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Discussion for my crazy plan for a shopping service with free stateside shipping

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Ok guys, here's my grand plan.  I welcome any questions and feedback as I'm probably explaining this terribly.  The purpose of this thread it to start discussion and get feedback.

 

Introducing a new type of shopping service!  One without prohibitive shipping charges!  This is primarily geared toward people in the USA, but there is a way to make it work for those outside the US.

 

 

It operates in the same way as a regular shopping service in that you email us your desired item, we'll send you back a price quote, you'll send us the money over PayPal, and we'll buy the item.  (We plan on making a webpage with a fee calculator to minimize back-and-forth messaging.)

 

At the cost of slightly-higher per-item fees, customers in the US will pay shipping from New Mexico rather than Japan.  We only charge an extra 15% for items under 1000 yen, and 12% for items over 1000 yen.  (on top of what FromJapan charges)  The customer ends up saving a lot of money because the additional per-item fees pale in comparison to international shipping costs.

 

Q: How are you able to do this?  How do you make money from this?  This seems too good to be true.

A:  The short answer is, we don't expect to make money from this.  We have been brainstorming ways to make owning VK easier for the average fan for over two years now.  While RarezHut's webshop and streams do help this, it doesn't help the fan who wants newer releases.  Leveraging our existing relationship with FromJapan, we are able to charge the smallest-possible per-item price increase over multiple orders in order to pay for international shipping.

Is this a lot of work for what MAY be a few cents profit?  Yes, but we believe it will benefit the health of the community.  Could this spectacularly backfire and end up COSTING you money?  If we only get one of two orders then yes it very well will, but I believe it is still worth pursuing.  Great reward (a service to MH and the fandom as a whole in thise case) has never come without that initial leap into the unknown.

 

Q: How much longer would this whole process take compared to if I were to just order things by myself?

A: One of the ways we get a lower per-item shipping cost is that we end up shipping giant crates with hundreds of items.  Our giant crate shipments are typically once/month, so we will announce a date when our next shipment will go out, and people have up until a week before that date to place their order.  We use FedEx priority to get the package stateside, which only takes about 3 days.

 

 

LET'S NOT FORGET OUR NON-US CUSTOMERS

Paying a higher-per item fee PLUS shipping from the US doesn't make sense.  What some of RarezHut's EU costumers have chosen to do is have us order their items like normal, then include them in the shipment that they buy off our streaming auctions or our store.

The offer to combine shopping service orders with stream and store orders extends to our US costomers as well of course.

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 I was thinking of leaving this thread up for a few more days to get more feedback and generate more discussion.  I'll then create a MH Market thread (separate from the main RarezHut one) with more details such as shipment times and windows.  If there is enough interest and demand for this service, we may even be able to lower our rates.

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Additionally, as someone from the U.S, I'm super interested in this. 
A 12% fee on each of my 6 CDs (in my most recent shipment) would amount roughly to $7. My FJ overseas fee for that shipment cost $33.
 

If you're able to chop shipping fees like that... 

 

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This would be extremely helpful since I buy more stuff on webshops than I do on yahoo or mbok (b/c specials). 

 

That being said, I'd like to hear more about the logistics. 

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hypothetical situation:

 

We announce that we have an open FromJapan order that will ship out Feb 20th, and people have until Feb 13th to get their orders in to guarantee they go out in this shipment.

We charge 13% (if over 1000 yen, otherwise 15%) on top of FromJapan's per-item fees (200 yen/item, internal shipping), you end up saving though because you are not paying EMS shipping or the percentage of the shipping fees that they charge you.

 

 

I'm not from the US, but I would love to give it a try anw =)

But shipping fees between US and France are completely crazy tho. :/

 

 

If you ever feel like checking out the RarezHut store or streams, we can always combine anything you special order with your store/stream order.  The prices on the store and stream are quite cheaper than you'll most likely find in Japan too.  So it evens out some :)

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As a non-US customer, the deal is not interesting at all, I already bought stuff during rarezhut stream, and shipping fees ended up beeing as expensive as FJ shipping fees for way less CDs, so I've paid as much as if I bought the CDs via FJ + it took more time to arrive 

 

It's great for US customers, but still is as expensive as buying directly from FJ if you're outside of the US

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I love it, i mostly pursue newer material from new bands unfortunately my places to order from are limited to CDJ and ClosetChild and honestly a lot of stuff doesnt get listed on CDJ and closet child has rarely gets anything that get my attention #TooMuchGoldenBomberMerch so i would greatly be interested.

but, i do have a question: Will you be able to get exclusive shop bonuses ? or web shop items? or live limited items? or are the itens limited to only FromJapan?

if service becomes available i plan to use next month :D so please let us know ! :)

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As a non-US customer, the deal is not interesting at all, I already bought stuff during rarezhut stream, and shipping fees ended up beeing as expensive as FJ shipping fees for way less CDs, so I've paid as much as if I bought the CDs via FJ + it took more time to arrive

It's great for US customers, but still is as expensive as buying directly from FJ if you're outside of the US

This. Shipping large orders from RarezHut to Europe is unfortunately double the expenses than it is when I purchase large orders from Japan. Even with FromJapan's extra service fees I'm better off than I am with RarezHut.

I'd perhaps be interested if you offered different shipping methods, Val (and Panda), because you always choose tracking without discussing it with the customer and this heavily increases the price. I've never lost a single package before in the mail, and I am certain that other people overseas would appreciate it as well.

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How well would you balance shipping service duties and RarezHut business duties, especially around stream season? This looks like it could become quite time consuming if it becomes popular and it's just the two of you AFAIK.

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If you ever feel like checking out the RarezHut store or streams, we can always combine anything you special order with your store/stream order.  The prices on the store and stream are quite cheaper than you'll most likely find in Japan too.  So it evens out some :)

I will be 100% honest with you Val, and don't take it personally (it's not the way I want it!): I totally hate your streams auctions system, I did it once, and I left before the end, I find it slow and annoying (the auction system, not the fact that we can see panda joking around or whatever, I think it's pretty cool). I feel like....you know, I feel like you put all the good stuff in these auctions, and it's difficult to spend 2h+ /3 days sitting and waiting eternally for the stuff that you would eventually want (because well, you could have things to do). And the RH update, well later then. I prefer the traditionnal system.

I ordered once via panda (and I took a cd from rarezhut too, so 2 cds), the shipping was in-sane. So today, well, if I want something that is on RH, I will try to search if I can have it otherwise. But I'm not blaming you for shipping fees, it's not your fault ofc!

 

I still appreciate the fact that you would propose shipping service tho to facilite VK's lovers (I think it's a great initiative, and no auctions so yay), and if you put it in place, I would eventually try it. But depends on the result, it could be a one shot.

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I'd perhaps be interested if you offered different shipping methods, Val (and Panda), because you always choose tracking without discussing it with the customer and this heavily increases the price. I've never lost a single package before in the mail, and I am certain that other people overseas would appreciate it as well.

 

Just to address this quickly, but the shipping that we almost always use for our international customers IS the cheapest available... it's just standard US post. As of maybe 3-4 years ago, tracking became free and included on all packages sent via USPS. Unfortunately it really is just that expensive to ship from the US :(

 

 

I will be 100% honest with you Val, and don't take it personally (it's not the way I want it!): I totally hate your streams auctions system, I did it once, and I left before the end, I find it slow and annoying (the auction system, not the fact that we can see panda joking around or whatever, I think it's pretty cool). I feel like....you know, I feel like you put all the good stuff in these auctions, and it's difficult to spend 2h+ /3 days sitting and waiting eternally for the stuff that you would eventually want (because well, you could have things to do). And the RH update, well later then. I prefer the traditionnal system.

 

We've been working on things in the background, so there's a lot that's not apparent at the moment. Panda has been working to completely redo the RarezHut webshop as we are both not very happy with how it currently is... this is why there hasn't been any store updates in a while. Until the new store is up, we've been focusing mostly on the streams since it seemed like the best way to sell our new inventory in the meantime. Once the new site is up, the inventory will be split between what goes on the stream and what goes directly on the site. We're also looking into other ways that we can improve our streams(they're still a work in progress, after all) and any suggestions there are very appreciated :)

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It sounds like a neat idea. I buy pretty much only new music, but unfortunately I rarely use a shopping service. Everything I want to buy, I find on a store that sells overseas. I've never really had that problem. And when I do use a shopping service, it's usually at most two CDs or one CD. I never buy anything more than that, because I've never needed to lol

 

But it does sound like a great idea! Maybe in the future I will be able to use it! I'd feel bad only ordering one or two CDs when it sounds like the more you order, the more money you guys can make. I'm all for promoting small businesses! 

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How well would you balance shipping service duties and RarezHut business duties, especially around stream season? This looks like it could become quite time consuming if it becomes popular and it's just the two of you AFAIK.

 

Sorry for not responding to you in my last post.

Our new stream schedule places streams every other month.  The intervening months are going to be spent on the webshop. (adding inventory, increasing functionality, etc)  It's like we've become old pros at packing and shipping due to the streams, so we're not worried about that.

I know balancing time and completing everything quickly is a legitimate and timely concern, so I'll go into more detail.  (pun fully intended)  Here is our existing schedule with the shopping service as well.

 

Month One:

    week 1: catalog and research OUR new inventory, sort shopping service orders and pack them up, send out shipping quotes and mail out packages as quotes are paid, plan next FromJapan crate and start taking orders.

    week 2: creating music playlist for stream, checking software, handpicking stuff for giveaways

    STREAM WEEKEND, send out invoice, fall into a light coma

    week 3: work on misc stuff, manage payments/reminders for invoices, doing inventory prep for packing supplies

    STREAM WEEKEND, pack up everything (20+ orders), get shipping quotes, send out invoices+quotes, fall into a mild coma

    week 4: send out packages as we receive payment, finalize and ensure everything we bought is at FromJapan, send the next big crate on it's way to us.  (then immediately cry as someone has a giant sale right after)

 

Month Two:

    week 1: catalog and research OUR new inventory, sort shopping service orders and pack them up, send out shipping quotes and mail out packages as quotes are paid, plan next FromJapan crate and start taking orders.

    weeks 2-3: work on webshop functionality, add more products to webshop

    week 4: finalize and ensure everything we bought is at FromJapan, send the next big crate on it's way to us.  (then cry as ANOTHER big sale starts)

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Will you be able to get exclusive shop bonuses ? or web shop items? or live limited items? or are the itens limited to only FromJapan?

 

We would certainly be able to get exclusive shop bonuses and web-shop things, as those are both things that we can get through FromJapan. Live-limited stuff is a no-go, unfortunately, since that would require someone in Japan to go to concerts. If you want to pay to fly Panda to Japan, then I'm sure he'd pick up whatever you want though :P

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I think (not entirely sure) -NOVA- might be alluding to an auction service.

That being the case, it would be too much of a time investment on Rarezhut's part w/ sniper bidding and real time stuff.
Even if the item has a "buy now" option, it's common courtesy to have an account available to provide user feedback, etc (which FJ does function as). 
It's a ton of extra steps.

 

Edit: *FACEPALM*. I totally forgot that all of this is done through FJ so you don't... really... have... to... worry... about... that...
        Well, cool. Basically I'm getting the advantages of a reduced shipping fee due to items being sent en bulk. 
     

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I guess I might make use of it. So far it seems to be a good alternative to buy directly from FJ. Last time I bought from FromJapan I had to pay ridiculous shipping fees. like almost three times as much as my items cost, even though I chose the cheepest shipping option. Maybe I was also too dumb and looked over something… but then they packed my three CDs into a shitton of bubble wraps and into a much larger box and that probably rose the price up to eleven. Seems that's not the first time that happened as I saw others on MH complaining about that.

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This might be a silly question but can I order any Japanese music or is it just VK stuff only?

Any is fine, of course :) And it doesn't need to be limited to music at all, either.

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