Shipping and Packaging Resources for Online Jewelry Sellers
A huge component of selling anything online is packaging and shipping your items. If you run an Etsy shop or a similar online venue for your handmade or vintage items, you know how important presentation is. It's essential that you give each package a personal touch that reflects you and your shop.
It's also important to do everything that you can to keep your shipping costs as low as possible. Be realistic and don't short change yourself with your shipping and handling charges. But also take advantage of any opportunities that you can to save money with the shipping and packaging process.
I sell jewelry, which means that I'm frequently searching for jewelry shipping supplies and other supplies generally suited for smaller handmade items. If you can't find resources for larger products at any of the major sites I link in this hub, leave me a comment. I'll do what I can to include some information here for you. Please feel free to leave comments with additional resources for any of the categories listed as well.
Bubble mailers: My favorite supplier for bubble mailers is Uline.com. Please use bubble mailers if you are shipping anything fragile. I buy the DVD sized mailers in bulk. I have not priced bubble mailers extensively, but I did a fair amount of research for book boxes for my eBay shipping earlier this year. None of the prices I found anywhere else, even at the chain office supply stores, compared with Uline. Their shipping costs are high, but the total prices are STILL better and the products arrive very quickly. I've been pleased with the quality of the envelopes. I still secure all envelope seals with packing tape, just to be safe.
What about larger orders? Sometimes I do get multiple item orders on Etsy, and I use #2 or #5 envelopes. You can buy packs of these at most big box chains or office supply stores. For the low volume of these orders that I currently have, the higher price isn't a problem. I can always order in bulk if my order volume changes.
Jewelry boxes: I also order my jewelry boxes from Uline.com. Overall, I've been pretty pleased with the boxes. Beware that if you order a case of 100, you'll likely have to make glue repairs on 5 or so boxes., Uline has a wide supply of larger boxes as well so search around if you are looking for packaging for your larger handmade items. Make your own jewelry boxes and looking for padded inserts? Uline has those available, too, right here.
Some of my fellow Etsy sellers use storesupply.com for their jewelry boxes. Their prices are competitive. They have a larger selection of boxes so if you're looking for something fancier than the plain white boxes, this is the place to go.
Ribbons: I like to tie my jewelry boxes with a single, skinny ribbon. You can stick a business card, coupon, and/or small thank you note in the top. I don't have a set color scheme for my shop, but if you have a running scheme for your shop or shop logo, a ribbon is a great way to continue this theme.
Organza bags: I don't use organza bags, but they are another wonderful alternative for packaging jewelry and other small handmade or vintage items. I urge you to check out BeautifulAdditions again for organza bags as well as yourorganzabag.com.
Thank you cards/envelopes: I know that many online sellers do not include any sort of personal note with their packages, but I think that this is really important. Personalization can have a huge impact on the number of return customers that you get.
I love to make my own thank you notes based around my current interests, such as the interest I've had in leaf items the past couple years. I also like to use blank note cards that I've gotten from unique locations such as art museums. You can use a wide variety of blank or thank you note cards. Check out Etsy sellers hdawnparratt and HomegrownGems. Like to make your own cards but not your own envelopes? Check out envelopemall.com.
Business cards: I highly urge you to design a business card with your logo or one or several of your own handmade items on it. A personalized card is much more memorable for buyers than a plain one or one with a pre-designed logo. Looking for a logo or design with a small cost? See if you can find an Etsy seller who's interested in trading their services for one of your handmade items. Some of the cheapest business card sites that I've found are overnightprints, Vistaprint, and UPrinting. All of these sites over a wide variety of other promotional materials as well, which can make wonderful freebies for your packages or craft fair sales.
Coupons/other promotional materials: I have had good success with including discount coupons with my packages and craft fair sales. I design my own coupons with Microsoft Word. I highly urge you to print coupons and other small promotional materials in black and white or limited colors to cut down on costs.
I have also had good success with including small freebie items with my large or custom orders. I sell button stud earrings at craft fairs. I include a pair in these orders that coordinates with at least one of the items. Think about a small item from your shop or that you could make to fit with one of your product lines that would be a good freebie.
Earring cards: Earring cards are a wonderful way to personalize your handmade earrings. A good friend of mine on Etsy, Edi of memoriesforlifesb, designed mine for me. She used one of one of my shooting backdrops and included my shop name and URL. Including this URL is a great method for attracting new customers who have received their earrings as a gift. Fire Mountain Gems is an excellent source for bulk earring cards in neutral colors. I use these earwire clutches from Art Beads for all of my dangle earrings. I buy 100 at a time to take advantage of the lowest price available for them. Their claim about how they don't tarnish the earrings is true.
Labels/stickers: I don't use any sort of labels or stickers for my packages right now, but I buy my labels for other mailings, such as Christmas cards, in bulk from Office Depot. Their Avery labels offer free templates that you can download from their web site, which makes it extremely easy to design your own labels. Not interested in designing your own labels or stickers? Check out Etsy seller HomegrownGems.
Personalization details/make your own: If you are making some of your own packaging components, such as cards or labels, you may need to purchase a few items to help you. Most big box or chain craft/hobby stores offer a wide variety of supplies in bulk. Watch for sales and/or coupons, particularly for popular items such as scrap booking supplies. Check out Etsy seller norajane's stamps, too.
Bulk/wholesale: Many of the items that I've included above are available in bulk or at wholesale prices. I've linked as many sites as possible with bulk or wholesale prices. You can also check eBay. Follow sellers who have the items that you are interested in and watch for good deals. Whenever possible, purchase items that you will use large quantities of in bulk or wholesale to cut down on your costs.
Using the best shipping option: Research the least expensive options for shipping your items. My jewelry is small and lightweight so I typically use first class USPS shipping. When I'm shipping book packages for Amazon or eBay, I almost always use Media Mail. If you are shipping heavier handmade items, such as soap or candles, that don't qualify for a special shipping rate such as Media Mail, consider priority shipping options.
Online shipping labels are almost always cheaper than post office shipping labels. I prefer to print my labels through PayPal. PayPal includes discounted delivery confirmation, which is worth the money. You can create labels without a linked PayPal order with this backdoor code. I drop my packages off at the post office, which is right on my way home from work. You can also arrange for pick ups from your house through USPS.
If you are interested in printing labels online, purchase a digital scale. There are a number of 3 lb. scales available from stores such as Wal-Mart and Office Depot. I bought mine at Wal-Mart for about $20.00. When I do get the occasional heavier package, I weigh it at a self-weigh station at the post office and then print the label from home. Heavier scales are also available from most chain office supply stores.