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.
Hey! I just joined two months ago and need to mail out my mini books! I purchased the purple 10×13 envelopes from above (Great deal for 100!). I was reading your mailing advice but wasn’t sure if I could get away with 1 stamp on an envelope like that with a light weight mini book of if I would need 2 stamps on it!
Hey Jenessa! That is so exciting!! The best thing to do is to check the weight and the exact cost https://postcalc.usps.com/
What is UBAM boxes?
Hi Candice! This is an older post that was specific to Usborne Books & More (UBAM) and I mention the boxes. 🙂 Feel free to disregard that!
Can I ship things through PayPal if I haven’t invoiced through there? I use square for invoicing. I can’t see where I can just create a shipping label in PayPal.
Hi Desiree – You can ship things through PayPal without invoicing there. Check out https://www.paypal.com/shipnow to get started.
Is it ok to mail a wipe-clean book through media mail? I wasn’t sure because of the pen.
Hi Aileen, technically media mail should ONLY include books. We’re not even supposed to include any catalogs but of course, it’s up to you if you want to give it a try and see 🙂
I’m new to being a consultant and I’m wondering if you have any tips for FB party shoppers to avoid/minimize shipping. The FB party hostess is willing to let those local to her have the books shipped to her if there is a way for people to save money on shipping by doing so. Is there a way for me to combine the orders online so their is only one shipping charge? Any other creative ways to help people out? It’s so hard for people to pay shipping that have grown accustomed to Amazon Prime and Target – especially if they only want to order a book or two.
Thanks in advance for your time and info!
Hi there! You can definitely combine customers orders that will ship to the hostess. You’ll just enter them in at full retail in OrderPro when closing out your hostess’ party. You can take their payment information over the phone and enter it manually into OrderPro (multiple payment methods is okay!). Or, you can send a square invoice and then pay for the whole order with your credit card once the funds get transferred over to your account. I find customers are more comfortable with square than giving payment information to a stranger over the phone. If you combine the orders, I would just charge 8% for shipping to each customer. This definitely works if you have a group of shoppers that just want a book each. It’s hard to muscle up a $6 shipping fee on a $10 book. BUT — I wouldn’t lead with this special offer to combine orders. You’ll be surprised how many will spend $40+ on an order and not complain about shipping fees at all. Also, manually processing and keeping track of payments definitely takes more of your time! An online transaction is much easier for you to manage. It’s up to you! 🙂 Hope this helps!
You mentioned printing the label from your printer. Do I need to purchase those sticky labels with the special printer? I’m trying not to spend too much money.
Hi Jocelyn – You can just print the labels with regular printer paper and tape it to the package. No special labels or printer required!
I was curious how you mail your hostess packets. I didn’t see that specifically mentioned here and would love to know. When I first started I mailed a few out but I took them to the post office and they told me that the flat rate envelop was the least expensive option but that was between $6 or $7 and that seems like a lot to be spending but maybe I am wrong. I would love to know what you include in your hostess packets, as well if you don’t mind sharing. 🙂
Ohhh great question – I should have included that! For hostess packets, if you include a mini catalog and a few fun goodies, the best way to send it is in a large envelope via priority mail. It should be about $3. I would also use paypal shipping to send it from home. All you need to buy are some envelopes!