Ch 12: Shipping Items – 2016 Online Selling Guide


In previous chapters, we’ve unveiled how to prepare an item to be shipped so you charge the correct amount, described best practices when listing to eBay, Amazon, Craigslist and Etsy, but now that you have sold items it’s time to box them up and ship them out.

Determining Your Carrier

In NYC, generally the post office workers don’t accept packages from residential areas. Even at my office it may take a few days for my item to get shipped because  the carrier hasn’t had room in is bag. Therefore, I would have to walk my packages to the Post Office unless the items are small enough to put in the mail slots on the corner.

Smaller packages are always going to be cheaper through USPS. Also, if a buyer gives you a PO Box or RR (rural route) you either have to ship the item USPS or through FedEx Home Delivery / UPS SurePost where those carriers will pass the items to the Post Office to finish the delivery. In my personal experience, I have had the most issues with these two shipping options. While the cheaper price is enticing, the packages go missing or get damaged more often.

USPS doesn’t do well with larger packages. You may find cheaper shipping prices when using UPS or FedEx. It’s best to go online and create accounts for USPS, UPS and FedEx so you can see the calculations. You’ll find that label costs are much less than the retail locations. I mailed a 20lb box for $10.50 vs the retail price of $22 because of the dimensions and weight. Here is how each carrier calculates shipping:

Getting Supplies

After creating online accounts, now you can order free supplies from USPSFedEx and UPS

Stay away from big box retailers such as Staples and Office Depot. Staples cost is $18.99 for 10 poly mailers while I bought 50 on eBay for $8.99 shipping was free. If you’re loading up on supplies by getting boxes, bubble wrap, wrapping paper, poly bags, labels and packing tape, consider using Uline, ValueMailers or of course eBay. Even more important is a scale. You can get small scales or industrial scales from any of the companies mentioned above.

Packing Items

Each carrier also has specific requirements for packaging. They are all similar but if you are shipping a large item for the first time, I would suggest taking a look at that carriers best practices to ensure your item is protected and covered by their insurance in case something happens during transit.

UPS created a video years ago that show best practices which can be applied to all carriers.

Staples created a quick example of how to pack a breakable items.


Another thing to think about is the unboxing experience for the customer. This is the first point of contact you get to make with the buyer to showcase your branding. If there’s a ton of newspaper and the item is poorly wrapped, the item appears like a quickly discarded item. If you’ve purchased an Apple product, you can appreciate the feeling you get when unboxing the new item. Everything is nice and neat, nothing is messy, there are little messages reminding you why you purchased from Apple and possibly an upsell advertisement, enticing you to shop with them again. As a small seller, you can’t form fit your packaging, however, you can strive for an excellent delivery. Pay attention to what is facing at the top of the box when someone opens the box. Maybe add a thank you note, a URL where they can shop again and possibly a % discount for being a returning customer. A little inspiration can go a long way.

This post is twelfth in the series of 2016 Online Selling Guide.


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