Category Archives: Shipping–Mailing

International Shipping: Prohibited & Restricted Items


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Go To Great Panes, Kathryn Maloney ©2009
(This post is copyrighted–you do not have permission to repost this content elsewhere but you are welcome to link to it if you’d like to share the information.)

For some sellers shipping internationally means careful checking of import restrictions. Plant & animal products, food products, precious jewelry, leather and more are restricted or prohibited from being imported into in certain countries. Often when customs finds a prohibited item, it is confiscated without notice.

To help minimize your risk, use the USPS website’s list of countries on the following page, each has a link to their prohibited and restricted items:

http://pe.usps.com/text/imm/immctry.htm

For more shipping tips see our main “Shipping” page–see the gold links on the right or click here:
Shipping Basics

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Shipping Insurance


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Go To Great Panes, Kathryn Maloney ©2009-2012
(This post is copyrighted–you do not have permission to repost this content elsewhere but you are welcome to link to it if you’d like to share the information.)

First & foremost: Insurance protects the seller, not the buyer:

Stating that you aren’t responsible for lost packages in your policies is more than a turn off for buyers–it’s also usually not true. Whether the buyer paid through Paypal transfer or credit card, if you can’t prove your package arrived, Paypal will refund the buyer out of your account. If Paypal doesn’t refund them, your buyer can dispute the payment on through their credit card & that will cost you even more than refunding (see PP’s Fees section for “8.7 Additional Fees”.)

Not all packages need shipping insurance–I find that the vast majority of our shipped goods make it to their destination just fine. If you ship fragile, expensive or irreplaceable goods though, buying insurance might be a good idea. When to insure is a decision you need to make for yourself. Every business will have different price points at which purchasing insurance is the way to go–some insure everything over $50, some over $100…

If you insure a lot of packages, the fees can add up. If you ship internationally, you can’t even insure some of your through packages USPS and that is a problem for many sellers, but you can insure international First Class Mail! (details below)

It’s easy to add USPS insurance for most packages while you are paying for postage whether you are buying postage online or at the post office:

USPS insurance rates:
Domestic–available for all services
International–available for Priority & faster services only

When shipping internationally, the prices for Priority Mail International shipping is often cost-prohibitive–add insurance and the high prices might keep buyers from purchasing.

First Class International & the small flat rate Priority Mail International boxes are a more affordable shipping method but USPS doesn’t offer insurance for these services, which can be risky if you are sending items that are pricy/fragile/irreplaceable.

That’s a tough hurdle for lots of folks who want to sell internationally, until they learn you can purchase insurance through third-party shipping insurance companies.

Third-party Insurance

Not only is third-party insurance available for International First Class Mail, it less expensive than USPS’ insurance to boot–even for domestic shipping, less than $2 for $100 in coverage.

The two companies I’ve tried have different restrictions–one doesn’t cover jewelry, the other doesn’t cover stained glass. Since we sell both, I made a point of bookmarking each of them, including the pages where they list their rates and restrictions–each allow you to purchase insurance on a per package basis or to set up an account so all packages are covered for a monthly fee:

Shipsurance
http://www.shipsurance.com (formerly DSI insurance, same as InsurePost)
Coverage restrictions:
http://www.shipsurance.com/one_time_parcel_terms.asp?
Rates:
http://www.shipsurance.com/pop_order_online_shipping_insurance_rates.asp?

U-Pic
http://www.u-pic.com/index.aspx
Coverage restrictions:
http://www.u-pic.com/CoverageRules.aspx
Rates:
http://delta.u-pic.com/Order/OnlineRates.aspx

I haven’t needed to file a claim with either company, but purchasing the insurance through their websites was easy enough. I read about a few sellers who needed to file a claim with these companies–they said the claims process went well.

If you are selling on a venue, sometimes the venues have agreements for discounted third party insurance. On Etsy, the ShipSaver Insurance App offers third party insurance to sellers.

The rates for ebay sellers is better than the rates they give Etsy sellers when shipping USPS–what’s with that?

Destination
Shipped via USPS
Ebay Etsy
Domestic
per $100 in coverage
$0.79

$1.00
International
per $100 in coverage
$1.00

$1.25

It’s still better than the rates you get buying individually from the third-party insurance companies, but I haven’t tried it yet.

For more shipping tips see our main “Shipping” page–see the gold links on the right or click here:
Shipping Basics

USPS Holiday Shipping Deadlines


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Go To Great Panes, Kathryn Maloney ©2009
(This post is copyrighted–you do not have permission to repost this content elsewhere but you are welcome to link to it if you’d like to share the information.)


USPS has put up their Holiday Shipping Deadlines:

2009 Holiday Shipping Cut Off Dates

First Class
Domestic Military International
Dec 21 Dec 4 to 11
See link above for details.
Dec 4:
Africa and Central & South America
Dec 11:
Everywhere else

Priority Mail
Domestic Military International
Dec 21 Dec 4 to 11
See link above for details.
Dec 4:
Africa and Central & South America
Dec 11-14:
Everywhere else
See link above for details.
Express Mail
Domestic Military International
Dec 23 Dec 18 Dec 12:
Africa and Central & South America
Dec 17-18:
Everywhere else
See link above for details.

For more shipping tips see our main “Shipping” page–see the gold links on the right.

Shipping: Service Choices

Shipping Service Choices


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Go To Great Panes, Kathryn Maloney ©2009
(This post is copyrighted–you do not have permission to repost this content elsewhere but you are welcome to link to it if you’d like to share the information.)

You need to choose what service works best for your business, I can only speak to what works for us. We use First Class whenever possible–it’s fast and inexpensive.

When a domestic package is over 13 oz (the First Class rate cut-off), we generally ship Priority Mail. International First Class goes up to 4 lbs, we rarely have an international package that goes over that, but when it does the package has to go Priority.

First Class is generally handled the same as Priority Mail, except during the busiest seasons when Priority Mail is put on the truck first, and if they run out of room for slower service packages, the non-Priority packages have to wait for the next truck. The only other time I hear that Priority is handled better than first class is when it is being shipped to APO/FPO addresses, Alaska and Hawaii.

If you don’t ask for First Class at the post office, the clerks are supposed to just give your Priority Mail, so be sure to ask about your options.

First Class Mail Domestic: Up to 13 oz
The rate is the same across the US no matter how far the destination. It is the least expensive you can ship, even less than Parcel post–and yet the service is much faster than Parcel Post.

First Class Mail International: Up to 4 pounds
The rates are variable but they don’t change much except for Canada and Mexico being much less expensive than anywhere else–we’re neighbors after all. See here for more: International Shipping

Priority Mail for domestic shipping is covered here: Priority Mail
You can get boxes free when using Priority Mail, but we can still ship most items cheaper in our recycled boxes or in bubble mailers using First Class Mail. They have great “flat rate” boxes–same price no matter what shipping US zone your package is going to but it’s only a good deal for heavier items, that’s covered in the link above. There are different prices for the Priority International Flat Rates, though you use the same boxes.

Parcel Post
We don’t often use Parcel Post because it is significantly slower, and usually not much less expensive than Priority Mail–especially if you pay for postage online.

Once you’ve got your items shipping figured out, you’ll probably want to use shipping labels you print from home–once you start you’ll wonder how you ever did without it! See the “Shipping” page for links to posts for help with printing labels and even more shipping help.

For more shipping tips see our main “Shipping” page–see the gold links on the right or click here:
Shipping Basics

New Shipping Tips Page


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Go To Great Panes, Kathryn Maloney ©2009
(This post is copyrighted–you do not have permission to repost this content elsewhere but you are welcome to link to it if you’d like to share the information.)

We’ve just added a Shipping page to the Pages links on the right. There you’ll find all the main shipping help posts I’ve put on the blog. I’ll update the new Shipping page with future shipping help posts too, so you can find them all in one spot.

Occasional updates about shipping info–like postal rate changes–can be found using the “sort by topic” link just below the Pages links or get notified when messages are posted by subscribing to our blog–see the links on the left.

Shipping 101


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Go To Great Panes, Kathryn Maloney ©2009
(This post is copyrighted–you do not have permission to repost this content elsewhere but you are welcome to link to it if you’d like to share the information.)

To figure your shipping rates you need to find out what your items weigh in packaging and then you can use the USPS shipping calculator for shipping rates (if you are in the USA):

http://ircalc.usps.gov

I recommend weighing several packages, writing down the weight and then taking the packages to the Post Office and having the clerk there weigh them too. Compare the weight your scale read to the post office’s scale so you know if your scale is off & how to adjust.

Using the Shipping Calculator

When you use the USPS Shipping Calculator it will ask for zip code. We use a zip code from the farthest zone so that we’ll know the highest rate the shipping can be if we are using a service other than First Class. To find out what zone is the farthest from you, see here:

Shipping Zone Tool

Click the little question mark links on the USPS calculator pages if you need more info as you go.

Be sure to click the “Display All Options” box near the top of the price results page if you want to see any service choices other than the most expensive ones….

Your First Class Domestic Mail will need to be labeled a package to be eligible for Delivery Confirmation (which all packages using Paypal labels automatically gets for a discounted rate). To be labeled a package it needs to be one of these:

• Rigid – does not bend easily
• Not rectangular
• Contain items that cause more than 1/4 inch variation in thickness
• At least 3/4 inch thick

See the rules for delivery confirmation eligibility on the USPS website here: 10.2.2 Eligible Matter

For thin bubble mailers, we just stick a packing peanut in the envelope and that bulks it up enough to meet the requirements.

The largest package you can ship through USPS is 70 lbs and “may not measure more than 108 inches in length and girth combined, except Parcel Post, which may not measure more than 130 inches in length and girth combined”. See more on that including how to measure here:

http://pe.usps.com/text/dmm300/101.htm#1034246

If the box dimensions are large there’s some variation in pricing for International First Class packages:

http://ircalc.usps.gov/PopUps/FCMIParcel.htm

You can also use these rate charts if you prefer–click the name of the service to see the rate chart:

https://www.usps.com/ship/service-chart.htm

I like the charts, but it’s good to be familiar with shipping rules before just using them & not the shipping calculator. (You’ll be there in no time!)

For more shipping tips see our main “Shipping” page–see the gold links on the right or click here:
Shipping

Figuring Out Your Secondary Shipping

Figunecklace Out Your Secondary Shipping


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Go To Great Panes, Kathryn Maloney ©2009-12
(This post is copyrighted–you do not have permission to repost this content elsewhere but you are welcome to link to it if you’d like to share the information.)

One of the trickiest things for new sellers–now made super easy:

1. Weigh one item in packaging, get the shipping cost.

For example, 2 oz for a necklace in a bubble mailer from the US to Canada
$3.15
2. Add another of the same item and the packaging it needs to the box or envelope and re-weigh it, get the shipping weight & rate for the two items together.

2 necklaces in the same package weigh 3.7 oz–always round up, so use 4 oz.

2 oz for the first necklace
+1.7 oz for a second necklace
3.7 oz total = 4 oz for shipping rates
$3.45
3. Subtract shipping cost in step 1 from the shipping cost in step 2 and you’ve got your secondary postage cost (not accounting for handling or cost of packaging materials). 3.45
-3.15
0.30
4. Your secondary shipping cost:
The 30-cents for postage plus a jewelry box, bubble wrap or whatever you use to protect your item, unless you include those in your business overhead.
$0.30
Please read below for steps 5 through 9

It’s not a perfect science, but it should get you started understanding how to arrive at your secondary shipping rates.

The tricky part comes in when shipping multiple items will bump the postage to another class. With First Class international going up to 4 lbs, setting rates there is pretty easy for most US sellers.

US Domestic First Class is trickier since it only goes up to 13 oz before you must use Parcel Post or Priority & those rates change based on zip code, so if you want to be sure you have enough to cover the cost you need to start by basing the rate on the furthest shipping zone from your location & how many items it takes to push your items to the next postage level.

Here’s how to take the knowledge you gain using the method above to be sure you’re charging enough:

5. Starting with a small sun catcher that weighs 6 oz with its box (4 oz item + 2 oz box), shipped within the US using the discounted online rates we get with Paypal labels costs $2.15.

$2.15
6. Add more items one at a time until you’ve added enough to bump you into Priority or Parcel Post (over 13 oz).

6 oz for the first sun catcher
4 oz sun catcher (another in the same box)
4 oz sun catcher (another in the same box)
——————
14 oz for three sun catchers, so I will use the one-pound rate for NY to CA and make sure I’m covered for shipping 3 sun catchers to the farthest zone (once you are over 13 oz, the next lowest shipping weight rate is for 1 lb).

$6.20
7. How to apply that to your listing to make sure you are covered:

Take the total for shipping 3 pieces ($6.20) and subtract the postage you need to cover the first sun catcher ($2.15) from it.

$6.20
-$2.15
$4.05
8. The $4.05 you are left with needs to be spread across the number of secondary items it takes to bump the postage, in this example across 2 items, so a shipping cost bump of $2.03 for each extra suncatcher. $4.05
÷ 2 =
$2.025
9. Primary postage cost =
Secondary postage cost =

This assumes you won’t need a bigger box & the rate doesn’t account for bubble wrap or other packing materials, but you can adjust the technique to your specific items and apply it similarly.

I’ll repeat that process below in with a different item & weight just so the examples are clear. 🙂

$2.15
$2.03

Same technique with different postage just to give another example:

5a Starting with a necklace weighs 4 oz with its box & mailer, shipped within the US using the discounted online rates we get with Paypal labels costs $1.81. $1.81
6a Add more items one at a time until you’ve added enough to bump you into Priority or Parcel Post (over 13 oz).

4 oz for the first necklace
2 oz necklace (another in the same box, 2)
2 oz necklace (another in the same box, 3)
2 oz necklace (another in the same box, 4)
2 oz necklace (another in the same box, 5)
2 oz necklace (another in the same box, 6)
——————
14 oz for six necklaces, so I will use the one-pound rate for NY to CA and make sure I’m covered for shipping 6 necklaces to the farthest zone.
$6.20
7a How to apply that to your listing to make sure you are covered:

Take the total for shipping 6 pieces ($6.20) and subtract the postage you need to cover the first necklace ($1.81) from it.

$6.20
-$1.81
$4.39
8a The $4.39 you are left with needs to be spread across the number of secondary items it takes to bump the postage, in this example across 5 items, so a postage cost bump of $0.88 for each extra necklace. $4.39
÷ 5 =
$0.878
9a Primary postage cost =
Secondary postage cost =

(Again, that’s just postage and does not include other factors like the rigid jewelry gift box to protect it or time & other materials for shipping.)

$1.81
$0.88

How Etsy's "Secondary Shipping" works


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Go To Great Panes, Kathryn Maloney ©2009
(This post is copyrighted–you do not have permission to repost this content elsewhere but you are welcome to link to it if you’d like to share the information.)

The highest shipping charge is always the base shipping.

It doesn’t matter what order the items are added to the shopping cart, the item with the highest primary shipping rate will set the base shipping for the order.

The secondary shipping cost is if you add that item to a package.

“With another item” should generally be less than the first shipping price. (In some cases items can’t be shipped with other items, or the cost of shipping won’t go down when it is shipped with another item, so the shipping will stay the same for primary and secondary shipping.)

Every item after the one that sets the base shipping will add its secondary rate to the package.

An example:

Item Primary Shipping
cost:
Secondary Shipping
with another item:
A $5.00 $4.00
B $2.00 $ .50
C $3.00 $1.00

If someone buys all three, Item A’s shipping is primary–because it is highest, and Item B & Item C will have the secondary rate added:

Item Shipping Applied
A $5.00
B $ .50
C $1.00
Shipping total: $6.50

For more shipping tips see our main “Shipping” page–see the gold links on the right or click here:
Shipping Basics

Shipping Through Paypal–Regardless of How the Customer Paid


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Go To Great Panes, Kathryn Maloney ©2009

Did you know you can use Paypal labels to ship things even when your buyer didn’t pay through Paypal? Or even if you’re just shipping something to a friend?

There’s two ways to do it–using the Multi-order Shipping feature or using the ship-now link.

Multi-order Shipping

On the right side of the main account page there is a link under “My account tools” to “Multi-order Shipping”.

Personally I don’t like that feature–I find it cumbersome for printing one label so I use the “ship-now” page:

Ship-Now

1. Log in to your Paypal account.

2. Click this link (and bookmark the web page in your browser for future use):
https://www.paypal.com/us/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_ship-now

3. There you can manually enter all the details for a label for a package even if you did not receive funds through Paypal. I copy and paste everything in to be sure I’ve got it right.

Click the bookmark in your browser whenever you want to do it again.

Teach a Man to Fish…

You can get to this web page address any time you need to, even without the bookmark. Knowing how to get there will keep you from ever having to worry about losing the magic link, so here goes…

You can create that link address yourself from a transaction label you haven’t yet printed:

a. Click the “Print shipping label” link next to any transaction and when the label page loads
b. go to the address bar in your browser and delete all the text after “ship-now” in the address and
c. hit enter. That will give you a blank label form to fill in with your shipment details.

For example, when you click the “Print Shipping Label” link the address of the label page will look something like this:

https://www.paypal.com/us/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_ship-now&info=qnOjYY-GGnRwerueX9I9N1ts1Kzw…

cut the end of the address off so it just ends with ship-now:

https://www.paypal.com/us/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_ship-now

then hit enter on your keyboard. It will bring up a page with a blank label.

If you don’t have a transaction with a “Print shipping label” link:

i. Find a transaction that you already printed a label for, and click the “Details” link in the Details column next to it,
ii. Page down to the blue link that says “Ship Another”, click it and when the label page loads
iii. go to the address bar in your browser and delete all the text after “ship-now” in the address (as described above) and
iiii. hit enter. That will give you a blank label form.

For more shipping tips see our main “Shipping” page–see the gold links on the right or click here:
Shipping Basics



Visit our Etsy shop: GoToSupplies

Sorry–had to turn off comments on this post due to a hundred or so spam post attempts over 24 hours. I’m done with deleting their pending pharmacy spam.

Priority Mail: by Weight or Flat Rate?

Go To Great Panes, Kathryn Maloney ©2009


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Domestic Priority Mail:

When are flat rate boxes better than shipping by weight?

While we use First Class Mail whenever possible, sometimes you need to ship Priority. Boxes are free from USPS and they’ll even ship them right to your door for free if you order them online: Priority Mail Boxes

Domestic Priority Mail rates change based on shipping zones, unless you are using their Flat Rate Boxes (good for up to 70 pounds). Sometimes the flat rate boxes are a good deal–sometimes it’s better to ship Priority Mail by weight.

Small Flat Rate Box & Flat Rate Envelope (same price):
$4.95
These cost the same as the “up to 1 pound rate” for Priority packages regardless of the zone they are being shipped to. If your items are going Priority and fit in this package, you’ll get the best Priority rate possible.
Envelope: 12-1/2″ x 9-1/2″
Small Box: 8-5/8″ x 5-3/8″ x 1-5/8″

Medium sized flat rate boxes (formerly the “regular” size):
$10.35
Comes in two shapes:
Medium Box 1: 11″ x 8-1/2″ x 5-1/2″
Medium Box 2: 13-5/8″ x 11-7/8″ x 3-3/8″

Shipping by weight cost is better than using the medium box for these packages:
$8.70: Up to 2 lb, shipping to all zones.
$9.90: Up to 3 lb, shipping to zone 6 or closer.
$9.45: Up to 5 lb, shipping to zone 4 or closer.
$10.30: Up to 7 lb, shipping to zone 3 or closer.
$9.90: Up to 10 lb, shipping to zone 2 or closer.

Large sized flat rate box:
There are two different boxes, both the same size–one is especially for shipping to APO/FPO Destinations ($11.95), it has a lower price than the one for all other addresses.
Large Box: 12-1/4″ x 12-1/4″ x 6″

$13.95
For non-APO/FPO destinations:

Shipping by weight is better than or equal to using the large box for these packages:
$11.95: Up to 3 lb, shipping to all zones.
$12.95: Up to 4 lbs, shipping to zone 7 or closer.
$13.75: Up to 5 lbs, shipping to zone 6 or closer.
$13.95: Up to 9 lbs, shipping to zone 4 or closer.
$13.30: Up to 11 lbs, shipping to zone 3 or closer.
$13.95: Up to 19 lbs, shipping to zone 2 or closer.

The flat rate box is always less expensive for these packages:
$14.30: 19 lbs and up

You can see USPS Priority Mail shipping chart and the rates and compare for yourself here:

http://www.usps.com/prices/priority-mail-prices.htm

Priority Mail Postage & Labels Online

You get a discount for paying for your postage online, and for Priority packages you get free delivery confirmation!

USPS.com: You can buy postage for all the flat rate boxes through USPS.com’s Click ‘n Ship.

Paypal only offers postage for the flat rate envelope (not the small box, though they are the same price and I use that label for the small box, which might be risky since the label says it’s for an envelope…) and the medium (formerly the regular) sized flat rate box. More on Paypal shipping here: Shipping Through Paypal

For more shipping tips see our main “Shipping” page–see the gold links on the right or click here:
Shipping Basics



Visit our Etsy shop: GoToSupplies