When I was still producing stamp catalogs, I mailed a free catalog to anyone who requested one, whether they live in Australia or England. While I am no longer producing a Whiskey Creek catalog, it probably seems a bit hypocritical to talk about free, but the principal is the same. I still believe in free catalogs. After mailing out 4500 to customers all over the world, I know whereof I speak. They are costly. They don't generate a lot of sales considering the cost. The internet is still a better avenue for reaching customers than a printed catalog. But the human spirit reacts to a beautiful catalog in a way a computer screen will never be able to simulate.
Were I still producing a catalog, it would still be free.
One of the things that has always bothered me personally is paying for a catalog so I could order something. As catalogs go, this is a relatively recent (past 25 years) addition to mail-order retailing, and as I researched the stamping business, I was surprised how pervasive this practice is in stamping.
In fact, as a document designer, I was amazed that anyone would charge for some of the mimeographed sheets being billed as catalogs. Even a couple of dollars. Even at shows, where no postage was going out the door to ship the thing.
Some catalogs are four-color works of art, but still, it grates me to be charged for something like this. I don't take catalogs I have no interest in. If I want a catalog, I am likely to become a customer in time. So charging, even if the cost is refunded with the first order, irritates me. I am the first to admit this is a personal prejudice of mine, but I also think charging for a catalog is a poor business practice.
One of my early decisions was to make my catalogs free because I believed this says something important about my attitude towards Whiskey Creek customers. When I made this decision, I had no idea I would have 1200 requests within a few months, but I remain committed to sending the catalog free. Even to other countries.
Why other countries? Because the internet community is a global one. If I am marketing Whiskey Creek Stamps via the internet, I am addressing, in essence, the world. To me, offering free shipping on a special means just that, free shipping, wherever you are in the world.
Hence our shipping charges are the same outside the United States or in, so if we say a special offer includes shipping, that means to Australia and England as well as Detroit or San Francisco.
And if shipping is not included (for orders of individual stamps, for example), that shipping is based upon the cost of the stamp, and again, the cost is the same for Melbourne or Memphis.
As most people who order through the mail know, the most costly kind of order to fill is for one item. Often the shipping comes close to equaling the cost of the item itself. Our shipping prices reflect this, but there's nothing to prevent our customers from combining their orders to take advantage of the free shipping for orders over $50, or at the very least, ordering our specials that include shipping.
To some, this may seem a crazy way to do business, but not to me. The building of a world community with the internet requires some nontraditional thinking, I believe. No reason this can't start with each and every one of us.
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