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Since I started manufacturing and selling nixie tubes and clocks, our customers from the USA formed the single biggest market for us. I remember years where we shipped 50% of our clocks to the USA. Today, I am excited to announce an improvement for our US customers – cooperation with Nicholas Stock from California. Nick will ship our clocks to US customers and also do some warranty and repair services. This change means faster delivery, no import process, lower risk of damaging the package and lower overall cost of the delivery.
So, who is Nick? If you are a member of the Neonixie Google group (1000+ people with an interest in nixie tubes), you might know him under his nickname Pramanicin – Nick is one of the moderators of the group.
Nick became one of my first customers, purchasing a Solitube clock kit back in 2014, and shortly after that more nixie tubes. Over the years, we’ve established regular email communication, sharing ideas about nixie tubes, and (embarrassingly) solving replacements of some of Nick’s early tubes as these had early product “teething problems”. Nick was always super helpful and patient while we were learning the hard lessons of manufacturing a reliable nixie tube.
Being interested in tubes and electronics for quite some time, Nick got skills and equipment needed to provide services for repairs of the nixie clocks – that is a great asset to have in the team!
How it works
As for the ordering process, there is nothing new for our US customers, the purchase and payment is done via our e-shop. Once we see the customer’s shipping address is in the USA, Nick ships the order from the small storage of our products that he keeps. That’s all for you as a customer.
Local service and repair
Our main focus is to deliver you a product that will never need to be repaired. We’ve made huge progress over the years and I am very proud of where we get with the reliability (with customers’ help). However, despite all our efforts, the product sometimes fails.
In such a case, Nick is able to help you from the USA, making it faster and more convenient for you. All communication should be first initiated at firstname.lastname@example.org as usual.
We always ship replacement first so the customer has 100% working product, then we discuss how to get the failed item back for examination.
Before: Shipping to the USA from the Czech Republic
How it looked like when we shipped our US orders from us? Let’s take our black/silver Puri clock as an example. The costs for shipping from our manufacturing facility in the Czech Republic:
- 1460 EUR – cost of the clock
- 120 EUR – shipping to the USA (TNT Express 2-4 days)
- 70 EUR – average value for customs duty (import tax)
- 1650 EUR – total costaid by a customer
Some notes: The (TNT Economy Express 5-8 days) would be less expensive (around 80 EUR), but the overseas economy services have been canceled due to Covid. The import tax is charged to the US customer by the shipping company – usually for orders above 800 USD. The overall customs duty varies from customer to customer, usually something like 3% to 7% – this depends on many factors that we can’t reliably influence.
After: Shipping to US customers from Nick (California)
And now, let’s count the overall costs for shipping of the Puri clock from Nick from California:
- 1460 EUR- cost of the clock
- 17 EUR – shipping from USA (FedEx)
- 46.72 EUR – import tax that we charge directly to the customer
- 1524 EUR – total cost paid by a customer
126 EUR – the amount that the customer saves when we ship the clock from Nick.
What it mean for us
- We will save a lot of time on communication with TNT, delays, customs paperwork etc.. all this was necesary to work out individually for every package shipped. Hundreds of emails per year. This time will be used for speeding up response to customer’s emails or improving the internal processes.
- Lower risk of damage means lower amount of clocks damaged – we will save on replacing the damaged clocks. The risk of damage is between 1-2%, if we save 1% from 44 000 EUR (total value of the shipment), it is 440 EUR – 1/4 of the shipping cost back, less disapointment on customers’ side.
Some behind-the-scenes information
If you run a small business in Europe and want to get your physical products to USA, the following information may come handy..
The main goal of our cooperation with Nick is to make our service more convenient for our US customers. Despite being based in Europe, we want to make the purchasing smooth, without potential headaches that overseas shipment can bring. We could use the services of fulfillment centers in the USA, the problem is that such a solution is optimized for large volumes and not very flexible. Working with Nick, we can also offer a local repair services.
How much does it cost?
The first shipment we sent to Nick were two pallets. There were two payments for it – one for the transport itself, one for the customs duty (import tax + fees).
The shipping was door to door, they picked it up at our place and delivered it to Nick. We used the lowest cost shipping method – a ship, it took over two months for the goods to get to Nick. We asked the shipping company to bill us both the shipping costs and the US import expenses so that the shipment is cleared and arrives to Nick without additional fees.
The shipment was delayed several times (the total delay was around 1 month), it was just before Christmas and taking the Covid into account – I am not sure how far it takes normally.
The pallets need to be fumigated otherwise they can’t be accepted for the transportation. The plywood that we use for the clock boxes is fine as it is already treated.
The good point is that the pallets arrived in perfect condition, with no signs of damage at all. The boxes shipped individually often experience pretty harsh handling, we need to optimize the packaging for it anyway.
The total costs:
- 1679 EUR – Shipping of the pallets from us to Nick
- 1391 EUR – The customs duty – costs of importing the goods to USA
Here is the customs duty form – there is definitely some learning curve 🙂
Possible improvements for the future shipment
There is a room for improvement to make the shipping less expensive:
- use full space of the pallet – the height of 2 meters
- make the pallets stackable
- study the customs tariffs, we might fit into lower % category
I hope you find the information useful, if you have any questions please leave a comment!