Wednesday, September 26, 2012

How To Use Etsy: Shipping Tips

Save Money on Shipping and Packaging

The hardest part of starting an Etsy shop for me was figuring out shipping, both prices and packaging. I did a lot of research before opening my shop and still made many mistakes. I would like to pass on what I learned so you don't have to make the same mistakes and lose money!

Buy a Scale
The best thing you can do to ensure accurate shipping prices is buy a postal scale, the weight capacity depending on what you sell. Buying from is cheapest.

Calculate Shipping Online
With your scale, you can accurately calculate shipping costs on the USPS site, including international rates. Play around with package weight to estimate secondary shipping costs (how much it costs to ship something with another item).

Print Labels from Paypal
Print shipping labels from your paypal account and receive a significant discount on postage for packages (for any domestic service, but only Priority or Express for international). If the person paid through paypal, you can go to your account overview and click "print shipping label" next to the transaction. The address information will automatically load. Just input the package weight (rounded up to the nearest whole number) and service type (First Class, Priority, etc.). If the person didn't pay through paypal, you can still print the label by adding the address on Print the label on fast draft to save ink. 

With ready-to-ship packages, no need to wait in line at the post office! Just drop off or request pick-up online if at least one of your packages is Priority Mail.

Be Creative with Packaging
Some shops only charge postage price, while others include packaging costs. Either way, be creative to save on packaging expenses and lower your shipping prices.
  • Reuse boxes if you can. All previous postage must be removed or covered. You can cover non-postal boxes with brown kraft paper.
  • Don't send free gifts. Most of the time, they're cheap things the buyer doesn't want or need but are still included in the shipping and packaging costs (or if not, they come out of your pocket). Most people would rather not get a random free item and pay lower shipping!
  • Only use necessary, protective wrapping; no need to be super fancy unless you sell expensive jewelry or the like.
  • Make your own thank-you notes or write on the back of your business card.
Remember, packaging ends up in the trash, so be wise where you spend your money and what you charge people for. I would rather get a less fancy (but still professional) package if it means I pay less shipping. However, you can include a note in your listings and policies about requesting free gift wrapping.

Add Shipping Information to Your Shop
Include shipping and packaging information in your policies, and your listings if you sell various items that require different packaging and shipping methods. Buyers like to know what they are paying for and when they can expect to get their items.

Choosing the Right Shipping Service

Knowing which shipping service to use is vital in saving money, both for you and your customers. Here are tips I've learned:

Measure your packages 
  • Envelopes thicker than 1/4 inch or uneven in thickness by more than 1/4 inch are considered packages instead of letters.
  • Small bubble envelopes, if flat and light, can usually be sent as letters in the U.S. (only once has one of my customers had to pay extra postage, which I reimbursed), but are always packages for international shipping (I've lost money twice because I forgot this!).
  • Large envelopes that are flexible (for example, holding a paperback children's book) can be mailed at a large envelope price instead of a package.
  • Boxes longer than 12 inches on any side cost more to ship regardless of low weight.
Weigh your packages 
  • The biggest mistake sellers make is sending everything Priority Mail. Packages lighter than 13 ounces qualify for First Class parcel, which is just as fast as and sometimes faster than Priority Mail but considerably cheaper.
  • Heavier packages are mailed Parcel Post, which takes about a week. If the price difference between Parcel Post and Priority Mail is minimal, go with Priority Mail to ensure faster delivery.
  • UPS and FedEx are best reserved for extremely large, heavy, valuable, or fragile items.

The Shop at Pooh Corner


  1. These shipping tips are a great help! Thanks for sharing!

  2. It is best that you secure your materials or products to be shipped before entrusting them to a shipping company. This way, you'll be assured that your products will be kept intact during the transportation. You have to remember that some shipping companies don’t bother to prioritize a product over another, so you have to make sure that your valuables are already secured before handing it over to them.

  3. Bravo to this thorough shipping guide and tips! Love the creative and practical means of shipping goods. Thanks.

  4. I’m sure your customers would understand. Plus, I think would appreciate your openness. Things should always revolve around quality, especially in businesses that are very personal in nature. The stamps reflect you, and it is expected that you’d want to protect your reputation. :)

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  6. To be sure that your package is secured while being shipped, it is best that one seal it with straps or tape, depending on the weight and content of the object being shipped. This way, complications and problems that may occur while shipping may be avoided.

    Carl Patten

  7. One thing to make sure that your goods are to ship properly and on timely manner is that you are to ship through a reputable shipping company. I agree that being creative in packing can save money! Thanks for sharing!