I love shipping…said no small business owner ever!
Shipping and packaging is a simple task that we never want to do. Is it because shipping supplies are expensive? Your mail carrier sucks and is totally unfriendly? Maybe because driving to the post office is a pain in the ass? There are many reasons for our lack of excitement when it’s time to ship an order, but did you know how you ship and when you ship can affect your business’s reputation? Well, it can and it does!
When a customer receives their happy mail from you, that’s your first impression. Do you want your customer to say “Damn it's about time?” or do you want them to say “Yay! That was fast?”
Tip #1: Make sure you send out your orders ASAP!! Don’t wait, unless it’s a made to order item your customers should not have wait more than 3 days for something that is RTS and can be packaged and sent out quickly. I don’t know about you, but I get pissed off if 5 days have passed and I still have not received a shipping notice for an RTS item.
So you sent out your package and your customer opens the envelope or box, what's the first thing they do? Do they gasp with delight and anticipation?
Tip #2: Give your customer a little presentation when they open your package. Before they even see the item they ordered give them a little show. I personally wrap ALL my packages with tissue paper, a bow, thank you card and a fun lucky fish. I also the seal all that in bubble wrap before I place in the padded envelope or box. It shows that you care, you took the time and you are passionate about your business. I’m not saying to do all the stuff I do but represent your business well. Customers love a personal touch.
Let’s face it, the USPS has the worst customer service ever. It seems most times that they just can’t get right. I hear horror stories about USPS all the time. I've also had orders lost or accidentally delivered to the wrong address. With these incidents in mind, you need to have a well-written shipping policy.
Tip #3: Write a shipping policy that will cover all your basis in case USPS screws up. You have to decide a couple of factors; will you offer a refund or replace items that USPS lost? How about if USPS damages the package? will you offer a refund or replacement then? It's not often that these incidents happen, but if you sell higher priced items and custom work offering refunds and replacements will probably affect your bottom line. So I would advise having a shipping policy posted somewhere on your site that will be easy to find and clearly state what you will and will not do if these incidents occur.
I participate in a couple of handmade boutique auction groups. I've noticed that buyers have waited weeks to receive an item they have purchased. Why? well because the seller is not prepared or lack financial resources (meaning they used the postage they charged for something other than postage). I get it, our handmade business is used as income. Myself included, all money I make goes to bills, groceries, and education. But if you don't send your order efficiently then that person will NEVER buy from you again and your reputation goes down the pooper. Bad reputation = no money for you!
Tip #4: Invest in supplies and use the postage fee you charge, for the postage! I keep a shelf with all my shipping supplies and before I transfer PayPal or Etsy funds to my bank account I pay for the postage. There is no reason a customer has to wait for an item to ship due to not being able to pay for postage.
Tip #5: Make sure your shipping supplies are of good quality but still stay in your budget so it doesn't cut into your profits. There are many online shipping supply shops that offer items in bulk at an amazing price. Also, USPS offers Priority Flat rate packaging for free, great for heavy items. From personal experience do not buy cheap packaging tape. When I first started I bought packing tape from the $1 store and that was the worst thing ever! After a couple of minutes or temperature change the tape literally peeled off, it lost its ability to adhere to the packaging. Invest in a decent scale, I purchased mine from Amazon for $14, it's still working 4 years strong.
Tip #6: Do you ship all over the country and the world? Do you factor in weather differences occurring in different states and countries? You probably should. From personal experience, use bubble padded envelopes and/or wrap your order in a layer of bubble wrap/plastic. Even if it's sunny and perfect where you live if could be raining somewhere else. Avoid possible damage to your package.
Well, I think that covers the basics of shipping and packaging, all these tips were based on my personal experience and what I've seen being an admin for an auction group. I hope it helps, 80% of my 5-star reviews positively mention my shipping time and the packaging. I'm not an expert in shipping but if I can help a fellow small handmade business succeed, then it doesn't hurt to share my knowledge and experiences with you.
Have a wonderful day and sell all the things!!!