Every time you spend money you are making a statement. It’s your personal purchasing power. We all have it and we have far more power than we realise. It can be fantastic. Just look at the reduction in plastic over the past few years with people saying no to items wrapped in single-use plastic.
What factors determine the way you purchase items? Maybe price? What about the quality or the use of environmentally friendly packaging? What about company values or the product’s carbon footprint?
For convenience, our family has purchased from large on-line retailers/distributors like Amazon. We even signed up for a special account, which offered benefits including expedited and cheaper shipping options. You can find practically anything on Amazon and even find competing prices for the same product. Simply put – Amazon’s format is easy and in a hectic world, I look for ways to make life easier so I can focus on priorities – my family and I are slowly realising, myself.
ON! Juniper is still a small business. I still buy a lot of ingredients in small quantities. I’ve bought ingredients for ON! Juniper with Amazon as it provided a good range of certified organic products from trusted and recognisable companies. I liked this. This good standing with Amazon resulted in an application to Amazon Handmade. I tried the regular Amazon route, but the monthly fees weren’t practical for a small, independent business trying to gain a foothold and grow a customer base. For the time, Amazon Handmade was free to use – I only had to pay a percentage of my sales.
It’s a competitive marketplace however and there are a lot of bath bombs and lip balms advertised on Amazon. Some of the advertising isn’t always straightforward either. Bath bombs being advertised as organic or natural for example often still contain synthetic fragrances and artificial colours. Ditto for lip balms, especially those for children!
As a result, I had to look for ways to get noticed. Offering customers lower shipping fees and PRIME benefits was one way. As a small company, there are times when I take a loss, but overall there was still a buffer in there to make a wee bit. More importantly, the ability to get noticed on Amazon was a good marketing option. You can make the best products in the world, but if people don’t know you exist, then it’s difficult to sell!
In January 2019 I started selling on Amazon Handmade, offering lower to no shipping fees and PRIME delivery times (for premade items). (The price per product, of course, was higher than the retail price on my website and many businesses selling on Amazon do this). The result? I saw an increase in customers and I started to feel good about it. Amazon wasn’t so bad I thought.
On my last order received for ON! Juniper organic and natural lip balm a rather bold notice came from Amazon – you must ship with Amazon Shipping. I hadn’t noticed this before, but at that point realised that in order to qualify for all the extra exposure with PRIME, I had to buy shipping through Amazon.
I tried and I was shocked at the result. The ON! Juniper lip balm, including packaging, weighed 31 grams and cost around £1.03 to ship with Royal Mail. To ship via Amazon with Royal Mail the total was £6.48! I could not believe it! This was more than the cost of the lip balm itself. This was not a loss I could absorb. I had to, unfortunately, cancel the sale and hoped that the customer would buy directly from my website. He didn’t.
I realise Amazon is a business too and has to make money. Charging a postage rate that exceeds the price of a product is not acceptable in my mind. This is especially applicable given the platform I was selling from – Amazon Handmade – which caters to small, independent shops who rely on profits made from each sale to cover operational expenses.
This experience has made me more vigilant in where and with whom I spend my money. Every time I spend money I’m making a statement, supporting a cause and/or legitimising a business. As a consumer, I am powerful and I exercise this every day. As a business owner, I have the opportunity to provide you, the customer, with an opportunity to support a business that puts customers ahead of profit. That’s why everything we do from product development to corporate structure, ethics and sustainability (environmental, social and economic impact) receive a higher priority than profit margins.
Support local, independent shops and those larger ones that truly place ethics at the heart of their business. I’m not saying no to all the large corporations. I’m simply saying no to corporations who focus on financial gain and don’t operate with a clear and legitimate ethical, social and environmental business lines.