Updated: Jul 8, 2022
Have you ever purchased something from an online site and been less than impressed when it arrived? I can remember quite a few packages I’ve received from eBay where the seller squished the item in the smallest bag possible to save on shipping.
That might get the job done but it is definitely not the look you want for your small business.
When I first started selling on Etsy, I was so intimidated by shipping. I have a Birthday cake candle with gorgeous, whipped topping and I can remember the first order I got I said “Yeah! Umm how do I ship this?!!!”
Major problem!! I went to the post office and the nice woman helped me package it by covering it with a plastic cup!!
I bet you can guess how that went. The customer received a broken mess! How embarrassing. I immediately refunded her money and sent a 2nd candle. Thankfully she was understanding, but I lost money on that order for shipping twice.
Etsy is a great place to start for this reason. The first orders you will get on Etsy are friends and family. this gives you time to practice shipping and packaging.
I wanted to make a blog post with some basic shipping and packaging tips for small businesses who are just starting out.
The first thing you want to do is create a post office account online. Go to usps.com and create an account.usps.com
They will give you a tons of boxes for free! After you create the account go to their store and pick out shipping boxes and bags.
You can order as much as you want, and it is all free. The reason is they expect you to use these materials to ship so they will get paid when you ship.
I suggest an order that contains padded envelopes, flat envelope, small, medium and large boxes all priority mail. The cheapest shipping I have found is flat rate priority mail.
These boxes will arrive in about 2 weeks so make sure you order as soon as possible.
In the meantime, save all of the packaging you are receiving. Peanuts, airbags, bubble wrap and cardboard will all come in handy. As you are setting up your business or ordering from Amazon, whatever. watch how they send packages and keep their supplies.
A side note, usps.com is a great resource because they offer package pick up too! When you create an account take a look around on their site. They have a quick button called request a pickup. USPS will come to your house and get the packages. Save a trip to the post office. is a great resource because they offer package pick up too! When you create an account take a look around on their site. They have a quick button called request a pickup. USPS will come to your house and get the packages. Save a trip to the post office.usps.com is a great resource because they offer package pick up too! When you create ur account take a look around on their site. They have a quick button called request a pick up. USPS will come to ur house and get ur packages. Save a trip to the post office.
There is one more item I use to ship packages. Self-adhesive photo paper. I purchase and print shipping labels from home. I think this is a great deal for sticky printer paper Currently 100 sheets for $16. If you are trying to save money the post office will print for free. I just use these papers for other projects and would rather label and ship from home than deal with the harsh winter outside.
Now for the fun part. Decorative packaging.
Ribbon Sweets on Etsy is adorable
The first thing I want to talk about is ribbon. Ribbon is a fine addition to products, especially when you are just starting a business.
It is not very expensive per package but adds a very special touch that box stores don’t provide.
There are cute multipacks available at Walmart, Joann’s craft store selection is vast, and Etsy or Amazon can provide you with specific designs. My personal favorite is Ribbon Sweets. They supply us with bee design tweed ribbon and vintage silky velvet.
Unwrapping an item by pulling the ribbon just makes everyone feel special. Your customer will feel like a birthday celebration or Christmas.
Yoyo Bella Co.
Another inexpensive packaging addition is cellophane. These clean plastic bags protect products and give a satisfying crinkle when handled.
You can purchase cellophane in many sizes. You can also get shrink wrap. Place product in bag and aim a hair dryer or heat gun and the bag will shrink to tightly wrap around your product. This is a great way to protect bath bombs, toys and other items and only 11¢ per bag.
Ever classy, tissue paper is a cheap, easy statement. You can find solid color packs at any party aisle in Walmart, Hobby Lobby.
It is possible to find some design that matches the work. I enjoy wrapping our beeswax candles in a gold bee tissue paper that we have.
Tissue paper can be wrapped around product and secured with tape, company sticker, wax seal or pretty ribbon.
Speaking of company stickers, remember the adhesive paper we purchased to print our postal labels? This same paper can be used to create stickers when you are starting out.
Avery.comAvery.com has great Print at home options. Visit their website and choose ”print myself”. They will allow you to design a shape and print at home.
If you have something specific in mind like metallic stickers or clear stickers, you can certainly design them and have Avery ship them to you.
Avery.comAvery.com always offers 10% an order with code: CANDLESC10-K4M2, but please browse for even better discount.
Stickers are great to label products, add to packaging little designs, or throw one in with your product that has your business name or a fun design.
Thank You Card
Etsy will advise you to add a thank you card to each order and with good reason. The difference between a person going to Walmart to purchase something and instead choosing you should feel like a whole mood. Walmart has instant gratification; with Walmart your customer can enjoy an item immediately.
So, it’s important to distinguish your product by making it more valuable and worth waiting for it to ship.
Avery has a great template for post cards. When your company is small you can print one when you get an order. Use the photo paper that we mentioned previously.
Avery will also print and ship 150 thank you cards for about $20.
Thank you cards are great to add care instructions for your product or maybe a discount code for future orders.
They should be memorable and pretty.
If your product requires a box, I highly suggest looking at bakery boxes on Amazon.
They usually run about 60¢ each and come in multiple colors.
We get a lot of complements on our black single cupcake boxes.
We also use 4 pack cupcake boxes with confetti to ship.
The 4 pack cupcake boxes are 6” x 6” x 3”. This is the largest box that will fit in a padded envelope from usps.
Crinkle Cut Paper (Confetti)
I can’t get by without some crinkle cut paper. It comes in matte paper colors or added shiny colors for an extra charge. The glisten is totally worth the price. Crinkle Cut Paper protects the product and offers sparkle to the box.
Just placing a product in crinkle cut paper, a gift box and adding a ribbon is enough to set yourself apart from regular stores.
When I started my candle company I went to Etsy and read reviews of other company's customers to see what they loved.
I have never forgotten the customer who said she ordered a cactus candle and received a cactus candle, in a cactus package with a cactus handwritten notecard. She was blown away at the level of care she received.
That is a customer for life!