Devils & Details

By Dawn Lospaluto
In February 21, 2013

With more of the provisions contained in the March 2010 Affordable Care Act (aka, “Obamacare”) taking effect this year and next, we are learning some of the specifics that were glossed over when Congress passed the 974-page bill without extensive investigation or debate. And for many business owners, the devil appears to be in the details for which they are now responsible.

This is a not unfamiliar occurrence in many other areas of our consumer society. Marketers regularly promote a great offer or sale in broad brushstrokes and the trusting buyer commits to it only to find later that details contained in the fine print make it not quite as attractive or straightforward as it initially appeared.

For example, a friend recently made a careful study of the prices of competing stores for the best deal on a new refrigerator, found the outlet with the best price, and bought the appliance. Only then did she discover that there was a $75 delivery charge. The added charge made the store’s price higher than that of a competing seller who charged $50 more for the refrigerator, but offered free delivery to her area.

On a smaller scale, a recent direct mail offer advertised a sale on a variety of products, including one bargain item being sold for just $4.95. The catch was a $7.95 shipping charge―turning a great $4.95 price tag into an overpriced $12.90.

If adding shipping charges is one way marketers can improve their profit margin, reducing or eliminating shipping charges can open a path to increased sales and added business. It’s the reason so many online sellers offer free shipping as the carrot to entice new customers or win back former ones.

One Web-to-print online printer encourages customers who want an immediate turnaround to consider paying a small extra charge for a “rush” printing job to get it out of the plant more quickly, rather than pay the regular rate for printing and then pay for “rush” shipping. It gets to the customer on the same day either way, but the shipping rush surcharge is much higher than the printer’s rush job premium.

Consumers hate paying for shipping because the extra cost does not seem to buy them anything tangible. Nonetheless, shipping does not come free to the vendor, who must cover his costs somehow. And given the weight of paper, particularly high-quality paper used for many brochures and sell sheets, printers incur some very hefty shipping charges.

What can a printer do? NAPL members can use shipping as a customer incentive by taking advantage of the member-exclusive NAPL Shipping Program, managed by PartnerShip, a discount plan that can cut shipping costs substantially. Will your savings―and those you can pass along to your customer―be significant enough to really count? How about 10%-30% off FedEx Ground packages?  Or 10%-40% off LTL shipping? Or an amazing 64% savings on UPS Freight or YRC shipments?

It’s easy to offer your customers a 10%-25% discount on their shipping as a premium while still covering your shipping costs if you are paying carriers at PartnerShip prices. To learn more about this free money-saving program, go to for all the details (and no devils at all).


Dawn Lospaluto

Epicomm Senior Director of Communications, Dawn has been the editor of Epicomm 's "Bottom Line" magazine and its predecessor publications, "NAPL Business Review," Printing Manager," and "The Journal of Graphic Communications Management," for 20 years. She also writes and edits several Epicomm member print and electronic newsletters, including [Re]View, Management Bulletin, Highlights, and Discover; press releases; and various marketing materials; and oversees Epicomm 's book publishing program. Dawn previously served as corporate managing editor for Allied (now Honeywell) Corporation and as a reporter and editor for New Jersey's largest evening newspaper. She is a graduate of Douglass College (Rutgers University) and holds an M.A. degree from Fairleigh Dickinson University, where she has served on the adjunct faculty.

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