How to Mail Stuff
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While it’s not *that* often you are mailing items to your customers, from time to time you’ll need to do it. Whether it is a prize or an item that is out of stock, but you have in your local inventory or if you run a flash sale… sometimes it requires shipping items you have on-hand. Here’s a giant truth-bomb for you — Mailing stuff may be my least favorite task! Ugh! It is so time consuming, in some cases it is worth just sucking it up and paying the shipping fee to order it from home office so I don’t have to deal with it. Ha! Over the last few years, I’ve learned a few ways to make shipping a teeny bit less painful on me. Here are some shipping methods and systems that might help save you some time and heartache!
My most favorite shipping tool is Pirateship.com. I can print my shipping from home and leave my package by the front door or in my mailbox for my post office worker. No need to lug boxes to the post office with two kids following me! Simply enter the requested info for your package and Pirateship gives you options regarding pricing and timing on how long it will take to deliver. Pirateship has several carriers they work with and you get discounted pricing.
To ship from home, there are a few things that can come in handy., You will need a scale to weigh your packages. If you have a kitchen scale on hand, you can use this as well! This scale comes in handy (in life in general)!! You’ll also want to have a Ruler or Flexible Tape Measure to find your dimensions. Having some printing labels on hand is also helpful.
Here are my recommendations on shipping methods:
- Mailing smaller items like prizes and thank you notes: Use 5×7 envelopes, and put 2-4 stamps on it depending on the weight (See USPS Pricing Guide). Send it first class mail (just like a regular letter that you’re mailing out). Just make sure that your envelope you’re mailing out is not more than ¼ inch thick. First-Class Mail is for envelopes weighing 3.5oz – 13oz, arrives in 1-5 business days and starts at the Current Price of One Forever Stamp. You will want to use Pirateship.com for anything that the USPS considers a “package”. You can find more info HERE on the USPS website about what qualifies as a letter versus a package. Note: Pirateship doesn’t offer a USPS first class mail option – just use stamps!
- Mailing larger packages of BOOKS ONLY only: Ship Media Mail (2-8 days). Media mail is only permitted for books, recordings, computer media, or educational material. You may not even add a catalog in when shipping media mail. It’s usually slower than first-class mail, but it’s MUCH less expensive. Use your own packaging and Pirateship to send media mail.
- Mailing larger packages if: Ship Priority Mail (1-3 days). You can use free flat rate boxes that you can pick up at your post office or even request to be delivered to your home from USPS. Another option is using free regional rate boxes for packages traveling short distances. Alternatively, you can use your own packaging if you’re just shipping 1 or 2 smaller items. If you’re shipping larger or heavier items, a flat rate box, envelope or regional box is going to be more cost effective.. Pirateship is my preferred method to send priority. It’s often slightly cheaper than USPS Click & Ship.
To package up your items, reuse boxes, especially the packaging paper or bubble wrap you receive in your shipments. You can also order free shipping supplies such as flat rate boxes, envelopes or regional boxes from USPS.com and have them delivered right to your door! For fun, colorful bubble mailers for small prizes or books, check the Dollar Store or Amazon to order in bulk. I like these purple mailer, chevron patterned mailers and plain bubble mailers from Amazon.
Other Random Tidbits
If you’re frequently shipping stuff, it helps to build a good rapport with your postal workers!
Pirateship usually offers lower rates and is often cheaper than USPS Click-N-Ship. Weird, right?!
Pirateship lets you ship media mail online, but the USPS website does not. Also, weird, right?! Ha!
Shipping can add up. Don’t hesitate to charge your customers for shipping. They would pay for it through your website anyway!
FedEx and UPS are not cost-effective for those of us running a small business. You will want to make friends with whatever delivery person regularly brings you your packages from your home office since they regularly deliver your packages to you! And, sign up for UPS MyChoice, FedEx Delivery Manager , and/or USPS Informed Delivery so you can see when you have packages coming your way – and they’re ALL FREE!! One extra special thing to note about the USPS Informed Delivery and Pirateship, the Informed Delivery email you receive daily will show your “Outgoing” packages you sent via Pirateship and when they will be received.