Selling and shipping physical media is usually pretty straightforward. However, talk to any record sellers and you quickly know which one requires the most care. Knowing how to ship vinyl records is a skill that every record store, dealer, or label has to learn. They require a little bit more care than other media do. But, with the right packing and labeling, you and your customers can rest easy knowing that their records will arrive in pristine condition with no warps or dented corners. Nobody wants to receive a new or near mint record, pull it out of the mailer, and see that it is dinged up, warped, or scratched. This can hurt a sale, your seller rating, and, of course, the record itself!
How to Pack Vinyl Records Safely
The Cheapest Way to Ship Vinyl Records
When it comes to shipping records, or any other type of applicable media, USPS Media Mail is giong to be the standard option. It’s more affordable than the same parcel would be with First Class Mail or Priority Mail. However, it may take a few days longer to make final delivery. Generally, Media Mail takes 2–8 days to reach its destination. This is not to say that Media Mail is any less trustworthy than other USPS services—it simply allows lower shipping rates for approved books, music, and video/film items. While Media Mail was originally conceived as “Book Mail” in 1938 as a way to encourage the spread of educational materials, record sellers can still take advantage of it to ship a Monster Mash single.
Does Media Mail Offer Insurance?
One way Media Mail keeps costs low is by not offering any native coverage. This means that the USPS will not compensate for damages. This is compounded by the fact that unlike other services, the USPS can inspect Media Mail parcels without a warrant. So, unlike other USPS services, postal workers may tear into your packaging to make sure that there’s no unauthorized materials. And they may have less regard for the package’s contents when they repackage it than most record dealers or enthusiasts would.
HOWEVER! You can add coverage or insurance to your Media Mail package for additional costs. USPS insurance starts at $2.05 for the first $100 of coverage on an item and increases about $0.50 per increment of $100 beyond that. If you are shipping a large volume of packages, though, you may want to consider a third-party insurance provider like Shipsurance. They don’t have the base amount of $2 and instead only charge $0.99 per increment of $100 for domestic USPS shipments.
Priority Mail, UPS, or Fedex: When to Not Ship Vinyl Records With Media Mail
There will be times that Media Mail won’t work. As with anything else, more expensive items may need additional care. For instance, you may be shipping a rare, out-of-print record that needs to ship with an express service and signature confirmation.
Shipping Vinyl Records with USPS Priority Mail or First Class
When you ship records that need to arrive soon, Media Mail may not be the best bet. First Class Mail takes 2–5 days to reach its destination. Additionally, First Class Mail is only available for parcels weighing up to 16 oz. If you want the next quickest option or you are shipping a couple of records in a single mailer, you should consider Priority Mail. It usually only takes 1–3 days to arrive and comes with $50 of coverage—unlike First Class and Media Mail which come with no coverage.
Shipping Vinyl Records With UPS or FedEx
Someone may want a record RIGHT NOW. If it’s a really collectible record, of course a collector will want it in their hands as soon as possible. So if someone wants to shell out for next-day or two-day shipping, FedEx and UPS offer much better day-definite express shipping services than USPS. However, this is only one of the reasons you’d want to use these carriers.
While USPS has good rates for lightweight parcels, FedEx and UPS start offering comparatively good rates for shipments at around 4 lbs. So, if you’re shipping a stack of records, you may find that USPS is no longer the most affordable carrier. This is especially true for long-distance deliveries. If you’re shipping to a different part of the country, FedEx and UPS really come into play. Additionally, FedEx and UPS include coverage for parcels valued at $100 instead of Priority Mail’s $50 coverage.
How ShipStation Helps Ship Vinyl Records
Discounted Shipping Rates
While Media Mail rates are consistently low for anyone, you will find times that you need discounts on services like USPS Priority Mail or UPS Ground. Luckily, ShipStation Carrier Services offers discounts on a wide range of carrier services. You’ll save 84% on Priority Mail and as much as 86% off daily rates for UPS. You can also ship internationally with discounted DHL shipping rates.
Sign up for a free 30-day trial of ShipStation to start saving time and money on your shipping!
Branded Emails and Tracking
When you sell someone a record, they want to make sure that they will receive the record safely and quickly. With ShipStation, you can create top-quality email templates that can easily set you apart from the competition. With item information, custom branding, and a branded tracking page, buyers can be in the loop and feel confident that you have done everything they’d expect from a quality record seller or label.
Nobody wants to deal with returns—especially for something as personal as a record. So, taking as much pain out of the process can make the process as simple as possible for you and your customers. With a range of options from outbound return labels to a returns portal, you can streamline the return process for you and your customers.
ShipStation Has Helped Many Record Companies Simplify Fulfillment
ShipStation caters to many businesses. From record companies, to record stores, to large distributors, many in the music industry trust ShipStation as their shipping platform. Vinyl Moon is just one of the many independent record companies and record stores that have seen the benefit of ShipStation. Partnering with Amoeba Records, they ship out 3,500–4,000+ records a month. And ShipStation’s automated workflows have helped them scale along the way.
“I remember first getting into ShipStation and feeling like it was overkill, coming from the sort of limited functionality of my old program. It was overwhelming. Fast forward a couple of years, though, and now, I’m ready for even more functionality.” -Brandon Bogajewicz, Vinyl Moon