No one likes to pay shipping fees. Even when a vendor offers free shipping, it's not really free. The cost is just buried in the price.  

So vendors do their best to reduce the shipping for their customers. One way is to pack small packages as flat as possible so they go through the "slot of doom" at the post office. Very light packaging also helps - a thick cardboard mailer weighs more than a bubble pack.

Canadian vendors like me are at a disadvantage when it comes to US buyers. It just costs a lot to ship across the border.  But ChitChats has finally opened a branch in my area and I have been able to switch the delivery service for both Etsy shops, beadinggem and CraftaGems to it. Overall, my experience has been overwhelmingly positive. The cost savings of up to 74% is huge (actual savings will differ depending on the individual vendor)! 

Drop off is easy. I just drop it off in the right bin. There is a helpful staff member always present.  Shown below is a recent picture of the bins in late morning when I dropped off my orders.  The US bin was already filling up quickly. More and more local vendors are finding out about this new ChitChats in Kitchener so I am noticing more drop-offs each passing week.

How Does ChitChats work?
This nifty Canadian ecommerce business has branches or drop-off locations in several major cities and they are expanding with time. Vendors drop off their US shipments which are then taken directly to the nearest US postal office for forward delivery. 

The dashboard is very easy to use - clean design and self explanatory.  Fewer steps than what I had to do before. What is brilliant is the integration with Etsy as well as a whole host of other ecommerce sites such as eBay, Amazon, Shopify, Squarespace, Woocommerce, Bigcommerce and Wix so vendors who make many sales can simply do a bulk import into CC. The sales info is transferred so there is even less to do to complete the shipping part.  Note, you do not need to be on those platforms to use CC.

I have a choice of two shipping speeds for only slight price differences - 6-13 days or 2-6 days. I usually pick the latter as customers love the faster ship times. There is also an option for customer signature - this might be important to those who ship expensive items.

CC shipments are all tracked which is a huge bonus. I used to have to pay a whole lot more to get that feature. I always send each customer the tracking URL and number.  It saves me time as the customers can check on their shipments themselves.  

I've had one inquiry from a customer who said her order had not turned up on the last expected day. When I looked, the status showed that it was out for delivery and then nothing. The delay was likely due to overwhelmed postal services in her area and so the order didn't make it to her until a day or two later. She was relieved. 

CC also offers insurance for just 50 cents extra for those who need it.  Note that come August 1,  Etsy will be offering their Purchase Protection Program automatically to vendors only if they use tracking. It will cover lost items worth up to $250. Their policies and caveats are outlined here.  This is still in the future so we don't know how easy it would be resolve a case like that. 

CC also has customer service but I haven't really encountered any problems nor have to make a lost item claim since using the service. 

Any cons so far?  Just one. I now have to drive 30 mins to the CC branch whereas it only took me less than 5 mins to my local post office.  So the cost in gas is considerable at the moment which is why I have organized my trips for US orders to just twice a week - Mondays and Thursdays. But I hope things will improve in the future with either a lower cost in gas or CC opens up another branch nearer home. There is every indication they will as my area is rapidly growing. 

Highly recommended.  I am impressed with ChitChats and have joined their affiliate program. Any interested reader gets $5 + 2% account credit towards shipping for joining CC. For details see here.

Already on CC?  Do leave a comment and let us know how you find it. 

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Original Post by THE BEADING GEM