ECommerce 101: Preparing a Shipment
As a growing eCommerce business, you are likely already aware of the importance of the shipping process. You need to keep your costs low while ensuring that your customer gets their order safely, timely, and without a hassle. It’s absolutely essential that your customers are satisfied with their shipping experience because a whopping 51% will never do business with a company again after a single poor encounter. Shop4Mailers are experts in shipping bags and successful shipping experiences, and we are here to pass along the basics. You will learn how to package your orders, correctly fill out shipping labels, determine whether insurance and tracking are right for you, and how to get your package to the carrier.
How to Select the Right Size Shipping Bag
Research studies have shown that a small shipping bag package, like a poly bag, is dropped, tossed, and passed around twenty-seven times or more on a single one-way shipment. Many shipping companies utilize automatic sorting machines, and if you’ve packaged your items in an ill-fitted poly bag, you risk your package getting caught, lost, damaged, and delayed. It’s crucial to select the right size shipping bag to cut down on these risks, as incorrectly filled out shipping labels and poor packaging are some of the most common reasons for delayed or damaged packages. Your poly bag should be slightly bigger than your object, so you’re not overstretching the material to make it fit. Over-stretching compromises the strength of the poly bag, but don’t go too big with your shipping bag. Too much loose material could be caught or snagged in the machines. Poly bags are durable, but they will be destroyed if this happens.
- First, measure your item’s length, width, and height.
- Consider whether your item is fragile or not. If your item is rigid, like a t-shirt, you can select a poly bag that is the same dimensions as the object itself. This way, your shipping bag is full and does not have any loose material.
- On the other hand, if your item requires some padding, you need to account for extra space to allow for packaging material, also known as void fill. So select a poly bag that’s slightly larger than your items. The more delicate your object, the more void fill you will want, and therefore, the more space you need inside a shipping bag.
Shop4Mailers offers poly bags in a variety of colors, sizes, and thicknesses to ensure that you will always have the correct size shipping bag.
How to Package Your Poly Bag
Once you’ve selected the appropriate size shipping bag, you’re ready to package your customer’s order. Your goal here is to take up the least amount of space while ensuring that your items in the poly bag will make it to its destination safely and efficiently. One thing to consider when filling your poly bag is whether to use a clear bag in addition to the outer shipping bag. There are times that you should always use a clear bag. For example:
- Use a clear bag if you already have your inventory sorted into clear bags. Obviously, you will not waste time taking your items out of the clear bag to package it in a shipping bag.
- Use a clear bag if you are packaging a product that could get destroyed if it came into contact with water or tears, like a book or magazine. A clear bag offers an added layer of protection from the elements for peace of mind when you’re shipping.
- Use a clear bag if you are packaging items that contain liquids, like a bottle of perfume or essential oils. Placing your items in a clear bag protects additional items from being destroyed if your bottles break or damaging your shipping bag
- Use a clear bag if you want to appear super professional. Clear bags add an element of professionalism to your packaging. Customers enjoy unboxing their orders. So much so, that it’s now a popular trend on Instagram to record and upload “unboxing experiences.” Influencers share videos with their followers as a marketing tool. Additional internal packaging materials, like clear bags, can add to that experience.
Shop4Mailers offers clear bags in a variety of sizes. We also have the option of a clear bag printed with a suffocation warning. It’s worth noting that some fulfillment sites, like Amazon, have requirements when it comes to packaging with clear bags. After determining whether or not the use of a clear bag is beneficial to your unique shipping needs, its a matter of placing your item in a correctly fitting poly bag, filling the extra space, closing the poly bag with its convenient self-sealing strip, and applying your shipping label. Now let’s dive into filling out shipping labels.
Correctly Labeling your Shipping Labels
Correctly filling out your shipping label is another key element of a successful shipping experience. You can have the most perfectly fitting poly bag complete with clear bags and packaging crinkles. But if the carrier doesn’t have the information they need clearly available on a shipping label, your package can’t be delivered. You can write directly on a poly bag with a permanent marker, but it can appear more professional to use personalized shipping labels, like a 30-Up shipping label. Regardless of what kind of shipping label you’re writing or printing your customer’s information on, the required information is:
- Line one: Customer’s full name
- Line two: Customer’s street address or post office box number. Abbreviations of certain words like North, or road are acceptable, but USPS encourages people to write out words in their entirety. Include an apartment, suite, or room number on this line as well.
- Line three: Customer’s city, state, and zipcode
This information is put in the center of your shipping bag. On the top left corner of your poly bag, carriers require you to include your return address. Customized 30-Up shipping labels printed with your return shipping information can be helpful to speed up this step. Use the same format as above for your information. Some tips from the post office to ensure your poly bags are delivered without delay are:
- Make sure you are writing legibly on your shipping label.
- Avoid writing your shipping labels in red ink.
- Print your shipping labels if possible.
Once you’ve correctly filled out your shipping label, you’re ready to put that shipping bag in the mail.
Do I Need Insurance for My Shipping Bag?
When you’ve packaged your clear bags in your shipping bag and carefully filled out your shipping label, you’ve done your best to make sure your products are protected. It can be very nerve-racking to let go of your package and trust that it will make it to your customer in the same condition you sent it. Adding insurance can give you peace of mind and protection for the journey from point A to point B. But when do you need it?
When we talk about protecting your products on their way to your customers, it’s important to note the difference between insurance and declared value.
- Insurance - Insurance gets added to your poly bag through your carrier, your eCommerce system (if you use one), or a third party. Insurance on your shipping bag typically covers any damage that could occur on its journey, and your package if it gets lost or stolen.
- Declared Value - Declared value is added with your carrier, and it can protect your items worth up to $50,000. However, it’s usually only available on certain kinds of items that are going to certain locations. It is not the same thing as insurance and does not cover anything before or after your carrier has the item in their possession.
So do you need insurance? When the total value of what you’re sending is under $100, there is no need; carriers already offer coverage. When you’re shipping bag contains pricier items or items that are priceless, it may be a good idea to protect your items with added insurance. If something does happen to your poly bag in the mail, it is your responsibility to handle the claim process. Do this as soon as possible, and have all the proof you can gather.
- Pictures of damage.
- Pictures of the shipping label.
- Tracking information.
- Proof of the value of your items.
- Proof of your insurance.
Whether you choose to add insurance to your shipping bag, or you decide to go without, you should account for the added cost of the insurance or the potentially lost and replaced items. Offset your pricing in your shipping fees or somewhere else, so you don’t end up in the red. If you opt for insurance, be diligent and know what your policy covers. It’s also a good idea to shop around and find the right coverage, and don’t be afraid to negotiate rates. When considering the amount you’re insuring, include the cost of packaging materials as well. The loss of your poly bags, clear bags, void fill, and shipping labels cost you money, too.
Do You Need Tracking on Your Poly Bag?
Now that you can make an informed decision about insurance, let’s talk about tracking your poly bags. Tracking uses a number printed on your shipping label to let both you and your customer know where the shipping bag is along its route from you to the customer. It’s important to have this information for insurance purposes. If you need to submit a claim to your insurance provider, you can provide the tracking details with the claim. More information is always better when submitting insurance claims. Even if you don’t opt for insurance, tracking is a good idea. Did you know that 90% of customers track their orders? Providing your customers with a means to locate their package is beneficial for three reasons:
- You can locate your package if you’re worried about it.
- Your customer has a sense of security and trust.
- You will receive fewer inquiries from anxious customers as they await the arrival of their package.
Getting Your Shipping Bag to the Carrier
You’ve prepared your shipping bag, made all the decisions regarding tracking and insurance, now the last step is to physically get your package to your carrier. You can drop off your shipping bag, or you can schedule a pickup. Scheduling a pickup is fairly easy with USPS, UPS, and FedEx. Some carriers require that you make an account with them first, then schedule a pickup online or by phone.
USPS Shipping Steps
- Visit USPS.com to schedule a pickup.
- Fill out your pickup location to check availability.
- Answer the prompts and select “Schedule a Pickup.”
UPS Shipping Steps
- Visit UPS.com to create an account and then schedule a pickup.
- Follow the prompts and enter your payment information.
- Press “Complete” and you’re all set.
- Call 1-800-742-5877
- Let them know:
- Type of postage
- Dimensions and weight of the package
- Pickup location, date, and time
- Notification preferences
FedEx Shipping Steps
- Go to FedEx.com to create an account and schedule your pickup.
- Fill in the prompts.
- Choose preferences on notifications.
- Click “Schedule a Pickup.”
Correctly filling out your shipping labels is essential to a delivery without delays, so whether you are having your shipping bags picked up, or you’re dropping them off, be sure to verify the information. Pickup options are not free, but you will have to decide if the convenience is worth it to you. You can build the pricing into your business model somewhere - like the shipping fees. Or you can plan on dropping your packages off on your own.
Your eCommerce Shipping Partners
At Shop4Mailers, we are passionate about helping eCommerce business owners master the successful shipping experience. There are many factors and variables to consider, but it’s essential to prepare so that you can offer your customers the greatest experience and keep them coming back. We’re committed to great customer service, and we have all the products you need in order to get your shipping process started on the right foot. We suggest poly bags for your shipping bags whenever possible, to protect your orders while being economical. Complete your packaging with clear bags for each item, and customized shipping labels to continue your professionalism and branding on the outside of your package.