For many entrepreneurs and small business owners, standing in line at the post office becomes a big part of your job. Whether you make handmade jewelry, sew stunning costumes, or repurpose old materials into new works of art, you have to find a way to get those pieces into the hands of your customers.
If you have an online store or conduct some of your business outside of a physical retail space, you’ll likely need to ship your goods at some point. This can be a situation that brings a lot of people some concern and anxiety. Your work is now out of your hands and at the whim of a postal carrier that you are entrusting to treat your items with care until they reach your customer.
In addition to calculating shipping costs, knowing the cost of shipping insurance, and buying packing materials, it’s essential to think about how you are packaging and shipping your items. You need them to be secure in their box and protected from the shipping process, but you also want to make sure the article looks nice when your customer opens the box.
Secure Packaging Checklist
If you are shipping smaller, valuable items like jewelry, or larger items like clothing or artwork, packaging can make all the difference between your item arriving safely in one piece, or it arriving banged up and dented. How you package your product is just as important as how you create it in the first place.
Setting yourself up for shipping success involves proper packing, clear labeling, the ability to track your package to its intended destination, and getting a signature when it’s been delivered.
Here is a checklist to help you pack and ship your items safely:
Secure Your Items in a Box or Container
This container is what your customers will see when they’ve opened up their package and found the item that they ordered from you. Small art pieces, jewelry, or clothing should be packaged in a container that fits that item. This container represents your business and should have your company’s name, logo, or business information labeled on the box. Part of this is to show the customer that you’ve spent time designing this item just for them and have shipped it with care.
Use shredded paper, bio-degradable packing peanuts, or another method to secure your item in the container. Additionally, you may find it helpful to write your information and the recipient’s information on this container as well, in case the outer box is damaged during shipping.
Put The Container Inside of a Shipping Box
You can use a cardboard box that you already have, or find one at a post office. Your items may be bulky or hard to ship, which might require a bit more research into proper shipping containers that will safely transport your items. Books, documents, or other heavy, bulky items should be shipped in a sturdier, double-walled cardboard container.
Your original package should not be squished inside this shipping container. There should be a little bit of room between the sides of the box, which is where you can put additional packing material like peanuts, shredded paper, or bubble wrap. This cradles your item inside the shipping box and gives it another layer of protection during the shipping process.
The box-within-a-box method also discourages thieves, who may not easily find what they are looking for after opening up the first box.
Close the Outside Box and Seal Each Opening with Packing Tape
Some boxes come with adhesive strips but for added security, there’s no harm in sealing each seam of your box with clear packing tape. For high-value or rare items, using tamper-proof tape could be an investment worth making.
Label the Box
The box should be clearly labeled with your information and the recipient’s information. If you are shipping items internationally, you should fill out the relevant customs information forms. As much as possible, try not to write the contents of the box on the box itself. This makes it easier for potential thieves to grab packages that are high-value targets.
Obtain Tracking Information
Shipping companies will usually offer you a tracking number to go along with your packages. This is helpful for both you and the recipient. With a tracking number, you can see where your package is and when it arrives. Additionally, should your package be lost or damaged, you can track when that occurred.
Always mark the tracking information clearly, and keep a copy for yourself. You should send the tracking information to the recipient of the package. Keeping tracking information allows you to see what items you have shipped and to mark down delivered items as completed.
Purchase Shipping Insurance
There are many benefits of shipping insurance. Although shipping services like USPS or FedEx offer a certain amount of parcel protection, your items may be worth more. In this instance, choosing third-party shipping insurance is the way to go.
Third-party shipping insurance allows you to insure high-value, fragile, or rare items. This insurance can also cover musical instruments or things that are difficult to ship, such as cumbersome items or packages that are big and bulky.
Require a Signature Upon Delivery
Not all packages will require a signature, but some will. High-value items, rare items, musical instruments, or other fragile pieces should have a delivery signature attached to them. Once the package has been signed for, your part of the process is over.
As a business owner, keeping track of your postal and shipping information can streamline your process. Not only do you know how much you are spending to ship items, but you can also know that your items are protected every step of the way. To learn more about safe shipping and packaging, check out our insurance application. Our experts will be happy to answer any questions you have.