A few months ago, I challenged the ARRL’s new mission to serve members in a more effective way by bringing “value” to members. I suggested that one quick “win” would be to stop selling through Amazon (at a 55% discount) and use that money-per-book to fund “free shipping” for members who purchase books. Many readers just didn’t read beyond the title of “free shipping” before raining down the it-will-just-be-passed-along-to-members rhetoric. This does not understand that the League would make a greater profit margin by selling at the 100% retail price (even with whatever discount the member may receive by being a Certified Instructor, etc.), charging no shipping, and still recouping a higher profit than the automatic 55% “loss” through the standard wholesale discount.
In one of my interviews with Howard Michel ARRL CEO on the ICQ Podcast, he said he ran the numbers and that it wouldn’t work out. I did not directly challenge him on that issue since it’s clearly his call. My thought was that it was a pure and simple strategy to demonstrate his new vision of “increasing value.” But enough with my recommendations, already!
However, perhaps it’s just me, but has the ARRL increased their free or discounted shipping stance in marketing publications? Like other League members, I’m sure, I received the above coupon code for Cyber Monday (after Thanksgiving). It’s FREE SHIPPING on $50 or more. That’s an incentive, especially with the new Handbook out and discounted temporarily at $40. So, I thought I’d grab another discounted book to reach $50 or more and get a FREE SHIPPING discount. On my daily driver desktop, I run Linux Mint on a Dell T-5500 8-core CPU with 72GB of RAM and a gigbit Internet service via ethernet to my commercial class switch. I rarely ever have buffering of websites from my end. Ever. But, boy, did I on this Cyber Monday order at ARRL.org! It took several HOURS for me to get the order through to checkout. I tried several different machines, in addition, just to ensure it wasn’t on my end. It wasn’t as I did a network speed operation test on getting packets to and from the ARRL.org server. It was on that end…because, no doubt, there was a boatload of customers ordering. So that’s the point of marketing offers, no? And I’m very happy to see evidence of it drawing a crowd at the virtual checkout page at the League’s website.
And, here are several more adverts e-mailed to members, all with $5 discounted shipping. So, has the ARRL been rolling out a version of this “free shipping” strategy? Well, only some offers reflect actually free shipping but a cap at $5 shipping is also a winning offer, too. I’m delighted at this marketing move by ARRL Product Development Manager Bob Inderbitzen, NQ1R. Keep it up, Bob! This increases value to members who receive the code coupons.