Ch 4: Prepping Items to Ship (determining shipping amount)
It seems like this chapter is out of order but there’s a purpose why this chapter is ahead of listing items. Without knowing how much an item will cost to ship, you may dip into the profits from the sale of the item just to get it shipped.
I’ve lost all profits on an item due to under charging for shipping. I have sold five sets of China that included small plates, large plates, chargers, bowls, cups, gravy boats, etc. totaling up to over 100 pieces to be shipped. The absolute best way to estimate shipping is to package it up. You’ll realize quickly that two pieces of newspaper around every plate makes the box full quickly. When you think you can make it all fit into one box, it ends of being three boxes and weighs 20 lbs more than estimated.
Avoiding Under Charging
As a beginner at shipping items, stay away from delicate items being your first items to sell. Clothing, small electronics, sporting equipment are all things that don’t typically get smashed in transit. Larger electronics could get damaged if they are not packaged properly. With clothing, you can slip the item into a poly bag which you can find at Staples or Office Depot. Poly bags are strong bag that you can easily seal and shipped with USPS or UPS. When shipping non-foldable items (non-clothing), you need a box. You can reuse boxes as long as previous tracking numbers are not displayed and also if it shows the correct carrier or marketplace. Don’t ship an eBay sold item in a used Amazon Prime box. Same goes for a free USPS box with a UPS label. Be sure to either remove old labels or use a marker to cross out old tracking numbers.
Standard packing requires a minimum 2″ of packing material around the product when shipping. That means a lot of newspaper, foam, air bags or other boxes to protect delicate areas of the item. If the item hasn’t been packaged properly and the shipping carrier damages the item then they will not cover the insurance of the item and you will lose not only the cost of shipping but you now have to refund the seller. Packing materials can be heavy after the item is fully wrapped.
After packing the item, you now have the proper size box, all packing material, and now you can enter the dimensions and the weight into your shipping carrier so you can charge accordingly. eBay and Etsy provide calculated shipping but most other marketplaces only provide flat rate shipping. If you are shipping flat rate to anywhere in the United States, you can go to USPS.com or UPS.com to get estimates. Sometimes UPS is cheaper when the box is bigger or heavier. USPS is good for smaller and lighter packages. However, I have shipped a 20 lb box through USPS and it was $15 cheaper than UPS. But when I had a large 8 lb box, UPS ended up being cheaper. After shipping different sized items, you will start to see the best methods for you.
Get Free Supplies
If you primarily will be shipping with USPS Priority, visit their site where they offer free supplies. In New York City, finding unbranded boxes on the street is easy so I have a never-ending supply of boxes. UPS offers Express boxes but you cannot ship via Ground with these boxes.
This post is fourth in the series of 2016 Online Selling Guide