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Essential Shipping Tools for Your eCommerce Shipping Area

by
November 12, 2014

 

Can you imagine a carpenter, plumber, or electrician showing up at your home or business without the right tools? Nope! While tools aren’t everything (you need the know-how, too!), having the right tools may be the difference between a business win or fail.

The same is true when shipping products in your online business. You need the right physical tools to get the job done well. The first time. Here are some shipping tools and tips to help your online business thrive:

1. Shipping Scale

This is the first item you’ll need. The ability to accurately weigh your packages will save you time and money on postage, and eliminate the need to weigh and drop off your packages at the post office or carrier locations. Goodbye post office lines and trips! You can buy a shipping scale for under $50. If you sell only very light items (under 10 lbs.), a food scale might be a cheaper route.

2. Boxes

Shipping boxes help protect your items, but they also add weight to your shipment. Most shipping carriers charge based on the size and weight of a package, so it’s more cost-effective to keep your packaging as small and lightweight as possible. If you have different sizes of items, you may want to keep a few box sizes on hand. A good rule of thumb is that a box should always have 1.5 – 2″ on all sides, in order to protect the item and make the item eligible for insurance if needed. In addition, make sure to leave at least 2″ on top of the height of your object. Using a box that’s similar in size to your item(s) will also save you money by eliminating the need for excess package fillers.

Save money by purchasing boxes in bulk. You can find a large variety of boxes at Uline or eBay. USPS offers free Priority Mail & Priority Mail Express shipping boxes and envelopes that can be delivered to your door.

3. Filling and Cushioning

Protecting your items from damage through filling and cushioning, without spending a ton of money, is also important. Fragile items may require bubble wrap or packing peanuts, but durable items don’t require much padding. Even though it’s not specifically for packing, you can also recycle your newspaper and use it for filling and cushioning many items.

4. Label Printer

While many folks think an inkjet or laser printer is a less expensive option for shipping labels, we recommend a thermal label printer. These printers produce clear labels at higher speeds versus a laser or inkjet printer. Thermal label printers run a couple hundred dollars, or you can rent them for as little as a few dollars a week. Plus, with a thermal printer, you never have to worry about purchasing or running out of ink. Additionally, software like ShipStation offers the ability to batch create labels, which can literally save hours per day versus printing or handwriting labels one at a time.

5. Packaging Tape

Securing your shipment is important, and packing tape costs can add up. Discount retailers, and even the Dollar Store, offer quality packaging tape that works well.

6. Tape Measure

Depending on the shipping carrier, the size of your shipment box can determine all or part of the shipping cost. Use a tape measure to calculate your item dimensions, and fit them in the box closest in size to save money. Don’t forget to allow room for  packaging material.

Of course, all these physical tools assume you’re using software like ShipStation to sync your orders, create shipping labels, and update shipping information back to the customer and online sales channel. Once you add the tools and supplies above, you’ll get your shipping process working like a well-oiled machine. And you’ll save time and money, so that you can get back to what we think is the most awesome part of your company: the business of selling your products!