Three Quick Wins to Improve Your Shipping Process

I’ve been running my shop, City of Industry, for over six years now, and one of my favorite parts is packing up orders and sending them out in the world.

It’s such a rewarding part of the process: I see where my products are headed, I try to present them as nicely as I can, and it’s just about as close as I come to interacting with a real person in my online shop.

The trouble with doing this thing for several years is that some details have started to slip. It’s nothing unexpected or catastrophic, just a symptom of the passage of time. Maybe your shipping process could use a little tune-up too? This week, I’m dedicating some time to get things back into ship-shape. I’m starting with making sure that my costs are covered.

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Update shipping prices

I generally use USPS to send out packages, and these days their prices increase slightly about once a year.

I haven’t adjusted the prices on my website to account for this increase in two years.

It’s not a huge deal, but currently each order’s shipping price is a few cents shy of the actual cost of postage. That means I’m losing a little piece of my profits to shipping on every order AND that the shipping price doesn’t begin to cover the cost of boxes, envelopes, and other materials.

Time requirement: 10 minutes

Process: Bulk editing my products in my Big Cartel shop admin to update the shipping prices. I have about 100 products in my shop, but luckily, the majority of them (all individual pins and patches) have about the same weight and package size, so I only needed to confirm a couple of USPS rates, add in a little cushion so packaging materials are covered, and I can update the new prices pretty quickly.

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Order stickers for packages

To add a little fun and color to my shipments, I created a sticker that went on the outside of each order. I ran out a few months ago and honestly just didn’t make it a priority to reorder them. They are a fun detail, though, so I plan to slightly update the design and stock up.

Time requirement: 15 minutes

Process: Because this is a reorder, I’ve already created an account with a sticker vendor, and decided on the style, shape, and size. If I were creating a sticker for the first time, I’d probably look at other stickers I like, create a mockup, and go a little more in detail. This time around I’m just adding a new detail (my business name - I’m kicking myself for not including that no-brainer on the first round of stickers!) to my existing design and ordering the same product I got before. One other change: I’m getting the stickers on separate backing papers, rather than a roll, so they’re easier to also use as a giveaway item. Multiple uses!

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Design a promo for return customers

Right now I’m thinking a lot about how to encourage customers to come on back. I’ve been wanting to incentivize them, and I think a cute little card with a discount code might just be the ticket.

I’ll write a short sentence or two about what is special about my business (the inspiration behind it, and pointing out that it’s a woman-owned company) and a discount code that I don’t share publicly. Because I also have a physical presence, I’m trying to create marketing materials that work for both customers. A card like this could also be great to drop in to shopping bags to encourage in-person customers to become fans of the online shop as well.

Time requirement: 35 minutes

Process: I’ll starting by choosing the right size for the card - it’s easier for me to begin a design if I know what sort of space I’m working with. I have a few printers I like working with, so I can check for some standard sizes, compare prices, and make the decision. From there, it’s just a matter of choosing a fun photo of my products for one side of the card, figuring out the short and sweet copy, and setting up a discount code in my shop admin.

Shipping details are something I tend to ignore for a while. Prices are a “set it and forget it” sort of thing, and I get into a grove with what the packages include and don’t often assess if they make sense. My time feels like it’s at a premium, so I’m glad I could check in and do a bit of an overhaul, while clocking in less than an hour and keeping things manageable.

Sarah Anderson

Community at Big Cartel. Loud talker, maker at City of Industry. Semi-professional aunt. Pretty psyched about all of it.

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