Do you have an online shop? If you sell any of your handmade goods online chances are you care playing the shipping game.
Here’s the thing. It’s kind of a crap shoot – a crap shoot that can cost you time and money and involves lots of research and experimentation.
Here are some tips that can help you know how much to charge for shipping the next time you get ready to list an item.
Buy a scale. Buy a digital scale that measures pounds as well as ounces and weigh each items with the packaging prior to listing. If you sell many of the same items you won’t have to weigh every time but just the first few times to get an idea of what shipping a package of lace costs.
Use a shipping calculator. You can use the postage calculator provided by the US Postal Service for packages shipped via the USPS to determine shipping costs. When calculating shipping (not knowing where the buyer will have me ship the item) I always use a zip code as far away from home as possible. I live in Ohio and I always enter 90210 as the destination zip code. (Hey, don’t judge… it’s an easy one to remember). Remember to weigh the item with all of the wrapping and packaging that it will be shipped with in order to get the most accurate pricing.
International Pricing. To determine international pricing using the USPS use the link above and select the country you are shipping to in the very top drop down box. Follow the instructions to determine shipping costs. Be sure to ALWAYS include a customs form on the outside and an invoice with pricing and the mailing address of your recipient INSIDE the package. This way if your package is inspected by customs officials they have proof of the price of the goods included. Otherwise they may estimate the value of the goods in the package, and they usually estimate on the high end, causing more expenses for your customers.
Stock up on supplies. Not only is it inconvenient to find out that you are out of shipping supplies as you are packaging up an order but it will cost you time (to run to the store) and money (extra gas money) to run out and buy supplies. Check your stock every Friday to be sure you have plenty of shipping items on hand for the next week. You can probably pick them up over the weekend while you are running errands saving gas AND time.
Find cheap supplies. Speaking of supplies, did you know that you can order some supplies from the US Postal Service for free Mailing and Shipping Supplies AND they may deliver them right to your door? Also, do your research and know what a #4 padded envelope usually costs you so that when you see some at a discount location you’ll know whether it’s really a good deal or not. Don’t forget to check local dollar stores and sales after the holidays for shipping supplies like tape, tissue paper and more.
Offer flat rate shipping. If you can, try offering flat rate shipping. It’s easier when you sell smaller items. Offer a flat rate, such as $7 for multiple items. This allows shoppers to purchase multiple items from you knowing that their max shipping cost will only be $7.
Consider charging a handling charge. If you sell high end, high quality items and you package them as if they were special gifts for each and every customer your customers won’t mind paying a small handling charge. You don’t have to announce that you are charging a handling charge just tack a small amount onto your shipping fees.
Insurance. Be sure to insure items that are one of a kind and not easily replaced. Even if you end up paying for the insurance fee yourself be sure to add insurance to items that would cost you a lot to replace.
Offer a refund. Don’t be afraid to offer a refund if you have miscalculated and charged too much in shipping. Your customer will ALWAYS appreciate a refund.
Shipping gets easier if you sell the same items over and over again. It’s when you sell a wide variety of items that it can get a little tricky. Try using the recommendations above and see if you can come out ahead in the shipping game.
How do you normally calculate shipping for your online sales?
By: Vicki O’Dell, The Creative Goddess
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