We are super excited to present you the result of our team’s hard work spanning over the course of the last several months. We have made a lot of major and minor changes and improvements to bring you better experience and offer better services at better prices.
Let’s go through the most important changes we’ve made.
- Fair Products Prices
- Fair Shipping Prices
- New Shipping Services
- New Packaging Service
- Prices and Payments in Euros
Fair Products Prices
Since the launch of our website almost eight months ago, we have always been looking for ways to make our products prices fair to everyone.
Initially we decided to offer tax-inclusive prices for all products and services so that our customers wouldn’t get surprised by additional charges at checkout. It also meant that customers around the world had to pay the same amount of money for the same products no matter what their country’s tax rate was, as we took care of paying the relevant tax on their behalf behind the scenes.
Unfortunately, that idea proved to be not as good as we thought it was.
Firstly, because VAT/GST rates differ quite substantially from one country to another (and also because some countries allow tax-free imports under a certain threshold), offering the same tax-inclusive prices to all customers meant that the actual before-tax prices were different, which was somewhat unfair to our customers from countries with low or zero tax rates.
Secondly, not everyone paid attention to the fact that our prices were tax-inclusive, which led to them making a false conclusion that our prices were unreasonably high.
Finally, we incurred quite high costs associated with outsourcing the tax compliance work to a contractor who had to calculate a relevant tax amount to be paid by us for each order.
Therefore, we decided that it would actually be fairer if we had all our prices be before-tax. And from now on, that’s the way they are. The prices are still the same for all customers around the world, but they no longer include the homogenised tax component. If required, a relevant tax amount will be calculated at checkout (more on that below).
Fair Shipping Prices
A similar thing happened with our shipping prices.
On one hand, we decided to make shipping rates simple and therefore placed shipping destinations around the world into just four tiers with the same rates applicable to all countries within each tier.
On the other hand, it meant that we had to homogenise the rates within each tier while the actual shipping costs that we incurred varied from one country to another. Sometimes the price differences were so big that we were making considerable losses on shipping.
On top of that, the real shipping prices tend to fluctuate over time (especially during seasonal peaks), while our rates remained unchanged for over seven months, so eventually it became obvious that our approach to setting shipping prices was far from ideal.
We have spent a lot of time looking for shipping providers who offered quality reasonably-priced services, and are glad to announce that we are now able to offer you up-to-date country-specific shipping rates that we source directly from our shipping partners.
This also means that our shipping prices will be fluctuating from now on, but this is an inevitable side-effect of using market-based rates.
New Shipping Services
Up until now we offered a DDP (delivered duty paid) service to all countries around the world providing customs clearance and taking care of paying all required import taxes and duties on behalf of our customers.
While it allowed us to offer door-to-door shipping to all our customers, unfortunately, the customs clearance service proved to be overly expensive for certain destinations. Moreover, our new shipping partners offer convenient shipping methods only to a limited number of destinations, so we regret to announce that we will no longer be able to offer shipping to certain countries.
Nonetheless, we are and will be doing our best to ship our products to as many countries as possible. As of now, we provide two shipping services to 40+ countries around the globe.
Our customers from the EU, Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States can benefit from our Shipping Plus service, which provides them with a complete peace of mind, as we will take care of collecting an applicable tax at checkout and paying it and/or any required import duties to the relevant authorities.
This service still has customs clearance included, so packages shipped to the above mentioned countries will be delivered right to customer’s doorstep.
We are also launching the new Basic Shipping service to Canada, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Malaysia, Norway, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland, Thailand, and the United Arab Emirates. We will collect no tax for orders shipped to those countries, but import tax and/or duties may still apply and be payable on delivery.
We advise our customers from the above mentioned countries to check with the customs authority of their country to get an up-to-date information on the applicable import tax and any exemptions available.
New Packaging Service
The more orders we’ve been getting, the more frequently we’ve been contacted by our customers telling us that they received poorly packaged items, some of which were scratched, cracked or otherwise damaged. Although the number of complaints has always been relatively small compared to the total number of orders, the very fact of some customers getting damaged items signified that there definitely were some packaging issues.
Initially we thought that the issues were caused by boxes being damaged on the way from our international shipping facility to their final overseas destinations, but over time it became clear that in the majority of cases the real cause of the issues was the way items were packaged by GoBricks in their warehouse and how those packages were then delivered to our facility.
Unfortunately, it turned out that occasionally GoBricks would put all ordered items into a single plastic bag and place it into a carton box as is, without adding any protective wrapping or filling. Although our shipping facility is located in the same region as their warehouse, due to the way the items were packaged, some of them arrived to us already damaged.
Of course, we informed GoBricks about that, but they only told us that they were still working on a better sorting and packing mechanism and that they weren’t able to quickly change the way they packaged orders. Well, that was quite a surprising response, to be honest, because we didn’t expect a company well known for its quality products and operating in the market for many years to be unable to properly package its products.
Nonetheless, we didn’t want to wait until they finally change their packaging process, especially given that it was (and still is) unclear as to how much time that would take. Therefore, we decided to launch our own packaging service.
After spending more than a month on testing different packaging solutions and materials and receiving feedback from our customers whose orders were repackaged by us, we are now ready to offer this service to all our customers.
We use eco-friendly wrapping and filling materials and put all items into carton boxes of standardised size and volume. We also arranged with GoBricks for fragile items to be packaged and delivered to our facility separately from other items and via a better courier service. Also, because we now use our own boxes, we are able to calculate the final shipping weight and volume with a much higher precision than before. This, in turn, allows us to base our shipping rates on the exact net weight and volume of ordered items rather than on estimated gross and volumetric weight of shipping boxes as it used to be.
As always, we will be honest with you — this new packaging solution does come at a cost, so we will start charging a flat handling fee for each order, but we are certain that the benefit the new packaging provides is worth this little extra money.
We would like to thank all our customers who provided us with feedback and advice on our packaging service — it really helped us a lot!
Prices and Payments in Euros
As we receive many orders from customers living in the EU countries, and in our pursuit to provide them with a convenient payment solution, we are happy to announce that we now accept the Euro as a payment currency.
Moreover, instead of simply converting US dollars into Euros at a disadvantageous exchange rate at checkout, we have integrated Euro as a first-class currency into our system, meaning that we now use it to show all prices throughout the website. We also offer referral coupons and loyalty programme rewards denominated in Euros. Finally, we use live market exchange rate and don’t charge currency conversion fee.
Our existing customers could switch their preferred currency by clicking on a corresponding button next to the basket button (at the right of the top menu). We will also pre-select Euro for our new visitors from Europe based on their geolocation.
That’s Not All!
We have also made many other improvements to our system, which might not be so obvious, but which still allow us to offer you products and services of very high quality.
We promise to continue evolving our services and welcome your feedback and suggestions and are always open to collaboration offers, so don’t hesitate to contact us on any of the above.