How To Ship Ceramics And Other Fragile Products
When it comes to a business and making products, you might have forgotten about shipping. During this day and age of everything being online, you have to get with the times and be ready to ship. It isn't hard to ship products but you might want a few tips before you get started. We will briefly cover where to look for supplies to ship with and a few tips on how to wrap your products.
When it comes to supplies I like to save money and I bet you do to. So the best place to get boxes and padded envelopes is from USPS.com. They provide free shipping supplies in expectation that you will use them to mail through their Priority Mail Service. Go there and order a few different box sizes to try for your products and some padded enveloped too. Remember this is to ship using Priority Mail ONLY! If you try to ship with a branded Priority package using their first class mail service, they will hold it and not ship it out just because the box says "Priority Mail". But UPS doesn't care if it is in one of the post offices boxes, they just want your business. Eventually you can go to other places to buy boxes once you can afford that expense and I think UPS and FedEx have a similar program for free supplies that are branded.
Now when it comes to bubble wrap or packaging supplies I have a few notes. Bubble wrap gets the job done and it does a good job. Make sure you don't buy bubble wrap off of Ebay or Amazon because it isn't good quality most times. I choose the 700ft small bubbles 12" wide for a good all around package wrap / filler. I always recommend hunting down a local supplier to buy from because they will have good quality at a good price and it won't need to be shipped. Other wise you might be able to use a place like ULine (never used them and I am not recommending but simply suggesting).
I want to talk about my favorite package wrap option. That is paper! It is heavier and more difficult to come by but it is eco friendly and does great at protecting things. You can go shop somewhere like EcoEnclose for all kinds of cool ecofriendly shipping supplies. I normally just get the 1200' roll of 40 weight void fill paper. But my favorite product is the green wrap by Ranpak! Oh and don't forget to get some of the unbranded water activated tape they have. I love that stuff and it last for years despite it being more timely to apply water to the tape. The padded mailers are sweet to. Please check it out and try a few things (they do free samples if you'll pay shipping). Because it is more pricey and apparently none of our customers have shown they care about the eco friendly stuff, I mix bubble wrap and paper void fill now and until further notice.
Ok, supplies are covered. Now we need to talk about the actual packaging of the products. The key point to remember is to make sure you have securely wrapped your product. It is better to over wrap a package and have it arrive safely then to under wrap it and have it arrive broken. Because lets be honest, packages don't get handled with enough care. I have only had a couple of things arrive broken. The only time I actually remember having something brake is when I first started shipping a new bulky bong.
So the way I like to lay out a package is by laying two to three pieces of the small bubble wrap on the bottom and sometimes even a little paper if I have excess space. Then I wrap my piece so well that I can't see the product very well through the bubble wrap. I put it into the box and then I surround the piece with either paper wrap or again, two to three layers of bubble wrap on the walls of the box. Top it off filling the box to the top. Of course tape it before you fill it up and then tape it again once it's filled up.
For padded envelopes, it is pretty straight forward. Do not put really fragile things in these. I do put pipes in padded envelopes because they are compact and plenty strong to handle being thrown around. If I can squeeze the wrapped piece and I don't really feel the pipe much, then I have added enough wrap. But you also can only wrap it so much before it won't fit the small envelope. Seal it up and your good to go to the label.
To finish off, you want to make sure that your labels are done and printed at home. This will save you lots of time at the post office and possibly other places. So you can use USPS.com just like we did to get the free boxes (an account is needed). You can ship through Etsy as an option. If you have a website then whoever you pay for that through should have shipping options built in and automatically enter the shipping information. Sometimes that is also cheaper then going to USPS.com, plus it saves time.
Just take care of that, have some shipping labels with sticky backs so then you just print, peel, and stick on your package.
The last thing I will mention, is that when you are packaging your items add something to the package. That might be a note written on an index card or the backside of a business card. Writing a thank you note really personalizes things and everyone likes that. I wish I did it sooner. Stickers are fun but cost money and aren't necessary. Most things will be thrown away so if you do send something other then the note, maybe add a coupon code on it so they save it. It is a game that you'll have to play and experiment with. Thanks for reading and I hope that helped.