Two months ago, we’ve started making Smartie.Store and we had no idea we’d be blown away by you guys a couple of weeks later. Such interest you guys have shown is very encouraging and we are doing our best to catch up.
We’ve been only just discovering the best ways to do everything we need behind the scenes to make Smartie.Store a great store. From product selection to logistics to system development to customer care. It is very nice from most of you that you understand running an e-store with goods from China is not easy and it takes a few attempts and some time until we discover the best options and approaches. Yet some of our customers (I would be glad to name a few if I could) have been incredibly patient and supporting even through their experience so far has been nowhere near experience that they would expect from a regular online store.
Our biggest enemy at the moment is… guess what?
The most tricky part to figure out has been shipping from China to EU. Everyone wants stuff cheap & quick, right? Well when you ship from China, there’s either quick or cheap, but not both. Our first batch of Creality printers is arriving this week and because we’ve ordered it in the middle of March, it means that it’s taken around “amazing” 50 days to arrive.
Here’s the beast that carried it:
In the meantime Ender 3 came out and we thought OK, we can’t do it this way. It’s taking too long, people won’t wait 2 months for Enders. We’ve started looking for an alternative as mentioned in our previous status article. Airplanes are too expensive for shipping Creality printers, it costs around 70€ to ship a single Ender 3 to Europe. We’ve tried several forwarders and weren’t able to get a better rate. If you happen to know about a better forwarder, don’t hesitate to contact us. So if we had a batch shipment by air, we could end at around 50€ per Ender 3. The shipping between Creality and our warehouse adds to the products price, unlike shipping from our warehouse to the end customer. Customs and tax are further more counted from product price + shipping rate. Add “safety margin” for returned goods and… As you can see, if we’ve chosen the “quick” way, we’d end up pricing Ender 3 at about 250€.
Fortunately Europe and Asia are connected and that means we have one more alternative and that’s trains. Trains have roughly the same shipping rates as ships, but a train (depending on which route it takes in China) is supposed to reach Europe in between 15 and 20 days. Unless there are trouble to resolve, which is not unusual. The journey is very long and problems along the way are common. It adds roughly 13€ per unit to the price of Enders, which is a huge contrast.
The Gold Train
This particular train where our Enders are loaded takes a Beijing-Russia route. It first goes from southern China all the way up to Beijing and then it turns around to cross Mongolia towards Russia. Then it leaves Russia through Ukraine and continues to inner EU. UPS was supposed to pick up the Enders from Nuremberg, which would take 3 days to deliver Enders to our warehouse from where we would be finally able to start shipping to our customers. But because it seems that the train will be even more delayed, we are considering going to Nuremberg ourselves with a van for the pickup and not just it should shorten the overall delay by 2 days, but we might also be able to deliver some of the Enders along our way back to our warehouse. Yep, that’s how we are determined to do our best for you guys. The forwarder has not yet confirmed it’s possible, because certain plan of delivery is already in place, but if yes, we’d go for it. If you want to speed up the delivery of your own Ender with your own initiative, you can possibly kidnap the train and pick your Ender box. We’ll refund your shipping costs. Otherwise, we can’t do anything until the train arrives. Yes, we know we said the first batch of Enders will originally arrive around May 3, that’s because we thought so. We apologize for your disappointment. At the moment we don’t know how much will be the overall delay and perhaps we will not dare to estimate again. We’ll update the product page accordingly.
For your convenience, you can use this page with the tracking code 1Z60X29V6842585479 to see where the train currently is. Please forgive these Chinese folks for their English.
Are Enders 3 already being shipped by others?
We’ve already got several emails from customers asking when their Enders arrive and how is it possible that everyone else has already received their Enders. First of all, news (and fake news) spread around social media very quickly. It may seem like everyone else has already received their Enders, but in fact you might have seen anywhere between 3 and 10 such people’s posts, that’s by far not everyone.
As far as we know, only a very small portion of Enders 3 have been shipped so far, even many of those that have been sold by Creality themselves have not been shipped yet. Creality has shipped some (about 80 of 500) at the end of March from China for an incredibly low price (as a testing batch they said). We’ve immediately reached out to them about this fact (as mentioned), because officially Enders 3 were supposed to start shipping on April 15 and we’ve managed to pinch a 100 batch of Enders 3, which are currently on their way. Creality remained silent until recently, making many people upset about them not shipping more Enders or even canceling their order.
Theoretically, other European stores can either have their Enders 3 relatively expensive (because they’ve shipped by air from China) or they should not possibly have their Enders in stock at all, because neither ship or train could have managed to arrive since 15th of April to Europe. We were told that we were the first business customer of Creality to have purchased Enders 3. There are two exceptions though. One of them is an Alibaba seller that has shipped some Enders 3 from a German warehouse. It was Creality themselves, which is somewhat understandable. It’s the manufacturer after all, nobody knows what’s happening there. Maybe they’ve dispatched their batch to Germany waaay before it was official to be ahead. Furthermore I’ve heard that Creality invests in a forwarder company, so maybe they’ve got “special” conditions. They’ve only had a few units in German though, it was sold out in a day. Second and a very strange exception is a certain seller on the UK’s Amazon called “Comgrow”. These guys are also sold out, but somehow they seem to have managed to get a batch of Enders to Europe and sell them for just a slightly higher price than us. I haven’t managed to discover a lot of information about this seller, but they either have invented teleport or some conspiracy theory on how they’ve managed to already get them to Europe is necessary.
Other than that we are currently not aware of any “exceptions”. So from the buzz around Facebook groups it seems like everyone else has got their Ender except you, but in fact it seems like you will be still one of the early people in the world to receive their Ender that arrives with our “Gold Train”.
Overall it appears that Creality is one of those typical Chinese chaos factories where nobody knows what’s really going on, because they are too big and they don’t care about organization more than absolutely necessary.
Has Smartie.Store already delivered Enders to anyone?
We’ve delivered 5 Enders so far, because several people has messaged us that they’d prefer the quick and expensive way of delivery. In short it was YouTubers who can afford it, because they’ll make money on the fact that they’ll have interesting videos sooner than others. They paid 70€ for shipping straight from China by a plane.
This fact taught us a valuable lesson: not everyone prefers the cheap way if they spend less, some people (and not just YouTubers) are willing to pay more to get their delivery faster. Again, we want Smartie.Store to do the best for you, so we thought it would be very nice if customers would be able to choose themselves from where to buy, how much and how fast it will be.
It’s not a trivial vision. Our backend system only supports one warehouse at the moment and supporting more than one warehouse also requires changes to our product listing and mainly the checkout process. We’ve already started working on these changes. When we are done, we will have a point of sale switch in each products page. You will be able to choose whether you want to buy from Europe or China and once you do so, you should be immediately able to see the product price, shipping options with rates and time required for delivery. We are hoping to launch these features before the upcoming CR-X and LD-001 pre-sales.
Now for you guys who are eager to get their Ender 3 as soon as possible, this alternative option is already here today. Our point of sale in China has managed to capture some more Enders 3 from Creality today. Although our software doesn’t yet support multiple point of sale features, you can contact us over email or the Facebook chat widget to ask for a reschedule of your order’s delivery. If you have ordered solely Ender 3, the shipping costs are 70€ per unit and what you have already paid for shipping from our European warehouse will be reduced from this amount. Shipping from China by air generally takes 4 working days to your door. Again, this is only an option you can take if you prefer the quick and more expensive way to get your orders. If you want to keep your order as is and wait for the Gold Train to arrive, it’s absolutely welcome.
There’s more we want to do with Smartie besides giving you the option to choose a point of sale. In the nearest future our goal is to expand the range of goods we sell to a more comprehensive DIY store and beyond to ultimately become a DIY and electronics store as we always wanted. We are big fans of cutting edge technology. If you have any suggestions or ideas for products we should sell, feel free to message us your thoughts anytime.
We’d also like to make Smartie.Store multilingual. The best option so far seems to be community-driven translations.
These updates we are speaking roughly 2-3 months from now, but that’s definitely not the end of our journey! Please bare with us, your support is incredible, thank you so much guys. Stay tuned for updates!