How to package your Flowers
Packaging your flowers is not as scary as you'd think, I see a lot of folks that complicate this part by building frames, taping, and wiring the bouquet every which way to be sure that it does not move at all. You can definitely do it this way if it gives you piece of mind, but I'm here to tell you that you can package your bouquet with less material, less time and still have that beauty arrive flawlessly. Here are my top tips for a successful trip.
Calculating shipping costs can be a little hit or miss the first few times, but once you have a few under your belt it will be super easy to give better estimates to your clients in the future. I personally use Etsy's shipping service to ship all of my orders. When using the Etsy print from home labels you get to save a little bit of mullah!! (Gosh knows we can all get behind that.)
When using Etsy's shipping program you end up saving up to 30% on your shipping rates. They also have a built in estimation system that will help you calculate shipping for individual items that you have listed. (You must purchase the label and print it out at home to reap the benefits of this one, if you take it to the post office to ship you will pay full price.) If you use this feature, I would suggest using boxes of the same size for each type of item so that you can easily calculate size and weight when you add new items that fit into each different sized box.
For example: I use a 10x10x10 inch box for a bouquet that measures about 8.5 inches wide and 9.5 inches tall. This typically weighs 1 lb 8 oz. and is approximately $10 to ship 2-3 day priority so I charge my client $13 to cover the cost of shipping and handling (time and materials).
Attached is Etsy's shipping calculator (Showing both postal service prices and Etsy discounted prices):
I would suggest picking a zip code that is on the other side of the country and plugging in different weights and sizes of boxes. Write them all down and use this as your guide to how much you should charge. Be sure to add your handling fee to the estimated shipping cost before you add it to your shipping profiles on your etsy listings.
My typical box sizes and 2-3 day shipping (6-10 day international) prices are as follows:
10x10x10-single bouquet (about $13 domestic, $25 international)
14-14-14- three to six bouquets (about $50 domestic, $60 international )
18-18-18 - eight to ten bouquets (about $80 domestic, $95 international)
When using Etsy's shipping program to purchase shipping labels you will not pay for them right away. The amount of the shipping label will be added to your monthly Etsy bill. If for some reason you have underestimated the cost of the label when your client has purchased you will be solely responsible for the extra charges (Etsy will not charge your client the overcharge). There is however a feature that allows you to refund money to your client if you have overcharged on shipping. (When in doubt, over estimate a little on shipping and know that you can always send a refund to your client if for some reason shipping is much less than you had anticipated.)
Shipping large orders
When shipping large orders your shipping costs can climb fairly quickly. To most clients this price is not ideal as they likely just purchased quite a large amount from you resulting in quite a high ticket price. I suggest breaking the large order into smaller boxes to get the best price possible. If you are shipping items that can be taken apart and delivered with "Some assembly required" such as bouquets that come in vases (ship them separately to utilize the most space possible in the box). USPS will limit the size of box you can use so if it's over 40 inches in girth you will have to use a carrier like FedEx or UPS. Their prices are much higher and you could end up paying well over $200 for a box of about 18x18x35 for 2-3 day shipping. (Of course I believe that this may include insurance and they are much better at taking responsibility of lost and damaged items, don't quote me on this one though. Just be sure to ask what the price covers.)
I don't have much experience with other carriers as I tend to use USPS unless requested to use another carrier by my client.
All about Insurance
Always, I repeat Always get the extra shipping! When you are shipping through Etsy's shipping program you not only save money but you also have the options to purchase shipping insurance. This extra fee of $1-$3 is so worth it. Etsy uses a company at the moment called Shipsurance, this company has nothing to do with USPS (which can be a nightmare to deal with when it comes to damaged items, especially international shipping). Shipsurance has saved my booty a few times with both lost and damaged packages.
They have super simple instructions to follow that involve you and your client to ensure that you get the money you deserve refunded to you to either remake the items or to refund the purchase amount. When it comes to sending out items this is not a risk I am willing to take.
What to do when something goes wrong
Ok now that we have covered all the gritty details of how to package and pay to ship your beautiful items, lets talk about what to do when the unspeakable happens.
Damaged Package: Your client receives a damaged package, what do you do?
I must add that it is very uncommon for packages to get lost or damaged in the mail. It does happen so I want you to be prepared for it but just know that the percentage is very low. In my 7 years of doing this I have only had one lost package and 4 damaged packages out of the over 1,000 boxes that I have shipped out to date.
If you have any top tips that you just can't do without, please feel free to leave them in the comments below! Every tip helps no matter how small when we are here to help each other out!
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