Why Is Shutterfly Shipping So Expensive

Ever wondered why Shutterfly shipping is so expensive? We breakdown the top reasons here. Read more below.

Shutterfly shipping is expensive for a whole range of reasons, and unfortunately, most of them are not things that the company can change. You are paying for fuel costs, surcharges, the weight of the product, the driver’s time, the packaging, and the distance traveled, among other things. Nobody likes paying large amounts of money just to transport something from one place to another, and sometimes shipping costs seem extortionate. If you are frustrated by high shipping prices, you might be wondering what causes them, and why Shutterfly shipping is so expensive.


What Does Shutterfly Shipping Cost?


Shutterfly shipping is known for being pretty pricey, but how much does it actually cost to send something with this company? There are many different shipping tiers, so you will need to calculate carefully to work out where your package falls within these tiers. Packages are organized by size, weight, the speed with which they need to arrive, and the cost of the product. You can view full details about the shipping costs on their website, where you can order products and select from their various shipping options.


These include:


  • Economy, from $4.99
  • Standard, from $7.99
  • Expedited, from $14.99
  • Rush, from $19.99
  • Super Rush, from $29.99


Note that not all shipping methods are available for every order. What you can choose from will depend on what products you purchase and the quantities of them. For example, you cannot use Super Rush shipping unless you are shipping certain sizes or quantities, so you may find that this option is not offered when you check out on the site.


Shutterfly shipping costs are very variable, as you can see. If you are happy for your purchase to arrive slowly, you can get quite reasonable rates, but if you need the items in a hurry, you are going to pay a lot of money to ship them quickly. Next, let’s find out what the costs behind the Shutterfly shipping model are, and why these prices are as high as they are. Shutterfly is partnered with UPS, USPS, and FedEx for its shipping needs, so bear in mind that you may get your delivery from one of these three companies, but there are no guarantees as to which.


trucks in front of a usps distribution center


Expense Reason One: Distribution Distance


Some of the cost is calculated based on how far the product needs to travel. Remember, this is a physical item, and the further it needs to move, the more expensive it is to send it. The main Shutterfly distribution center is located in California, and that means anyone who is a large distance from California will pay greater shipping costs to get their items. Unless there is a small, local distribution center, you may end up paying a lot if you don’t live close to Shutterfly’s distribution center.


Shipping inevitably gets more expensive when you increase the distance, because it takes more time and costs more fuel. It also usually takes longer. You shouldn’t be surprised if you see the estimated shipping cost jump up when you input an address that is a long way from California. If Shutterfly asks for your zip code before you even check out, this is why. They want to show you a shipping cost estimate before you get to the end of the ordering process and then find it’s too expensive for you. Some retailers do swallow the cost of shipping distance to ensure all their customers can enjoy the same shipping prices regardless of location, but Shutterfly does not do this.


packaging an item for shipping


Expense Reason Two: Packaging Costs


Often, when you ship a package using a delivery company, you pay for the packaging costs and for the time needed to package it up yourself. This is usually a hidden cost, because often, you will already have the materials, and it does not take much time. For a business, however, this is very much an expense that they have to calculate into their costing strategy. The Shutterfly packaging is distinctive and it looks great, which is a good way for them to market their brand, but it is not cheap.


The packaging is also very good, protecting the contents of the parcel and ensuring that they arrive safely. Again, this comes at a cost. Because Shutterfly has both a time cost and a materials cost associated with packaging your mail, and they use high-quality, unique packaging, they have to add to their mailing costs. It isn’t possible for them to offer these services for free, because they have an associated labor cost and material cost. You are therefore paying for the packaging when you buy a Shutterfly product.


fuel tank that has maxed out


Expense Reason Three: Fuel Costs


Of course, one of the most expensive parts of getting mail from A to B is the fuel involved. Your package will be loaded onto multiple trucks, dropped off at different delivery locations, and loaded back onto trucks again. These trucks all have fuel costs in driving to and from depots, and no matter how you look at it, these costs must be covered by the business. The costs will be even higher if the package must be moved by air at some point, and often, this is the only way to achieve swift shipping times when long distances are involved. You are therefore paying for the fuel, and this often adds to the charge when the parcel must move a long distance to its recipient. Fuel is something that people rarely consider when they mail a parcel, but it is an ongoing and often very high cost for the business working on the delivery.


Expense Reason Four: Product Size


When packages are loaded into a truck, it makes sense that only a certain number of packages will fit, regardless of how you pack them. Although truck drivers get good at playing Tetris with the packages they carry, the size of the package still makes a difference to how many will go into the truck.


Larger packages mean that fewer will fit in one truck, and this means more trucks or more journeys. Either option comes with an increased cost, so the bigger your package is, the greater the cost will be. The dimensions of your Shutterfly package therefore make a big difference to how much it will cost for you to mail it, and Shutterfly has different categories that your package will be slotted into in order for them to work out how much it costs. You will always pay more if your package goes into a bigger size category, simply because fewer packages will fit into the trucks, and this increases the cost of the package being sent.


standing on a scale with socks on


Expense Reason Five: Weight Of Package


The weight is another factor to consider when determining how much it costs the company to send a package. This might seem like it should be less important than the package size, but in fact, it makes a big difference. The heavier the contents of a truck are, the more fuel that truck will use. The same goes for any aircraft; it will need a lot more fuel to take off if it is transporting a heavy load than if it is transporting light packages.


Trucks will also need to stop for fuel more constantly, which makes routes take longer, and causes inefficiency. All of this has a cost, and Shutterfly therefore charges more for heavy parcels. Again, they have categories that they use, and the band that your package falls into will determine how expensive it is to ship. Trucks may also get fined if they are found to be over certain weight limits, or they may have to pay fees for traveling in certain areas.


speed on a road


Expense Reason Six: Speed Of Shipping


As you’ll have seen from the list above, the speed of shipping makes a big difference to the cost of shipping. If you are trying to get something somewhere quickly, it will have to go by far less efficient routes, and this costs the business. They may have to add an extra truck, or send something by air when it would usually go by ground. They may have to take on extra staff to handle the item, or pay overtime to ensure that the package arrives on time. The speed of shipping therefore makes a big difference to how expensive a package is.


christmas decorations


Expense Reason Seven: Holiday Shipping


If you order during one of the busiest times of the year – the holidays – the shipping company is far more likely to have to pay overtime or hire extra staff to deal with all the orders that are coming in. This costs the company more than they are usually paying, especially if they need to use overtime pay or cover benefits for more members of staff. You may find that the shipping costs climb during the holidays, especially if you also need something rushing in order to get it in time. If this happens, be prepared to pay a lot for the extra attention and handling that your package will require.


Expense Reason Eight: Surcharges


Not all Shutterfly customers will face surcharges, but you may find that you are required to pay one in order to get your package delivered. Why? It depends, but it is usually because the business will incur an additional cost for getting a package to your required location.


This may be because the location is remote, or because your item is particularly large or particularly heavy. Any of these things can alter how much it costs for the company to get the package to you. For example, if most of a truck has to be dedicated to your package, that driver will be unable to make other deliveries, and a second driver and truck will have to be found. Alternatively, if a driver must go an hour off the usual route, they cannot make other deliveries – and again, another driver must be paid.


This incurs a surcharge, because the business has an extra cost associated with delivering your parcel. Rather than swallow this cost, they pass it on to the customer to ensure that their business remains profitable. Another couple of reasons you might face surcharges include weekend deliveries (or on federal holidays), or if there are particularly high fuel costs in your area. These surcharges will usually be added when you try to check out.


driver driving a shipping truck


Reason Ten: Driver Wages


Wages tend to be among the biggest expenses of any business. Remember, someone has to be paid for every minute that your package is moving from A to B. That means the staff who pack it, those who deliver it to the mailing center, the shipping clerk, the handlers, and all the drivers who pack and transport, load and unload your parcel. You are not just paying for one driver who sits in his truck and brings the package from the distribution center to your door. You are paying for a whole network of people who make the mailing system function, and ensure that mail is shipped around the country efficiently.


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Shutterfly shipping does tend to be quite expensive, and this is partly because they must take on the associated work of packaging the parcel properly, which is a labor and a material cost. They also have many other costs involved, including fuel, package weight, package size, wages, distance, and more.


All of this drives up the price of shipping and makes it a challenge for them to deliver a cheap service, especially if you want your package quickly. It is all surprisingly complex, but you can make everything simpler if you have a Virtual Mailbox, because this at least takes the headache out of delivery. It ensures your mailman can deliver to your home every time, saving you from having to go to the depot to collect a package, or them from having to attempt a re-delivery.


Virtual Mailboxes are a great way to make shipping easier for both the companies and the consumers, and you can get one from US Global Mail to make all your Christmas deliveries easy.

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