Packaging and shipping supplies are so important when you sell items online.
It’s so important to understand shipping if you are going to be buying products to sell online. Believe me, there is a lot to learn about shipping and packaging items. It can actually end up costing you a ton of money if you fail to master it.check out this article.
You don’t want to do a “rush job” when packaging an order. Otherwise, you’re going to have unhappy customers that will demand a refund quicker than you can say “refund”.
I’m writing this guide so you will have a better understanding of shipping products online. Hopefully, it helps you make smarter decisions so that you can make better decisions when shipping items online.
Tips For Shipping Products Online
- Always use shipping through the platform that you are selling your products on. For instance, eBay, Amazon, etc. give you a discount for shipping through them. They will automatically provide all the tracking details to the customer. You can print your labels right through their platform. There is no excuse not to use them.
- Use flat rate and regional shipping to help minimize the cost of shipping your items. For instance, if you have something very heavy that will fit in a flat rate box I highly suggest you put it in the flat rate box. These are offered free by USPS.
- Use First-Class shipping (USPS) for small items. For First-Class shipping, the items have to be under 16oz. Use poly mailers because they are lightweight, but make sure the item isn’t fragile.
- Use FedEx for shipping larger and heavier items. FedEx is the best way to go for shipping larger items. Their rates are better for larger items.
- Don’t forget to insure your packages when you ship them out. USPS comes with $50 shipping for packages mailed out priority mail. FedEx comes with $100 insurance. Make sure you add more insurance if the price is more than what is already covered. Nothing is worse than a product breaking and you have to cover the cost of the item because you failed to insure the item.
- Include a thank you note in your packages. Basically, just thank the customer for their business and encourage them to contact you directly if they have any questions or concerns. Also, ask them to leave you some feedback.
- Schedule pickups for your packages. If you have a lot of packages don’t run to the post office and mail them every time something sells. USPS will actually pick up your packages for you. Sign up for an account with USPS and you can easily schedule pickups. Also, FedEx does free pick ups.
- Make sure you have packaging and shipping supplies on hand. Having the right packaging and packing supplies around makes it easier for you. You don’t have to rush out and get the supplies when something sells. I get them in bulk and have lots of supplies that I can use.
Packing and Packaging Shipping Supplies
You got to have the correct items to mail your packages. You can’t just stick the item in the mailbox with a stamp on it now, can you? So, I am going to discuss the items you need to consider getting. This will make shipping easier for you.
Yeah, I am going to educate you on bubble wrap, now. But, you do want to use the right kind of bubble wrap to help protect the items that you are shipping out. There are three different kinds of bubble wrap and they are defined by how big their bubbles are.
So here is what you need to know about the sizes of bubble wrap:
Small bubble wrap (3/16 in. bubbles). It’s mostly used for moving. It simply provides surface protection. For instance, it will keep items from getting scratched, dented, and chipping. It’s not going to absorb a lot of impact if the item is dropped, though. I like to use this kind of bubble wrap for figurines, dishes, or anything that is breakable.
Medium bubble wrap (5/16 in. bubbles). This kind of bubble wrap is for bigger items that need some kind of shock absorption. It does provide decent surface protection, too. It’s good to use with larger figurines, mirrors, lamps, etc.
Large bubble wrap (1/2 in. bubbles). This kind of bubble wrap is used for larger items that need the most shock absorption. It also keeps items from moving around in the box, which is a huge plus, too. Typically, I use it for electronics, computers, kitchen accessories, etc.
Over the years I have found this out the hard way. You can purchase dirt cheap tape, but it will easily come undone and doesn’t actually help seal the package up.
Don’t use duck tape for the outside of boxes. I know they say duck tape fixes everything, but it comes off with temperature changes.
So, which kind of tape do I recommend?
I really like Scotch heavy duty packaging tape. It’s an excellent brand that I know is actually going to not come undone as soon as the package is shipped out. Make sure that you buy it in bulk because you can save extra money that way.
Poly Mailer Bags
I can’t stress the importance of using poly mailer bags to ship your products online enough.
They are super light (much lighter than boxes) and come with tape that you just peel off when you want to seal the bag up with your item. You can get 100’s of them for cheap online, too. I literally use poly mailers for everything as long as it isn’t something breakable.
Here are two recommendations for poly mailers:
- Smaller bags: 7.5″ X 10.5″ bags which work really good for video games, DVD’s, CD’s, etc.
- Larger bags: large poly mailer bags. I use 14″ X 20″ bags for clothes, computer parts, records, even shoes (wrapped in bubble wrap), etc.
I don’t recommend getting the padded mailer just because the plastic ones are good enough. Anything that would require extra padding I would just use some bubble wrap and wrap the items up good.
A tape gun is a must if you have lots of packages that are boxed up.
It’s one of the easiest purchases you can make to help make the process of packaging your products easier.
Believe me, there will be a time when you get tired of using a tape roll. The tape will get all tangled up, cat hair will get stuck in it, and you will just be frustrated with tape, in general.
Personally, I like tape guns by Uline. I already knew they are good for packaging, but also their tape guns are good. They are very high-quality tape guns and I have been using them for years.
Styrofoam is great for packaging items up online and shipping them.
The good thing about styrofoam is it protects items very good and is lightweight.
I always save anything with styrofoam that I buy. I can always repurpose it and use it when I mail out my items. Also, if you have a 9-5 job you can take it from work (make sure you ask your boss first, though).
I don’t like peanut styrofoam to mail items though. It’s messy and would rather have pieces of styrofoam to protect items that I’m shipping out.
Newspaper is good to use for packing. I mainly use it to keep items from moving around in the box, though.
However, it’s not going to offer as much protection as bubble wrap.
One of the best things about using newspaper is you can get an endless supply of it. To get newspaper for free you can ask your local grocery store, gas station, schools, and even hotels. A lot of the time they will hold it for you and won’t charge you anything for it.
Digital & Electronic Shipping Scales
No, I am not stating that you need to rush out and get a triple beam scale. Yes, they still make them. I don’t know how to use a triple beam scale.
You got to have a scale if you’re going to sell stuff online. How else are you supposed to know how much it weighs if you don’t have a scale? You don’t want to be guessing the package weight only to have it returned to you. Also, the buyer would be annoyed at the extra time it took to get their item.
Don’t worry an electronic scale isn’t going to be that much money either. You just want one that is dependable and accurate.
The scale that I recommend you get is ACCUTECK All-in-1 Series.
I wouldn’t recommend going out and spending a lot of money on mailing boxes. It eats into your profits and you can get them for free.
Many grocery stores, Walmart, Target, etc. would be more than happy to give you their extra boxes. All you have to do is find a manager and ask them if you could have some of their boxes. They are usually more than happy to give you as many boxes as you could possibly want.
Then, just store the boxes at your house whenever you need to use them. Again, I wouldn’t recommend purchasing any boxes when you could easily get them for free.
But, if you do decide to go ahead and purchase boxes make sure you factor it into the cost of the item.
USPS Free Shipping Boxes
One really nice thing about using Priority Mail is the USPS actually supplies boxes for you for free. You need to sign up for a USPS account and you can have them ordered to your door.
I highly recommend getting boxes so that you will have them on hand when you need them. It does take about 3-5 business days before you will get them, though.
Use flat rate shipping boxes for items that are heavier because you pay a flat rate for something 70 pounds or less that you put in the box or mailer.
Only use USPS boxes for items you are mailing priority mail, though. Otherwise, you will be charged the priority rate even if you are shipping it Media Mail, First-Class, etc. Don’t use these boxes if you are shipping FedEx or UPS. It’s a federal crime and you could end up getting a big fine or even prison time.
Ideally, the postman is supposed to handle packages that have a “fragile” sticker on them more carefully. What I typically do is put a sticker on the top and three sides of the package. This shows that it’s fragile and they can see that from every angle.
The good thing is you can get fragile stickers for cheap, too. You can get them by clicking here.
Printing Shipping Labels
Whenever you sell an item online you want to ship it through the platform that you sold the item on. Don’t make the huge mistake of running up to the post office every time, weighing it there, and standing in line. Again, USPS can pick up packages. FedEx can also pick up your packages, too.
For instance, if you sell something on eBay or Amazon you want to ship it through their platform. They will give you discounts when shipping through USPS, FedEx, UPS, etc. The discount is pretty decent, too. For instance, on eBay my discount is 25% off, which saves me lots of money when selling items online.
It’s up to you to decide how you should ship whatever item you are selling. eBay and Amazon allow you to see exactly what it cost to mail the package whatever way you decide to mail it. They will also show you the estimated delivery dates.
You can use a cheap inkjet printer when you start out. However, the problem with this is ink cost a lot of money. This will actually start to really cut into your profits. I would highly recommend getting a thermal printer once you start making enough profit and can afford one. Thermal printers don’t require ink and are a huge time saver.
The one I recommend is the Rollo Label Printer X1038. It will print in 4X6 which is the standard for shipping products online. Also, they sell rolls for it which you just peel off and stick on the package. Click here to learn more about thermal printers.
Shipping Small Items
Ideally, small items are the best things to ship online. It’s cheap and you don’t have to invest a lot of time packaging shipping small items. More importantly, it doesn’t cost much to ship your small items online either.
I would highly recommend using poly mailers for smaller items. Again, I always bubble wrap the item real good if it’s going in a poly mailer.
Cheapest Way To Ship Small Items
Use USPS (United States Postal Service) to ship your items. You want to use “First-Class” shipping for small items. This is great for items that are under 1 pound (or 16 oz). Do keep in mind that you don’t get insurance with first-class mail through USPS. So, if the item is expensive and you don’t want to have to pay the customer I would recommend getting insurance.
For DVDs, video games, records, cassette tapes, VHS tapes, and even books you can ship them Media Mail. USPS offers this service. As long as the product can be classified as Media Mail you can ship it a lot cheaper. For instance, with video games, it only cost $2.75 to ship them through Media Mail. You have to purchase insurance separately with Media Mail.
Shipping Large Items Online
Keep in mind that shipping large items online does take time and you do have to spend extra money on packaging, bubble wrap, styrofoam, tape, stickers, etc.
As far as the service to use for larger items FedEx is the cheapest. Also, FedEx does give you free boxes, too. Again, make sure you are shipping the large item through the platform that you sold them on.
You do want to use the biggest box you can and then score it down with padding to prevent it from moving around and getting damaged.
I highly recommend double-boxing large fragile items. It’s essentially just one box and then another one with styrofoam around the first box to keep the first box from moving. Remember that the more stuff that is moving inside the box the better the chance that your items are going to get broken inside the box.
Here is actually a really good video on packaging items which I highly recommend you watch:
Final Shipping Words of Wisdom
Just remember you have to factor in the shipping cost when you sell an item online. If you haven’t already read my article on sourcing products for eBay I highly encourage you to check it out. Ideally, you want to ship lightweight products and usually offer free shipping for items you are selling online.
You want to use whatever platform you are using to sell your items online to print off your shipping labels. You do get a substantial discount when you ship through eBay, Amazon, etc. Also, these sites will automatically upload the tracking information to the customer.
Always ship your items out fast. Meaning if someone purchases something from you get it packaged and ready that day or within at least 24 hours. People will get very annoyed when you wait 3-5 days before you even mail out their item. Make sure that you insure your items when you send them. This prevents you from having to cover the cost in case something happens.
Don’t worry you are going to get returns from time to time. This is a whole different subject, though.
Let me know if you have any questions about shipping items online down below.