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Micole Khemarrica
My favorite season
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coppercheetah From: coppercheetah Date: October 14th, 2011 05:06 pm (UTC) (Link)
(Having tackled a similar problem at my workplace...)
Might I suggest the following process:
The box is a fairly standard double-wall cardboard container (as these are sturdy enough to survive multiple trips), with a plastic liner and (possibly) custom foam insert made to house the pie. (I can get you costs from the packaging firm I've dealt with in the past, but for a run of twenty or so, costs are still pretty minimal.) With the correct choice of foam, not only are all components replaceable, but for the parts most likely to have contamination issues (the liner and insert), you can use various cleaning techniques like hot water and detergents with no effects to the packaging.

(Following the 'subscription' model,) inside with the given pie is a prepaid FedEx return mailer for the empty container and an order sheet for the customer's next pie.
(You'll have to tell FedEx you want their reusable airbill mailers--these use a ziploc seal rather than adhesive to close the airbill pouch, and will then get attached and remain on the shipping container. The customer then needs only to place the new airbill inside the mailer, close the seal, and drop it off for shipment back to you.)

In this way, the customer buys their subscription and the pie is delivered with the ability to ship back the container with the customer's next order.

With that all said... Caveat Entrepreneur! Right now, markets that deal in 'luxury' items (like custom-made pies) are going to be thin. Expect this. You'll get rushes around the holidays, but month-to-month orders will have dry spells throughout the year. I'd be curious how much the shipping cost to various locations would be in comparison to the cost of the pie itself.
khromat From: khromat Date: October 18th, 2011 06:31 pm (UTC) (Link)
The boxes I've ordered are specifically designed to handle shipping of cakes and pies... the foam inserts are formed to handle the odd shape, so that's covered (although, if you can get me a better price on them, I won't complain)

I'll definitely talk to FedEx about reusable airbill mailers, and find out how much the empty box would cost to be shipped back. I don't have a business account with them yet, maybe if I start getting regular orders I will.

Shipping of perishables is always very expensive -- you're paying for speed for temperature control. As I start doing this as a business, I'll be able to have a better idea of the actual costs.
11 comments or Leave a comment