Your shop is up and you are accepting orders. The first order comes in. Whoa, I have to ship this vintage bowl we sold all the way across the country – what do I do now?
If you are working alone, you have some scrambling to do. Even if you have your shop on ESTY, EBAY or another similar site, the extra infrastructure they provide can’t make everything happen.
You run to your storage area to find a suitably-sized box, wrap your bowl in newspapers, and run to the Post Office. If the shipping label with postage is already created on by your host site, you lay the package on the counter and leave. If not, you get to learn about the Post Office, their myriad of services, size and weight rules, insurance, and tracking options.
In the excitement of the first order, you may have picked a box that was unsuited to the product – too big or small. Packaging is haphazard. Shipping costs more than you are charging. If your vintage bowl makes to it your customer unscathed, you are one of the lucky ones.
You can learn a lot from your first few orders and you get better over time. Here are a few quick packaging tips to improve the learning curve.
The most important key to shipping fragile items is to ensure they do not hit other packed items in the shipment or contact the side of the box while in transit.
- When the packaged box is shaken, there should be no movement of the items inside.
- Pick a solid corrugated (cardboard) box without holes or dents. Do not use thin cardboard (like shoe boxes).
- Wrap multiple individual items to separate them from others in the shipment.
- Allow at least 1 1/2 inches of space for cushioning on all sides of the product(s) -including top and bottom – for a shipment weighing two pounds or less. For larger weight shipments, leave 2-3”+ of space for cushioning.
- Use recycled popcorn, bubble wrap, and cushioning foam (like that found in computer shipping boxes) whenever possible. This will save weight and shipping costs. When you ship enough to exhaust the supply of shipping materials you may be recycling, you can inexpensively buy more.
- Use crumpled newspaper or kraft paper sparingly, as it is heavier, adds to the shipping cost and is not as effective at cushioning fragile items.
- Wrap items you wish to keep clean in tissue paper or plastic before packing.
Next up – carrier-provided free boxes and other box sources