Shutterfly is the go-to online retailer for photos.
It’s a digital print agency that offers everything from custom merchandise to scrapbook services.
If you find yourself frequently needing to print photos, then you’re likely aware of Shutterfly and its expensive shipping.
While Shutterfly has decent prices on its products, it’s the shipping costs that take some people by surprise.
It makes them wonder why Shutterfly shipping is so expensive since it’s only photos.
Here are 10 reasons Shutterfly shipping is expensive.
Why Is Shutterfly Shipping So Expensive? (Top 10 Reasons)
1. Different Shipping Tiers
When you check out with your Shutterfly purchase, you’ll have different choices for shipping.
Shutterfly utilizes various shipping methods to ensure they cater to every aspect of their consumer base.
Some people are willing to wait and don’t need their prints rushed.
Others have an event approaching, and they need their prints the next day.
Whatever the case, Shutterfly has a shipping method that can accommodate them.
However, that also comes with a cost.
The cheapest way of shipping with Shutterfly is with the ground method.
It can take anywhere from five business days to a week for your item to arrive.
While it does take longer for your item to show up at your home, you also don’t have to pay as much money for shipping.
When you select premium shipping methods, however, like air travel, then it’s going to be more expensive.
Since the order has a rush on it, the company has to pay special attention to it to ensure it arrives on time.
That sort of special attention comes with costs.
Shutterfly shipping is expensive when you choose the premium shipping method instead of standard ground shipping.
2. Costs Of Shipping
The type of shipping method that you choose impacts the price of shipping because of its cost.
It’s more costly to ship something by air than by ground, for example.
That mostly has to do with fuel costs.
It costs more money to fuel an airplane than a truck.
While air travel is faster, it’s also more expensive.
Pilots and other staff have higher wages than truck drivers.
Ground shipping does have costs, too, even though they’re not as high as air travel.
Drivers need to pay various tolls or memberships to avoid tolls.
If they’re on a semi-truck, then they need to stop for weigh-ins at various weigh stations and pay fines if they’re overweight.
There’s also the price of maintenance.
To keep delivery trucks in working order, they need regular oil changes, tire rotations, and other basic maintenance services.
All of these costs add up.
Since the carriers need to offset these expenses, they charge a certain amount to carry an item.
The supplier, Shutterfly, then has to cover that cost in its own budget.
That means they need to set the shipping price at a certain amount to cover the expense of shipping.
If you choose a costlier way to ship a product, then you can expect a high shipping price.
Shutterfly shipping is expensive because fuel costs and other expenses make shipping expensive.
3. Weight Of Product
Another big factor that adds to the price of shipping costs is the weight of the product.
Shutterfly doesn’t only sell photos.
They also sell various products that you can put photos on.
Mugs, small pieces of furniture, kitchen accessories, frames, and even some toys all come from Shutterfly.
Since some of their products are heavy, it comes with a higher cost of shipping.
Weight impacts shipping prices in two ways.
The first is that it adds to the overall weight of the truck.
Carriers usually carry various deliveries from different companies to their destinations.
It makes the logistics system more efficient and ensures that the carriers can earn as much money as possible.
The problem with carrying various shipments is that it quickly adds up in weight.
Carriers have to watch how much weight their truck is holding to avoid paying fines from different states.
In an effort to preserve their highways, many states have set a certain weight limit on highways and roads.
If a truck exceeds that weight limit, then they need to pay a fine.
The fine pays for any road repairs that need to take place as a result of the heavy truck using it.
That’s why there are so many weigh stations on the highways across the country.
Trucks have to stop and ensure that they’re not overweight for the specific area.
Heavier items cost more to ship because it means the carrier can carry fewer items on their truck.
They have to make up for the loss in profits since they’re not carrying as many deliveries.
The second way that weight impacts the price of shipping is with fuel costs.
A heavier object is harder to pull along a surface.
It requires more energy to push it.
This also applies to trucks.
The vehicle relies on fuel to propel it along a surface.
If there’s a heavier object on the truck weighing it down, then it creates more drag on the road surface.
As a result, it requires more fuel to overcome the drag and keep the truck moving down the highway.
Carrying heavier items on their trucks means the carrier needs to stop for fuel more often.
That increases the cost of shipping the product.
That also means that the expense Shutterfly has to face is going to be higher.
To overcome that and still earn a profit, Shutterfly has to put a higher price on heavier products.
Shutterfly shipping is expensive when you’re buying a heavy object.
4. Size Of The Product
The weight of the item that you’re buying isn’t the only factor that can make shipping it more expensive.
The dimensions of the product also determine how expensive it is going to be to ship.
In the world of logistics, size matters.
Larger items are more expensive to ship because they take up more space in the truck.
That means drivers are unable to fit as many products in the truck.
That cuts into how much profit they’re going to make on the delivery run.
Even products from Shutterfly can take space.
Whether it’s bean bags, stools, or large picture frames, Shutterfly does have large items.
If you’re only buying photos from them, then your shipping won’t be as expensive than if you were buying a bean bag chair from them.
Photos take up less space.
This allows the carrier to store many more deliveries on their truck.
Larger items take up space which means they need to put a higher price on the shipment service to cover the loss in profits.
Shutterfly then passes that expense onto the consumer.
Shutterfly shipping is expensive because larger items take up more space and are more expensive to ship.
5. Fuel Costs
Fuel costs can also impact the price of shipping.
Whether it’s for a jet or a truck, if the price for fuel is high, then you can expect your shipping rate to be high.
There are a few reasons that fuel costs may be high.
One reason is an increase in demand when the supply is low.
Since gasoline supplies fluctuate from time to time, there are moments when the demand for gas is higher than its supply.
Whether it’s due to transportation problems or importing problems, if a region faces a lack of supply, then gas stations can increase the price.
Only those who can afford the high prices can fuel up.
Since delivery drivers have no choice but to fuel up, they take on a large expense when fuel costs are high due to a shortage.
Another reason fuel costs can rise is hurricanes and other serious storm events.
Since many oil refineries are in the ocean or in areas that see dangerous storms, there’s always a risk that those refineries will need to shut down.
Hurricanes, for example, will not only shut down a refinery, but they could destroy it as well.
This means the company needs to work harder to make up for the lack of supply and repair the refinery.
It takes time to fill a gap in the supply system.
Since people fuel up every day, even a day’s worth of missed production can impact fuel costs.
Those who own oil production companies overseas also have an impact on supply.
They decide how much oil they’re going to produce in a given year.
They may decide that they’re going to keep production levels at a minimum.
Since the United States, in particular, is dependent on these oil companies, they’re also at the mercy of their decisions.
If the cartel decides not to produce as much oil, then fuel costs will soar and earn them more money.
Finally, health concerns like the COVID-19 pandemic can play a role in fuel costs.
With fewer people to work the refineries and gas stations, there’s less oil to produce.
That means a smaller supply when demand is high.
When oil supply is low, fuel costs soar, and that means it becomes far more expensive to ship things.
Shutterfly shipping is expensive because of the cost of fuel.
6. Order Quantity
The number of products that you buy from Shutterfly can also impact the price of your shipping.
While shipping one photo may be cheap, shipping several photos becomes more expensive.
Both the size and weight of the shipment are increasing.
This becomes even worse when you buy a product that’s already large or heavy.
If you buy more of that product, then you can expect your shipping costs to almost double.
While you may receive deals on buying large quantities of products, you’ll miss out on saving money when you have to pay a higher shipping cost.
Buying in several bursts rather than one large order may help you save a little bit of money when it comes to shipping.
Shutterfly shipping is expensive when you buy a large number of products.
7. Packaging Costs
There are several digital agencies out there.
To make themselves stand out, Shutterfly focuses a good portion of its budget on packaging materials.
Not only do they want to ensure that your product arrives safely, but they also want to make sure that the packaging looks good.
You know you’ve received a product from Shutterfly thanks to its tell-tale orange packaging.
Since this isn’t a typical cardboard box, it’s clear that it costs more to make.
Shutterfly takes on the cost of high-quality packaging materials to make its customers feel as though they’re receiving a premium service.
High-quality packaging doesn’t come cheap, though, especially if you’re focusing on making it recyclable, which Shutterfly does.
These types of materials are more expensive to make.
That makes them more expensive to buy and use.
Shutterfly takes on the cost and passes it to their customer through their shipping costs.
Since packaging goes along with shipping, it only makes sense to bundle the expenses together.
The larger a product is, the bigger the packaging needs to be.
That means it needs more high-quality materials to make the packaging.
Since it needs more materials, the packaging becomes even more expensive.
Shutterfly shipping is expensive because of its focus on high-quality packaging materials.
8. Distance From Distributor
Shutterfly has its headquarters and main distribution center in California.
If you live far away from California, then you can expect a higher cost for shipping.
That’s because it costs more to ship a product over long distances.
It will require more fuel costs and higher wages for the various drivers or pilots transporting the shipment.
Since shipping becomes more expensive the further you are from the starting point, it only makes sense that the shipping cost would also be more expensive.
That’s why you’ll often see stores ask you about your zip code before you check out.
They want to determine how far you are from the nearest distributor.
This will then allow them to give you an estimated price on the shipping.
From there, you can determine if the cost is too expensive for you or not.
Those who live closer to California will not have shipping costs as expensive as those who live further away.
Shutterfly shipping is expensive if you live far from their distributors.
Some Shutterfly orders come with delivery surcharges.
They use these when the cost of shipping a product to your specific location is too expensive.
There are a few reasons you may face a surcharge.
The first is if you happen to live in a remote area.
This doesn’t just mean that you don’t live in the city.
It refers to areas that are considerably rural.
Since these areas are likely far from a distributor, it costs the delivery driver more time and fuel to reach that destination.
To cover the cost, Shutterfly charges a surcharge.
Another reason you may face a surcharge is if the product is extremely large or heavy.
Since the driver will need to miss out on profit by taking fewer deliveries on their truck, they need compensation to make up for the loss.
The surcharge serves as that compensation.
If fuel costs are uncharacteristically high, then they may also charge you a surcharge for fuel costs.
This gives the driver enough money to actually reach your location without running out of fuel.
One final reason you may face a surcharge is if the delivery worker has to deliver on a weekend.
Since these drivers don’t usually work on the weekends, they receive a bonus if they do choose to work.
The surcharge acts as that bonus.
All these surcharges can add substantially to your shipping costs.
Shutterfly shipping is expensive when you face several surcharges.
10. Holiday Shopping
One of the busiest times for Shutterfly is the holidays.
Everyone wants to send specialized gifts and cards to their friends and loved ones.
Shutterfly also specializes in selling small gifts that make excellent stocking stuffers.
Since their biggest sales come during the holiday season, you can expect the store to be extremely busy.
That can drive the price up for shipping.
Since all their workers are busy handling the influx of orders, they can only process so many and send them out for delivery.
The delivery workers are working extra hard, too.
Since there’s so much demand for their services, it can make supply difficult to manage.
As a result, their shipping costs can spike.
Shutterfly shipping is especially expensive during the holidays.
How To Save Money On Shutterfly Shipping
If you want to use Shutterfly but you’re often put off by its expensive shipping, then there are a few ways that you can save money.
Here are some tips on how to save money on Shutterfly shipping.
1. In-Store Pickup
You can waive shipping costs entirely by choosing to pick up the product at the store.
If you happen to live in California, then you can stop by the Shutterfly store and pick up your product.
Shutterfly also partners with other photo retailers around the country.
You can check to see if your preferred store is one of their partners and then have your order delivered to them.
If you’re only buying one photo, then you shouldn’t face shipping costs since the store can print your order.
If you’re buying a product with a photo on it, then you may face delivery charges.
However, picking it up in-store is one of the cheapest ways to avoid Shutterfly shipping costs.
2. Find Promo Codes
Shutterfly regularly posts promo codes that offer free shipping.
You can find these deals throughout the year.
If you’re waiting to buy some products from Shutterfly, then when you see a promo code for free shipping is the time to buy it.
3. Buy Several Products
Shutterfly sometimes offers free shipping on products over a certain price range.
If you can buy enough of their products to get over that price mark, then you can get free shipping.
Shutterfly shipping is expensive because of the weight and size of some of their products.
Fuel costs also play a major role in determining how expensive shipping is going to be.
Luckily, you can cut costs by picking up your products in the store or by using various coupons and promo codes.