Why we 'Unbundle' Shipping

The Limits of Free Shipping

In the early days of online shopping, free shipping gained popularity as a way to make pricing more predictable for buyers. Since then, it has become the dominant method for fulfilling most online retail goods. However, free shipping has its drawbacks.

To provide free shipping, businesses must mark up product prices to cover shipping costs, considering outliers and risks. These costs can vary greatly depending on customer location, shipping time, supply-chain status, and macroeconomic factors (e.g., fuel costs). As a result, many customers end up paying more than they should. For example, a customer only 100 miles from the shipping location may pay extra to compensate for customers farther away. Free shipping also requires a stable, predictable volume of goods, reducing opportunities for unique items.

Unbundling & Unbuilt

Across the economy, consumers are opting to unbundle their goods and services, from streaming services to banks, airlines, and consumer goods. They want transparency in what they pay for and the ability to buy only what they need. At Unbuilt, we believe this approach makes sense for shipping. Unbundled shipping works well for the specific types of goods we sell:

  • Specialized, unique, and available in small batches: This makes them better suited to custom shipping calculations rather than ‘average’ baked-in shipping costs.
  • Shipped by businesses and individuals alike: By calculating shipping per transaction, our platform accommodates both sophisticated supply chains and less organized sellers.
  • Without original packaging: Depending on their destination (local delivery vs. shipping), items may be repackaged differently, affecting fulfillment costs.
  • Large and/or heavy: These goods require LTL (Less Than Truckload) freight shipping, which can vary widely based on location and timing. Unbundling allows for greater transparency and control over these costs.

Sure, it takes an extra step to calculate shipping rates for each transaction, but our customers are builders and DIYers—industrious types who don't shy away from a little extra work if it means saving money or enhancing a project.

In summary, unbundling shipping costs provides transparency, control, savings, and flexibility, making it the best approach for our unique market.