Packing & Shipping Tips

With holiday orders coming in over the next months, having a good shipping procedure will save much time and frustration.

My husband, Malcolm is a packing & shipping expert.  Here is his advice for efficient packing & shipping during the holiday season (keep in mind, we ship lots of glass jars):Packing & Shipping Tips

  • As long as you are not shipping heavy items, 99% of your shipments are best done with USPS.
  • Occasionally you will get a request for expedited shipping… in which case you will need Express Mail boxes… but I would get those as needed at your local PO.
  • Open an account online at USPS and order free Priority Mail boxes.  Get at least 10 of each size below, for now. They usually come in bundles of 10 or 25. I would start small, and if you use mostly the same size you can always get more. Usually takes 1 to 2 weeks for them to arrive.
  • Your USPS business account will also give you about a 15% discount on shipping, and you can print off labels, and drop off packages at PO (or have them pick up if they service your home). Saves time and money.
  • Free boxes you might want to inventory:
    • The cube (7 x 7 x 7″)
    • Regional A
    • Regional B
    • Medium Flat Rate
    • Large Flat Rate
    • Large (12 x 12 x 8″)
  • These sizes will cover almost all of your situations. USPS is always cheapest at light weights, and short distances… as you get heavier and further, you will find flat rate is cheaper, if a particular order fits into that box. For larger, long distance, orders you might open a UPS or FedEx account, and compare the price difference. You will need to find your own boxes in this case.
  • Always add at least a buck or two over your shipping to cover your time.
  • USPS comes with $50 of insurance per package. I NEVER pay extra for insurance, a big waste of $$… basically I self insure. Note that theft by USPS employees is more likely than breakage, if you follow my guidelines.
  • Make up some “Fragile” stickers/labels (address label size) to put on the outside of the shipping boxes, and use liberally. I generally do top and 4 sides, but that is probably more than necessary. You can get blank labels at Office Depot or Staples, etc…
  • Generally, I will place the items in the size of box I think I will need and weigh… add about a half pound for stuffing and taping, etc… then run the USPS label, and see which of the boxes the products will fit into, is the cheapest, when you run the info into the USPS website.
  • I usually start packing the box by laying down two layers of large bubble wrap, sprinkle in some peanuts, then arrange the items in the cheapest/smallest box they will fit into. Leave about a half inch from the outside wall of the box, and about the same between items… and of course, more is always better. Keep glass and/or jar lids pointed at the outer walls, as these (especially corners) are your danger point. USPS prefers more space between, but I’ve shipped thousands of packages and this works.
  • Then fill in around the jars/bottles with peanuts, so there is at least one layer covering the items. Tuck in peanuts a bit along the edges and between items. You may overfill the box with a couple inches of peanuts and close, or add 1 to 3 layers of large bubble and close. Make sure you force down, to really pinch the peanuts around the items.You want the package solid and tight (peanuts squeezed), so the items do not rustle when you shake the box once you are taped shut.
  • Use a box tape dispenser, $10 at Walmart, or elsewhere (Staples)… there IS A LEARNING CURVE, so BE PREPARED, otherwise the dispenser will end up in a wall somewhere after you turn the air blue. We buy EZStart box tape from Walmart in 4-packs or 8-packs.
  • Develop a relationship with downtown retailers who bring in small merchandise, to keep peanuts and large bubble wrap for you. Occasionally, we also use small bubble wrap and/or air pillows, but rarely for shipping glass. Getting recycled shipping materials makes the store feel good (otherwise they go to the dump) and the cost of peanuts and bubble wrap will eat you alive if you buy them.

And there you have it!

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