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May 2014

Letter From The Editor

The Plate Lady has had a very busy Holiday Season and we are just beginning to catch our breath after a very brisk early spring rush.

But with Mother's Day right around the corner it probably won't be much of a respite, so I thought I would use these few precious moments to catch up with our loyal customers and let you know what is going on with us.

Our main focus between the holiday seasons is to expand the lines we carry, so that we can offer even more choices and variety to our customers.

I would like to talk briefly about Shipping costs, since they are a great concern to consumers who shop online.

When you shop online, you have access to a phenomenal variety of choices that you cannot possibly find locally. I am sure that is the major reason for online shopping.

The trade off is that you have to pay for shipping. BUT think about the time and gas money you save by not having to drive around looking for just the right item you need!

I think your time has to have a monetary value placed on it, since you could be at work making money rather than driving around from store to store looking at the limited inventory each store has to offer.

Even if your job is shopping, you probably shop online first, to narrow your search, rather than spending your days driving from store to store.

So comparing the cost of shipping to the value of your time and travel expense is valid and should be considered when deciding how practical shipping costs really are.

Again, we are very aware that Shipping costs are a great concern to our customers. That is definitely understandable and we want to be as fair as possible by only charging what we are charged by shippers AND we actually also give our customers the benefits of any volume discounts we receive from shippers.

Although we do not offer free shipping, please don't be fooled by companies that do offer free shipping. Shipping is never really free. Someone must pay the shipper, and I can guarantee it is the consumer every time. The usual method they use is to add the cost of shipping into the cost of the goods, and if the goods are returned, that's when you find out that shipping was not really free.

We try to keep our prices low and we do not incorporate the cost of shipping into the price of our products. We use an old fashioned retail formula, for price markup, that The Plate Lady has been using for the past 30 years. It allows us to stay in business by covering our business expenses and our payroll expense, but we do not show huge profits at the end of the year like many newer companies do.

Because we are a family owned business, we do not have shareholders pressuring us to make more and more profits.

So thankfully we are not required to make a profit from shipping, but the only way we know of, to make sure customers are charged exactly what shipping their order costs us, is to calculate them by hand, once we know the weight and shipping address for each order. In fact, shipping also costs us money due to credit card processing costs, that we lose if an order is returned. (Another good reason to make sure customers are happy with their orders.)

We have been hard at work trying to figure out a fair system of calculating shipping costs that will work with our shopping cart, so that customers will know in advance what their shipping costs (and taxes if applicable) will be.

The problem we are facing is that we cannot find a shipping calculator, that will calculate actual shipping costs anywhere, except on the shipper's web sites. Those calculators use the package weight and the ! zone ! (distance between shipper and delivery address) to calculate the cost and they also subtract our volume discounts automatically.

Therefore, we need to find a way to charge everyone the same for shipping, whether they live on the east coast or the west coast. Somehow that doesn't seem fair to people who live only a short distance from us, but we cannot see any other way to accomplish this task.

That's why we have not updated to a system that will calculate shipping costs automatically yet.

But this summer we will be taking on that task and hopefully it will be up and running by the fall.

The main message we want to convey is that we are always working to improve customer service for our customers.

Our customers are of the utmost importance to us, and as our repeat customers already know, we go the extra mile to make sure shopping on our web site is a positive experience, that will make you want to come back again and again.

Have a wonderful Spring & Summer!

The Plate Lady Staff

Thank you for shopping with The Plate Lady™ ® of Tampa Bay!

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