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DHL as shipping partner – should’ve been the first choice from day one

I’m happy to announce that as of today DHL and Pennonia partnered up to offer fast, reliable delivery of your purchases with reasonable shipping prices.

Here’s what you need to know about the changes happening at Pennonia:

  1. We are dropping DPD as a choice for international deliveries. Only exception is Hungary.
  2. We are dropping Romanian Post and Hungarian Post for international deliveries.
  3. Domestic deliveries within Romania will be handled by FAN Courier.

We are on full DHL mode and I’m sure everyone will find this move convenient and comfortable (for yourself and your wallet as well). The main advantage after the lower cost is that deliveries will now be faster and can also be tracked more reliably and easily.

Please consult the FAQ here for shipping zones and rates.

I didn’t want to turn this post into a long one but I rarely get a chance to talk about starting up the business, plus I rarely have the time to post on the blog anyway, so things build up. If you’re not interested in my jibber-jabber and only came for the news part, then this is a great place to stop reading and starting to put that sweet pen/ink combo you were eyeing into the cart! ๐Ÿ˜›

From a business running standpoint I can tell you right here, right now that DHL is on another level compared to my previous delivery options and I’m looking forward to never having to search for another courier ever again.

I honestly feel a little bit dumb not contacting them sooner as it would have solved a lot of headaches, especially with non EU deliveries. I’m getting ahead of myself though so let’s jump to the beginning of things.

When I first started searching for shipping partners I had no idea how international (meaning non EU) e-commerce worked. I knew that it’s not as simple as selling something as a natural person since a company, a legal person has to go through the proper customs channels if they want to do things by the book. And I’m not the kind of person who likes dodging customs and taxes.

Rules are also different from country to country and in my case things got a little bit complicated when it came to international deliveries. You see, in Romania, you can’t send non EU packages from any post office, you need to go to the main city of your county to a specific post office on Wednesdays between 9-11 AM (or maybe 9-14 not really better anyway). This meant that I would have needed to drive 30 minutes there, stand in line, fill out declarations and then drive back home. It wasn’t a feasible thing especially when I moved to Budapest since then I would have had to ask my dad to go and at this point it’s already enough that I’m asking them to pack orders for pick-up by the courier.

So in the beginning (and again, I have no idea why I just didn’t went with DHL from the get go) I contacted FAN Courier and DPD first to be partners within Romania and for EU countries. The thing was that for EU countries the Post Office was cheaper, they offered insured, priority and tracked packages for a better price than DPD so I never really used DPD apart from a few cases here and there. I was also pretty much satisfied to be able to sell to the EU countries (I mean at the start I was happy I even managed to have sales) but I quickly realized that I’m severely limiting my potential by not doing worldwide deliveries, especially since I got into ink making and at that point it was a necessity.

Now in the beginning there you are with your new e-commerce site and look at all the big guys with their fancy shipping prices or even free shipping and you start to think, how in the actual f#$k can they offer worldwide free shipping. Well it was obvious even back then but a part of me still hoped, still believed in miracles. In the mean time though I confirmed it for myself that these magical numbers are pretty much fake. I literally got 100% confirmation from the agent I was talking when I signed the current shipping contract. Nothing in this life is free and the standard practice is to hide the cost in the price of the products. He even said the only way to get close to fable numbers like 5 euros worldwide is to have 1000+ packages A DAY and still hide a few euros in the price of the items!!

In the beginning this caused me great deal of stress and headaches. I was obsessed with trying to lower the shipping cost. I wasted days creating spreadsheets for different kind of services, comparing prices, calculating the weight of things and then coming up with formulas that I could use in WooCommerce to calculate shipping. Of course they never really calculated things perfectly and there was always the chance that a miscalculated shipping price would wipe out all the profit from an order (actually happened a couple times ๐Ÿ™ ). I have now came to the realization that it was futile. I also refuse to hide the price of shipping in the price of the product even if it means I will lose sales due to postage prices and as thanks to this experience, as a consumer I reached a point where I don’t really hesitate at 10-15 euros shipping , especially when something from someone I want to support because I know that these are the real world prices and they can’t really do anything to lower them, except to eat the cost of shipping (which is not always possible, think for instance if a customer purchases 1 bottle of ink for 3 euros, let’s say you have 1 euro profit, that still has to be slapped with an income tax and you can’t really offer 5 euro shipping by eating up 10 euros out of the real life price of shipping – total 15 euros. ) I hope my current and future customers will be like minded and will understand that if I could I would offer free shipping, but I don’t want to hide it in the price and I hope everyone can understand that the point of a business is to make a profit. I think the current prices on the site are fair, yes I would love to lower the shipping prices further and I hope that in the future as I get more sales I will have the chance to renegotiate and get a better rate.

Continuing our story, we left of at international delivery options and how the Romanian Post wasn’t an option and yet even then I still didn’t think about DHL. I first contacted DPD and by the time they explained all the things to me they stopped offering international deliveries! Sooo yeeeaaah.

Next up, the Hungarian Post. The Hungarian Post is a double edged sword in my little tale. On one hand, unlike the Romanian Post, they accept international packages from all post offices, while on the other hand they are really really really really really expensive. 65 euros for a box, doesn’t matter how big, how small, how light, how heavy, it was a flat rate of 65 euros for international packages. Now I’m a fan of paying good money for quality things (and while honest to God I never had a problem with them) but I felt that I could get better service for less if I could find a good partner for shipping.

But even then Dr. Genius (AKA me) still didn’t think about contacting DHL. The spark only came when one day I realized I need to find a company who can bring me the ink bottles for my inks because my supplier stopped offering to send them. And ladies and gentlemen that’s when I picked up the phone and called DHL.

The moral of this story is, don’t be like me, call a serious company like DHL, FedEx or another huge shipping company which does everything in house (i.e. doesn’t subcontract customs work) and has a proper online platform/e-commerce software integration. (Seriously DPD, I love you and everything but you couldn’t request a pickup before the date that was on the AWB and the WooCommerce plugin was broken).

I think this is a pretty good place to stop this post. If you have any questions at all, regarding starting up, running an e-commerce website, don’t hesitate to leave a comment below. I’ll try to answer them as best as I can!

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