So you’ve started selling handmade goods online and need to figure out how to ship them to customers. Developing a system for packing and shipping craft items is a must, but can be pretty intimidating at first. Use these quick tips for successful sending and happy customers!
Practice Before You Ship
Experiment with different packaging methods and materials before you invest in supplies. My first few sales on Etsy were luckily from friends, so they were the perfect testers and gave me an honest review once they received the jewelry. Even before you have sales, practice sending an item that is typical of what you will be mailing frequently. Send it to a family member or friend to get an idea of the shipping charges, and then use this information when setting postage costs in your online store.
Order Supplies in Bulk
You will save a considerable amount of money by ordering supplies in large quantities. Once you’ve established (through a bit of trial and error) what materials are perfect for sending your handmade products, purchase them through a large supplier (like Uline). Packaging costs add up if you’re just buying a few padded envelopes here or there, so it will save you a fortune over time. Also consider signing up for the newsletters of the companies you purchase from- many announce sales, coupon codes and free shipping offers via email.
Print Shipping Labels
If you sell your products through Etsy, I highly recommend utilizing their Shipping Labels feature. You can print postage labels and attach them to your package if you know the total weight (find this by checking old PO receipts or with a postage scale). Other options include printing labels via Paypal shipping, Stamps.com, and the USPS’s website. Printing postage can save time and money because you will often get a discounted price and/or free tracking. Some systems even let you print international labels- just check the rules and weight limitations with the program you are using and ask the local Post Office if you have any questions. I also found lots of info about printing postage online and in the Etsy Forums, so I definitely recommend doing some research there.
If you make items that aren’t very large or really expensive, definitely consider offering international shipping. The USPS’s international postage rates did dramatically increase a few months ago, but it doesn’t mean that foreign buyers will avoid purchasing online from your shop. Just make sure to adjust your online listings to cover the cost of sending items across the world. To get an idea of what to charge international customers, check out other sellers that make similar items in both in size and weight and take an average from there to start. Then you can adjust shipping costs if necessary once you’ve sent a few packages. Keep in mind that tracking for international packages can be really costly and/or impossible in some instances, so it may not be right for all sellers.
These shipping suggestions will have you packaging up and mailing out handmade orders like a pro! What other tips have you found helpful for shipping online sales?
By Rebecca George (Purple and Lime)