Well, this is unpleasant. For some reason, my camera is not uploading the pictures I took of packaging. Hmm. Don't know why *shrug*. And it is too late for me to fight with it. So I will talk today a little bit about shipping. And I had no relevant picture in my files to represent shipping. hmm. So here is a picture of my new car! I love her, I even named her... Anagama. She takes me to the post office, so that is how I will relate it to this post, lol!
Anyway, a friend asked me about how I ship things, and so I wanted to talk about that a little bit tonight. So, the way I ship is tied into the way I am paid. I use Paypal for my web sales, and I have been really happy with it. I would say probably 90% of my sales are made using Paypal, with just that little fraction made by check or money order. I ship almost exclusively by the US Post Office. On occasion, for large orders, and by special request, I ship using UPS or FedEx. But that requires an extra trip out, so I do not encourage it. If I use USPS, I have access to free Priority shipping supplies, and drop boxes almost everywhere. I can even have the Post Office pick up from my door, I have heard, but I have not tried this yet.
Paypal has a shipping function internally, and I have found that to be an ideal way for me to do my shipping. It makes sense because the customer's shipping info is tied in with their payment info, so I do not have to cut and paste any info into another program (or another service like the USPS click and ship site). For each sale made, a little button is created for shipping, and I can simply click it, enter in the desired service and weight of the package (yes a small inexpensive postal scale is needed) and I can print the label. I print my labels onto cheap recycled white paper instead of more expensive labels, and i just tape them to the package with clear tape (don't tape over the bar codes though!)
I have more recently been using the Paypal Multi Shipping tool, which allows me to enter all the shipping info for multiple packages at one time. One great feature about this, too, is that I can enter in shipping info for items that were not purchased using Paypal as payment. So if someone paid by check, or if I am sending out samples, I can simply enter the info into the system and generate the same kind of shipping label.
Another advantage for using Paypal for shipping is that it allows me to choose First Class USPS shipping as a service, for less expensive packages. Last I checked, the USPS site did not allow that, they only process Priority (so that starts at about $5 minimum). Also, Paypal sends an email to the shipping recipient and sender, with tracking info, just in case something goes wrong at the Post Office.
So I tend to charge a $3 rate for shipping for items under $50, and they get sent first class. $50-$100 items cost $5 for shipping, and they get a Priority Flat Rate envelope (if I can fit the item in... I usually can with beads...this is great because I don't have to weigh it and the cost is always the same). For items over $100, the cost is $8 and up and I ship Priority with insurance, sometimes in the flat rate envelope, sometimes in a free box that the USPS provides (you can even order them online for free!). Whether I have purchased a bubble envelope or am using the USPS shipping supplies, I order a decent quantity to have on hand. I find that consistency is best...it creates a level of efficiency, and I do not have to run around searching for the right size envelope or box.
I am really happy with this procedure, it has taken me a while to find just the right combination to work for me. And usually in the mornings I pack up my orders and get my shipping ready to go, and I can just drop it into the big blue boxes on my way to the park with Zoey. I have had amazing little loss in the few years I have been working like this, which I am thankful for, so I will continue with it. Oh, and of course, this is all for Domestic shipping. International is a whole other can of beans that I am *still* struggling to get the hang of...
Hmm. What else do I have to say about this...? I cannot really think of anything. If you have any questions about this or suggestions for improvement, please send a comment or email along!