It's easy for us makers to get caught up in the creative process and not think through logistics like shipping. However, if you want to sell on Etsy or have gotten a couple sales already, nailing down your shipping process is going be an important part of the success of your business.
Here are a few tips to help you get started in your quest to ship out orders, all around the world, like a professional.
Gather your supplies
This is my shopping list for packing and shipping supplies! Depending on what you sell, you may need other materials, but always be thinking about price and weight when it comes to your packaging.
Tissue paper / treat bags
Craft paper bags
If you're in the US or Canada, sign up for Etsy labels
I can't recommend these enough! The process is fully integrated with your shop and you can purchase postage, verify your customers' addresses, print packing slips, send confirmation emails and manage tracking all from one page. Etsy labels provides you with a slight postage discount than what you can get at the post office. You can also easily play around with different shipping methods to see which is the best deal for you and the customer.
If you don't use Etsy labels, at least print and purchase your postage online, either from USPS.com or some other source. This will almost always be cheaper than going into your local branch. Since printing labels separately is not integrated with Etsy, don't forget to send a shipping confirmation and tracking info to your customer afterward!
Create a dedicated space for an assembly line style process
Every Etsy order is different but generally, the flow of your packing process will look something like this:
Pick product ---> add personal touches (tissue paper, treat bags, tags, twine) ---> pack for shipment (box, bag, envelope) but do not seal ---> weigh on postage scale ---> buy/print postage online ---> print packing slip from Etsy ---> Place packing slip in shipment with a thank you note and business card ---> seal up package ---> adhere shipping label ---> drop off at post office/order postal pickup
Set up your packing station so that all of your supplies are accessible and in the right order so you can consistently pack and ship your orders every time. This means less room for error and less time spent preparing shipments!
Skip 'flat rate' boxes unless your products are small and heavy
USPS offers 'first class' shipping for anything up to (and including) 13oz. Shipping this way in your own packaging will be cheaper than springing for those priority flat rate envelopes.
Some of the flat rate boxes are also specially intended for different types of items like gift cards or media mail. Use one of those boxes for something else and you may get turned away at the post office.
However, It is always good to have an express envelope or two around for the occasional rush order. Pick up a couple the next time you're at the post office (they're free) and be sure to charge your customers accordingly!
Now, go make some sales so you can ship like a baws! Be sure to leave your shipping advice or questions in the comments section.