As of March 12th 2020, we’ve updated Bluethumb’s freight policy to improve the shipping experience and simplify the process.
Here’s how freight works going forward:
[a] Artists with small to medium sized artworks (max package size 105cm x 105cm) are recommend to send their art via Australia Post. All you need to do is email us the invoice and we’ll pay it along with the artwork payment. You’ll get reimbursed even if the art is returned.
[b] If the artwork exceeds 105cm on any side or you cannot get to Australia Post, Bluethumb will continue to book & pay for freight using our normal couriers (eg TNT, DHL).
[c] Artists with an established Bluethumb track record can now request to manage all their own freight. This requires Bluethumb approval and an update to your artist profile by us.
Soon we'll order some fancy Bluethumb boxes with new sizes to suit your artwork and size parameters of both freight carriers. They’ll be extra strong for maximum artwork safety.
What does this mean in practice?
Not much is really changing and you don't need to do much (if anything differently). Right now we're simplifying the actual delivery process.
Many artists already use Australia Post to send their art and then submit the invoice. We're encouraging this more now. As soon as possible (we're in discussions with Auspost) we'll open up Bluethumb sub-accounts at popular Auspost stores with the aim that you don't need to pay upfront and recover the money - you just drop your art at the post office. Auspost will restrict the number of accounts but we'll cover the most commonly used postcodes.
The normal freight collection & delivery process stays the same - eg for TNT, DHL, Zoom2U and other couriers we use.
Several full time professional artists have been managing all their own freight for some time on Bluethumb (they asked us if they could, we were happy to trial it). It's going well, so for frequent sellers wanting to handle all their own freight, please touch base.
Another change is we're phasing out is hand delivery. We've had a growing number of problems with hand delivery and we now need a uniform system of tracked artwork deliveries for all freight.
What are the advantages?
The advantages of this are a consistent freight experience, tracked delivery, reduced admin and lower freight cost. Whilst we appreciate artists self delivering - the admin load and challenges dealing with manually managing payouts and resolving unexpected events is proving higher than using tracked 3rd party couriers. In time, using TNT, Auspost Bluethumb Accounts or Artists Self Delivering will mean a much more streamlined process.
We’ve found Auspost have good delivery accuracy because of their network and the fact they drive vans (easier than trucks to enter small residential streets). For this reason they’re our first choice for small to medium sized artworks (< 105cm x 105cm).
TNT use trucks, however we pay a premium so the driver will still deliver to residential addresses. We’ve found they are good at transporting large artworks, especially on long haul trips. They can be expensive, with big fees on boxes with a side over 149cm and often the invoiced amount is 2-3x what they quote.
We’re re-trialling Couriers Please who are cheaper and consistent at billing. They are rough handlers but with new boxes art damage should be rarer. They auto insure to $1000 (let’s take advantage).
Can I still ask Bluethumb to handle my freight? I love this service.
Yes, of course. The same team you know can still book couriers and do it all for you as before. Could we please ask one key favour though?
=> Please carefully package your art (double bubble wrap & sturdy box) keeping the box tight and no bigger than necessary. We get BIG additional charges from TNT when the package is larger than when we estimate it during booking. And oversized manual handling charges apply when any packaged side is > 149cm. These fees are not quoted at the time of booking - we get billed afterwards (ouch!). In other words, nice, neat packages save us losing money on freight which we could spend on marketing your art.
Why does Bluethumb recommend using Auspost with small to medium artworks?
Well Auspost charge freight consistently with less nasty surprises, fees wise. Auspost also have a high delivery accuracy to residential addresses (ie customer’s homes). And for those artists who hate waiting for couriers this means you take control of dispatch.
When I send an artwork with Auspost what happens next?
Enter the details (including tracking number, cost of sending and a photo of the receipt through your 'My Orders' page or send it by replying to the respective 'Your artwork has been sold email'. We’ll add the amount to the payout on your artwork.
Note: We’re working hard to get Bluethumb sub-accounts 🤞in local Auspost stores so that one day you can just drop the art and we’ll pay without the whole receipt palaver. We're aiming to reduce the back & forth of admin and questions about delivery (self delivery usually), getting reimbursed, returns, missing items and so on. When you have hundreds of conversations on the go each month with artists, plus hundreds of buyer questions about delivery it gets hectic!
Can I self deliver and will I get paid the freight allocation?
To put it simply, no. Without going into detail, we’ve simply had too many challenges with self delivery and a scalable, tracked system is needed. So all artworks need to be shipped and tracked. We’ll reimburse the exact cost of freight. Auspost is who we recommend, based on their high delivery success rate and lower cost.
The exception is if you’re an approved artist, sending all your own freight (see below).
...But packaging costs?
Should be factored into your artwork price, as they always have been. Think of these as another business expense that is part of selling art. This was exactly the same in the old system.
How do I become approved to self-deliver?
- You should sell art frequently and be prepared to send all your artworks yourself. Sometimes it’s cheap. Sometimes it’s expensive. The freight, insurance, questions on delivery are your responsibility. It’s not too onerous but we do note that often artists doing this have a partner helping with admin.
- Reach out to Bluethumb for approval to self-deliver.
- If we say yes - we’ll probably start slowly with a trial.
- If all goes well, we'll update your profile to ‘self shipping’.
- Note: Once 'self-shipping' is approved, when you upload artworks there will be no additional shipping allocation on top of the artwork price. We'll let you know how this works in the approval email.
We recommend including shipping costs in your price, in line with our Free Shipping promise to collectors, and this should help with price uniformity across platforms. Having spoken to high selling artists they find it easier to simply price the art, and have sent enough to know and budget for the approx. cost of freight.
What are the size limits on Auspost?
They have a maximum package size of 105cm on any length. So the absolute overall maximum package size is 105cm x 105cm.
Note that any package with a side of 100cm+ will incur oversize handling fees.
Star Track (owned by Auspost) can take larger items up to around 120cm but right now we’re not using them. Once we have established a commercial account with Auspost we hope to add in their Startrack Overnight Express service.
What are the size limits for TNT and other carriers?
TNT use trucks and can take very large packages. But they do charge on cubic weight, ie volume.
It is important to note, that if any package has a side > 149cm they have hefty oversize/manual handling charges.
Are there any changes to insurance?
Yes, but it is largely behind the scenes. We used to insure every artwork shipped at the time of shipping. Now we have one, all encompassing insurance policy. This covers all the freight we book, and your freight through Australia Post. It is one of the reasons we want you to use Auspost or us. If you use another carrier yourself, insurance rests with you, the artist.
If an artwork is above $3000 in value, we’ll take out additional cover as a precaution. So if you’re sending an artwork worth over $3000 with Auspost, please touch base with us first. Otherwise there is nothing else you need to do.
Really, all you have to do is continue to package art correctly. Insurance will be paid out only on correctly packaged items ie bubble wrap + box.
What other changes can we expect next?
The pricing algorithm for freight on artwork upload will be updated to reflect the changes soon. This is in response to charges we get with bigger packages, and that we lose money on this art consistently.
So we hope you appreciate the changes and understand our drive to make life simpler, to cut out missed art pickups, deliveries and extra admin.