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Tips to Streamline the Shipping Process
Design Gift Ideas
Image by manualcutler
There can be a learning curve to #selling online. It is a certainty that mistakes will be made. We all make them, and we all learn from them. But, one of the most important things you can do to avoid daily headaches is to streamline your shipping process and make sure you always have the proper shipping supplies on hand.

Following are 10 great tips to keep shipping at the bottom of the list of things you have to worry about.

Have a dedicated #shipping area. If you already have your workspace set up for shipping it will be much less stressful when multiple orders come in at one time.

Keep necessary tools on hand. This will include:

•Measuring tape
•Postage scale
•Box knife
•Package tape and labels
•Markers, ink pens, and card stock or note cards
•Packaging paper and protective wrap
•Any labels, cards, or other supplies specific to your brand

Use online #postage calculators. The United States Postal Service (USPS.com) has an area on their website to calculate postage fees. You can simply put in a packages weight, dimensions, and destination zip code, and it will tell you exactly how much it will cost to ship.

Purchase a postage scale. If you have dedicated yourself to having an online business, invest in omething that will simplify the process and save you time. Other types of scales that are not designed specifically for packages can be inaccurate and cost you time, and additional fees in returned packages.

Ask for advice from a similar merchant. Most people working in online #businesses are happy to iscuss their business practices, and shipping shortcuts with their fellow colleagues.

Offer free shipping. Free shipping is a great way to lure customers. The idea of paying for an item with free shipping, is much nicer to most people than an item for plus shipping, even though the cost is exactly the same. The perception of getting something for nothing is a great motivator to buy. Just build the cost into the price of whatever you are selling.

Flat-rate shipping is your friend. If you do decide to charge for shipping, let customers know how many of a particular item will fit in a box, and let them know there is one fee for shipping up to X amount of items. Again, the perception of getting something for nothing can motivate them to buy as many items as they can for one shipping fee.

Have concise shipping policies. It is important when writing your shipping policies to make sure that you are protected, but, you will want to keep your policies as short and direct as possible to ensure that they are actually read, and understood.

Understand #International Shipping. Most destinations outside of the US will charge custom fees. Make sure your customers know that they are responsible for any customs fees related to their shipment. If you do not specify this, it is likely that an unhappy customer will expect you to reimburse them for their customs fees. And, don’t forget that it is against the law to mark a purchased good as a gift to avoid customs fees. Don’t let a buyer convince you into doing so.

Include #insurance for higher price items. If a package does not arrive, as the business owner you are responsible for replacing it, and making sure that your customer is taken care of. Include insurance fees in your shipping prices, or build it into your product price if you are offering free shipping.

weePod­™, The iPod Baby Belt
Design Gift Ideas
Image by RichardBronosky
weePod­™, The iPod Baby Belt

I had this great idea for a "(You’re almost a) Mother’s Day" gift. I looked everywhere for a set of headphones, specifically designed for wearing on a pregnant belly. It seems that no such thing exists. So in a true fit of manly rage, I broke out the power tools. (Okay, I broke out the Janome power tool, but that reciprocating needle could really do some damage!)

The result is a plastic clasped 2 inch wide elastic belt with a pocket loop for an iPod and six strategically placed button holes. The button holes allow you to insert headphones so that you can play music to your unborn baby.

This a really popular idea, I’m surprised someone doesn’t market such a product. If you are interested, feel free to contact me.

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