Shipping From Home: Tools & Materials (Part 2)
How To Get Started Shipping From Home
Part 2: Tools & Materials
Want to get in on the ship-from-home trend? Already in the business and want to up your game? This series will show you how to get started, plus some brands that are doing it right.
Whether you're shipping five orders a week or 50, every package is your chance for a happy customer. The first piece in our series focused on how to choose your carrier; now, it’s onto getting stocked up and ready for business!
Let’s start with the must-haves:
If you’re going to ship out products, you first need something to ship them in. Shipping boxes are popular vessels for e-commerce sellers, as they come in many different sizes and are fairly sturdy to keep products safe. To get the best price possible, you should look for boxes that are just slightly larger than your products at a shipping or office supply store.
If your items are particularly heavy, consider the flat-rate boxes we mentioned in Part 1. Conversely, if your products are fairly small and durable, you can go with small envelope mailers instead of actual boxes. Don’t forget to check the rating (or weight limit) on the boxes you plan to use—be sure the weight of the item being shipped never exceeds this weight.
Here’s where we come in! Sometimes those boxes just aren’t enough to protect fragile materials from getting damaged during the shipping process. In those cases, you’ll need some kind of cushioning material to keep your products from moving around and getting damaged during the journey—and the MINI PAK’R is just the tool to do the job. Your MINI PAK’R is just one piece of equipment that can churn out multiple different types of cushioning options, from air cushions to Pillow Pak quilts—and best of all, each product has eco-friendly options, as well.
Plastic bags that seal around your products can also help keep products safe during the shipping process. They add another layer of protection, but can also keep your items from moving around inside the box or mailer.
Keep them in mind when shipping something that could get tangled, like jewelry, or fabric items, like scarves or clothing.
Invest in actual packing tape rather than regular clear or masking tape—it’s much more secure.
You can purchase it at shipping or office supply stores and use it to secure wrapping around your products and to close up your boxes or mailers securely before sending them out.
You’ll need a way to quickly and efficiently add your mailing addresses onto each package. If you have a laser or inkjet printer, you can purchase plain sheets of sticky address labels from office supply stores—just be sure to pick out label sheets that work for your specific printer model.
Alternatively, you might consider purchasing a dedicated shipping label printer that you can use to print out dedicated labels with addresses and barcodes for each shipment. If you’re an e-commerce business with a high-volume of shipments, a label printer is the way to go.
In every single shipping article out there, you’ll find you need a shipping scale. It’s everywhere because it’s true: Do yourself (and your business!) a favor and invest in a shipping scale! It is extremely handy to have a postal scale for small business shipping.
If you don’t have a scale on hand and only have a few products for your small business, your local office supply store typically has a shipping center inside. Bring your products and ask the sales representative if they can weigh your items for you.
Shipping overseas? If you ship products to other countries, you’ll also need to fill out custom forms to attach to your packages, specifying exactly what it is you’re shipping. You can get customs forms from your local U.S. Postal Service office. There’s no charge for the forms, and you can get a reasonable supply of them up front for mail preparation so you don’t have to go get new ones every time you get a new order.
Don’t waste an opportunity to give your customer a specialized experience: your shipping materials can also be an opportunity for you to add some branding and set your business apart. You can design and order personalized labels, stickers or even business or post cards to include your logo or branding on or inside your package. Small details like these help foster repeat customers.
If it suits your business, consider including a handwritten card or thank-you note inside the package. Thoughtful, personal touches like these inspire customers to shop with you again.
So you’ve chosen your carrier and you’re all stocked up on supplies. You’re ready to start shipping from home! But not before reading some of the recommended advice from the best in the business. Read on in Part 3 of our How To Get Started Shipping From Home series: Tips from the Pros!