Category Archives: Packaging

Shrink Your Time & Cost

Packaging  can sometimes be time consuming and costly.

TimeMoney

In some cases, Time = Money. Money you could be making in the time it takes you hours to package up individual items to be shipped to FBA or any where. There are some who will slap a bar code sticker on the back of a book or game and toss it into a box to be shipped “as is” to the warehouse or even directly to their customers.That little bit of time they save by being careless, only comes back around sometimes… costing them more time and money.

What’s wrong with that? Nothing.

Well, nothing to you if you don’t care about your items being returned & received damaged, customers requesting more frequently refunds due to damage, and the quality of service you can provide for your customers satisfaction…oh, and there’s the negative or neutral feedback you could receive that could damage your reputation.

Think about it…your new or very good book, gets handled by someone before you. Then by you. Then by the unpackers at the warehouse. Then probably placed in storage…or even on a conveyor belt. Then handled again by the guy placing into yet another box to be shipped to the customer. Then finally by the customer. Mmm… I wonder what condition it was received in?

Oh it’s a small price to pay , you may say…worth not having to spend hours packing. That small price adds up over time. Pennies become dollars. That negative feedback adds up too. I have seen a book store’s reputation that was 100% fall to 90% on Amazon in a year. So, you say…it’s still 90 %!

Well, believe it or not, I had a customer tell me that the reason she was willing to pay a dollar fifty extra in cost … because our reputation was 100% and the last book she bought from us was shrink wrapped. She said she knew the next book would be care for and preserved in the same way.

Yes, Shrink wrapped. Oh, it only took us mere seconds to place her book into a pre-sized bag and seal it with our sealer. A dollar fifty more profit for a few seconds of caring. The feedback she left increased reputation and made us personally smile. Also, she was a return customer!

“….careful packing that justifies the price…A+Thx.”

Shrink wrap is not as expensive as you may think in the long run. Especially if you buy it in bulk and in sizes that are common. A penny or two a bag usually. It pays for itself.

shrink2-1A sealer can cost you, but it pays off in the long run. You can even find them on Amazon or eBay…sometimes even on Craigslist cheap. In most cases, you don’t even need a sealer. Just a sticker or a clear piece of tape will do. Sealers cut time with scissors and just makes your product look neater. You could use a blow dryer to shrink games and hardback items…or simply leave paperbacks and bendable items looser in the bag without hitting it with the heat.shrink1-1

Not only can you help ensure better shipping and handling when using shrink wrap, but you can make an item that was in just “good” condition to almost “like new” or “very good”. This means you can price higher. Taking a few seconds to shrink wrap some game pieces or cards…and the game box itself can improve the quality and increase your profit. Honestly, who wouldn’t want their game to look in great shape when they get it instead of spread out loose and bent up cards that got shifted and bent during shipping?

How am I shrinking my time if I am taking time to wrap items like this?

Well, lets see… It’s less of your time dealing with customers messages if you don’t have complaints. Less time trying to build up good feedback to cover bad feedback. Less time figuring out if your item is worth paying for the return cost and then waiting for it. Less time & money than saran wrap or in somecases ziplock bags and bubble wrapping….dealing with tape & scissors. Less time & money packing materials needed to pad boxes for shipments. AND…if your like me who cares perhaps too much about my customers satisfaction, …Less time worring about the quality of your products and the condition they are received in.

changeShrink wrapping our products is definitely shrinking our cost & time. It’s a pretty site and definitely will make you some pretty pennies & positive feedback  in the long run.

 

 

 

How to pack board games for Fulfillment By Amazon (FBA)

We sell a lot of board games through our site, www.amazon.com/shops/amusingtreasures.  We also use Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA), which allows us to have Amazon ship out our games, and handle the customer service on the orders.  When you use FBA, you have to pack the items and label them with a unique barcode.  Then you ship them to their warehouses, and Amazon stores them and ships them out from there when the order comes in.  There are a couple of things to keep in mind when preparing board games for FBA.

1)      Condition.  The guidelines for the board game category can be found here. http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=200143590#everything_else The important thing to note here is that a “Like New” product should show no signs of wear.  Make sure that you do a thorough inspection.  List all damage, and include all pieces.  If the instructions are missing, there is a good chance that you can find them online.

 2)      Preparation.  It does not do any good to find a New or Like New game, and send it in to Amazon only to have it get all beat up or damaged in the warehouse.  Another thing to think about is the labeling requirements.  Many of the games are collectors’ items, and serious collectors do not like having stickers on the packaging.  Here are our recommendations, based on experience.

 a.       Cleaning.  If you source in Goodwills, thrift shops, yard sales, or storage auctions, then the games might not be ready for resale yet.  Give them a wipe down with a cloth or paper towel to remove the dust.  If they have grease pencil marks on them (pricing from Goodwill or Yard sales), use a dry Magic Eraser to take them off easily.  If it has stickers that you do not want to stay, you can use a hair dryer on low to loosen the adhesive.  Then you can use your fingernails, or a Scotty Peeler, to gently remove the sticker.  Bestine, Goo-Gone, or another cleanser may be required to lift all the adhesive off.

b.      Place all of the individual components in their own bags.  I like to rubber band the cards (if any), but if they are flimsy I might not.  If it looks like the rubber band will bend or damage the cards, then I leave them loose in the bag.

c.       If the pieces are rattling around and you believe there is a chance of damage, then you can place a piece of foam or bubble wrap between the pieces and the board.

d.      When sealing the box, I prefer to use plastic wrap.  We bought a big roll of it from the shipping section of Wal-Mart, and just wrap the entire box.  We prefer not to tape the boxes shut, as some tape will rip the pictures/packaging when you try to remove it.

e.      Place your custom label over the UPC on the outside of the plastic wrap.  Make sure that the plastic wrap is taped into place or snugly wrapped so that it does not shift.  For FBA, all existing barcodes besides the one you create must be covered.

f.        Many board games are over-sized.  Make sure when you are generating your shipment to place them in the same shipments, to cut down on postage costs.       

 

3)      Shipping.  Once you have them prepared, place them in a box with adequate padding.  Ensure that if you stack them on top of each other, do not place a board game that is skinnier than the edges on top of another game.  If you have a game that is supporting another smaller game on top, there is a good chance that the box will bow in the center. 

That is it.  When you ensure that your games are packed well, it ensures that your customers are happy with the things that they order.   Make sure you show the same care with your listing, and people will love to buy from you.  If you have any questions, please contact us at amusingtreasures@gmail.com. 

Shipping our first oversize item!

If you would just like the lessons learned, you can skip the personal story by clicking here.

We just got done with our very first oversize item shipment. It was a pretty good learning experience, so I thought that I would share. I became interested in oversized items after reading a post on the Facebook group “ScanPower”. They were discussing buying oversized toys, because not a lot of people want to deal with the hassle. I am always willing to go out there a little bit to see what can be accomplished, so I figured I would keep my eye out.

At a garage sale, I saw a Playskool Kota My Triceratops Dinosaur. He was selling for $60, and when I looked him up on Amazon, I saw that he was selling for $400-$1200. Bingo! I bought him, brought him home. To learn more about the toy, check out our other article here. I listed him for $425, and assumed that if he sold I could just take him to the UPS store. They offer wrapping and shipping, and I figured it was a one stop shop kind of thing. So wrong!

About 2 weeks later, he sold for an adjusted price of $399.99 with $22.19 shipping. I had figured a shipping price of about $75-80, based on reading some other peoples posts. I don’t know where I got that number, but I was way off. I work during the day, so Holly was stuck trying to actually get this thing taken care of.

She called me at work, saying that it looked like we were going to make about $4 on this sale. As you can imagine, I was very surprised! She had taken it to UPS, and called other companies from there. Here are the numbers that we got quoted.

Here are the measurements: 32x24x52 (estimated from UPS), unpacked weight 40.9lbs

USPS – won’t take it due to the size
UPS – $266.60 for shipping, and $27.34 for packing
FEDEX – more than UPS

Yikes! A lot more than I had expected. So I started searching for pack and ship companies in our area. I found a company called Freightquote.com, at 1-800-323-5441 and signed up with them. Special thanks to Sarah (Customer Serice) at x1102, and Anna Hanson (Senior Account Manager) x1213 for their help in understanding what I needed to do. Holly, after watching the UPS girl try to stand the dino on it’s tail (a big no-no with animatronics), decided to pack it herself, with some help for a friend. In the meantime, we had been in contact with the customer who was asking if they could get it by Christmas. In Texas. We are in Virginia.

Holly gets it all wrapped up, with final measurements of 45Lx24Wx35H. We can’t get the final weight because our shipping scale only goes to 25lbs, and we can’t read the numbers on the house scale with it balanced on top. So we estimated 75lbs, knowing we would be over. I learned it is way better to be under your weight than over, as the company can charge you a 30$ fee if you are over. After exploring several different companies, and a couple of phone calls, Anna found us a shipping company that said they could do it if we dropped it off, and the customer picked it up. We talked to the customer, who said picking it up was fine. I emailed him directions from Google Maps from his house to the shipping center.

Total cost was $166.86 for the shipping, and about $20 for the boxes and shipping material.

So final breakdown:
Purchase price: $399.99
Shipping Cutomer paid: $22.19
Cost of Item: -$60.00
Amazon Fees: -$63.33
Packing Material: -20.00
Shipping: -$166.86
Total Profit: $111.19

Lessons Learned:
-UPS pack and ship does not really help with oversize items. Between the employee not really knowing what she was doing, and no guarantee or insurance being offered, either find another company or do it yourself.
-Using a freight company was much better than trying a major carrier for the oversized item. I was happy with the service at Freightquote.com, they were friendly and knowledgeable.
-Insurance is something that we need to look into more, the guys at the freight company where we dropped it off had no idea about insurance.
-Shipping is very expensive, make sure you account for that in your initial buying expense and in your pricing strategy.
-If shipping on a deadline, dropping it off yourself and having the customer pick it up at the carriers location will save you 3-4 days of transit time.
-Ensure that if you are estimating weight, that you go over rather than under. The dimensions are as important as the weight or more. By paying the extra $3-4 dollars by overestimating, we eliminated the chance to receive $30-50 dollars in penalties.

Brown is the New Green

Did you know that most grocery stores will give you brown paper bags if you ask for them? Most of the time, grocery stores even offer them for free as an alternative to plastic. Now a days, “Going Green” means “Going Brown”.

Brown paper bags are great cost efficient way of wrapping packages. Heck, in most places it’s absolutely free! The post office also prefers brown paper and usually wont accept random colored wrapped packages.

Now before you bash brown for it’s drab cheap appearance…some of the prettiest and playful packages I have ever wrapped have been from a plain old brown paper bags cut and flipped so that the printed side is faced down.

There are so many things you can do with a blank canvas like that. Stamp it, mark it, paint it, color it …heck even sticker it. The more creative you are with it, the more you amuse others who receive it. (And we all know that A muse ing = Smiles.) Adding a personal creative touch to your package shows you care. Not only that, its a cheap fun way to get a packaged wrapped and your recycling!

The post office will accept brown paper wrapped packages with touches of color.

So, don’t bash the brown. Brown is the new green and saves you some green $!

Fun Fillers for Free!

Everyone loves FREE stuff, right?

Why buy tissue paper, bubble wrap, wrapping paper and packing peanuts when you can fill your package for free in a fun way?

Fun Fetti:

Do you have a paper shredder? Paper makes a great filler. If you do, shred your old newspapers, cereal boxes, mail or even those pesky junk mail flyers and use it as fun soft filler for your packages. Mixing different shredding sizes also will help give your package a unique inner look. It’s like your package had a party!

 

 

Crinkle Cuts:

No shredder, no problem. Remember making paper fans as a child? Use a pair of scissors and cut your paper into thin or thick strips. Length and width doesn’t matter. Fold the paper back and forth creating a ripple effect. Toss it in your packages. Fun, fast…heck even the little ones can help with it.

 

Nifty Knots:

Paying for packing peanuts are in the past…people. Nifty knots are the new free cool way of filling packages.

Use those plastic bags that your groceries and clothing come in, as packing material. Rip or cut them into thick strips. Tie the strip into a loose knot or several loose knots depending on how long your strip is. If you make several knots, space them out and then cut between them to make them look like old fashion candy drops.Drop them in your package.The more colorful your plastic bags are, the more nifty your packages become.

These are just some of many ideas you can do to make your fillers fun and free. If you have other ideas or suggestions, please feel free to leave a comment below describing it or email us with your creative idea  and pictures so that we may share it with others.

Pack Outside the Box

Have you ever heard the expression “think outside the box”?

Try packing outside the box.

Did you know that you can bubble wrap unusual shaped or very large items several times and ship them at the post office, UPS or FED EX that way without placing it inside a box? It’s true.

Some people are stuck in the old tradition of packing inside a box. Bubble wrap can be a light cheap way of getting your item shipped and help prevent your package from being damaged at the same time.This can also save you some change on packaging, since cardboard adds to the weight of your item and buying cost of boxes.

Now, for breakable items or appliances, I would not suggest packing only in bubble wrap. Here’s a small list of items that I have packed or seen packed like this:

A sit n spin, big cloth dolls and hard baby dolls, a big metal pot & metal cook ware, a large toy car, a game controller, purses, shoes & boots, toy vacuum, a fishing pole, a toaster, fake plants, gift baskets, a car seat and so much more.

Q: Can’t you can see what I’m shipping through the bubble wrap?

A: No, not if you wrap it well or even use paper to wrap it first. Newspapers make for great packing material, is hard to see-through and is lighter than a box.

Bubble wrap that is bought in bulk is usually cheaper, There are several online places that you can search for the cheapest deals. Bubble wrap can also can be re-used from packages you receive as long as the air bubbles are still intact. If not…you can re use bubble wrap as a plastic wrap. Plastic makes for a good filler as well for packages.

You can also plastic wrap then brown paper items that you don’t have a box for. Brown paper is super cheap. The Dollar Store usually has rolls of brown paper for just a buck.Looking for free? Try your local grocery store for a pile of brown paper bags. Paper bags can be cut and used for wrapping and it’s also a form of recycling.We all know recycling is good.

So next time you can’t find the right size box…try packing outside the box.