Chip's place Mt fuji. Packing them all for their respective places them mailing one large box to a receiver in the international location then that person breaking said box and mailing the smaller sizes locally. an extra step but could save some money with international rates but if this method don't save money and it is all in my head disregard,

My Mt. Fuji location is a metaphor ... :mrgreen:

Teas are shipped to me in the USA for distribution.
then another option depending on the vendor is a drop ship from them to the OTTI participants. they could set a limit then you would do your normal method
after filling the list and collecting the funds you would relay the amount to the vendor and the ones bound to the us you would do and other volunteers could handle the other ones or simply mailed directly from the vendor.
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Re: OTTI Think Tank III: Shipping

Postby Chip » Jul 6th, '13, 11:35

Drax wrote:In case the cause isn't clear, the USPS re-adjusted its international shipping rates about 4 or 5 months ago. Many rates doubled, some tripled or worse.

Before throwing out any ideas, a few things are a bit fuzzy to me, and I could use further explanation to help clarify them. For example, here's one of the standard OTTI info statements:

Chip wrote:Any surplus $$$ will roll over into the OTTI fund. Surplus at the end of the 2013 will go towards charity. For instance, The TC Japan Relief Fund has raised over $1300 for this effort (Through OTTI and Teaware Special Offerings).


So, what I gather is that any surplus from the last couple of OTTIs has actually gone toward subsidizing international shipping, and then any extra goes into a roll over fund, which then might go to a Relief Fund if there's any extra left over at the end of the year?

Speaking of which, I know I probably missed it, but where is the thread that identified the place(s) where that Relief Fund money was donated?

I would certainly appreciate any correction or clarification where required.

Well, OTTI 18 I was not aware until I went to ship, my fault as I must have been hibernating in the TeaCave. I based my guestimates on past experience. I had it nailed down pretty well (and still do for domestics). International is tough since this covers the entire globe ... and to ship to any country or even regions within countries is different.

But there were not that many internationals for OTTI 18, so for OTTI 19, I figured this would be an observation round. And observe I did ... there were a lot of internationals this round!!! To Canada, shipping doubled to over 7 USD. To Europe, shipping doubled to over 9 USD ... and a few were over 12. You get the picture.

OTTI has never excluded anyone ... but in order to accomodate the increase, I would pretty much have to double internationals' shipping right across the board. I do not see a less expensive solution. Part of why I posted this was to inform members across the board of likely changes, seek input, and hope for a miracle. :mrgreen:

"Profits." The overwhelming bulk of profits were from specific Hagi SO's that were specifically intended to raise money for the Japan Relief Effort. These were forwarded to Japan Red Cross and earmarked for Fukushima relief. I had wanted to make this a more focused donation, but ultimately time was of the essence.

On the other hand, OTTI has really not made much to speak of in the last 2 years, which is ultimately the goal, right? Even as minor "profits" accumulated each round/year, expenses would usually "drain the bank." And some rounds were in the red. There is always something. A few rounds, after I posted OTTI topics (and prices), the cost for the teas was increased over the original estimate. This round it was the international shipping.

If by the end of the year, after all expenses, if OTTI simply breaks even, I am happy ... this is actually ideal.

But OTTI 20 will have to be adjusted.

The only other solution is to find a "sponsor" ... but I have shied away from this in order to maintain program credibility and autonomy which I feel are critical elements of OTTI.

Keep in mind, I had been conducting "unofficial tastings" for several years before OTTI was coined. When Adagio happened to notice discussions on tastings, they proposed a program which I would organize, but they would handle all the logistics (all teas would be shipped to Adagio, they would package and ship to participants), price setting, payments. This stalled the program for almost a year as I was not comfortable with this arrangement ... not that I distrusted Adagio, but this arrangement would have quite a different feel and appearance. It also lacked synergy as the tastings would not be as high a priority for Adagio as they were for me ... and YOU! :mrgreen:

I also felt our goals were not congruent. And there would be those who would point fingers of distrust.
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Re: OTTI Think Tank III: Shipping

Postby Drax » Jul 6th, '13, 13:43

Thanks for the info, Chip, that was all very helpful!

So there appears to be three main courses of action.

1. Have international (to the US) participants pay the full cost of shipping.
2. Have others (anybody) subsidize the shipping.
2a. Voluntarily (folks can add extra to their payment to cover down for others)
2b. Pool all the shipping costs together and then average by the number of participants (so everybody pays the same shipping cost)
2c. Find a sponsor (whether the vendor or otherwise) to cover the cost (which is a specialized version of '2a')
3. Have the source of the tea ship directly to participants (this option would in effect turn the OTTI more into a "groupon," aside from the forum discussion).

I wish I had better options than that, but let's face it. Shipping costs suck. I would order more frequently from overseas vendors if shipping were less, but instead I build up a list and then buy in much larger chunks. But I do change my habits because of it.

Do you have any sense of how the new high cost of shipping would actually impact participation?
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Re: OTTI Think Tank III: Shipping

Postby Chip » Jul 6th, '13, 14:00

Thank you for your input, Drax. Interesting ideas. I have also received some input via PMs from other members, thank you!

Since I have not tested the waters yet, I am somewhat clueless how higher international shipping costs could impact participation. Nobody likes to see shipping doubled!?!

This changes the formula that was working relatively well.
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Re: OTTI Think Tank III: Shipping

Postby Devoted135 » Jul 6th, '13, 14:07

The only other course of action that I can think of is to delegate a trusted forum member as the regional representative. Chip could (for example) send one package containing all of the Europe-destined envelopes to one European participant who would then bear the responsibility of mailing out the individual packages to participants in that region (have a rep for Europe, Asia, etc). However, I'm not at all sure that this would result in a lesser total shipping cost. :?
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Re: OTTI Think Tank III: Shipping

Postby saxon75 » Jul 6th, '13, 14:20

I can't speak for anyone else, of course, but personally I would be more than happy to pay a little more to help subsidize international shipping costs. I think that OTTI is a wonderful program and I'd hate to see it get bogged down or radically changed due to something like shipping.
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Re: OTTI Think Tank III: Shipping

Postby debunix » Jul 7th, '13, 12:57

saxon75 wrote:I can't speak for anyone else, of course, but personally I would be more than happy to pay a little more to help subsidize international shipping costs.


+1

Of course, the problem is figuring out how much extra to subsidize when you don't know (1) how many international participants there will be and (2) what the actual charges will be until you're at the post office....
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Re: OTTI Think Tank III: Shipping

Postby lordmage » Jul 7th, '13, 16:41

i think given the nature of OTTI being First come first serve and Chip knows how many seats are allowed before hand and that he is US local those who join in the us could pay a few cents more to help those who sit elsewhere but since the shipment comes to chip then goes out the only options have been nicely brought up in that nice list a few post up. given the cost to send it back across the pond it might be best to have two OTTI's one for domestic and another for international spots with avg shipping.

domestic OTTI's would pay their avg shipping plus a few cents.
the International OTTI's ran by an official regional rep with chips help. so in essence the OTTI vendor would send one large package to chip for the domestic Seats then the regional rep would receive one has well and ship locally for them who pay there own avg plus a few cents. in terms of vendor support they could easily send the domestic and internal large package via there internal discounted bulk method. so it can then be mailed from a local agent to either Chip or Regional OTTI rep.

This would a be Chip handling his Domestic OTTI seats then the Reps handling there seats independently from each other but for the same OTTI teas. the shipping cost to the rep can then be divided among the OTTI seats plus the local shipping to them. so if people take several seats the still pay the seat share on shipping cost far each seat.
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