Shipping products out and Small Business

shipping handmade goods

I get asked shipping questions from other small business owners very often so I thought I’d write a post today about just that.

You work from home making your own products and you need to ship them to awaiting customers.

There are many many ways and no way is wrong, I’m going to discuss my way of shipping.  I have two ways I sell my quilts online, one is through Etsy and one is my own personal website shop.

First, if you’ve just opened your shop, you need to calculate how much you will charge buyers to ship the product to them.  There is a bit of a learn as you go here.  Your first few orders, you might over or under charge a bit until you get it right.  That’s okay.

I ship all my products through USPS.  My reasoning is that it is the cheapest method I could find (and I’ve done my research), but also it is the easiest for me.  USPS comes to my door everyday.  UPS and Fedex are miles away and they charge for pick ups unless they are already dropping something off.

Visit USPS here to calculate a price for shipping.

You will need to weigh your product in its packaging to get an accurate rate.  You can use this for domestic and international shipping.  Plus, there are lots of options to choose from.  Normally, I use the parcel post method for all of my domestic shipments and priority mailing for my international shipments.

It will give you a price down to the penny.  I usually round up to the nearest dollar for what I charge my customers.

On Etsy, my shipping places are US, Canada, and then Everywhere Else.  If you live in the US, then aside from domestic, Canada will be much cheaper than the rest of the world.  Also, most of the rest of the world has the same fees.  There is very little difference for shipping to say Australia, than to the UK.  So I charge the same fee for those rather than have a different rate for every single country in the world.  That makes things just too difficult.

However, in the US, there is a big difference between shipping to your neighboring states than shipping across the country.  But on Etsy, where I have preset shipping fees and I can’t customize it for every single customer, I set the fee to the furthest state away.  Let’s just take for example Hawaii.  That is probably the furthest place from my home state.  I calculate on the link I gave you above for how much it will cost to get my item to Hawaii and I take that fee and enter it on Etsy as my ‘within the US’ shipping fee.  Sometimes, it’s too much.  You can decide for yourself if you want to refund that money or not.  It’s usually not a crazy amount high, we are talking mere dollars here.

After you have your fees set and you have sold an item and ready to ship it, what’s next?

Etsy has their own shipping page where you can ship right from there and never leave them.  Which sounds great, but I’ve never used it.  I religiously use Paypal shipping.  For everything.  Even when it has nothing to do with my shop.

I like it.  I know it.  I’m completely comfortable with it.

If you sold something and your customer has paid for it with Paypal, then you can go right to their transaction and ‘print shipping label’ by clicking on the tab.  Follow the prompts.  Easy peasy.  Plus Paypal records it with their transaction so you can’t lose your tracking number and everything is right where you need it to be.  I believe Etsy also operates this way.

But let’s say that you want to ship something to someone and they have not paid through paypal.  What if they sent you a check or money order?  What if it’s a gift?

I have a handy dandy link for that here.

It’s kind of a back door to Paypal with a blank shipping label.

I hope you have found this helpful.  There is so much more to know about shipping, but this should get you started and I’ll cover more details in another post.

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