I was trying to put together a new order on iHerb, and i was startled to find that the shipping is no longer a flat US$4 for orders below US$40, or free for orders above US$40, as it had been for the past 6 years during which i have been a loyal customer. I’ve only just placed an order on 25 Dec 2016, but, apparently, iHerb has overhauled the business from 2017.
There is, unfortunately, no clear explanation about the exact change in the shipping fee calculation on the website, which is a shame. The claim in their announcement about what’s new in 2017 is this: “significantly lower prices across the majority of our products, better shipping rates to your country–or both!”. Yeah, right. The supposedly lower prices (i checked, some items are around 10% cheaper, but others are the same price or even more than before!) may not offset the shipping fee.
I played around by adding various items to the cart to see how the shipping fee changes. Obviously, adding heavy but cheap items (such as those contained in a glass jar) causes the shipping fee to shoot up, while adding light but expensive items (such as supplements contained in plastic containers) lowers the shipping fee. You get the idea.
It is still possible to get free shipping, but it seems to me that it is more worthwhile paying a little bit in shipping fee to ship more items in the same order. Here are some examples of the shipping fee you might expect to pay with the change in shipping fee calculation.
Another change i noticed is that the loyalty credit (which offsets your next purchase if utilized within a month) has been reduced from 10% to 5%. Okay, so, the prices are lower for only some of the products, but iHerb now always charges shipping fee, and dishes out half the loyalty credit they used to. Not a good deal, NOT AT ALL.
So what does this mean to iHerb customers (especially those of us in Singapore)? Well, i think it still makes sense to buy from iHerb, especially the supplements, but you have to be really selective about what you order now. To get the best bang for buck, it is better to ship a mixture of some cheap and some expensive stuff. I used to have to buy more than what i need in order to hit the US$40 required to get free shipping. Not anymore. Which is good, in a way.
Update 18 Feb 2017
Maybe there were too many complaints, or there was a drastic drop in business, iHerb has now reinstated free shipping, except, instead of a minimum purchase of US$40, it is now US$60. Well, at least they allow up to 10kg per shipment now, up from 6.3kg, and that makes it easier to hit US$60 worth of purchase.
New to iHerb? Get a discount as a first-time customer through this link.