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Business Bits - Shipping for Small Business

Monday, July 19, 2010

Topic: Shipping - A Conversation for Small Businesses

Shipping. Seems like an easy enough concept. Until you learn there are so many prices & sizes & options & fees & forms....it can be a daunting task for small businesses & sellers looking to open up an Etsy shop.

Of course, I only have my experience to share- so I want to open this up for discussion - please share any tips, sites, methods you use or would suggest!

{{image courtesy Faded Plains }}

But, for those interested, here's what I do:
  • For US domestic shipping I print labels through PayPal.  I am able to print labels directly to my printer from payments sent via PayPal.   It is super simple & just needs weight (and sometimes size) of package.

  • Because it is so important to know the weight of items, I invested in a small scale. This was a must have purchase.  I bought the USPS PS100 (10lb max)  - it's been worth it's cost a hundred times over.  For USPS it's helpful to know the different types of shipping methods: mainly First Class and Priority.

  • After printing out labels, I attach them to lightweight poly mailers purchased from RoyalMailers.  I am then able to leave a few packages for pick-up from my mail box or if I have tons of orders I just drop them off at the post office ( no more waiting in line!)

  • Another option I use a lot is the USPS flat rate Priority Mail boxes/envelopes . These are helpful if the item you want to ship is heavy (anything beyond 13oz must be sent via Priority Mail anyway) so the flat rate can save you tons of money.  **This is super important info for sending holiday & other gifts in the mail!  

  • For International Shipping, PayPal is not able to print int'l labels, so I hand write labels on the poly mailers & fill out the custom forms from the post office (I grab a whole stack ahead of time- easier to fill out at home!). Then I take them in to my local post office... I do this once or twice weekly to consolidate these trips.

soooo....one last thing you're probably wondering is just how to set shipping costs to begin with.

Well, for me- I initially set aside a couple hours & really got it all figured out. The good thing is after that, there isn't much to think about again.

  • I determined the weight of my items & figured how much it costs to, for example, send one zipper pouch across the country (for me that's Maine).  I used the USPS calculate shipping domestic option &  International Postage Calculator to determine the approximate cost. 

Etsy also has excellent shipping resources & site specific tips:

Seller How-to: Shipping
Selling from Europe
Shipping Tools          

Please post any tips or methods you use as well as any questions and hopefully we can all be well on our way to selling....and shipping successfully!


Shauna said...

This is so helpful! I'm to the point where I need to get a scale and just weigh my packages - but there's something about writing on the package that excites me!! GOOD BLOG POST!!!

Allisa Jacobs said...

I'm so glad you found this helpful! Yes, the scale really is a good investment....I've even found it helpful for non shop-related weighing :)