The good news is, express shipping is almost entirely back to normal with FedEx, UPS and DHL.
Japan Post reopened shipments to France, Canada, Germany, UK, Switzerland, Estonia, Austria, Croatia, Sweden, Spain, Slovenia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Norway, Hungary, Bulgaria, Belgium, Poland, Portugal, Latvia, Lithuania and Luxembourg.
We're all set to resume business almost normally, and we wanted to let you know what we did the past weeks, and what the situation is now.
From today, the conditions are:
1. Express shipping (free for packages above 1 kg) is now back to normal for North America, Central America, all Western Europe, almost all Eastern Europe and most Asian countries. With a 2 to 4 days ETA for most destinations.
2. For small orders (small packages), we are lowering the express shipping upgrade fee from 1,500 YEN to 800 YEN for Central America, North America, Europe, Asia and Oceania.
3. We are removing all additional fees for oversized items (over 120 cm), with the exception of Australia, New Zealand and New Caledonia. We still can't use EMS for those destinations, so we'll have to charge fees from 1,000 YEN to 3,000 YEN (~27$) for oversized packages (Jo, Bo, Naginata, etc.)
4. We reached an agreement with FedEx to remove the distanced location delivery fees in Europe (at this point, Europe only. Sorry).
Some carriers charge very expensive fees for small towns and countryside deliveries, forcing us to use Japan post instead.
Since Japan Post shipments are suspended, it was one of our priorities and we're all set now.
5. If you have a "small package" shipment waiting to ship, there's no ETA at this point and it's very unlikely shipments reopen before the end of August. We can offer express shipping upgrades for 800 YEN, so if you'd like to update, please contact us.
Shipping is still suspended to: Russia, Brazil, China, French Polynesia, Laos, Mongolia, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka.
And the following countries require prior approval (we can ship, but we need to assess the situation first): Africa, South America, India, Middle East, former USSR, Portugal and overseas France.
The past few weeks, we worked on each package shipment on a case-by-case basis. We managed to ship more or less all packages with no or very few delays, but it has been a rather complicated challenge .
On the one hand, orders have increased significantly since the beginning of June, mostly for wooden weapons, products that require extensive preparation time (weapon sanding, oiling, quality control, solid packaging that must avoid oversizing to the maximum, etc.).
For reference, preparing a Naginata can take 5 minutes for a careless clerk, but at Seido, it's a 15 to 20 minutes' work. Doing things right requires time and care, and we believe that both you and our craftsmen products deserve this care.
And on the other hand, many of our partner craftsmen, back to work at full capacity and concerned about production time and delays (especially for weapons, as they know that weapon practice is more or less the only form of training authorized in most countries), are making huge efforts to deliver as many products as possible, especially custom work. Orders that were planned to ship in July and August arrived in advance and were piling up at our office.
This weekend, we had more than 250 packages piled up, many of them being oversized, containing very long items such as Bo, Naginata or Yari, to the point we could barely move from room to room.
At this pace, it's was no longer possible to work on each shipment details on a case-by-case basis. We just did not have the manpower to check carrier availability for all destination and/or to contact you one by one.
Of course, we planned. We knew it would eventually come to this, so we worked with FedEx, DHL and UPS to improve the logistics. And our in-house IT guys developed tools that make the "COVID19" logistic easier to handle.
Our point was, we didn't want packages to get lost, damaged, stored in some offices somewhere forever, or returned to Japan. We wanted to make sure we get things right, with the highest level of service possible during such crisis.
And finally, on Monday 15th, 2 months of hard work finally paid off. We started processing all express orders. It's going to take about a week to have everything sorted, but it's on its way (if you're waiting for your express package to ship, it'll be soon!).
To conclude, we would like to express our most sincere gratitude to you all. Your outstanding support during this crisis helped us going through the most difficult times.
We're lucky to have such an amazing community. Thank you very much.