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Friday, December 9, 2011

Packing With Care

Ok, so you've gotten your boxes and your packing materials. Now it's time to get that sold item safely delivered to your buyer. Nothing says "I care" quite like tossing an item in a box and taping it shut. So I like to step it up a bit and go the extra mile to show my buyer that I DO care if they are pleased with their item. There are as many different methods for packaging as there are sellers, but here are a few tips on how I package different items:
  • Clothing: I wrap clothing neatly in tissue paper and slide it into a polymailer. I squeeze all the air out and seal it shut. Super easy.
  • Books: Most paperback books I just drop into a polymailer. (So much for that extra mile, huh?) If it's got sharp corners or if it's a hard back, I either put it in a bubble mailer or I wrap it in bubble wrap and slide it into a polymailer. I don't sell a lot of books. Clearly.
  • Plush: If it's just a regular one (no hard parts or sound boxes), I put it in a polymailer. I would prefer to wrap them in tissue for nicer presentation, but plush isn't exactly easy to wrap in tissue, and I'm afraid my efforts would make it look sloppier than if I just leave it unwrapped. If it's got hard parts or a sound box, I put it in a polymailer and then in a shipping box.
  • Shoes: I slide my business card into one shoe (more on that later) and place that shoe 1/3 of the way over a large sheet of tissue paper. I fold the shorter end over that shoe, then place the other shoe next to the first shoe and fold the other end over all of it. I tape the tissue up and slide the shoes into a priority shoe box. Then I put some balled up newspaper in the end.
  • Breakables: If it's a hollow item (casserole, saucepan, bowl, mug), I fill it with packing peanuts. Then I wrap it in bubble wrap (usually at least twice around). If it's got a lid, I wrap it separately, then I tape the wrapped lid very tightly to the wrapped dish and wrap the whole thing once more. If it's multiples (more than one plate or mug), I wrap each individually, then tape them tightly together and wrap again. If it's nesting bowls, I wrap each individually (filling only the smallest with peanuts), nest them together, tape them very tightly together and wrap once more. I use a box that will give me 2" of space on all sides. I put packing peanuts in the box, then the item, then fill the rest of the way with packing peanuts. You want it packed tightly with peanuts so that there is NO movement in the box once it's taped shut.
  • Board games/Latch hook kits: These usually just slide into a flat priority box (medium flat rate or regional rate side-loading) with some newspaper or air pillows to fill the extra space.
I think that's the bulk of what I sell. I don't get into large breakables (lamps and similar items), so if you sell those things, please let us know in the comments how to pack them safely.

One last thing I like to do, just to add a nice professional touch. I have a business card with my contact information. I always include one of them in each package.

(I just blacked out my email so I don't get junk mail.) When I am notified that I've received a payment, I grab a card and fill in the date ordered, paid, and shipped. On the back, I jot down what they bought and write a "Thanks!" across the back. I also make a note of anything I need to remember for shipping. 99% of my items go priority mail, so I don't usually write anything. But if it's an extra large package that the buyer chose parcel post for, and it's too big of a difference for me to upgrade to priority (this happens alot with microwave turntables), I just write "parcel" in the corner. If it's an international shipment, I write "FCI" in the corner so I don't pack it in a priority box and have to repackage it.

I think this card is a nice touch. The hand-written "thanks!" shows them that I took an extra moment to thank them instead of just dumping their item into the bottom of a box. The dates section on the front shows them that if they paid 4 days after they ordered, and I shipped the same day, the delay was their fault, not mine. It shows them that I ship promptly, regardless of when they ordered and paid. It also gives them an easy way to contact me if there is a problem, and it helps them easily find me if they want to buy from me again.

What special touches do you like to add to your packages?

By the way, I know I've been promising a series on taxes, and I really will do that. The end of the year is coming, so it's definitely time. I'll get to it soon. Pinky promise!


  1. I pretty much do the same. Except that instead of tissue paper for clothing, I use those open-end baggies for bread. You can buy a box of about 100 from WM. They measure 10 x 14 (gallon size) and are perfect for many things, even plush. And they don't tear like tissue paper. A couple years ago, I bought a carton of 1000 polybags that are 12 x 15. They cost about 3-cents each so I use them sparingly, usually for larger and bulkier items like sweaters and plush. They should last me forever - or at least a very long time!

    As for breakables, the "secret" is NO movement, as you stated. Most things break in shipping because they move and bang around. Once I figured this out, I have not had ANY problems with breakage. You explained it very well and it's the same thing I do. It may cost more in packing materials, but so worth it not to have the headaches and disappointment of broken items.

    Books, same thing for me. However, I have sometimes used the PM or ExM cardboard envelopes to put a thin book into it & then slip that into a polymailer. Works great; and since the PM/EM envelope is still usable, I did not defraud the postal service.

    Right now, I usually include a slip of paper with my info and ask the buyer to contact me if they have a problem before leaving a low rating. But I like your idea of a business card and am going to look into that. Great post ... thanks for sharing!

  2. How do you package the microwave turntables? Thanks for all the great information. I primarily ship books. In the begning I had some hardbacks not make it to the buyer well in a bubble mailer, so we wrap fluted cardboard around then before putting them in the envelopes. Media Mail can be really rough on the packages, so boxes are best for large heavy books. I like to write thanks on the package near the seal.

  3. I wrap my turntables twice in bubble wrap. I bought some 16x16x6 and 18x18x6 boxes. I put some packing peanuts in the bottom, then the turntable, then fill the rest tightly with packing peanuts. I've shipped over 40 turntables and have never had one arrive broken.

  4. Jessica, do you buy your boxes for turntables?

  5. Lisa, yes I do. I built them for awhile, but it was taking me so long. I decided that was an expense that was absolutely worth it! I have a template for building a turntable box though, if you're interested. I'll add it to its own post...