Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Shipping Tips - 101

With the way gas prices are heading, I am so glad I work at home. I can go days at a time without leaving my house. When I first started out as a wahm, almost 10 years ago, gas was probably not much more than $1.50, if even that. Now that gas prices are reaching $4.00, everyone is trying to find ways to save money. It's not easy.

One way I have been able to save a few dollars is by using the US Postal Service for shipping. Some people swear by UPS or FedEx, but I, personally, like the Post Office. If you use Priority Mail for shipping, the Post Office will give you free boxes. Yes, completely free boxes. They are marked with the Post Office logo and must be used for Priority Mail shipping. You have to sign up for an account and they may call you to verify your information. They called me when I first signed up. But free boxes....it is SO worth it. Well, at least for me. I like shipping Priority Mail, pricewise, I find it comparable to UPS' 2nd day shipping.

At first, in 1999, I used to take all my packages to the Cabot, PA post office. It was small, and the people were friendly and my neighbors. It was nice to get out and see people. But it is not just next door. It is more than 3 miles away. That may not sound like much, but driving both ways, 2 and 3 times a week adds up. Plus, when I had 12 or more boxes to ship, it would just take too much time to go in the Post Office, wait in line, and get everything weighed and added up. Then I found the online shipping labels, aka Click'n'Ship. I bought a small scale and started printing my labels at home. If you print your labels online, they include free delivery confirmation. Yes, something else free. Not sure what it costs if you go to the Post Office and ask for it, but it is NOT free.

And then I discovered carrier pick up. Oh, this is just wonderful! You can go online and schedule a pick up, and your mail carrier will come the next day and pick up your packages, for free. No more carting everything to the Post Office. No more driving out in bad weather. A free service as long as you are shipping at least one package Priority or Express Mail. You do have to remember to schedule your pick up the night before. I believe my postmaster told me to schedule it before 2 am and it will be picked up that day.

So, over the years, as a wahm, I have learned how to pack my piggy banks and ship them in the most cost effective way for me. I know not everyone will agree with this, but it works for me. I am lucky that Hubby can bring me packing material from work. Styrofoam sheets they would otherwise throw away. So that saves me a bunch of money too.

The last item you may need for packing and shipping would be packing tape. This can get pricey if you order in any kind of quantity, because it is heavy and shipping adds up. Recently I found a great site that has oodles of tape with FREE shipping on orders over $35. That is so awesome....I used to pay $10 - $20 to have a case of tape shipped to me. A case of tape is over $35.00. As a wahm, free shipping is a dream come true on a heavy item. Oh, the link might be nice, huh? Check out The Tape Depot, I've been happy with them.

The best part of all of this cost cutting is that it lets me keep my prices down. As gas goes up, and everything else follows suit, I have been able to keep my shipping costs the same for the past year. At this point I don't see them going up anytime soon, but that could change. I do try to keep shipping costs reasonable....I know what I look for in shipping when I am shoppping online, and I use that experience to guide my pricing. I don't want to charge more than I would be willing to pay.

Now, all this is just how I do things. There are many other ways to ship out there. I just thought I would share my links and hopefully help some fellow wahm's save a little bit of money : )


*** It's Christmas in July at Korff Ceramic Originals! ***
Only 176 days until Christmas!

1 comment:

Peggy - the magic pillowcase maker said...

I use USPS too, Lynn, for the majority of my orders, unless they are over 12 pieces, then Fed Ex is cheaper.

The FREE boxes are HUGE to a wahm. The savings is immense. Most of my single orders can fit into a Priority Mail Envelope. It saves my customers $ because I don't add packaging costs to the shipping.

I've never called for a pick up before. I should! If I only have a few orders, I can hang them on my mailbox and my carrier takes them. But more than that and I'll drive. Usually just to get them out to customers. However, I also should consolidate my shipping to certain days. That would allow me to have enough to justify the pickup and since I usually get orders out in a few days, if some waited a day or 2 it's no big deal.

Thanks for the advice and info!