Most craft business owners need to set up systems to pack and ship items efficiently and cost-effectively. Figuring how to set up these systems can feel overwhelming, especially when you’re first starting out.
We asked Craft Industry Alliance members to share their best tips and tricks for shipping goods and they had so much incredible wisdom to share! Whether you’re brand new to shipping or have been doing it for years, you’ll definitely learn something new among these 9 tips and tricks. (Make the most of your Craft Industry Alliance membership by using your member discounts to save on shipping, including our discounts at USP, ShipStation, OnlineLabels.com, Avery, and Sendle.)
Get boxes and mailers delivered.
Need shipping supplies? Get mailers and boxes from the USPS delivered to your house or studio for free. One of our members also offered this tip: USPS Regional Rate A boxes are the best deal around if you’re shipping something 5 lbs or more!
Invest in a thermal label printer.
Whether you choose a Rollo or a Dymo 4XL, a thermal label printer will save you money and time. The labels are thermal, meaning they don’t require ink to print, and they come in a roll so no need for cutting and taping.
“Ship it, don’t mail it.”
What do we mean by “ship it, don’t mail it”? We mean don’t use stamps! Pay for a shipping label so that you can get tracking for your packages. Your customers will thank you. And, one of our members reported that once you eliminate the “cute decorative stuff” on your packaging, you may see that your rate of lost packages declines. Worth keeping in mind!
Sign up for shipping software.
Do you have multiple ecommerce shops (i.e. Etsy + Shopify)? Do you ship a lot of packages each week? Then it’s wise to invest in shipping software like ShipStation, Shippo, or PirateShip. See all your transactions in one place and set up shipping profiles for your products to make the whole process streamlined.
Reach out to the US Post Office directly when you need help.
Trying to track down a lost package? Sometimes all you need is to get a real person on the phone to answer your question. Call USPS at 800-522-9085 and choose “small business” from the menu options. You can also reach the USPS through their small business email address: businesssupport@usps.
Print postage at home.
Need to create a shipping label for a one-off item? Ship anything with this PayPal link: https://www.paypal.com/signin?returnUri=%2Fshiplabel%2Fcreate%2F
Research all your shipping options and don’t assume one carrier will the cheaper than another until you check. Keep on top of rate changes, too.
Get a lost package moving.
Besides calling or emailing the small business office at USPS, our members report that you can often get a package moving by signing up for text tracking notifications. Try it and let us know if this works for you, too!
Expedite your trips to the post office.
Shipping lots of packages? Bring an End of the Day Manifest with you to the post office. The carrier will only have to scan one barcode instead of many, reducing errors and speeding up your visit. (Follow these instructions for Shopify. For ShipStation use the “end of day report” option. And for Stamps.com use the USPS SCAN form.) You can also separate packages by mail service (First Class, Priority, etc.) for faster service.
I highly recommend using the USPS Free Shiping pickup. I do this with all new print book releases, and use the SCAN form in the box. I cannot tell you how much easier this is!
Make sure you schedule for a day that you are home if you are worried about stolen packages. I am lucky that my husband works remotely and so do I. Both of us have a view of the porch and driveway so we can watch for that.
And I talked to my local USPS office and they told me that I can put unlimited packages out. Its worth talking to your post office on that too.
Great tip, Karen! Thank you.
I love Pirate Ship and I use the free version. You can see different options for shipping USPS, and schedule home pickup on the site. They’ll even email your customer with notice of shipping and tracking # for you if you include their email address. There’s a page with reports so you can see your past shipping and tracking information and you can also print return labels on site. It’s the easiest shipping site I’ve used. And the pirate puns are funny.
We ship 30-100 packages a week and closely track shipping because it’s changed so much in the past few years and especially since October. The best advice I have is to familiarize yourself with the tipping points and classifications of what you’re shipping. There are certain tipping points like 3/4″ thickness or using Flat Rate Envelope rates that change the cost of an item of the same weight by up to $3-5. In our case, changing the way to fold fabric or changing the packaging we use can save a lot of money. It’s not always intuitive. We used to ship most things USPS Region A but new parcel rates can be cheaper. In some scenarios First Class can be cheaper than Parcel. If you’re shipping print, media is sometimes cheaper, sometimes not. In some situations with heavier packages UPS is a better option. Our Stamps.com software is invaluable in helping us compare rates and letting us know the limitations of various mail classes. USPS picks up from our studio and scans on site.
We use Shipstation and I’ve found it fantastic for managing several different sales channels (website, Etsy, etc). I have the $29/month service and it totally pays for itself with the discounts. I recently set up UPS daily pickup through Shipstation and that’s been great to save time. Plus, their customer service is really good–they respond to emails within 24 hours.
USPS recently discontinued all regional A and B boxes. They still have medium flat rate boxes in 2 sizes and large flat rate.