by VBE Kirsteen
Our first installment of navigating the world of online buying, selling and trading will start with a question I am asked often. How do I get a carrier ready for shipment? Since I have a lot of experience with this topic I will kickoff this series.
Choosing a mail carrier
The most common method is to use the United States Postal Service as the carrier (You can also use Fed Ex or UPS but pricing appears to be higher for small packages so many sellers tend to stick to USPS). If you receive payment for your carrier via Paypal you have the ability to print a shipping label directly from a link within Paypal at home. This allows you to have the buyer’s information automatically populated into the shipping label without any guesswork. For any disputes with Paypal you need to have shipped to the buyer’s address as stated in Paypal (More on the topic of disputes in a later post).
Choosing your mailer
There are several shipping material methods to choose with USPS.
-The most popular are the free Tyvek mailers that are usually always available at the facility. While they are lightweight and fit quite a lot they are not water proof so please do not use them alone to mail a carrier. I use the Tyvek mailers inside the packaging with the to/from address section filled out.
-Another option is to order the padded flat rate bubble mailers, which are free to order. You must first create an account with the USPS then you can order these mailers and they will be delivered to your door. They are my preferred method for small/thinner wraps or ring slings. You can choose this option on Paypal’s direct link to print a label and it cost about $5.25 to mail, if done online you also receive free confirmation and tracking as well as $50 of free insurance (NOTE: These are different than the recycled newspaper mailers you find at the facility which cost a few dollars. Those mailers are discouraged from being used as they have been known to get wet or caught in the machinery at the post office which could cause damage to your carrier).
-The padded bubble mailers will not fit most soft structured carriers, mei tais or larger wraps so in those cases you have two more options. First you can get the flat rate boxes at the facility. Usually a carrier will fit in the medium size which run about $12 to ship. You can still use the Paypal label printing for these flat rate boxes.
-Or you can order online regional rate boxes for free. Like the padded bubble mailers these will be delivered to your door. Regional rate A is good for carriers up to 2lbs after that weight you could use regional rate B box. The shipping rate will depend on destination but for me has run about $7.55 to the east and west coasts and $5.55 for closer states. You unable to pick the regional rate box as an option when printing a label through Paypal but you can login to the USPS site and choose this option. You must enter a weight and value and these boxes will come up in the displayed options for shipping. They come with priority status and the same free delivery tracking and confirmation and $50 free insurance. I really like this option for expensive items since I feel the box is the best protection for my carrier to get to its destination.
Packaging your carrier
With all these options I always ziplock my carrier with a note or card that has the to/from information, then usually a Tyvek mailer with the to/from information, then the outer mailer with the information again. It may seem redundant but it is worth it to make sure your carrier arrives where it is intended. As a seller it is your responsibility to make sure it gets there and Paypal will refund the buyer if you can not prove it was sent with utmost care and tracking.
Should I get insurance?
Often people will ask the buyer to pay extra for insurance but as the seller it is protection for you if the item is lost. You can use the USPS to add additional insurance or a company called U-pic will insure once you have a tracking number to enter. If you use U-Pic you must purchase the insurance within 24hrs from mailing or printing your label. I have used both methods and thankfully have not had to make a claim with either service but my understanding is that U-pic can be easier to work with.
Choosing a shipping option
USPS will come to pick up your packages at your house if at least one package is being mailed priority. All your carrier sales should be mailed priority if within the US. Having the postman pick up at your home is a great benefit if you don’t want to pack up the family to take a trip to the PO.
Lastly I would like to add that as a seller I like to include a little note and sometimes a chocolate (bagged separately) when sending my carrier off to its new home for baby snuggles. It is always fun to connect with another mama in this way and really makes someone’s day when you are on the receiving end of that extra kindness.