Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Germany's new packaging law

Have you heard of Verpackungsgesetz – VerpackG? 



antique scales holding package
Changes are afoot with packaging.
Germany has long had a law that requires recycling of packaging materials (called Verpackungsverordnung – VerpackV or "German Packing Regulation"). Shippers from outside Germany were exempt. However, this loophole began to create issues.

A new law went into effect on January 1, 2019. It is called the German Packaging Act (mentioned in the first sentence). It is more strict and there are no exceptions, no minimums. There is no grace period for transition, and there are serious repercussions for non-compliance.


“No thresholds for registering and reporting“



Shipping just one item to Germany requires registration with their newly created agency translated as "Central Packaging Registry." Failure to register can result in a fine up to $57,000 (50,000 💶) and a ban on selling there.

Unlike some other countries, the German ... laws are very strict: there are no thresholds for registering and reporting. So, even if you are only placing one packaged item on the German market you will still need to comply.

They do not care about the item, but rather its packaging. Germany has a mandatory "dual system" recycling "scheme." You must be a participant in one of their approved recycling systems.



Can they really enforce this?


If you send an item into Germany, it is simply a matter of their checking to see if you are on the registry. If you are not, they can confiscate the item or even levy fines.

Here it is from a FAQ from the German government (translation is a little rough):
By the time the new law VerpackG comes into force... you also have to register with the new “Central Packaging Registry”– you have to do this before you dispatch anything to the German market for the first time. This is because you are definitely not permitted to put into circulation packaging not properly registered. The mandatory registration applies to corporations as well as small retailers. You can apply for the requisite registration number under https://www.verpackungsregister.org
Note that the governmental authority specifically mentions that "small retailers" are not exempt.
Shipping packages garden
It is said that more countries will be regulating packaging


My conclusion?


Their goals is to have every bit of packaging coming into Germany to be part of this mandatory recycling program. Even German sellers are having a hard time obtaining a license. The fines are steep. 

Sadly, for small US sellers the expense and difficulty are such that you may no longer be able to ship there.

EBay recommends compliance.


According to one official source:

For those who sell packaged goods to end consumers in Germany it is high noon: they have to adapt to the new packaging law... Affected are all so-called initial distributors of packaging, which typically end up at the private end consumer. These can be manufacturers, online dealers and distributors of packaged goods of all kinds... [note the "packaging" is the issue here].

If you are not convinced, here is an excerpt from a legal site:
"...The GPA obliges more producers and distributors – including online retailers – to register and participate in a disposal and recycling system.

Most important: Without proper registration, producers or retailers must not offer the packaging – nor therefore the products contained therein – for sale – in Germany, including via e-commerce (sec. 9 para. 5). Moreover, the authorities may impose fines up to EUR 200.000,00 (sec. 34 para. 1 and 2) on producers and retailers, including importers. Furthermore, competitors and consumer associations can claim from producers and retailers to cease and desist from any sales...

These obligations generally also apply to online retailers – because the new GPA explicitly states that it also applies to shipping packaging: If their packaging fulfils the conditions above, they must register their packaging and participate in a disposal and recycling system. This also applies to so-called secondary packaging, in which packaged products are additionally packed. The Zentrale Stelle will provide guidance on how to interpret the GPA in form of a guideline and a catalogue (listing, in its latest 2018 draft, 36 product groups for 417 products) – which, has yet, despite being announced for autumn 2018, not been published (cf. the latest info on the consultation process).
Practical tips:
  1. Producers and all other economic operators who market packaged products in Germany have to comply with the new law – even if based abroad if they sell into Germany. The term “producer” is quite broad and includes importers and distributors putting the packaging into circulation for the first time (sec. 3 para. 12 GPA).
  2. Producers and retailers must not place packaging on the market if it is not registered or not properly registered though being subject to registration. Non-compliance may result in severe consequences, including fines, damage claims and confiscation of profits.
  3. The new German Packaging Act applies from 1 January 2019. It implements the EU Packaging Directive 94/62/EC (as did the previous German Packaging Regulation). The new GPA aims at further raising the ecological standards and specific conditions for a well-functioning competition among the companies participating in the dual system for waste disposal and recycling and a fair behaviour among all parties on the market (thus developing the goals of the precedent GPR).
  4. There is no transition period. Registration, if a new obligation not previously provided for under the GPR, must take place by 01.01.2019 at the latest. Producers, importers and retailers as all other economic operators concerned can easily register online: https://lucid.verpackungsregister.org/
Please note that the above is only general information from my own research... it cannot replace legal advice. If you have any further questions, please contact a lawyer.

Friday, January 25, 2019

Customizing the new Etsy forums and teams

early 2019 teams and forums
Etsy community spaces have issues
Okay, you have found your team or forum. What else do you need to know?

I wish the answer was simple but it is not. Let us start with some basics.

You must log into teams and forums more often than in the past. If things stop working, look at the top right corner and make sure you are logged in.

Bear in mind that many features are not working as intended. Things have been really buggy.

Some things have been working.

Play around with your personal settings


Screen shot settings page
Changing your settings
"To update your notification settings, click your avatar in the top right corner of the Etsy community and select My settings from the dropdown menu. From there, you can go into the Personal and Preferences tabs..."




etsy settings screen shot
Look at all of the settings

There are lots of things to adjust. Even if you have no idea what you want, look the choices over. Really, there is a lot of customization available.



Nested comments are not working


fix your nested replies
Adjust your linear layout to "threaded"
Ah, but they probably could. Nesting comments default to appear in date order, oldest first, whether they nest or not. Newest posts are at the bottom.

If you want your responses to nest properly, it is a matter of changing a personal setting. See the screen shot for resetting your linear layout. Mine was set at "oldest." It works better set for "threaded."





Push the tiny double arrow to get to the latest page in a thread.

Change a team setting for a better experience


The first thing I suggest for most team users is under "options" (just above the team announcement box). Select "mark all as read." That will make all of the bold titles go back to regular type. Thread titles will then become bold when someone comments on them.



The bell tells us we have activity
It is all about the bell

How do I view "my threads"?


In the old days, we had "my threads." Sometimes there would be a little number there.

Well, "notifications" is that and more. First, click the bell and you will see all of the action on threads you are interested in.

Additionally, we can tag people so they get a notification.


Tagging? Yes, in order to get someone's attention when referring to their post (either on teams or in the forums) you must @[screen name] them. They get a notification (if they are signed up for notifications of course).

It is a bit exhausting to learn about all at once, but the feature is nice.

How do I unsubscribe from notifications?


2019 etsy community changes
Update notification settings
Although notifications are cool, sometimes they can be too much of a good thing.

"To update your notification settings, click your avatar in the top right corner of the Etsy community and select My settings from the dropdown menu. From there, you can go into the [Subscriptions and Notifications area] to subscribe or unsubscribe to emails and notifications for a variety of topics."




Thanks for coming along and checking out some of the new features. 

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Etsy Quick Trick: free shipping plus 15% off

help for Etsy vintage sellers
Free shipping can be an effective marketing tool for vintage sellers

Have you tried free shipping? Many vintage sellers have expressed concern that free shipping is unattainable.


Will free shipping discourage multiple purchases?


My shop has free shipping. My shop also runs a 15% discount all the time off from purchases of three or more items. I have had a many takers.

Lots of vintage shops give volume discounts when asked; what I do is not much different. Shipping costs are rolled into the price... Multiple buyers get their "free" shipping cost back. They feel like they are getting a bargain to boot, a win-win!

Items with "sales" such as "15% off three or more purchases" receive another benefit: they show up on any Etsy search for items on sale.... (And of course searches with free shipping...) I get fewer requests for lower prices, too.


Etsy's take on free shipping

rural mailbox
Is free shipping viable for online sellers?


Etsy asked buyers, and
...They see no reason why they should pay more for shipping on Etsy than anywhere else...

There was a belief... that because Etsy is person-to-person that people would understand that and pay more shipping. The buyer research was definitive: They won't.
"They're willing to pay $50 for that beautiful product. But having to pay $10 for shipping felt wrong. In fact, it feels wasteful for them to pay for shipping when everywhere else they don't have to pay. We saw time and time again that if the buyer had to pay $60 for an item and shipping was free, they felt great about it. But if they paid $50 for an item with $10 shipping, they felt bad about it."


15% off sale setup


Go to Shop Manager -> Marketing -> Sales & Coupons

Select the black button in the top right corner "new special offer."

"Run a sale." % off, minimum order quantity = 3 (makes the sale shop-wide)

Pick a date range. Give your offer a name.

Review and confirm and you are done.

A percentage-off sale on Etsy can only be a maximum of 30 days. That means that I actually run 12 sales per year. I can set them up well in advance. They are named something like "201915off01" for January, "201915off02" for February and so on.


Case studies for offering a 15% discount along with free shipping


***Example 1: an 8-oz item along with 2 jewelry pieces.***

Estimated shipping built into the cost to cover the “free” shipping: $2.99 + $2.99 + $3.99 = $10.00

Actual shipping $4.38

Order cost $64.83
15% discount on that total was $9.83

The amount  of the discount was about what I had rolled into the prices toward shipping. In this case for the three items I spent about half of that on shipping ($4.38). So when receiving $9.83 off their purchase, my customer received in effect a 7.5% discount. Does that makes sense?


***Example 2: a $100 bracelet with 2 post cards.***

This buyer purchased 2 inexpensive post cards in order to secure the 15% off. How did it work?

Bracelet $99.99 + post card $0.75 + post card $0.49 = $101.23

15% off $101.23 is $15.18 taken from the total is $86.05

$86.05 + Shipping (post cards only; shipping is not free for them in my shop) $3.98

Order total $90.03

So my buyer got 10% off plus two post cards (which I consider to be of no value and I sent one more as an extra). The buyer did not have to contact me to ask for a discount, and I am pretty happy about the sale.


***Example 3: six lots of window glass ***

This buyer scored 10 lovely pieces of crackle glass.

$185.94 - $27.89 (15% off) = $158.05

Calculated into the item cost toward free shipping: $3 + $5 + $5 + $5 + $5 + $5 = $28 

Actual cost was $21.05 + $3.82 = $24.87 (I could not get all those pieces double-boxed into a box under 1 sq ft.) 

So essentially my shop gained $3 extra over the calculated shipping. My buyer scored a net 13.5% off. With an order that big, I would have given 20% had they asked. So I am happy, and so is my buyer!

eye candy vintage art glass
We love combined orders

What do you do with the savings?


When other sellers ask if I give shipping refunds, I answer "No, I keep it and pay it forward toward more free shipping."

People want to shop quickly. By being transparent and showing the full cost up front, we make their job of shopping easier.

Free shipping is a different business model... you need to wrap your mind around it. You make more profit if someone local buys your item, and less the further away they live.

15% off three items or more sweetens the deal all around!


Saturday, January 5, 2019

USPS shipping prices will increase on January 27, 2019

The US Postal Service is making a significant change to postal rates in early 2019. Besides the expected rate increases, first class mail is switching to zoned service.

This means that $2.66 will no longer be the smallest package rate to ship to any U.S. destination. Effective January 27, it will cost  $3.09 to ship that same little package to zone 8 (coast-to-coast from your location; zones 1 & 2 will remain $2.66 and close zones will cost slightly more than that).


Highlights of the 2019 USPS Postal Increase 


Average postal increases are:
  • Priority Mail 6.2% 
  • Priority Mail Express 3.9% 
  • Priority Mail Express International 3.9% 
  • First Class International 3.9% 
  • First Class Package Service 11.9%.
antique letters
USPS letter rates will increase to 55 cents
And, of course, first-class packages rates are switching to zoned-base pricing in 2019. (A first-class stamp increases to 55 cents, for the record.)

Here is a USPS document with the new rates outlined. For my shop, I print the applicable pages. I post them in my shipping room for reference. (Try pp 13, 17, 40, 25, 27, 32, 42 and 74 for starters.)

First Class Mail zone rates


Particularly hard to absorb are the changing of first-class mail to zoned rates... I present them to you here:

Wt (oz) 1 & 2 Zone 3 Zone 4 Zone 5 Zone 6 Zone 7 Zone 8
1 2.66 2.68 2.70 2.76 2.84 2.96 3.09
2 2.66 2.68 2.70 2.76 2.84 2.96 3.09
3 2.66 2.68 2.70 2.76 2.84 2.96 3.09
4 2.66 2.68 2.70 2.76 2.84 2.96 3.09
5 3.18 3.20 3.22 3.28 3.36 3.49 3.63
6 3.18 3.20 3.22 3.28 3.36 3.49 3.63
7 3.18 3.20 3.22 3.28 3.36 3.49 3.63
8 3.18 3.20 3.22 3.28 3.36 3.49 3.63
9 3.82 3.85 3.88 3.96 4.06 4.19 4.33
10 3.82 3.85 3.88 3.96 4.06 4.19 4.33
11 3.82 3.85 3.88 3.96 4.06 4.19 4.33
12 3.82 3.85 3.88 3.96 4.06 4.19 4.33
13 4.94 4.98 5.02 5.12 5.24 5.38 5.53
14 4.94 4.98 5.02 5.12 5.24 5.38 5.53
15 4.94 4.98 5.02 5.12 5.24 5.38 5.53
15.999 4.94 4.98 5.02 5.12 5.24 5.38 5.53

They are in price groups: 1-4 oz, 5-8 oz, 9-12 oz and 13-15.999 oz. I have price points in my shop, and it looks like the US Mail does this as well.... for each zone of course... My add-on for "free shipping" will be ranging from $3.50 to $6.00 depending on the estimated packed weight.

The first-class package prices are mostly increasing (except the zone 1/2 packages):
  • Any package shipped across the USA (to Zone 8) increases from $0.43 (Zone 8, 1 ounce = $3.09) to $1.43 (Zone 8 – 13 ounces = $5.53)
  • 13 ounce package rates in particular will be higher, increasing $0.84 (Zone 1/2 = $4.94) to $1.43 (Zone 8 = $5.53)
  • Heavier first-class items weighing 15 ounces to 15.999 ounces are seeing a smaller increase, going from no increase at all (Zone 1/2 = $4.94) to an increase of $0.59 (Zone 8 = $5.53)
My shop will be able to absorb much of this increase because of using a cheaper (free to join) shipping service called Pirate Ship.

Are you all ready?
------------------------------------------

  • The USPS is extending dimensional weight to Priority Mail and Priority Mail Express for packages over 1 cu ft, with the DIM weight divisor becoming 166


USA map with Maine highlighted
Is your shop geographically challenged?


Thursday, January 3, 2019

Etsy forums and teams will be temporarily read-only

Etsy newsbreak:


Teams and forums will be essentially offline for nearly 2 weeks... Starting in one week, Etsy will begin their "improvements ... to Etsy's community spaces."

“...we’ll be entering a brief read-only period in Teams and Forums spaces from January 10-22. During that time you’ll be able to view community content, but unable to post comments or start new discussion threads.“

“Starting January 22, members will have access to improved tools and features in the Teams and Forums spaces... We appreciate your patience while we finalize these improvements."

Admin officially announced the team migration here. 

Since making it official, they have amended the above announcement twice. The first adjustment was to state the "The only exception [to the full shutdown of the forums and teams] will be the Bugs forum, which will remain open for both reading and posting new threads and comments.

A day later, they added:

**More about the read-only period: In addition to putting the finishing touches on new tools and features, the January 10-22 read-only period allows for the extensive migration of existing Teams and Forums content—including over 10,000 Etsy Teams and millions of discussion posts—into our updated community spaces. Our aim during this period is to ensure a seamless transition that will make it easier for you to connect with other sellers, grow your creative business, and keep up with the latest Etsy news.**

Information for team captains and leaders here.


Etsy has provided some clues about how the new team spaces will be


1. They will run on Lithium. Lithium is the operating system used by PayPal's forums. So take a peek at how it may work. It seems like a less pictorial, less warm and fuzzy place for sure.

2. Previously deleted threads will no longer be accessible, and any deleted threads in the future will not be saved.

3. Forums threads without a comment in the past three years will not be available in the refreshed community space. If you have older Forums threads saved, you’ll want to jot down any pertinent tips or resources prior to the read-only period.

4. Improved tools for Team Captains and Leaders make it simple to quickly communicate with all members, including a streamlined group messaging feature and a customizable announcements section on each team's home page.

5. If you have set up a question for new members to answer, their answers will not be saved and teh question will not appear to future people trying to join.

6. There will still be the option to make your group open (anyone can join) or closed (members must request and be approved to join), but there will no longer be an option to hide your team completely and make it invite-only.

7. There will no longer be an option to download a CSV file of your team's members.

What about promotion? Etsy has said nothing. The indications I am receiving are that the new spaces are not designed for it.


What is is store for forums?



1. "We’re increasing the overall number of sections available in the Forums, and adding intuitive labels to surface the answers you need quickly." Included is a "new shop critique section provides an easy way to share and request feedback."

2. "... enhanced comment functionality lets you @mention and “like” other members’ posts. After posting a new thread, you’ll be able to select an accepted solution that indicates when another member’s reply addresses your question effectively." You will have "the ability to like and tag other members within threads..."

3. "...search simultaneously across existing Forums and Teams threads to see what questions have already been answered by the community. You can even follow threads or saved searches that you want to pay close attention to."

4. There will be "an increased character limit and text formatting tools including bullets, numbers, and emphasis options like bold and italics."


Will it be better? I have not seen it so I cannot say.

We will find out soon!

Etsy Quick Trick: workarounds for the new DIM package rates

New USPS regulations went into effect on June 23, 2019. Lightweight packages over 1 cu ft can now be much more expensive to ship. How ...