|Packing and Shipping 101 ( for New or Potential Sellers )|
Note: Please be aware that prices listed below are in U.S. dollars; you may have to convert prices to your local currency. Also, prices are conservatively approximated and may need revision after the year 2008 (thus, it's good if you find materials less than the listed value). This article will not discuss postage/service costs due to variance from nation to nation.
INTRODUCTIONThe first thing you must consider when packing is what exactly you are shipping. It sounds very logical, but many sellers don't spend enough time and effort in this area. For example, when shipping a fragile item, it would be careless to just toss it in a flimsy used envelope. Noting the qualities of your item(s) is crucial in determining an appropriate method to ship (very simple- but true). Fortunately, there are many options available to the seller for almost anything you would need to ship.
Packing and shipping goods may seem like a daunting (and at times, frustrating) task at first, but once you're well informed you'll realize how easy (and perhaps enjoyable!) it could be.
Always take some time to consider the
container to use when shipping. Use your best judgment when deciding on which suits your buyer's needs and your needs best.
White Mailing Envelopes / Manila Envelopes
This is the most economical way to ship flat items such as cards, stickers and letters. The brands that advertise the words 'reinforced' or 'security- lined' are probably best in terms of safety during transportation. Purchasing these envelopes in bulk is a good idea if you know you will be shipping many flat items.
Price Range: $0.25 - $1.00 for 1 envelope. $2.75 - $5.00 for a box of 50.
Bubble / Padded Envelopes
When shipping small items, and certain types of fragile items, these envelopes provide that extra protection you are looking for. Most bubble envelopes are not considered letter envelopes, so the postage rate is probably more than mailing a letter (check with your local post office for more details).
Price Range: $1.00 - $2.00 for 1 envelope. Price varies for bulk purchases.
Corrugated Cardboard Containers
These come in a variety of sizes, so pick the one closest to the size of the contents in which you are shipping. In general, utilize corrugated containers when shipping a large quantity of items or fragile items. Corrugated parcels provide protection that generally exceed that of envelopes, but due to size, postage is typically greater.
Price Range: $1.75 - $3.50 for 1 container. Price varies for bulk purchases.
Reluctance to purchase additional shipping materials is common, but packing improperly risks the integrity of an item (and poor buyer feedback may also be a result especially if an item damages during transit). If you are ever unsure how the buyer would like an item shipped, always ask; most buyers will gladly pay for packing materials to ensure their items arrive safely. Otherwise, use your best judgment when deciding on which suits your buyer's needs and your needs best.
Penny Sleeves / 'Deck Protector' Sleeves (a.k.a. Soft Sleeves)
The minimal protection a card should receive for shipping. Sleeves protect against surface scratches.
Price Range: $0.05 - $0.50 for 1 sleeve. About $3.50 - $5.00 for a pack of 50 sleeves.
Toploaders (Semi-Rigid / Rigid)
Toploaders provide some protection against bending. For best results, use both a soft sleeve and a toploader when shipping a card.
Price Range: $1.00 - $1.25 for 1 toploader. Price varies for bulk purchases.
Cardboard Strips / Squares
A general substitute for toploaders, but are more prone to bending. Economical, but obtain toploaders if possible.
Price Range: Free? Cut from other cardboard boxes.
This is usually necessary for fragile items. Wrap an item in multiple layers for better shock protection.
Price Range: $14 - $20 for a roll about 1' X 30'. Larger rolls vary in price.
When you are shipping multiple fragile items, a great combo is packing peanuts and bubble wrap.
Price Range: $14 - $20 for a bag of peanuts about 1 cubic foot. Larger bags vary in price.
Another alternative for shock protection. May be offered free in certain post offices on a nation by nation basis.
Other Potential Shipping Materials
- Paper Napkins: Substitute for padding, but not highly recommended due to poor presentation.
- Shredded Paper: Substitute for padding, but not highly recommended due to poor presentation and potential mess on buyer's side.
In many countries, special services are offered at a additional fee separate from postage from the post office to ensure additional safety. This list displays commonly used services. Note: These services do not ensure the complete safety of your item despite what your post office may say.
Generally only for letters and letter sized parcels. The buyer must sign for the letter/parcel, thus reducing fraud.
For packages only. Allows seller to check on the location of the parcel as it is travels. For an additional fee, add Signature Confirmation (the buyer must sign for the letter/parcel).
Insures your item and prevents loss of value due to flaws that occur during mailing. However, this method is not foolproof despite what the post office claims.
PLACES TO SHOPIt is best to scout around when shopping for packing supplies. Locate all nearby stationary stores, discount stores, and larger business stores. Bring something to record prices at each store (do it discretely, as some stores may kick you out for this type of thing). After some
Originally, I did not want to include a list of places to shop but since some people may not know about this sort of thing, this section is included with discretion. Note: Although a store listed below will likely carry supplies, it is possible that not all stores in your area will carry packing items (or any at all).
research, you'll be able to figure out which store is the best to patron.
Partial Supply Store List
|North American Stores
- Local book/stationary store
- Local discount/grocery store
- Post Office*
- Dollar General
- Office Max
- Office Depot
- Paper Zone (OR & WA only)
*Local post offices will generally provide free shipping containers for certain services.
(Did I miss a chain store? Please let me know.) :D
|Non- North American Stores|
- Local book/stationary store
- Local discount/grocery store
- Post Office**
**Local post offices may supply free supplies for mailing. Check with your post office or postal website to confirm what is offered.
(Asia/Australia/Europe/S. America Members:
Please let me know if you patron an international chain store that carries packing supplies to add to this list.) :D
A special thanks to: atateatarin, audreypuppy, happyjolteon, heenz, jedi_amara, rinkatink,
Note: Non-guide comments will be deleted soon for this thread to be focused primarily on shipping and packing. Thanks.