Monday, September 10, 2012

Etsy Talk: Save on Shipping & Packaging

The hardest part of starting an Etsy shop for me was figuring out shipping, both prices and packaging. I did a lot of research before opening my shop and still made many mistakes. I would like to pass on what I learned so you don't have to make the same mistakes and lose money!

Buy a Scale
The best thing you can do to ensure accurate shipping prices is buy a postal scale, the weight capacity depending on what you sell. Buying from is cheapest.

Calculate Shipping Online
With your scale, you can accurately calculate shipping costs on the USPS site, including international rates. Play around with package weight to estimate secondary shipping costs (how much it costs to ship something with another item).

Print Labels from Paypal
Print shipping labels from your paypal account and receive a significant discount on postage for packages (for any domestic service, but only Priority or Express for international). If the person paid through paypal, you can go to your account overview and click "print shipping label" next to the transaction. The address information will automatically load. Just input the package weight (rounded up to the nearest whole number) and service type (First Class, Priority, etc.). If the person didn't pay through paypal, you can still print the label by adding the address on Print the label on fast draft to save ink.

With ready-to-ship packages, no need to wait in line at the post office! Just drop off or request pick-up online if at least one of your packages is Priority Mail.

Be Creative with Packaging
Some shops only charge postage price, while others include packaging costs. Either way, be creative to save on packaging expenses and lower your shipping prices.
  • Reuse boxes if you can. All previous postage must be removed or covered. You can cover non-postal boxes with brown kraft paper.
  • Don't send free gifts. Most of the time, they're cheap things the buyer doesn't want or need but are still included in the shipping and packaging costs (or if not, they come out of your pocket). Most people would rather not get a random free item and pay lower shipping!
  • Only use necessary, protective wrapping; no need to be super fancy unless you sell expensive jewelry or the like. 
  • Make your own thank-you notes or write on the back of your business card.
Remember,  packaging ends up in the trash, so be wise where you spend your money and what you charge people for. I would rather get a less fancy (but still professional) package if it means I pay less shipping. However, you can include a note in your listings and policies about requesting free gift wrapping.

Add Shipping Information to Your Shop
Include shipping and packaging information in your policies, and your listings if you sell various items that require different packaging and shipping methods. Buyers like to know what they are paying for and when they can expect to get their items.

What shipping and packaging tips do you have?

Read about choosing shipping services.


  1. Brilliant! I too have struggled with shipping costs even after tons of research. Great tips!

  2. Great post! I am new to Etsy but i have sold online for a number of years, if your stuck without a scale a lot of the time you can google "what is the weight of...." and get yourself out of a pinch so you can use the paypal labels. Also most people it seems appreciate recycled packaging as long as you tell them in the posting or on your shop policies that thats what they are getting.

  3. I use recycled packaging, but sometimes it comes back to bite me. Different boxes, even though they are roughly the same same can weigh very different. I usually underestimate shipping costs and end up losing a $1 or $2. Occasionally, like this week, combined shipping ended up being quite a bit less than my estimate so I refunded the difference. I have lost international sales several times because my estimate was to high.