Venturing into Ecommerce Shipping
As a new online seller on [insert platform(s)], you will encounter shipping questions/issues in any one or all of these scenarios:
- You are about to complete your first online listing and the platform (Etsy, Website, Amazon..) is asking for shipping dimensions and weight to which you have no idea what to type out
- You make up a random cost to ship just because you’ll cross that bridge when you make that sale
- You receive your first order and you happy dance all the way to the post office to find that you charged too little to ship because you over packed your item with too much stuff and the bag/ box you had it in weighs too much
- You find out there’s this 2cm thickness rule where if you go over, your package is now a parcel and will increase your cost by at least $10
- You also didn’t take into consideration the time for you to package, the cost of shipping supplies and what to do after a sale.
I’ve been there on all of the above encounters!
We ARE NOW LIVE!
Here's my 1st Shipping Fail Story:
My very first sale (original shop was called Myoga Studio) and selling platform as a handmade supplier was on Etsy. I actually started my first store selling greeting cards and a few small hand crafted items like decorated chalkboard signs, or wedding favour items.
I sold a set of 6 hand stamped and embossed muffin toppers for $0.99 with a $4.99 international shipping cost that I thought would cover it plenty. I was wrong.
By the time I packaged it very carefully, I found both the weight and the thickness wasn’t going to be shipped as a regular package. I was out of pocket and I also spent way more than $0.99 of my time to make the product. Not to mention I also had to pay Etsy fees and final transaction fee etc. Yep out of pocket!
It was an awesome lesson though so I was determined to learn how to ship carefully next time and make sure I don’t lose money next time.
Did you Know...
In Canada, our postal system has a 2cm thickness policy (we call it “slot of doom”) where if you go over this thickness, it’s no longer an oversized envelope you’ll be paying postage for, it’s now a parcel?
Okay let’s be clear. I was selling my miniature stamps for $4 a piece and some of the stamps were 3/4” in size so that’s just under 2cm . Phew right? Not!
Once you add an envelope or even a larger mount, you can be sure you’re investing another $10 or more in shipping! So fack... how’s that gonna work?
That’s when I looked far and wide to find myself items that I knew for sure would fit. If it means popping a few bubbles inside the bubble wrap envelopes to make it fit! Or tape it so it doesn’t move.
Tips and Tricks
Shipping it Right (the first time)
It pays to do some research. I spent probably a good 3 months to find the most relevant answers to a very important problem. People want to know how much it costs and how long it will take to get from you to them. So it’s good to track all locations you ship to and figure out the closest average time it takes to receive the item. Websites like Canada Post, Net Parcel, and Chitchats are among the most common places to coordinate your logistics. Find out what it would cost for each and compare time and cost to find out what makes the most sense for your business.
Include shipping into your cost of the entire product and put free shipping where possible. Studies have been done which shows free shipping being a significant plus for buyers choosing to buy from you over someone else. Perhaps it’s cuz Amazon Prime has made shipping less desirable for a buyer or perhaps fees are calculated based on total price including shipping so it really doesn’t matter that you (the seller) add shipping before listing price or altogether so why not the latter?
Bulk up your items so you can charge more per listing but keep your shipping rate the same. The funny thing about shipping is that if your item is a parcel item, your shipping cost isn’t as impacted by a slight increase in weight. So for example, if I sell one stamp and it’s only 0.05 kg in weight, why not push it to 0.5 kg with the same envelope and dimensions and still have it cost the same in shipping? If you can do it, add all multiple items together and charge a set price. You can have a look at my Etsy Shop to see how much I've bulked up my small stamps.
FREE SHIPPING WHEN...
Provide free shipping when your buyer reach a certain cost. We do this North America wide. Spend $75 before tax and shipping and receive free shipping. This is for when free shipping isn’t a one size fits all for all your products. Do it this way and increase your sales.
Pre- package your goods, all your extra goodies and stamp your products (hopefully using some of our packaging solutions) in advanced so you are spending less time on packaging when that time comes to be super busy! That’s going to cut down on your shipping time cost.
Do keep track of all your shipping expenses in a spreadsheet / in your notes/ Quickbooks for small business so you can in the next year compare and contrast which shipping method works for you!
Research, Free Shipping, Bulk Up, And Your Time...
In writing this and seeing a huge interest in this topic, I think I may do a Shipping Tips 201 (cuz I think this newsletter is like Shipping Tips 101) where I discuss different shippers and WHEN to choose a particular one. I also want to expand on what we often forget to calculate: our time to ship (package, travel and follow up)
I’d love to hear what you’d like to learn more about next in running your own business! Follow my Instagram Story to vote on which topic you'd like to learn about next.
Until next time, stay perfectly imperfect!
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