So you’ve made the decision to sell your handmade items online- fantastic! When someone buys your creation you’ll have to know how to mail it out. There’s a learning curve for figuring out how to correctly ship packages, but once you get the hang of it the process is pretty simple. The following list includes the necessary supplies to get you ready for packaging and mailing your handmade goods (or vintage items if you sell them):
Note: Some of these materials won’t really apply to your particular business, so don’t feel pressured to buy all of them right away.
The most important supply you’ll need to mail your online sales = boxes. This includes shipping boxes, jewelry boxes, garment boxes, and more. For example, I use foil jewelry boxes both for their protective nature and attractiveness. When I’m sending a larger order I’ll use a rigid cardboard box. Many of these can be bought in large bulk quantities, so once you narrow down what you’ll use frequently buy a lot at once to save money. You can also order boxes from the USPS, some of which are free if you are using Priority shipping.
2. Padded or Poly Mailers
If you sell small, not-too-fragile items, you’ll probably also want to use padded mailers. They come in a paper finish with supportive bubbles inside as well as a thin plastic that is more flexible. Which kind you’ll need depends on what you are mailing, so visit an office supply store and check out all your options.
Packing tape will be your best friend if you sell online. Use it to make paper labels more waterproof, to close cardboards boxes, get lint off your products, and much more. Keep a few rolls in every area of your studio and packing station.
4. Bubble Wrap (or Foam Peanuts)
Some kind of material that protects from damage during shipment is also necessary if you are selling fragile items. I like to use bubblewrap that comes in big rolls, while others prefer foam peanuts (but they can make a big mess so some people aren’t fond of them). You could also use those strips of plastic bags with the air inside if you have to fill more space.
5. Plastic or Cellophane Bags
Clear plastic bags that zip or cellophane packaging can organize and keep your handmade goods clean during storage and shipping. They come in a variety of sizes and shapes for all kinds of products, so there is almost always something to fit your items. They are available online, through office supply stores, and at craft and jewelry supply companies.
6. Business Cards
A well-designed business card can go a long way. Include one or two in the package when you send out your online orders. It’s up to you what you want to put on the card, but typically you’ll want to list your business name, email address, social media handles or links, etc. Some sellers like to put a phone number on their business card but that’s up to you (and depends on if you feel comfortable being contacted by telephone). The other side of your card can feature a photo of your products, a coupon code, etc.
7. Sticky Labels
If you want to use sticky address labels for your packages you can either use them in your regular printer or buy a thermal laser machine and the accompanying labels. Lots of sellers use the Dymo or Zebra brands and enjoy the speed and the fact that they don’t require replacement ink. These label printers often go on sale around the holidays, so you can get a good deal if you’ve been wanting to make the investment.
8. Printer (and Ink)
Even if you use a thermal label machine for addressing your packages you’ll probably still need a traditional printer. Some of the label makers are small, so a regular printer will allow you to make invoices, receipts, and more at a larger size. Shop around for the best deals, and also compare inkjet and laser printers to see which is best for your business’ needs.
9. Office Paper
Also stock up on paper to use for printing receipts, record keeping, quick sketches, taking notes, etc. You can save a lot of money on paper by buying in bulk quantities, just like many supplies. I try to get recycled paper when purchasing, and minimize my usage by only printing when necessary.
This list covers almost all the materials you’ll need to begin, so have fun and get to shipping!