“$80 for one roll?!”
“New Zealand is such a rip off!”
“The same paper is only 30 pounds in the UK!!!!!”
I’ve heard it all. Actually you should hear some of the things people say to me on Trademe!!! It seems buying anonymously via the net means you can just say what ever you like – after all it isn’t actually a person at the other end right? At first I worried that my prices weren’t right – but my bank account, accountant, business mentor and partner have all actively encouraged me to increase them! My accountant assures me that it is not correct to work for less than $5 per hour (even though most small business owners apparently do). In fact the wallpaper that I sell online in New Zealand for $80 per roll sells in Australia for $129.00AUD per roll and the recommended retail price is $175 per roll. I do try to sell exclusively online, which means that my overheads are less, meaning that I can afford to knock a bit of the price. I actually sell many of my wallpapers for under half price, yet still I am bamboozled by people who seem to want cheaper, faster and complain about the price of my postage, samples and service.
I would love to reply to some of these people and give them a piece of my mind.
But I’m too polite to do that.
Instead I decided to write this article to shed some light on the price of wallpaper in New Zealand and all the behind-the-scenes stuff you probably never even think about (and that I probably should charge for – but don’t).
First of all there is no commercial wallpaper manufcturers in little ole NZ, there is a company in the Waiarapa who do wonderful hand printed wallpapers that are pricey. So nearly everything is imported, which means………….it has to be sent here (and please remember we live on the other side of the world). UPS, FEDEX, TNT you name it they fly it here. Sometimes it arrives and has gone via 7 different countries just to get here. And of course when it arrives the friendly tax man wants his cut. Now people looking to import their own wallpaper should note a few things. It is well known that imports under $400 can sometimes be waived for GST, but what a lot of people dont realise is that shipping is included in the price. So if you are importing wallpaper valued at $200 and think that you will be fine, you also have to calculate the price of shipping. If the combined price PLUS GST equals more than $400 then you will have to pay. On top of GST there is customs, duty and brokerage fees.
And this is just the cost of wallpaper.
If I sell a roll on trademe, there is the trademe fee. If via the website with creditcard a further 3% is added to the cost. Usually if somebody is interested in buying a roll they will want a sample. This invloves cutting into a roll or requesting samples from the UK (factor in more GST, more customs etc etc), a trip to the Post Office, parking postage and queuing. The interested customer will usually email me on average 15 – 25 times. This is to ask about postage, colours, delivery and samples.
And then there are the hidden costs.
Our website has been going over its traffic allowance and now we pay high volume fees of $60 per month on top of the regular $45 hosting plan. We pay GST every 2 months. Pre-payed courier tickets are bought in advance in booklets of 20. As most of our suppliers are based overseas we are forced to pay $25 per remittance as well as charges on the other side, on a busy month this can equal nearly $300 in bank fees alone! Our accountant bill is nearly $100 per month and accounting software is on a monthly payment basis too. We have begun to sell a lot on trademe so need to get some kind of stock maintance software which is $75 per month. And then there is the stock. To get wholesale prices, wallpaper must be ordered in bulk. When a customer orders 1 x roll, I am actually left with between 5 – 16 rolls that can take up to a few years to sell. And then there is the occasional fault. If a wallpaper is faulty then the retailer is forced to repay the customer. Of course we get the cost price of the wallpaper back from the manufacturer but the bulk of the cost of imported wallpaper is actually in the freight and this is a cost that the retailer has to reimburse out of their own pocket.
On top of all of this there’s all the time I spend doing all the little things not counted on this list. I have to order wallpapers and supplies. Correspond and chase up orders, find missing stock (eekkk my wallpaper is in Egypt?? Why is it in Egypt??), answer phone calls and wrap, sort and post. Some Nelson based customers want to come around and see the wallpapers (arghhh vacuuming, gardening, sweeping the front step, bundle the toddler in his room and hope he doesn’t notice). Often they cancel at the last minute.
So next time somebody complains about the cost of wallpaper in New Zealand I will send them straight to my competitors whose average roll is $200 – $300 per roll (which is actually cheap – YES it is!!).
Recently we have been getting emails from the UK, the US and even Thailand requesting samples and prices – which makes me wonder if NZ is actually such a rip off after all.