Head Office Communique – August 11, 2020

not top secret
Not Top Secret Communique

Greetings all. There is a lot going on behind the scenes here as we transition into a new way of doing business stimulated by our current environment. Losing out on festivals shook a lot of things up for us. On one hand, we didn’t have the supplies to even begin to make a festival worthwhile; on the other hand it gave us time to focus on our business and see what needed to change to make us better. Having time to think and plan ahead is rare for us… or me actually. Some of what is happening has been dripping out to Facebook and on the Blog. As I started to tap out a simple message on a couple new things, the brain started telling me it makes sense to turn this into a general news and information post. Then that thought rolled into what would I call a regular sharing of such news and information.

We don’t have much that sounds catchy and makes sense to work with based upon what we do and all. I decided to go pseudo-official sounding with a name for this. Don’t hold me to it, but I would like to make these “Communique” posts monthly or more frequently. Lots to share, so lets get to it:

Late Summer Sales & Offers

In a drive to bring more awareness to our top quality Beard Care line, we will be offering our first ever Buy 2 get 1 Free sale. This is exciting for us as it makes it easier for new customers to try our highly rated beard care products. Although we are still operating under the specter of COVID-19, Self-Care through Personal Care is still important. Those that grow and maintain a beard still want to look good and feel good. Once you add 2 qualifying products to your cart (any mix of 30ml Beard Oil and Butter), you will be prompted to select your FREE item. Clicking that link will take you to a page where you can select a 30ml Beard Oil of any formula or scent.

We are not leaving our J+L Apothecary. There will be a similar deal on our Clay Mask Mixes. The offer will be Buy 2 Clay Mixes and get a Mix-ins Bundle Free. This bundle will include: 60ml Argan +Jojoba Oil blend, 60ml Glycerin + Aloe Blend and a 15ml Aromatherapy Oil – individually a $24 value. Similar to the Beard Care offer, once you add your Clay Mask Powders to the cart, you will be prompted to select the 15ml Aromatherapy option for your Free Bundle.

Both of these sales will kick off at the end of August and will last through September. Keep a watch on Facebook for the announcement.

Product Changes and Updates

Our Soap Bar Clearance will continue until all current inventory is gone. We will start to introduce our Shea +Oatmeal Soap Bars in more fragrances as these clearance bars sell through. With this launch, we are minimizing colorants which we have used in the past. The concept being, we wish to focus on the functionality and less about making it colorful or “pretty”. Color will still be used so we all can easily distinguish the scents, but not an important aesthetic.

By the end of August, you will be able to start ordering our new Shower Gel in a 360ml stand-up pouch. This is the same exact formula as our Shower Wash but named differently to call out the packaging difference as we bring the Shower Wash bottle to an end. We will not clearance the Shower Wash as there is little room for discounts as well as it having a longer shelf life. We may offer a special promo deal later to help move through the inventory. The new SHOWER GEL will launch with scents that are out of stock and new scents we wish to offer. Those with SHOWER WASH subscriptions will receive SHOWER GEL in the same scent they have selected for their subscription. Once bottles become more available from suppliers, we will offer empty bottle & pump combos where you can use the SHOWER GEL as a refill if you wish.

All SHAMPOOS and CONDITIONERS will start to be packaged in the new pouches as well. This will remain named the same and our listings will be updated to reflect the size and package changes. These too can function as a refill if you wish.

Changes to Primp+Jol Club

We launched our loyalty/reward membership club a year ago. Since then, we have learned more about what you are looking for in such a program. Those that joined have expressed their appreciation of the club, but others are a little scared off by the pricing. Although the cost offsets a portion of the expenses on our end, it can seem as if we are making them pay for their free stuff upfront – making it not free at all.

Our current members will see that their discounts will apply to more items, as we are adding sale items to the list of what the 10% discount applies to. For new members we will offer 3 ways to take part, each with their own structure. The current version of Primp+Jol Club will become Primp+Jol Club Full. The annual fee will drop to 21.99, or you can now opt for the Full Quarterly membership that will be billed at $5.69 every 90 days. Both of these will include a 10% discount on all products we make, including subscriptions and sale items, 5% off the items we do not make; and will receive Free Shipping on every order.

We are also adding Primp+Jol Club Basic. This introductory tier will be FREE to anyone who joins. To join, you do need to “buy” it for $0.00. This membership tier will offer 5% discount on all items we make, 2.5% off those items we do not make. Members will still pay for shipping.

The “Welcome Gift” is being replaced with members receiving FREE SAMPLES with every order they place. Each month we will pick a new “surprise” sample that we will pack with every P+J Club order when we ship it. The Free Samples will not ship on their own nor can be ordered, it will be an automatic thing we do on our end every time you do order from us. Why this change? Honestly, the Welcome Gifts were expensive to ship. Combined with the cost of the product it was no longer a smart benefit to offer in the manner we chose. By dropping an extra item with each order allows us to be more flexible with what we present to each of you and we can make it more seasonal when it makes sense. All tiers will qualify for the FREE SAMPLES and we hope they inspire to try other products we offer. These Free Samples are a Members Only offering!

Shipping Rates

As a very small business, we do not get the huge discounts major carriers like UPS and FedEx offer to shippers. That is one of the reasons why we use USPS, along with the fact your order is far more likely to make its way into your mailbox and not under a bush or thrown over a fence. Unfortunately all possible carriers we can use are getting ever more expensive and the associated costs are increasing. And, none are perfect every time but USPS is far more reliable.

Our current shipping rates are: $4 for the smallest and lightest of orders, $6 for the majority, $8 for the heavier items. Each of these are below what we pay. In fact, the lowest we pay is $7.40 for anything under 32 ounces going to most addresses. We attempt to make up the difference by applying a percentage of our shipping costs into each product we sell.

At this moment we are stuck in a situation where we either need to raise prices of our products or raise shipping fees. If we raise the fees, there is a risk of increasing abandoned carts caused by the sticker shock of the added shipping charge. For some items, if we build in a higher percentage of its shipping costs we risk losing sales as the perception of the price to value is not justified. It is a tricky situation that involves a lot of nuances to ensure that the total order costs falls in line with the perception of the total value of what is purchased.

With the loss of in-person sales this summer due to COVID-19, we lost the padding such revenue gave us despite the costs of providing the in-person capabilities. That means the percentage of our revenue going to shipping fees in relation to total sales has greatly increased. As we shift to being more online than in person, we need to adjust our pricing and fees accordingly.

For the foreseeable future we will need to make FREE SHIPPING more of a premium service. The threshold will be move to $69.00. Then numerous items will see a price adjustment based upon its share of the shipping expenses in relation to its weight and overall unit sales.

The current marketplace is seeing substantial price increases for everything we buy. We will do our absolute best to keep our pricing fair and competitive. In the 7+ years we have been in business, our prices have been rather steady with only bumps to Beard Oil and Butters caused by the move to better ingredients. In many aspects, our prices have dipped as we have been able to become more efficient. In many ares, especially with J+L Apothecary, we are accused of having prices that are too low. We take that as a compliment despite some thinking that low price equates low quality.

Thank you!

These last few months have been a huge pain at times. We are still struggling with supply chain restrictions and the inability to produce many of our products until these restrictions are relieved. Current state, caps and bottles are non-existent with November being the nearest ETA from our suppliers. This is hurting us a lot.

But, we have you to thank for supporting us through this time. Although we can’t do our Pop-Ups, our online business has seen growth. Our regular customers are buying more and we are gaining a bunch of new ones – and we love you all for it! We are going to do our best to ensure we have our most popular products available, and looking into alternative packaging for our liquid soaps and conditioners that will also be more eco-friendly.

Without your business we may not be able to stay in business. And that is why we have to keep saying THANK YOU to all of you!

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