How to Ship Fast, Safe & Cheap

Shipping isn’t the most glamorous aspect of running a jewelry business, designer Patricia Tschetter admits, but it’s something every successful designer has to deal with sooner or later — usually sooner. And there is no time more critical to have it figured out than the holiday season.

Tip 1: Choose your delivery service.
What service you use to ship has a lot to do with affordable and secure delivery. In many cases, you’re not only sending expensive items but handmade ones that represent hours of your labor. Not an easy replacement should something get lost in transit.

Your choice also has to do with what’s available where you live. Post offices in my urban neighborhood are a slog during the peak holiday season, with long lines and not enough staff at the counter. But I know some jewelry artists who swear by their local post office.

Safest, most reliable and cost-effective shipping method, jewelers tell me, is USPS registered mail. This is what Dallas-based designer Patricia Tschetter recommends after much trial and error, and comparing notes with fellow jewelers. For $25, USPS registered mail insures for up to $25,000 worth of merchandise which is more than adequate for most jewelry artists. Tschetter has occasionally shipped a $10,000 necklace but never exceeded that limit.

Tip 2: Have shipping materials at hand.
Whichever delivery service you use to ship your jewelry this holiday season, make sure you have plenty of forms and packaging on hand.

Sending packages as USPS registered mail requires certain materials, forms and procedures, but once you have it down, it can be done efficiently and largely at home. Sending packages overnight with USPS is a separate service from registered mail.

Stock up on forms and receipts. Figure out which forms you’ll need to fill out and then take some home with you. For registered mail, there are two green return receipts. The second is returned to you when the package is delivered, or you can go online and find use the tracking numbers. Another white form gives your address and the receiver’s address and also a slot to put the value of the merchandise. At the post office, they put the tracking number on your return receipt so it’s easy to follow. Tschetter grabs a bunch of both forms when she’s in the post office so she can fill them out before she gets there.

Buy paper packing tape at the post office. “The trick to sending packages by registered mail is that you have to use matte brown, reinforced paper tape to cover every seam, and not waxed brown paper tape or plastic packing tape,” Tschetter says. Postal workers need to be able to stamp onto the tape and the ink doesn’t stick to anything else, apparently.

Tschetter buys her tape from her local post office, which has even given her some free on occasion because she patronizes the service so much. I’ve also seen this tape on Amazon for less than $10, and sometimes on eBay as well. The tape’s adhesive is water activated and comes in bulky 10”-wide rolls.

Set up an assembly line. When she’s ready to ship, Tschetter sets up flat trays of water, cuts her tape into sections, presses it onto a sponge, then covers all box seams carefully. She says this takes her no time at all now and she’s become famous at her post office as “the perfect packer.” So she keeps them happy while making sure her packages arrive ship-shape. 
 

CATHLEEN MCCARTHY is a freelance writer whose stories appear in Town & Country, AmericanStyle, Art & Antiques, and her own site, The Jewelry Loupe. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

NET PROFITS is a regular feature about using the Internet for jewelry selling of special interest to those with a home-based jewelry business that appears in Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist. Learn more in “Holiday Shipping,” November 2014.

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