Monday, January 28, 2013

Tips for New Etsy Sellers pt. 3

Today I'm going to tell you how to make shipping a little easier on yourself. Deciding what to charge for shipping on each item has been the most difficult thing for me because the products I sell are all different sizes and weights. Also, selling on Etsy, I never know what part of the country I'll be shipping to. This may not be a problem for you if you sell something small or lightweight, like jewelry. For everyone else, this is what I recommend.....

First of all, I make sure I have high quality packing material. This is especially important with boxes because they are stacked up in shipping trucks and lower quality boxes can be crushed. The only time I ever had a problem was when I shipped some glassware in a box that had a 75 lb edge crush rating. Fortunately for me, my customer was EXTREMELY understanding. After that, I switched to boxes that are made to withstand 200 lbs and haven't had another problem. I buy mine from Uline. They're affordable and I get my order in one day!

I try my best to be green with my packing materials. I reuse boxes that have been shipped to me, when I can, and use quite a bit of newspaper as padding. I've even heard of some people getting materials from sites like Freecycle. I don't personally go that route because I don't want to risk sending my customers anything that smells musty or smokey (or even worse, has bugs!) This means I end up buying bubble wrap and packing peanuts because I need to make sure fragile items don't break in transit and newspaper just doesn't cut it! I buy starch packing peanuts because they're biodegradable. So, I do what I can to be kind to the environment without sacrificing quality.

Purchasing a postal scale was a great investment! The one I found on was very affordable and has saved me so much time standing in line! I also use self-adhesive shipping labels because they're much faster to attach to my packages and they save me money on shipping tape. (Btw, shipping tape and packing tape aren't interchangeable. Get the shipping tape.) Once you know your package weight, it's so easy to purchase your postage online from home and print it out. Also, I thoroughly enjoy the looks I get from the people standing in line at the post office when I walk right past them to leave my shipments on the counter. :)

As I mentioned before, I never know where in the country (or Canada!) that my items will be heading. That makes estimating shipping costs difficult. I don't want to undercharge and have to foot the bill for the difference. I also don't want to overcharge and deter customers from buying! It's quite a conundrum.
What I do is pack up my items before I list them and weigh them. Then, I use the shipping rate charts provided by USPS or UPS to find out the shipping cost for the most far away region, add a small amount to account for packing supplies (and to have a round number), and use that as my shipping rate. (I ship to Canada, so I also have to calculate a separate rate for my Canadian customers) Next, I make a note to my customers letting them know that I will refund overpayment. Most importantly, I always follow through if there is a shipping overage and send their refund right away. I even offer to tell them what their exact shipping will be if they want to know before they buy. I'm hoping Etsy will eventually revamp how they do their shipping options and maybe offer a shipping calculator for buyers. Until then, that's how I do it!

I know that's a lot of information. I hope I was clear and didn't give you a headache. Feel free to email me with questions! Check back next Monday for part 4!

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