Thursday, June 26, 2014

New Sellers Guidebook: Packaging Large Items

Every item in my Etsy shop is shipped in a box. Paper flowers are delicate and I am always very careful about how I package them. However, damages can still occur and I will talk more about that in a separate post.

From my experience, the postal systems around the world are very reliable and have treated my packages with care, with a few exceptions. Here is how I package my flowers, not only to help minimize the possibility of damages, but also to make a first great impression. I've also included prices for each part of the packaging to show that great packaging doesn't have to be expensive!

I had an order for two Origami and Spiral Bouquets recently. There are somewhat lightweight, but as you can see from the pointed petals of the flowers, they are be quite delicate. The problem I have with these bouquets specifically is that the points bend very easily. They can just as easily be smoothed out and bent back into place, but I try to minimize this in shipping.

I start by assembling a cardboard box and lining the bottom with bubble wrap. I prefer to buy packing boxes because the sides are free from labels, there isn't a weird smell inside, and most importantly: the size I need is always available. This helps so much when determining shipping costs! I love the idea of using free boxes from grocery stores and I did that for my first several orders, but the selection isn't always the same. Sometimes I would find the perfect box, only to find that it smelled like old cheese. Other times, the boxes wouldn't have lids or they'd have gaping holes in the bottoms. Liquor store boxes are even better because they do some with lids, but the dimensions don't work too well with what I ship. If you can find boxes that are perfect for shipping for free, definitely use them.

Cost: $1.77 for the box, plus $0.05 for the piece of bubble wrap.

Next, I cover the bubble wrap in coloured tissue. I try to match the wedding colours as best I can, but when the colours are white, ivory, or cream, I choose a deep, rich colour to contrast.

Cost: $0.05 for the piece of tissue paper

Before placing the bouquet in the box, I cover the flower portion with several pieces of tissue paper and I tie it around the handle of the bouquet. This will add cushion against the delicate petals of the flowers and protect it from the sides of the box. As you can see, two bouquets won't fit in this box.

Cost: $0.12 for the tissue, $0.00 for the gold ribbon I had laying around.

I assembled another box of the same size to ship the other bouquet in. My other choice was to ship them both in a larger box, but here are my reasons for shipping them separately: larger boxes cost more to ship than separate smaller boxes, and the extra space in the larger box would give more room for the bouquets to move around and possibly be damaged slightly.

Cost: $1.77 for additional box, $0.12 for tissue, $0.00 for spare ribbon

Normally, I would stuff the open spaces with more tissue, but I had some newsprint paper from a purse I recently purchased. I try to re-use packaging as often as I can and this was one of those times! It's light, creates volume and fills in all of the spaces.

Cost: $0.00 for newsprint

I then place another sheet of tissue on top to create a flat surface and to cover the newsprint.

Cost: $0.03 for the piece of tissue paper

For the first box, I include care instructions for the bouquets, a free gift (handmade gift tags), a small repair kit, and a thank you card, and a business card. I place all of these inside an envelope.

I won't include the cost of these items as it is completely up to you how many 'extras' you'd like to add.

Here is the first box packaged completely!

The second one has the receipt and a promotional card. The receipt should always be included with orders.

Cost: approximately $0.05 to print the receipt using an inkjet colour printer.

Here's a photo of the thank you note and the receipt. I think that personally writing something on the receipts is a nice touch, even if it's just to say thank you! I made sure to mention that the bouquets were shipped separately.

Finally, I tape up the box, and add a return address label. I'm not opposed to hand writing the customer's name and address on the box, but I think that adding a printed label adds a nice touch and a level of professionalism. 

I always do a 'test shake' of the box before I ship it. I gently move it around in my hands and feel for any movement in the box. Sometimes I turn them upside down for good measure. Both of these didn't have any movement inside at all, so they're good to go!

Cost: $0.20 for tape

Total packaging cost: $4.16, or approximately $2 per box.

Not a bad price for secure and clean packaging! This number will of course be a lot lower if you use free boxes or tissue paper left over from gifts or past purchases. 

Make sure that when you add/write the address on the top of the box that you leave ample space for the shipping label. Whether you print your own shipping labels or fill them out at the post office, the bottom third of the box should have room for it.

And that's it! Hopefully this has helped some of you who are shipping large items.

If you have any questions, comments, or something you'd like to add to this post, leave it in a comment below.

Team Leader

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