Changes to US shipping rates

This year a dramatic increase to USPS shipping rates took effect. This increase was even more than we had anticipated. Our recent price increases on a few items was motivated in part by the anticipated postal rates increase; which we based upon the percentage of increase for 2018. These new 2019 rates increased 3 times what we had planned.

Until we are able to create a shipping rate structure that applies a fair discounted rate for all without necessitating an increase to the prices of our goods, we have decided to cease the “Free Shipping for orders over $50” option.

To be transparent on this topic. The heaviest items we make are also the items with the smallest profit margin. Any order that contains one of these items costs no less than $11.00 to ship and completely erodes any money we make if that order qualifies for free shipping. The lowest USPS rate we pay for Priority Mail is $8.00, Parcel Select is $4.00, with rates going as high as $18 for our largest orders. We do not treat Shipping Fees as a profit generator, nor do we wish to inflate prices for all, and it is a necessity that our online prices match our retail prices.

This past summer we introduced a $3 “Saver Rate” that applies to any order that only contains our lightest of products – no matter how many are in your order! At the same time we added an $8 rate if an order contains our heaviest of products. Our $5 rate is applied to any order that contains our lightest of items along with our “average” weight products. We feel that these rates are rather fairly distributed and help keep costs down for our products while providing a value to our online customers.

We rely upon USPS as our carrier for many reasons. Not only are their rates far lower than UPS and FedEx., their services integrate flawlessly with our eCommerce system. Most often, our packages will fit in your mailbox. For those that live in dense urban areas, there is a higher chance your package will get to your home when you are not there, not tag left on the door. To date, we have never had a complaint about a package tossed over a fence, hidden behind a bush or stolen off the porch. USPS provides reliable tracking and if you use their mobile app you can get consistent updates on your order’s journey to you. I personally have worked in Shipping, Receiving and Fulfillment for longer than I care to mention and I can tell you many reasons why USPS is far better to work with, even when they mess up.

There is discussion among us here at J&L about creating a Membership Plan, akin to Amazon Prime, where you get free or greatly reduced shipping and modest discounts on our most popular items. Once we iron out the best price to charge for this service and exactly what the policies will be, it will be brought to you to give us more feedback. This may be the only way we can provide Free Shipping to our higher volume customers.

Thank you for your understanding,
John C Dodge
Proprietor
J&L Pognotrophics LLC

Pop-Up Shop affecting inventory levels

Due to our Pop Up Shop point of sale system not able to sync with our website inventory customers may encounter limited stock of popular items. There is also a greater chance of an item being unable to be fulfilled if we are sold out before the website is updated with any sales data.

Many of our items can be made quickly to prevent backorder situations. There are some items, such as bar soaps and shampoos that cannot be made quickly enough to satisfy an order if it becomes out of stock. If we are unable to fulfill your order we will contact you to either offer a substitute product or issue a refund.

The success of our Pop Up has been far greater than we could have ever expected and we apologize for any troubles it creates for our internet customers. We are a very tiny operation and are without the tools available to us that would prevent these issues going forward. In the event that we are unable to fulfill your order we will do our best to present you favorable options to ensure your satisfaction.

Thank you, John C Dodge

To our Chicago friends:

At one point in time we offered a Free Pick Up option that allowed you to save on shipping at pick up your order at one of our resellers. We unfortunately had to end this arrangement when the reseller stopped promoting our products due to changes in their business focus.

It was very sad for us to loose this reseller for many reasons, but it is really sad that we can no longer offer this option. We are continually looking for a means to bring this option back as soon as possible.

We cannot offer Pick Up from our offices. We are a very tiny business where our offices are not in a facility that permits public access, nor do we maintain hours that would be compatible with most. We generally leave our offices the same time most other people leave theirs. During the day we may be in production at one of our “drop in” facilities we use making it even more difficult to pinpoint a reasonable time for us to be available. In essence, it is a logistic nightmare trying to track us down during the day. 

Knowing all these issues is why we are working diligently to open a retail and production space that is all ours where we can have published hours of operation where you can come to browse, try and buy directly from us.

This scenario is why we created the Saver shipping rate. This $3 flat rate is applied when your order is below our Free Shipping threshold and all items in your order are light weight and small in size – must be below 14 ounces. With most of our products being 5 ounces or less, this means we can pass along the lower shipping rates to you when possible.

A note about our shipping rates:

Minimum postage we pay USPS for most packages is $7.25. A package going to the west coast can easily be more than $15.00. We are still too small to qualify for any bulk discounts from any carrier. Our Flat Rate Shipping is now $5 for orders under $50. This means we have to roll $2.25 into the cost of the goods we make and sell. The fee does not cover the cost of shipping labels, packaging and other incidentals. We know other online sellers offer flat free shipping on all orders. In most cases they are comparatively more expensive and ship a higher volume therefor paying less to ship. To offer free shipping on all orders we would have to raise the prices of our goods, not only online but in pop-ups as well.

New Special Subscription Plans Coming for 2019

We have 2 new subscription packages launching soon that will allow you to try new scents or new products.

First will be our “Scent of the Month” plan that will kick off with the first item shipping in January. This will be part of a month long focus on a specific fragrance that will be shared across our most popular scented items from both brands. For those that subscribe, you will select your favorite item and we will automatically ship it to you in that month’s fragrance the same time every month. Some scents will be very limited and only available during that month – other scents that are limited to certain items will be made just for this Subscription plan for your selected item. We will post 3 months out what our scents will be, although we may require substituting a scent if there is an unforeseen issue.

We plan to include all Beard Oil formulas, Original Beard Butter, Bar Soap, Body Mist and 240ml Shower Wash in this plan. You can select more than 1 item type.

Our second subscription plan will be a means to get a new item every month. These will be specially selected sample version of products we currently make, soon to be introduced or a new fragrance we are trying out. The item will be a little surprise designed to introduce you more of what we have to offer. Enjoy the item for yourself or gift to someone special.

There will be a 2 options: Pogonotrophy Series which will include items from J&L Pogonotrophics; and the General Series which will highlight products from J&L Apothecary. Scents and sizes of items will vary, the focus will be on variety so you can try before you may buy.

With both of these services we anticipate offering them at a great value and include appropriate shipping, like our current Beard Oil subscription plan. We hope you will be excited about these Special Subscriptions. They would make a great gift that keeps giving all year!

What is Expanded Assortment?

For us, it is a means to offer more without having to maintain an inventory of made goods to satisfy potential sales. It is a way to give you more options with a touch of “Made for You” built in.

Over the years we have made limited run Special Edition fragrances that were well liked. We also produced some great scents that were really liked by some, but not well enough to keep making it to have on hand for sales.

With changes to how we produce our Beard Oils, we can now support a custom scenting option that would ensure you still get a quality product in a timely manner and permits us to offer these rare scents to expand our assortment of products available. There will be a small price increase for these offerings as it does add a step to our making and order fulfillment processes, and some of these scents do use pricier essential oils as well. The price will be $16.00 per 30 ml bottle, $1.00 more than the rest and still less expensive that most higher quality Beard Oils out there.

In coming weeks we will be adding up to 8 new scent options and reclassifying 4 current scents to be part of this customization feature. These will look just like the rest, but you will know it was scented just for you!

It is part of our way of offering you more for less than other premium beard care makers out. Helping you find that perfect way to express yourself. It is why we say “Be You: Be Epic!”

Q: What happened to the PayPal option at checkout?


A: We have removed PayPal as a payment option as they do not accurately support subscriptions with recurring billing. Although this is noted as a feature by PayPal there are too many reported errors caused by PayPal that decline the payment as it is presumed to be fraudulent. This causes sellers to be banned from PayPal and creates other complications. When this happens it will cause delays in us receiving payment as well as shipping. This is well documented with our eCommerce software and on PayPal forums. Since we cannot turn off PayPal for select order types so we had to remove it entirely.

We are aware that PayPal is well trusted for many consumers and may affect your decision to do business with us. Do be reassured that we take your personal information protection seriously. For that reason we use Stripe as our main payment gateway. Stripe is noted as being the most secure payment processing gateway there is and specializes in secure web based services. They utilize many powerful fraud detection tools to protect your payments and block questionable activity. Also, our site is fully PCI compliant and rated A+ for security as well.

If PayPal is able to improve their processing systems to smoothly support recurring billing for all trusted eCommerce systems without internal errors we will reactivate PayPal as a payment option at that time.

Thank you,

John

Subscriptions Now Available

It has been the biggest request of customers since we launched our first web store and it is finally available. Here are some details about our subscriptions that will serve as a FAQ on the subject as we go forward.

What is a “subscription”?

It is a means to receive your most used items; replenished in timely intervals based upon your selection at the time of purchase. For example, get a new bottle of your favorite beard oil formula and scent every other month without having to place a new order. We will also introduce a “membership” plan that will consist of assorted items we curated to introduce new items to you as a means to test before you buy. These gift items will often be a smaller version of our regular items. We hope to have this ready Fall 2018.

When can I start my subscription?

Today. All Beard Oil formulas are currently available. Other items will be added over time. Check our Subscriptions Category regularly to see what has been added.

What products will be included?

We hope to include all our regularly consumed products that are most often reordered to ship in a cycle that suits your needs. Your feedback will let us know what more to offer.

How will I be billed?

The payment method you used at time of purchase will be billed each time we ship your order, based upon the cycle you selected. All orders will ship between the 12th and the 17th of the month. Holidays and weekends will affect the date. If you wish to change your payment method, you can do so before the item goes into order status.

How & when will I receive my subscription orders?

At every interval that we are to ship you a new item you will receive notice that an order is automatically generated. This is also the same time your payment method will be applied. We will ship your order via US Mail within 3 days of it’s synchronized renewal day of each month that you are due to receive your order and once payment is authorized. We will ship your first item within 3 days of receiving your order. Your next item will then be shipped in the next scheduled month according to your cycle.

Can I change the item once I have started my subscription?

Partially. You cannot change the formula/core product but you are able to change the scent option within that formula. This is managed through your Account Page. You will not be charged any fee to make this change. If there is a price variation you will see an adjustment to your next order/billing date.

Why do you charge a processing fee for subscriptions?

Credit Card processing requires a charge to “activate” the subscription at the time of creation or it will not support an automatic billing cycle for you. The modest charge is applied to cover the set-up of your subscription and satisfy the demands of the banking industry. Do note, that some of our subscriptions are priced to include shipping and all offer a modest discount over their regular price without the shipping portion added. We want this to be a value service for a loyal customer!

Can I purchase a subscription as a gift to be sent to someone else?

Definitely! All you need to do is complete the Shipping Address for the person you wish to receive the item. The easiest way is when placing your order ensure the gifted item is the only item in your shopping cart, otherwise all items will be shipped to that address. If you wish to complete 1 order to ship to more than 1 address, please email us at support@pogonotrophics.com with details of what your needs are and we can reply or call with instructions on how to complete your order. Sorry, at this time we do not offer gift cards, gift wrapping or gift notes for orders – hopefully we will before long.

Will the price change on my item during the subscription period?

The price you agreed to at the time of entering into the subscription is the price you will pay for the duration of your subscription until renewal. The first interval after renewal will be at the new price for that item subscription. All subscriptions are capped at a 12 month/ 1 year term length and will require manual renewal.

What if my product becomes discontinued or is no longer available?

Although we will do our best to ensure the product your ordered for the duration of the subscription is active and in-stock, there are situations that may force us to delete an item. If for whatever reason we no longer produce your subscription item we will notify you of the issue and what your options may be. If it is scent option related, you can simply change your preferred scent. If the core product or formula is not available you may be provided with suggestions for another formula or the option to cancel your subscription. We will work with you to change your subscription and avoid that $1.00 set-up fee.

Can I change options for variable product subscriptions /membership club gifts?

No, we select the items ahead of time and produce units as needed. Many of these items are not regular product sizes as this is a means to sample other products we offer. If you have a known allergy, please contact us with the allergy so we can do our best to ensure you do not receive a product that is harmful to you. These subscriptions are curated from every line we produce. Selections are communicated through social media, our Blog and with each installment. This is treated as membership service and not a subscription.

Can I apply a discount or a coupon to my subscription?

No. Subscriptions already have a discount built into their pricing between the product and the shipping fee. Subscription items will be excluded from coupons codes we issue and are already exempt from Free Shipping calculations. We wish for this program to be attractive and be of value for those items you regularly use versus buying them through normal means.

Ultimately our mission is to provide a service that is of value to you. Our aim is to make it easier for you to ensure you have your favorite items at hand when you need them without having to remember to place an order. With our memberships, it is a means to try out other products without commitment to full size items to see for yourself if it is a product you would enjoy. Please comment with your additional questions so we can keep this all together for everyone. We may update these details as we go.

Thank you,
John