The classic question: Why our fragrances are so expensive?
It is rare that we see a day, without receiving a message from a customer, complaining that our prices are very unrealistic, super high and so on...
In fact, most of these messages come from our customers on eBay. Sometimes we receive such complaints from Amazon, or on our official website, but not so often.
So, why is that? and why is it that eBay customers, in particular, are feeling like we are taking advantage, that we are unfair, and that we came from another planet? As a matter of fact, some of those customers (not the majority, luckily) are going too far, throwing accusations such as we are scamming them, that we should not be allowed to sell these items, and even in one occasion or two, some of them threatened us of legal actions such as reporting us to the trading standards, let alone and insults and vulgar swearings that are, not only sad but very disappointing indeed.
The answer is very simple: Most of those customers lack the knowledge of basic understanding of global market's environment, especially the online selling platforms, and they do not think about the facts and figures behind the scenes, which are, to be honest, not known by most of them. They just jump to conclusions without doing a proper research on this matter.
So, we decided to write this article, to clear all of the confusion, and to explain things up. Hopefully, after reading our reasons, the readers will understand the circumstances behind this topic, and appreciate the aspects of it.
We are an international seller. Even though our company is based in the UK; the fact is that we are using suppliers based in the USA. We are a bit different than the other UK sellers on eBay, Amazon and other places.
Some of our fragrances are expensive due to 3 reasons: 1- The face value cost set by our supplier is already higher than UK's average (or higher than the average market / retail price of the country of the person who is complaining about it). 2- Shipping from the USA to other countries is not cheap. We usually use either an Express or a registered post with full tracking and complete insurance. 3- a 20% VAT is already preloaded and included in the price for most of the items that are getting shipped out of the USA, especially to the European Union countries. This is something the buyer never thought of. The last thing we want is that we ship the parcels tax-free, then the buyer will end up being asked by the courier to pay import fees / VAT, which are usually much higher than the cost of the VAT that we include already within our prices. While it is not possible to ship our parcels as DDP (Delivery Duty Paid) in advance, especially to most other countries that are not part of the EU as well as to the whole world; at least, we are working hard to make our deliveries hassle-free, to be delivered quickly within the shortest delivery period possible. Our focus here is obviously the quality of the service, which does not come cheap!
We have to admit that most of our customers come from International destinations. Yes, we have decent UK and EU sales, but the majority of sales and traffic is coming from worldwide countries. Why is that? Because regardless of the heavy price; we are still very competitive to those customers' local/domestic markets. Such perfumes are impossible to get where they live (this is particularly true for remote destinations such as in Latin America, Africa, and far Asia/Oceania), and not all sellers on eBay, Amazon or even on the entire web, accept international sales from customers living in these destinations. This fact alone makes us a target to plenty of those customers because we are truly a worldwide shipper and we are so proud that we are covering over 200 countries around the world.
So, you may wonder: If we are using US suppliers (even though we have suppliers based in the UK and other European countries such as the Czech Republic, Germany and the Netherland), then why are we using the UK account on eBay/Amazon then? The answer is because we live in the UK and this business is registered to a British business address. To sell the same items on the US eBay website for example; you'll need a physical business address in the USA, an American PayPal account and an American bank account. The same restriction applied to other countries as well. While we are actually listing our items on a total of 13 eBay country websites (and 8 Amazon country websites), our registered company has to be the one based in the UK, and the UK only.
You may re-ask the question this way: OK, then why not using British suppliers instead? While it is true that goods within the UK are the cheapest (low cost, domestic courier services and no TAX/VAT); it is only good to serve the British market. Competition here is extremely severe as there are too many wholesale sellers that it is impossible to compete with. Besides; we won't be able to sell internationally because the UK does not allow flammable liquids for being shipped over from the UK to other countries, while in the case of United States; such restriction does not exist except if we attempt to use couriers that are not licensed for shipping DGD (also known as HazMat, or Dangerous Goods). This is why we refuse to obey some customer demands when they ask us to use a specific courier such as the Post Office service, or any other courier that does not have the appropriate license. The last thing you want is to have your parcel getting delayed for too long to be delivered, only to find out that the customs organisation in your country has seized the package, and in some extreme cases: they destroy these packages, due to their classification as dangerous goods! The DGD license is not cheap. We usually pay a premium price tag to allow these packages to travel safely by air, and we have to request specific packaging materials to ensure that the contents are not going to break, spill, or cause a fire. We are almost certain that none of those who complained to us, ever thought about this matter, did they?
So, to sum it up. So far:
Some of you (the customers) are very lucky to be living in a developed country such as the UK among others because your country is one of these countries where fashionable goods (perfumes, cosmetics, makeup, etc...) are the cheapest in the world. The reason is that our governments give great flexibility to large businesses to import goods from the manufacturers to the large-scale distributors, but at the same time is is painfully tough for small-scale sellers like us to enjoy such flexibility (We consider ourselves significantly smaller than the likes of the high-end franchise retail megastores such as Debenhams, Selfridges, etc...).
So, now you know why some of our perfumes are a bit expensive.
Oh! and let me please give you some more facts to add icing to the cake:
I noticed that, the majority of our "UK" customers in particular, buy from us because they are one of the following 3 classifications:
1- The naive/careless customer: Those are the first time buyers (newly registered) and inexperienced with eBay/Amazon/Online shopping, or those who are in a rush and do not care that much about the price (the impatient ones, and those who urgently seek buying a present to a girlfriend/boyfriend), they don't filter their search by price and they use the best match tool, and since our items rank pretty high in search results; they don't hesitate to buy immediately.
2- The rare/hard to get items collector: Sometimes we have fragrances that are pretty exclusive or hard to find, or have been discontinued, which reduces the competition on us and makes our items such a bargrain, a steal to those customers, even if the prices are relatively high.
3- The new releases buyers: Sometimes we also sell brand new fragrances that just came out before they even hit retail, and they got their customers who are so keen to buying these stuff before anyone else. We also noticed that after a few weeks; the interest dies down very quickly, because once these new fragrances hit the market; they will become widely available for dirt cheap prices and people will obviously steer away from our shop and buy from everywhere else.
Additionally, there are other reasons that make our fragrances a bit more pricey:
Have you also thought about the cost of fees with eBay/PayPal and currency conversion rates? I guess not. We are an international seller after all, not an ordinary domestic seller. These fees are literally adding another 20-25% to the final cost of our fragrances. Now, while we know that this fact is not preventing some power sellers from selling their items for much cheaper prices (they are also paying fees after all), they are killing the market for the following reasons:
1- They buy a stock of a particular fragrance or fragrances in bulk. Such as thousands of units per item, and make a minimal profit as low as $5 each order, to sell items in hundreds on a daily base, and to eliminate all chances of competition all together! ... This practice is risky because the focus here is on a quick money-making, which would result in a huge amount of issues such as poor delivery, poor handling time, poor customer service, etc... As explained earlier, our focus is on quality, not quantity. Yes, we are more expensive than the average sellers, but in return, you can be very confident that your item comes from a company that cares about you, the customer, and the service is going to be such a delightful experience that makes you want to come back in future and make more purchases. We have a lot of hidden secrets/treats, behind the scenes. We offer discounts, vouchers, coupon codes, freebies, samples and exclusive stuff. Our goal is to make you happy, and 100% completely satisfied.
2- Most of the private sellers on the internet (including eBay) as well as some top sellers, are already breaching a lot of regulations. They are able to get their stock so cheap because they are buying them from the grey market (from non-authorised suppliers). You'll go through several bad experiences with at least a few of those sellers, such as: Receive counterfeit goods, expired juice (out of date), bad batch of fragrances that got some defects such as visible or hidden damages, flat juice that does not produce any scent at all (due to poor storage of the item, under light or not away from sun/daylight), and plenty of other possible scenarios. They are also breaching the manufacturer (designer/brand) own terms. If they were authorised by the copyright owners; they would not sell their fragrances so cheap that it could hurt the reputation of the brand! ... We are dealing with authorised distributors who are getting their stock directly from the manufacturers, and we have contracts (agreements) with most of the Brands of these fragrances. Among the terms and condition of sale, some brands are specifically requesting, not to sell some of their items lowers than a specific price they determine for online businesses. Sometimes their declared minimal price is higher than retail and sometimes lower. We are bound by the law to respect the wish of these brands, and this also explains why some items cannot (or should not be) cheaper than the price you are able to find, somewhere else, whether online or even in retail.
3- This point is specific to eBay. eBay is not providing flexibility in the settings of the listing shipping options the way it should. The issue is not something that you can control by size/weight. To offer our item internationally, a VAT needs to be included. Unfortunately the higher the VAT will be, the more expensive a perfume would become. VAT is not a fixed numeric rate, rather than a percentage. So, you can imaging that a fragrance costing 200 Dollars will easily add a quarter more to the cost of VAT. To offer the items to cheaper tax-rate countries such as Canada and USA (which should be tax-free because the shipment is domestic for them), a VAT must be excluded but not in the listing's VAT settings. The only way to do this is by offering a partial refund through a discount, or by giving a special offer.
To avoid this issue, we have to create two separate listings: One dedicated only for USA and Canada (applies also to the UK, or any other country that is the home country of the eBay website that the listing is listed on), and another one to the rest of the world. eBay does not allow duplication in one store. Yes we can change the title slightly, but if we get caught out; eBay would penalize us for that. So, we got no choice except to do it this way. Either that or stop selling internationally and focus only the local market for each eBay website. As an international seller; our international sales count to 65% of our profit, so it is not possible for us to ignore this huge potential. This is why our prices would be higher in some countries than the others, even though the actual price itself is the same across all eBay websites.
I could go on, and on and on, but I believe that I have explained everything I thought about, in a great effort. Finally, you may notice that our fragrances on our website (this website) are significantly cheaper than eBay/Amazon. Of course, we are not paying the high fees to Shopify like we do with eBay and Amazon, but our items on our website are not that low in prices. They may look significantly cheaper, but the fact is; the VAT cost is not included within the final price, as well as shipping and handling fees for HazMat goods (these charges will appear later on at cart/checkout pages). eBay and Amazon are forcing their business sellers to include VAT with the price. This is not possible to be done the same way on our website because we are selling our items to many other countries around the world where we could actually ship our items tax-free to them, and thus we cannot make the tax as a general rule to be inclusive with the final price.
However, you could still benefit from buying directly from our official website, through the use of our manual (and automatic) coupon codes. You could get a discount from 10% up to 20% based on the value of the item in your cart as well as quantity/destination. On our website, you could get a discount even for one single item, while on eBay/Amazon this is not always possible unless you buy at least two items or more. There are other benefits of using our website too. The following page will show you why you should consider buying directly from us than the other platforms we are selling on:
This is all folks! ... I hope you enjoyed reading this lengthy article, and please remember: Never assume things if you are not aware of what is going on behind the scenes. There are so many logistics, eCommerce and legalisation barriers, that only us (the sellers) are aware of. Never jump to premature conclusions, and always be nice and professional when you want to ask questions. We are always there for you, and we love hearing / receiving your feedback if it is productive and respectful. Have a nice day.
- Kimberley Rose