Category Archives: Shipping

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.

Saving money on shipping – one of our biggest expenses

One of the biggest expenses that we have in our business is shipping. Between the boxes, the packing material, and the postage, a lot of our profits were leaving before we even saw them. I have learned a lot of ways to make things cheaper since we started buying bubbles and boxes at Walmart and shipping at the desk at the Post Office.

The first thing that I usually like to tell people about when I learn that they sell things from their home is Stamps.com. I was very frustrated getting started in this business because I was spending a fortune on shipping. I tried comparing UPS to USPS, but it seemed like the Post Office was cheaper. While I was researching ways to save money on shipping, I found Stamps.com. I was immediately impressed. The thing that I enjoy the most is the free delivery confirmation. Each time I sell something on Amazon or Ebay, I had to pay for delivery confirmation. At $0.85 a piece, it was cutting into our profits quite a bit. We sell on average right now between 5-15 orders per day. That was $4.25 to $12.75 pr day in delivery confirmation fees alone. When we learned that Stamps.com was $15.99 a month, we knew that the cost was more than paid for by the delivery confirmation fees alone!

They also give you a discount on the price that you pay from shipping at the front counter at the Post Office. I have not run specific numbers to share, but I do know that the rate is significantly cheaper.

When I signed up, they gave me the option of a free 5lb shipping scale, or I could pay 25$ for a scale that could weigh up to 25lbs. I chose the larger scale, as I ship out Xbox 360’s and PS3 consoles. I recommend that if you are sourcing things at thrift stores and yard sales like we do, that you go for the larger scale. They have a four week free trial, and give you 5$ to start in free postage. You also get vouchers for $20 in free postage for use after your trial period ends.

The scale was very easy to setup, installed the software and plugged in the USB. We started by printing 4 labels to a page, and taping them onto our packages. It is a convenient way to start. Once we had gotten a little money back from starting out, we invested in a DYMO Label Writer 450 Twin Turbo label printer, 71 Labels Per Minute, Black/Silver (1752266)
printer. With their 3-part labels, it makes it very fast and convenient to print the labels with the tracking information at home.

The software allows you to do a lot of things that reduce the amount of time that we spend packing and shipping. You can buy your insurance, change your delivery options, and customize your return address. One of the best things about it is that you can perform batch imports. What that means is that you can link your Amazon and Ebay accounts directly to Stamps.com, and they will import all of your orders at once. You pack the item, place it on the scale, and click the weigh button. Then it calculates the amount of shipping that is required, allows you to choose the shipping option that is best for you, and even allows you to hide the amount of shipping that you paid! Once all of the items are weighed, click print and all the labels come out at once. Then you can print a single form, called a batch form. The Post Office scans this form, counts your packages to make sure that they are all there, and you are done!

I know this sounds a little like a commercial, but this service has saved us hundreds of dollars this year alone. There are a few things that could use some improvement.

Sometimes the batch form does not print. Not sure why, but that means that you need to have every item scanned individually at the post office. Not a huge deal, but kind of annoying.

Some addresses won’t play nice with the software. Again, it doesn’t happen very often, but when it does it can be frustrating.

Overall, I think that using this service is one of the smartest things that we have done so far as far as saving us money on our costs. I encourage everyone that is doing this business to at least use the trial period. If you ship more than 18 orders a month, you will break even on the confirmation costs alone. The discount on the postage is pure profit! Not to mention the time that you save. In my opinion, scaling is very important. Scaling is the ability to handle an increase in orders. The more orders you can handle quickly and efficiently, the more time you spend managing your business instead of it managing you. Hope you enjoyed the tips. Let me know what you think of this article or anything else you would like to know about. Mail us!