Mar 9, 2011

Customer Impressions

Packing up items, shipping them, getting them to the post office and finding shipping supplies. Probably not your most favorite part of selling online. Interestingly though, it is to your customer. Receiving their etsy package in the mail is a moment filled with anticipation and hopefully happiness. How you handle it on your end can greatly affect their perception of your item and service.

Set of Wedgwood Pimpernel China by HamiltonBay

To start with: shipping supplies. Are you using old Corona boxes that have Sharpie marker scratched all over them? Are you using old newspapers, plastic bags from Target and other such sundries? I'm all for being green and recycling, but don't take it to extremes. Remember that moment when your customer opens the package. Looking professional is vital.

1940's Lamps by justbecauseshecan

You can get almost all of your shipping supplies for free (I get tape off Amazon through their Subscribe & Save program). I put ads up on my local freecycle group and I get flooded. Insist on boxes being in good shape, no big wrinkles or dents, no major Sharpie attacks, and no major logos (except for the swoop). It's not hard to find good boxes, bubble and peanuts these days.

Herman Miller Chair by TheFancyLamb

How you package your item is critical. A while ago I bought a figurine set on Etsy with plans to resell it. I bought it for $35 and it was worth $400+. I failed to note the seller was new. When the package arrived, the box was a tight fit and my beautiful set was smashed into millions of pieces. The seller had wrapped each large bisque figurine in one single sheet of newspaper (never mind that newspaper stains bisque!).

Huge Bread Sign by marybethhale

It's important to allow for space around your items. Machines are handling your packages most of the time now-not people. Fragile stickers don't mean squat to a giant conveyor belt. Wrap in bubble. If your item has a door/lid, wrap the door separate and leave it open so it doesn't rattle and break. Bury items in peanuts to protect them from impact falls (crashing 10 feet down into a pile of other packages). I make sure everything is secure and attach a business card with a future discount to the top of the bubbled item.

Dressmaker Class Sewing Machine by SurrenderDorothy

I ship generally USPS and if it's really heavy UPS. My local post office has a quick fingered worker that has hit me a few times. I've learned-if I insure an item, it's likely to go missing. If I don't insure, it'll get there. With the insurance printed right on the outside, I can see how this happens. I'm a big fan of insurance and do require it for my major sales-but then I ship those things UPS just to be sure. I want the items to arrive-that will definitely keep the customer happy!

Pink Lamps w/ Fiberglass Shades by jenzee09

The more care you take to use great looking and feeling supplies, the more professional you'll appear. You likely already do this-but this is a good reminder to stick to it. Look at your feedback-good shipping is almost always mentioned. How you package and ship will also greatly affect if your new customer becomes a repeat customer. Have fun wrapping!


Sarah said...

Excellent advice. Love the tip on insuring - it's a giveaway for someone with "sticky" fingers. I've also been reading a lot of comments regarding marking items with the "fragile" stamp - seems it becomes a challenge for postal workers to see just how fragile it really is!

lisa said...

Great advice is right. I believe what you say about insurance as well. We use fedex ground as we have an account and their new smart post service.

I get my tape from uline, and my peanuts off ebay. Nut I do get some supplies from local business,recycling - and most of our friends save their packing for us. I sold for 10 years on ebay and would buy things on occasion and you are right people would just throw it in a box and ship it.

My postman told me by the way that he thought people read the word fragile as kick me

Great advice and useful as well.

Jojo's Retro and Vintage said...

I have to agree on the packaging. I've invested in color coordinated tissue wrap, ribbons, logo stickers, etc. and my customers almost always comment on the packaging in feedback! Its just one way to stand out and show you care about your merchandise and the customer.

TheFancyLamb said...

Great post! Shipping can be a full-time job in itself -- from the time it takes to package items to the knowledge and expertise required to navigate postal rules and costs. It's so nice to hear tips from others who deal with this first-hand.

Bit of Butter said...

Your comment about insurance is really interesting -- here I thought I was being extra careful by purchasing insurance for my buyers!

mary beth said...

Oh yes, shipping can really stress me out. Especially fragile Christmas ornaments, glass in general, and large items too, like the window frame that is shipping today. Great tips and I never even thought about insurance being a lure to steal, as obvious is it to me now! This is a reread it and going find a better source for bubble wrap.

JenZee09's 201Treasures Etsy Shop said...

Great article! I must say I love selling on Etsy, but I DREAD shipping! It takes so long to make sure everything is just right and then pray to the post office gods that it makes it in one piece. Thanks for these great tips and the great timing. I am literally off to pack up some items!
Thanks also for including my lamps.

Anonymous said...

Lots of great tips, Heidi! Don't forget FREE Priority Mail boxes you can order online at Lots of different sizes are available, delivered right to your door.

I'm a little concerned about saying, "I've learned-if I insure an item, it's likely to go missing. If I don't insure, it'll get there."

I have shipped 6,000+ packages via USPS in 11 years, and have never had a domestic package lost. I always print postage online with delivery confirmation. Perhaps the scan bar is a deterent for sticky fingered postal workers.

And insuring items is essential for fragile stuff IMO. Twice I've had items arrive broken, and the buyer followed easy procedures and received a check within 2 weeks--and I didn't lose $$ either.

Nachokitty said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nachokitty said...

It depends on your local post office. I'm a big fan of insurance too. I just use UPS or FedEx when I do since my local PO has a dishonest element. I totally recommend insurance. I was just sharing my personal experience-a risky thing to do at times, but hopefully interesting to read about!

Nora-transient*treasures said...

Thanks for an informative post! With 7000++ on-line sales, I have learned that usps insurance is horrid at best. I stopped using it 2 years ago. Switched to, and think it was one of my BEST decisions ever.

Suzanne@threepeats said...

Great info from the post and follow-up comments. Since I am a buyer on etsy as well as a seller, I try to keep in mind what impresses me when I get those much anticipated packages. And the most important thing is it arrives safe and sound in a timely manner! I also hate packaging peanuts (even the co-friendly kind)....they get everywhere!

moving boxes cheap said...

It is true that the impression you leave your customers is one of the most important factors that affect the success of your online business. The excitement of your customers to receive their orders should not diminish because of delivery delays or damage of goods.

movers Nebraska said...

Recycling is one good way of supporting the mission of preserving the environment. We may not know the real reason behind such information if it was meant to be just a scare or a warning for the public but it is still important to be sure of things. I guess we all do not want to have regrets in the end, right? Let us just hope that continuous studies will still be conducted to clear things out. Thank you for sharing.