During my past 18 years of selling, and shipping online, I’ve shipped thousands of packages. These varied from T-shirts to turbochargers, pet toys to lima beans. These items and many others were sold on eCommerce sites such as eBay, Amazon, and Bonanza. Something I learned while shipping all of those packages is that it pays to be prepared. In this article, I will go over the items you should have if you plan to run a well oiled, successful eCommerce Business.
Dedicate An Area For Packing & Shipping.
When I first started shipping online, I started in my one-bedroom apartment; space was limited, to say the least. I was packing and shipping what I sold from my bedroom!
I shipped this way for about a year and a half until I was finally able to move out of my apartment and into a bigger place. I made sure my new place had a room dedicated to shipping and storing my products!
Dedicate an area in your home/apartment/bungalow to shipping frees up your living space and gives you a place where you can ship quickly and efficiently.
What Shipping Supplies Should You Have For Shipping Online?
What shipping supplies should you have all depends on what you are planning to ship. As I said before, I started out shipping t-shirts.
This was well before Print on demand (POD) was a thing. There was no Printful, TeeSpring, or Redbubble that I could upload my design to and have shirts and coffee mugs show up in the mail a week later.
I made my shirts the old school way, with An inkjet printer and iron-on transfer paper. These were dark days…
How Do You Ship Lightweight Items Such As Clothing?
If you plan to ship lightweight items such as shirts or pants, I recommend getting some Poly Mailers of different sizes.
Polymailers work great for this type of product because they are durable, and all you need to do is fold up the clothes you want to ship, stuff them in the polymailer and slap a shipping label on it. Plus, it’s not like the pants you’re shipping are going to break. You need to protect them while they make their way to your customers.
How Do You Ship Lightweight Fragile Items?
When it comes to shipping light fragile items, such as a coffee cup, a polymailer won’t work. You need to use something sturdier. What you need is a Box. Not just any box, a box designed to fit the object you’re shipping. Boxes come in a variety of sizes for a reason. You don’t need a 10-inch box to ship a 4-inch coffee cup.
If you know what you plan to ship, buy boxes that fit your needs. There is no need to waste money on packaging materials when you can just get a smaller box.
Getting back to what you need to ship a lightweight, fragile item.
- An appropriate sized box.
- Bubble wrap. (Good for more than just popping)!
- Tape. (Don’t buy cheap tape, five rolls for $5 is not a deal, no matter what your cousin tells you).
- Kraft Paper. (this can be used if you lose control and pop all of the bubble wrap.
The Key to shipping something fragile is you want to protect it first with the bubble wrap or kraft paper and then wrap the box around it. After you seal up the box, shake it. You shouldn’t hear any movement. If you do, then you need to add more packing materials. You want the package to sound solid when you’re done.
How Do You Ship Heavy Items?
When it comes to shipping heavy objects, such as turbochargers (weighs around 50+lbs), the simple solution is to not…
The lighter the item you sell, the less you will have to pay for the shipping, and the more money you get to keep! But if you have to ship heavy or bulky items you will need a few things:
- Sturdy Cardboard Boxes (one with thick walls).
- Bubble Wrap (again, try not to pop them).
- Packing Peanuts (these are great for filling voids and keep your items from moving around too much).
- Kraft Paper (again for filling voids, be careful, unlike the packing peanuts kraft paper can be flattened if the item you’re shipping is too heavy or moves around a lot.
- Heavy Duty Tape (not just regular shipping tape, you need the tape that has lines in it!)
When you go to ship your heavy or bulky item, start by covering any point on the object with the bubble wrap. Covering the points will keep them from puncturing the box. Next, wrap the entire object with a layer of bubble wrap. Then add a layer of packing peanuts to the bottom of the box and place your bubble wrapped item in the box. Finish by adding packing peanuts around and on top of your object. Seal the box with multiple strips of tape and slap a label on it.
What Are Some Other Shipping Items You Should Consider Purchasing?
Fragile Stickers or Fragile Stamps – You can use these if you want, but they feel more like a challenge for the postal to test your packing skills. If your package is packed right, you won’t need them.
Carton Resizing Tool – I had never heard of one of these until one of my friends showed it to me. Now I don’t know how I lived without it. What it does is allow you to reduce the size of the box without measuring. You pop it on the box and zip it around a few seconds later you have a smaller box. Magic! The video below shows how to use one.
A Shipping Scale – The one I use is the Dymo 400lb model. They also make models with smaller weigh capacities (and cost less), but some of the items I shipped weight a lot, so hence a higher weight capacity scale.
The tip here is to buy a scale that matches what you’re shipping.
For example, if you only plan to ship clothing, then a 5lb – 10lbs scale will do fine. But if you plan to ship something heavier, then a 25lbs – 100lb scale may be what you need.
I recommend the following scales:
Pick the one that best matches what you’re selling.
A Label Printer. – I was reluctant to buy one of these at first; my reasoning was, “Why spend so much money on a label printer when I could purchase sheet size labels and use my inkjet printer to print the labels…?
Learn from my mistake, don’t hesitate. Bite the bullet and get a label printer! It saves so much time; you don’t have to worry about loading your labels right, or what happens if your printer runs out of ink, or having to cut out the labels. All you do is click a button and BAM! Your label comes out, and your package is ready to go!
There are two label printers I recommend:
Dymo 4XL Label Printer– The Dymo 4XL is the first label printer I bought; it works well, one of the only drawbacks is you have to use Dymo’s proprietary labels. While there are generic labels you can buy, I found they kept getting jammed.
Check out my DYMO 4XL Review.
Rollo Label Printer – While the Rollo Label Printer is smaller and kinda looks like a stapler, I bought it for one reason. It can use labels from any manufacturer; no special requirement needed. You just pop open the label maker and put your label of choice in, and the machine will recognize what type of label you’re using, and you’re good to go.
Check out my Rollo Label Printer Review.
Other Packing Materials
I hope you found this article useful and learned a thing or two. The goal is to simplify your shipping process and focus more on building your online business. With the right supplies and preparation, You can focus less on shipping and more on creating sales!