The Real Cost of Shipping Perishables

Grace Rose Farm

October 01, 2020

We are so immensely grateful for the thousands of people who order our garden roses! One of the most common emails we receive is in regards to our “exorbitant shipping costs”. People ask if we ever offer free shipping and after reading this blog, we hope you will understand why it’s not possible. We thought we'd take a moment to unveil the real cost of shipping flowers, so that next time you consider purchasing our roses, you'll know all that goes into making sure they arrive in great condition. We consider part of our duty here at Grace Rose Farm to provide insight regarding the real costs of running a farm that prioritizes the health, livelihood and safety of our employees, as well as the sustainable care of our land, and organic rose farming methods.

Let's break it down in terms of numbers:

FedEx:  Our clients pay $25-35 for FedEx Priority overnight shipping, but it actually costs us up to $50 to ship our smallest box depending where in the country it is going. And, our rates are 70% off retail FedEx rates! (Our huge wholesale florist boxes are significantly more to ship, but we’ll save that for another blog.) The same small box would cost the average consumer $100+ to ship overnight. In the world of "free shipping" via Amazon and other online retailers, consumers have come to expect cheap shipping, but this simply isn't possible when shipping perishables. Most businesses make money on shipping, whereas we actually lose money on shipping. Why are perishables so expensive to ship? Our roses, and all flowers, must be shipped via overnight service. Cutting corners by shipping 2-day or slower isn’t an option. Not only do our roses require multiple airplanes in order to arrive the next day after we ship them, but there is also extensive ground transportation both to the airport and the customer's home.

We don't even factor in our ground transportation costs when charging for shipping. FedEx doesn’t pick-up at our farm like they do for almost all of their other clients. We drive our roses two hours roundtrip to the airport every single day so that they can get onto the plane. While pick-up should be included in the fee that we are paying to FedEx, due to the nature of our high volume and their lack of ground service in our area, it is not covered. The cost of having a refrigerated van and driver comes at a high price to our farm. 

Additionally, this year as FedEx and other shipping providers have become overwhelmed with packages due to the pandemic, service has been less than perfect. Understandably, all shipping providers are at peak volume and managing so much more logistically. We deal with delayed and mishandled packages daily, and in order to retain a good relationship with our customers, we take on reshipments ourselves. Being in a business that is 100% perishable and having to depend on a shipping partner to do their job is extremely costly to our farm, not to mention stressful. We say, “If everyone picked up a bucket of our fresh garden roses at our farm, we would have 100% satisfaction.” We only ever receive complaints about our roses when there is a shipping delay or damages incurred from shipping. We file delay and damage claims with FedEx, however they only pay a small fraction of our claims. This means all replacement roses come directly out of our pockets even though we shipped the roses in perfect condition. Nothing makes us more sad than hearing our roses were damaged in transit and we do everything we possibly can to make it right with our clients. Thankfully, the vast majority of our clients receive gorgeous roses. FedEx does a great job for us and we’re very grateful for the discounted rates we’re able to pass onto you!

Shipping supplies: We are proud that we have the best protective packaging in the industry, but all that packaging comes at a steep cost. A small box with one bouquet costs $10 in packaging supplies and up to $20 if there are four dozen roses in the box. From ice packs, butcher paper, tissue paper, hydration diapers, solar protective liners, ribbon, bubble wrap, printed collateral and the box, shipping perishables is costly. The cost of supplies for our huge wholesale florists boxes is significantly higher since there are up to 20 dozen roses in a box.

Our clients have come to expect exquisite presentation from us and that’s what we aim to deliver with each box. I have a creative design background and have thoughtfully curated our packages to be an experience when received. From the scent of our roses upon opening the box to every detail in the way that we wrap each bouquet, we take great pride in our presentation. Our printed materials are beautiful and our signature bow on each bouquet are things we will never compromise on. We are told time and time again that opening our roses is just like Christmas morning!

Labor: From harvesting and processing our roses to making them into bouquets and carefully packing them for shipment, the whole endeavor start-to-finish is an extremely labor intensive process. For every single bouquet that we sell, 20 employees have had a hand in making it happen.I am so proud of the ladies and men who work at our farm. Every single day is a grind and race against the clock. Our employees deal with inclement weather, very long working hours and always put so much love and care into each package. Most days I marvel at how much we’re able to produce from our little 10-acre farm.

We have thousands of retail and wholesale clients who love our roses, appreciate what we offer and understand the true cost of shipping such a perishable product. But we need to make some adjustments in our model if we're going to thrive as a farm. There are changes ahead as we evaluate how to best serve our customers and build a sustainable business for our family. We're exploring different models to get our roses to customers next year, as well as expanding our business in new and exciting ways. As always, thank you for your support!

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