Home > Uncategorized > HarperCollins Announces New Order Minimums

HarperCollins Announces New Order Minimums

After looming for several months, HarperCollins released its new shipping minimums this morning. Some smaller stores are not going to like what they see, other stores are simply not going to understand it fully.

First, some background.

On the logistics/shipping end of things, the company has been bleeding tremendous amounts of money for years. Consider what happens when XYZ Christian Books places an order for 3 each of 6 titles:

  • one title ships normally
  • one is print-on-demand and ships separately
  • one is “monitored stock” and ships separately again
  • one is a “Love Inspired” title and ships separately
  • one is currently in reprint and ships later, often by itself
  • one is not yet released, and ships later, often on its own

Each one of these generates a separate shipping carton. Often these are double-reinforced (more expensive) and non-reusable boxes.

Each one generates a separate invoice, most of which are then mailed separately at a cost of $1.30 US per mailing, not including printing the invoice and the cost of the envelope. 

Each shipment takes 16-22 to reach stores in Ontario, where I’m writing from, and possibly longer for the West Coast or Maritime provinces.

It’s a mess, and our example was generous, assuming 3 copies per title. Many times these shipments are ones and twos, and that often leaves them subject to damage in shipping.

So today, after keeping us waiting for several months, the company announcement is this:

Effective April 4th, 2022, orders must meet the order minimum of 20 units to qualify for free freight.

Orders that do not meet the minimum will be processed with freight added at invoicing. Titles ordered that are coded OP or NOP (not our publication) do not count towards the 20 unit minimum.

HarperCollins will not combine new orders with existing backorders to meet minimum.

The fun news continues on a FAQ sheet which was combined with the mail announcement. Here’s just a few:

Q: If a PO is short of the 20 units minimum will the customer be notified prior to shipping that the order did not qualify for free freight?
A: No, it is up to the customer to ensure that their order meets the minimum.

Q: Are we able to quote freight charges to accounts when they have orders that don’t meet the minimum?
A: Yes, if someone calls customer service to ask for this information, an estimate can be provided.

Q: If an order meets minimum but contains titles that are in different warehouses, will each shipment be charged freight?
A: No, if the order meets the minimum, it will ship free freight regardless of which warehouse it ships from.

The treatment of NYP titles is a bit of a mystery. It’s been suggested to me that an account simply wait for the book to be available and order then, but remember, shipping times with Harper are running anywhere from 16-22 days here in Ontario.

There was no indication on the announcement if this essentially means the scrapping of designated ship days.

Here was my reply to our sales rep:

This is a completely one-sided document.

It basically contains a number of things accounts are expected to do for you, but absolutely nothing of what you’re prepared to do for us.

There’s no indication as to how this solves the chronic problems of the last two years; how it streamlines the process.

It also places a huge administrative burden on the purchaser for each store vis-a-vis backorder management.

What are your thoughts? I’ve opened a discussion thread at Canadian Christian Retail Insights or you can leave a comment here.

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