If you have an eCommerce business on eBay, Etsy, Amazon or Shopify, you probably have to deal with shipping on a pretty regular basis. That is assuming you don’t plan to use something like the Amazon Fulfillment Service. While the eCommerce shipping process isn’t always easy, it can be made much quicker if you have the right supplies. Here are some must-have items for shipping out your eCommerce orders.
Must Have eCommerce Shipping Supplies
If you’re going to ship out products, you first need something to ship them in. Shipping boxes are popular vessels for eCommerce 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.
You might also consider flat rate boxes if your items are particularly heavy. Or if your products are fairly small and durable, you can go with small envelope mailers instead of actual boxes. And important consideration is to check the rating on the boxes you plan to use (given in pounds) Be sure the weight of the item being shipped never exceeds this weight.
Sometimes those boxes just aren’t enough to protect fragile materials from getting damaged throughout 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. Bubble wrap is a popular option for products that are just slightly smaller than the boxes they’re in.
When wrapping with bubble wrap make sure you’ve completely wrapped the item with no corner’s showing. To make sure try squeezing the wrapped item to make sure you can’t eel any edges or any of the items through the bubble wrap.
You could also choose to go with packing peanuts if you have a larger area to fill. But beware. Some packing experts insist peanuts do not really protect the item. They simply fill the box to insure another box set on top does not crush it.
Plastic bags that you can seal around your products can also be beneficial for keeping your 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.
As a result, they can be useful especially if you’re shipping something that could get tangled like jewelry, or fabric items like scarves or clothing.
Once you have all of those necessary packing supplies, you need a way to keep them secure. That’s where packing tape comes in. Actual packing tape is much more secure than regular clear or masking tape.
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 also 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.
Then you can use them to add your shipping and return addresses to each package. Just make sure that you 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.
These can be especially helpful for eCommerce businesses that ship out a large volume of items regularly. And there are several different models that can print labels of different sizes and types.
To accurately calculate your own shipping costs or print out your own shipping labels, you might also consider investing in a dedicated shipping scale. You’ll need to make sure it’s a scale that’s specifically for calculating shipments so that you know it will be accurate enough. And you’ll also have to look at the capacity of each scale.
For example, if you’re just shipping small items like jewelry, you don’t need a scale that can measure up to hundreds of pounds. But if you have heavy items to ship, don’t buy a scale with a small limit. Some scales also have USB connections so you can connect them to your shipping software or label printers.
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.
Your shipping materials can also be an opportunity for you to add some branding to the whole customer experience. 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.
Adding some branding details to your package tells your customers exactly who the package is from and can also help you foster return business.
Thank You Cards
If you want to really make your packages stand out to customers and give them a really great experience, you can also purchase some small thank you cards or notes to include with each order.
If you write a short thank you message by hand to each customer, they’re likely to appreciate the added details and think about your business when they think about to buy similar products again in the future.
To learn more about selling on Etsy, read: How to Start an Etsy Shop
Packing Boxes Photo via Shutterstock