Mouser shipping tip to save money.
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Mouser shipping tip to save money.

by george graves on Thu Aug 12, 2010 5:25 am

One thing that started to happen as I have been placing larger and larger parts orders is that, for a while, I lost all control of shipping costs. And when you are starting out, an extra $30 shipping charge here and there, really adds up - fast.

So, my favorite supplier is Mouser. I really love those guys. I've used others, but their search engine agrees with me and how I think. One thing I *do not* like about mouser is that they don't give you a real estimate of your shipping before you check out. They add the shipping charges when they bill your CC - you never really know what it's going to be. After a while you start to get a feel for what an order will cost in shipping - but there can be some real surprises. One of them is the whole concept of "dimensional weight." That's when your package doesn't weigh that much, but it's so large that the carriers will charge you extra just because of the size. You combine that with some fast shipping, and your shipping bill can start to climb towards $100. Ouch.

One thing I've noticed is that (IMHO) mouser uses way too much bubble wrap. Sometimes, the packages I would get would have 3-4 layers of bubble wrap. This package (see below) put me over the edge - I was livid when I looked at the bill and saw my charge. I later measured the bubble wrap. It was 25 friggin' feet. 25 feet! I paid for 2 day shipping on 25 feet of bubble wrap??? I already own bubble wrap! I just wanted the parts! Grrrrrr!

Image
This is all the extra unneeded packing I removed

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All that extra space was 25 feet of bubble wrap.

So what I've been doing to help avoid these unexpected charges is just add a note to my order when I check out. I've received about 5 orders now, all very carefully packaged, all making the best use of space - and best of all - no more huge shipping charges! Woot! Now I'm saving about $30 an order.

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A kind note seems to work every time.

I know mouser is being responsible packing things so well. But I don't feel that I need all that bubble wrap for bags of passives. Almost anything in a through hole dip package is inserted into foam before shipping anyways - so I haven't seen any bent pins other then some large caps that were loosely packed in a plastic bag - and those get bent anyways.

Hope that tip helps someone.

George Graves
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Re: Mouser shipping tip to save money.

by adafruit_support_bill on Thu Aug 12, 2010 5:36 am

Good tip! The other problem with excessive packaging is how to dispose of it. I re-use it whenever possible, but I always end up with more than I can use. Then I have to pay again to get rid of it. Molded styrofoam is the worst!
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Re: Mouser shipping tip to save money.

by adafruit on Thu Aug 12, 2010 10:38 am

another tip with mouser - if you're spending more than 150 or so, choose UPS ground. they'll often upgrade it to 3 or 2 day air if you spend over (150? 200? 300? not sure precisely)
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Re: Mouser shipping tip to save money.

by robodude666 on Thu Aug 12, 2010 12:26 pm

Excellent! I'll have to give this a try next time I place an order on Mouser.

I recently placed two Mouser orders that featured a quarter pound or less of stuff. Even with USPS Priority or UPS Ground the shipping charges were still about $9. Both orders were for $10-15 of stuff, which made it feel even worse. Oddly though, none of my orders from Mouser seemed to be overprotected or too large though.
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Re: Mouser shipping tip to save money.

by miked123 on Thu Aug 12, 2010 12:51 pm

Great tip. Over packing has always bothered me as well.

But speaking of shipping: does anyone know how/where the big players ship from? For example. I'd much rather order from Mouser than Digikey for common things to avoid waiting for a package from a far far away shipping center like Fargo, ND.

Is there a list somewhere of each companies different distribution centers?
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Re: Mouser shipping tip to save money.

by robodude666 on Thu Aug 12, 2010 12:54 pm

I know the latest 3 of my Mouser orders came from Texas. Haven't used DigiKey yet due to the minimum order fee.
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Re: Mouser shipping tip to save money.

by george graves on Thu Aug 12, 2010 1:56 pm

adafruit wrote:another tip with mouser - if you're spending more than 150 or so, choose UPS ground. they'll often upgrade it to 3 or 2 day air if you spend over (150? 200? 300? not sure precisely)


I've been choosing "3 day" ups on my +$200 orders and they usually bump me up to "2 day." I'm thinking of switching to USPS on orders that I place on a wenesday/thursday since you get that extra delivery day free with the postal service.
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Re: Mouser shipping tip to save money.

by johngineer on Thu Aug 12, 2010 2:18 pm

It's weird that my shipping experience with Mouser seems to have been the opposite of yours, George. Every time I get my items, I'm amazed at how tiny the box is, with no extraneous packaging or "air padding", and without me asking for it.

I definitely second your idea of putting a nice note on there when you ship. When I worked in photo equipment sales, I'd always send my orders down to the warehouse with a note of thanks for the pickers/banned. This definitely had an effect on accuracy and speed of shipment for my customers. In this case, I imagine the web orders are automated to go directly to the warehouse, so it's on the customer to provide this little morale boost if they so choose, but it makes a world of difference.

Good tips, George!
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Re: Mouser shipping tip to save money.

by echoskope on Thu Aug 12, 2010 6:15 pm

Mouser ships from Texas, and if you are somewhat close to them (I am in Oklahoma) as long as I order by 8pm local time, and ship UPS ground, my order ALWAYS comes next day!!!! Next day delivery, but charged for ground shipping :)
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Re: Mouser shipping tip to save money.

by AdShea on Thu Aug 12, 2010 9:19 pm

Mouser is just outside Dallas, Digikey is in Thief River Falls, MN. UPS changed from shipping through Minneapolis to shipping through Fargo a few years ago (sad time for people at U of Minn). Newark is somewhere in North Carolina.
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Re: Mouser shipping tip to save money.

by pstemari on Fri Aug 13, 2010 2:24 am

My eyes must be going, but Mouser's ever-so-pretty web ui and search drives me nuts. Digikey's is ugly, but fast and easy to read. None of these tiny 10-pixel fonts or artistic light blue text on a white background.
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Re: Mouser shipping tip to save money.

by mribble on Fri Aug 13, 2010 5:27 am

I'll verify that like Adafruit, I've had Mouser upgrade my ground shipping to 2 day air for larger orders. I don't know where that threshold is. Usually for large orders I don't care about shipping speed so I've considered asking for free shipping instead of faster shipping, but I've never done that. Someone should probably just contact them and they'd probably tell you their polices. I don't see why this would be a secret.
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Re: Mouser shipping tip to save money.

by pstemari on Sat Aug 14, 2010 11:45 am

It probably not that simple. $500 worth of surface-mount gyros is a lot cheaper to upgrade to 2nd air than $500 worth of clunky power transformers.

The lack of an estimate is mostly due to charging actual rates, and the entire nightmare of dimensional weights, packing materials, and zones.
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Re: Mouser shipping tip to save money.

by robodude666 on Sat Aug 14, 2010 6:15 pm

pstemari wrote:The lack of an estimate is mostly due to charging actual rates, and the entire nightmare of dimensional weights, packing materials, and zones.


That still doesn't explain why they can't estimate a shipping quote. I mean, they HAVE a page that shows the cost per pound for each shipping method. No reason why they can't keep a weight per unit for their entire inventory. If you buy xxx of gadget xyz it will weight (xxx * weight per 1 xyz) lb + ~abc from the weight of the box and packaging. Even if it's off by a few cents or dollars I wouldn't mind. Better than being surprised after it ships and you receiving a bill that's $10-20 more expensive than expected.

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Re: Mouser shipping tip to save money.

by pstemari on Sat Aug 14, 2010 6:40 pm

Then people complain when it's off, etc. That how S&H turned into a profit center for most companies. Digikey's shipping rates are always less than I expect, and probably half of what companies that do weight- or dollar-based S&H charge. Mouser I've not used as much, but it's in the same general boat.
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