Being Competitive From Afar…

As you may have seen in my previous post, I live in Perth Western Australia. A very far away place to be.

The internet has provided a more even playing field in the world of internet retail. I can now sell to someone in Springer New Mexico, or Toulouse France or Cheltenham in the United Kingdom and it’s almost like having my own store in those very countries.

The biggest problem I face now, as a seller in Australia (and I am not alone here) is the postage costs. It can cost almost the price of a very small car just to post a book to the other side of Australia, let alone the other side of the world.

For example, to send a book in Australia that weighs over 500grams (approximately 17 ounces) costs AUS$9.90. To send a book under 500grams has varying prices ranging from AUS$1.10 through to AUS$5.70. You can just about double these prices for international postage AND you can also wait up to 3 months for that book to be delivered, depending on which postage option you’ve chosen.

In Australia we don’t have a subsidised postage system. A discount applies when you buy postage articles in bulk; satchels, stamps, prepaid envelopes etc – but that is where the discounts /subsidies stop. We have only one major postal system – Australia Post. We do also have Skippy Post but I haven’t heard of a lot of other sellers using it on a regular basis. So we have a very large organisation that has the monopoly on postage here and it can make for a very one-tiered system.

And this is where we are finding it hard to be competitive with our Northern hemisphere peers.

A recent look at books for sale on shows that the same book that I am trying to sell for AUS$14 with AUS$5.70 postage, is being sold there for AUS$14.99 with free postage. TO AUSTRALIA! Not only is the seller offering free postage within their own country – they are also offering free postage to mine!

And good luck to them too.

I would be doing exactly the same thing if my country’s postal system could offer such discounts to high-volume users.

There is not really a lot there can be done about this. The United Kingdom seems to have a postal system that rewards volume users. Royal Mail must be a sellers dream come true (recent strikes excepted of course). After a quick check on their website – Royal Mail says:

“Airmail from 59p”

Wow! Even with today’s exchange rate that is CHEAPER than Australia’s cheapest national postage rate for a large letter.


Perhaps I need to move to Cheltenham?

[editor’s note: we have the same difficulties in Canada – How are postal rates/service in your area ?]

1 thought on “Being Competitive From Afar…”

  1. I totally agree.

    I have an online bookshop also, except I am located on the opposite side of of Australia to you, the Sunshine Coast, Queensland.

    Postage overseas, especially for the larger or hardcover books, really has made our overseas market very limited.

    With an average of AU$25.00 to the U.S (via Airmail), for a book between 500grams – 1kg, really has knocked most Australian booksellers out of this market, (unless you are willing to cover some of this cost yourself)

    Good Luck to you, and continue to grow!

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