Question: Managing Freight Charges


A Distributor Asks: I have been in this industry for over 10 years, and I’ve always passed freight charges on to my clients. I have other friends in the industry who do the same. Recently, I sent a quote to a potential client and he said that in all his years of buying promotional products, he has never been charged freight, and the seller has always paid it. I’m curious to hear how others handle freight charges.

The customer pays, but sometimes, I write it on the receipt separately. Other times, I’ve already figured it into their total (for their convenience).
Angela Wojcik
Chaffee Chick Design 
Chaffee, New York 
PPAI 743737, D1

Delivered price. Freight included. It’s never free. 
Erin Eberhardt
President and Owner
West Shore Associates
West Haven, Connecticut
PPAI 287403, D2

Customer always pays. If this one didn’t, it’s one of three things:

  1. Liar, liar, pants on fire.
  2. The shipping was already rolled into the per-piece price.
  3. Some distributor was picking up the cost of shipping and may no longer be in business as a result.

Rama Beerfas, MAS
Lev Promotions
San Diego, California
PPAI 218331, D1

All your quotes should read something like “does not include shipping and any applicable state taxes.” That may give you some protection. The client always pays shipping, whether it’s baked in or as a separate line item. 

Bruce Korn
ZakBack, Inc.
Exton, Pennsylvania
PPAI 176289, D2


A Distributor Asks: Does anyone hold product for customers and ship it out to them when they need it, basically acting as a mini-fulfillment facility as space allows? If so, I’m curious to learn how you price this additional store-and-ship service for your customer. Do you build this into product pricing or as an add-on service fee in addition to the product price?

We do it for some clients. Sometimes it’s in concert with suppliers, sometimes it’s just stored here. I usually charge the outgoing freight plus tack on [a small cost] for a box if needed and for release fees.

Ed Hamner, CAS
Founder, Top Dog and Print Geek
Howling Print & Promo
Chardon, Ohio
PPAI 593535, D1

We do it for our good distributor customers. They buy stuff from several suppliers for their own clients, mostly for webstores, and we store for them and fulfill for them. They focus on sales and we take care of the rest.
Sibel Toy
Managing Partner
3D Promoplastic
McKinney, Texas
PPAI 690397, S1

It depends, as every situation is different. If it is a large enough order [and a] large enough client who has paid for merchandise, I may not charge anything to store it, or it is included in merchandise price. I am currently storing small amounts of paid-for merchandise for a few clients who have no office access due to COVID-19 at no charge. Just wanting to help them out.
Karen Major, MAS
All The Right Tools, Inc.
Cobourg, Ontario
PPAI 288674, D1

The best way to price this is to contact a local fulfillment center and copy their pricing, that way if you grow your space you will be able to outsource it. Bill it separately so your client doesn’t think you’re over-charging them on basic products.
Adam Covit
Sales Executive/Strategic Alliances
S.C.G. & Associates, Inc.
Davie, Florida
PPAI 103684, D2

I did it for years for a huge customer. Money was flowing good until it didn’t! I’d never do it again unless all inventory was paid for upfront. Our situation was with a big company in North America that was salesforce-consolidated and streamlined, where a vice president picked out everything, so he had control of quality and consistency over what the salesforce was providing. Then an economic downturn came and, you guessed, it changed; individual salespeople were cut to a max of $250 per month that they could spend. It took about three years to finally get rid of all the inventory.
Chris Pollan
Owner and President
Pollan Promos
Starkville, Mississippi
PPAI 276409, D2

We do it for multiple clients. Luckily, we have the space and we have a dedicated person who does all of the fulfillment/shipping. Each client is different. Some are built into the price and others we invoice for the warehousing/fulfillment on a monthly basis. All inventory is paid for upfront by the clients. We only have one that we bill out as we ship, but we have a written contract that if they decide to go elsewhere, they have to buy us out of all remaining inventory.
Lyndsay Boldrey
Tucson, Arizona
PPAI 712278, D2

We do it for a few good clients and don’t charge extra. It’s all for products already paid for. One thing I will say is if you are considering it, to ask your insurance person if you may need to up your coverage.
Kim Molnar Palermo
Camden, Maine
PPA 196835, D13


Do You Have An Answer?

A Distributor Asks: How do you politely ask an employee to dress more work-appropriately during Zoom meetings and other video conferences. Does anyone have an updated employee handbook that includes information about wardrobe in a work-from-home environment? 

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Danielle Renda is associate editor of PPB.

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