Hey guys, it typically takes 2-3 weeks for stuff to ship. Here is our process:
The factory (seeed studio) built all the developer kits for kickstarter and tindie. Because we already had the shipping information for kickstarter backers, seeed was able to drop ship those directly from the factory.
Seeed used singappore post, because thats their standard method of shipping from their web store. I hadn’t used it before but they have lots of satisfied customers so I left it up to them. Usually when I buy from them I get DHL but it’s 3 times more expensive (usually around $20-30 for shipping even small parts). The good news with DHL is that tracking works great and you get it in 3 days so you get what you pay for.
Singapore post clearly provides the least tracking info I’ve ever seen from a shipper, basically it just tells you that the tracking number is valid but doesn’t really give you any more info than that. There is actually a reason for this that I will discuss here later on involving freight forwarders.
The remainder of the units were shipped to our office where we took 100 units in stock and updated the Tindie website to reflect that. For these orders we shipped them as they came in through Hong Kong Post. This is a service used by dangerous prototypes and they really like it. It provides a little more information than sing post, but still only tells you once it’s in Hong Kong and then once again when it’s in the destination Country. Which isn’t bad, but we can still improve on this.
The important thing to note is shipping in China isn’t as straight forward as the US or other countries where you just drop the packages off at the carrier. While this is possible, it creates a lot more paperwork and actually we won’t have as good discount as larger companies that ship a large volume of product continuously. We use a service called a freight forwarder, which provides shipping services to many small companies, bundles the shipments together and then can provide a much lower cost to ship.
The challange we hit on the Tindie shipments this time, is there was the Mid-Autumn Festival in China which is a holiday in which pretty much everything shuts down for 2 weeks. 750 million people go home to their families and cities like Shenzhen are left almost completely vacant. This includes the Chinese Customs operating at the border. So our packages sat for a while to get into Hong Kong.
The packages are still considered in possession of the freight forwarder as they cross the border and are only given a tracking number once they arrive in Hong Kong. This is why all of our tindie orders had no update for about a week.
In the end, we have only had a couple people have problems with their shipments and we are always able to resolve them. Finding a better shipping solution is something that I’m going to work very hard on when I go back next week so that the kickstarter orders can go out smoother.
At the very least, for US and Canada, it looks like we will send a bulk shipment to our headquarters in Portland via DHL and then send USPS from there. It may be a little bit faster and we will have better tracking information.
For international orders things will likley be a little rocky for a while, as we probably will stay with our current solutions. We will work with Seeed studio to try and find something better as well. And last but not least, when we have our web store up we should at least allow you to select DHL although the cost will be more.
So in the end, patience usually pays off in this stage but if you ever have any questions don’t hesitate to contact me or ekem if you have some struggles.