My adventures on the information superhighway...

This blog chronicles the activities of my Etsy and Artfire shops, and my adventures as both a jewelry designer and information specialist.

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Monday, October 24, 2011

Packing small items to beat Canada Post's 2cm rule

As a seller located in Canada I find it hard to be competitive with shipping costs. If your package exceeds 2cm in height you'll find yourself paying not $2.69 which is the light packet rate to the US, but rather $7.46 for small packet. That's a huge difference, especially when compared to what US sellers of similar items pay with USPS. In fact, it can often be more expensive to ship a package within Canada than it is to ship the same package to the US or overseas depending on which zones/cities you're shipping between. But there are ways to optimize your packaging in order to work the system a bit. Although this affects Canadian sellers of many different types of items, I would particularly like to address small, light items like jewelry since that is what I sell.

Most of my bracelets, necklaces and rings are too large to fit under 2cm, but it is possible to package earrings so that they can be safely mailed at a light packet rate. I started mailing my earrings by light packet last fall. I wrapped them securely in bubble wrap, being careful not to use too much, and placed them in padded mailers. This worked well for the most part until a customer contacted me about a broken earring. They were the resin flower type of clip on, which are thicker and more fragile than most of what I sell. I shipped her out a new pair immediately, and she was extremely happy with that.

But suddenly I had a moment of panic. How could I keep shipping my items this way when I knew that something had been broken? I searched the Etsy forums and talked to my Ohcanadateam teammates, and came up with another game plan. I started using small jewelry boxes - much smaller than those that I use for my bracelets - which are able to pass through Canada Post's slot of doom.

I put a bit of bubble wrap or tissue paper in the box along with cotton batting so that the earrings aren't jostled around too much and then I tape the sides shut.
The boxes measure approximately 18mm in height on their own. I now use small, unpadded manila envelopes that measure 23x15cm rather than a padded mailer, since the box alone is approaching the height limit. I place my Etsy receipt inside, folded in half, as well as my Little Bear's Mom thank you card. I then slip the taped jewelry box into an organza gift pouch along with my business card. All of that measures just under 2cm.

I used to tape the entire envelope in a grid pattern to keep the box from slipping out in case a hole was poked in the envelope, but recently I ordered some plastic address sleeves from Venture One, Canada Post's program for small businesses. It's free to join, and they have a variety of products, like address sleeves, that are free to members.

I always print my labels through paypal - it saves so much time waiting in line! And if you ever need to ship something Expedited Parcel you'll get a small business discount by doing so. This is especially useful if you ship within Canada as Expedited Parcel is actually less expensive than Regular Parcel.

I now just trim my pre-printed labels to fit in the plastic sleeve and affix the whole thing to the front of my manila envelopes. The plastic is slightly longer than the envelopes that I use so I fold it over on one end making sure the entire address label is visible on the front. I then seal the flap, and tape a 2x3 grid on the back of the envelope with packing tape. I stick an air mail sticker on both the front and the back (also free through Venture One), take a picture for my records, and pop it in a letterbox. This is so much quicker and more efficient than what I was doing before, and a lot more worry-free.

This would work well for anyone selling smaller items, whether they are jewelry, or something else. I've also received hand knit items from Canadian sellers that were mailed at the light packet rate because they were packaged inside vacuum pack bags inside manila envelopes.

Here's hoping that this post is helpful! How do you package your handmade items?
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