Friday, December 12, 2008

Input Requested

This morning, my mind is aflutter with ideas, thoughts and questions about this endeavor. And, I hope you will share your opinion as I plan what the next step is!

Some thoughts:

~ Shipping just about knocked me out during this last sale. I would go to the post office twice for each package and this accumulated to LOTS of trips since payments did not come in steadily but in trickles. Any suggestions?

Here are my dilemma's on shipping:
- I want to keep it low.
- I want to charge you only what it costs.
- I have three small children and all these trips to the post office are time consuming and difficult.
- I have no way of knowing which combination of items any one person will buy - which makes it hard to calculate in advance.
- Would a flat rate shipping based on amount be appropriate?

~ Format: a few of you mentioned that scrolling through the list of items was tedious. Would it be easier for me to set this up on etsy and have a gallery of pix you could click on and look at? The advantage to etsy for me is that it would not require a separate step in billing - what do you think?

~ Billing: This time around, I sent out invoices in Pay Pal or accepted checks through the mail. This worked out fine, it was a bit labor intensive, but again if I move it all over to etsy - that will be taken care of. I am pretty sure I can still accept checks that way as well. Thoughts?

Other constructive comments or advice? Thanks - I have started my stash of goodies for the next sale already and am looking forward to working on those things and fixing them up for you!!

51 comments:

Wendi said...

I have seen an advertisement from the post office where you can print mailing labels and pay for postage from home. You then arrange for your mail carrier to pick the package up from your home. I have never tried it, but it sounds better then taking littles to the post office.

...they call me mommy... said...

When I initially saw the prices on your items, I thought, "WOW! She is selling these WAY TO INEXPENSIVE!" Maybe to cover the gas and struggle of the post office trips you might have to price these a bit higher!? I mean, you don't want to end up working so hard and then spending all your Blessing Fund on shipping, gas, and your time counts for something! I understand this is a giving ministry and you are trying to bless others with not only the money you earn but your crafted items as well...I think charging a bit more for the item or the shipping is FINE, Monica! :)

Mary Ann said...

I think Etsy is a great idea.

Edi said...

I have done a lot of selling on eBay over the yrs and this would be my advice. If you want to only charge exact shipping - you need to get yourself a postage meter so you are not running to the post office 2x for each package. I have an old fashioned one that I found cheap at the thrift store.

You can get free Priority boxes at the post office - there are 2 kinds - payment determined by size and weight and flat rate for whatever fits inside a box regardless of weight.

To me the issue of high shipping isn't so much an issue if everyone knows BEFORE buying that it is such and such amount (flat rate).

Shipping via parcel post is not much cheaper than by Priority.

You could decide that you'll just ship one day a week (Friday) and payments received after Friday will just have to wait until the following Friday.

I think if you are upfront with all your facts so people know BEFORE they buy the item - shipping price, shipping once a week - people will understand.

Emma said...

I would do a flat rate shipping and move it over to etsy. I didn't buy anything the first time around (I will though!), but I have purchesed through etsy and it is very easy!

Sara said...

Monica, I think it's possible to download some software from the US Post Office and actually print shipping labels right at home! And your mail carrier can just pick up the packages on the usual route. You would need some sort of scale, of course, but if you have a food scale, that would probably work just dandy. Going to the post office is such a nuisance, I wouldn't want to do it once, much less twice with each item! Thanks for all your thoughtfulness about this - I love your items and appreciate the time you put into everything.

Jen said...

Go Etsy!!!

The Things We Do said...

Monica,
I struggled with all these questions also when setting up Legacy Prayer Journals. =0) I know how much of a burden your business can become if you aren't careful and you don't want it to take away from your family who are your top priority. I have had a few thoughts on your business and I'll share them here in hopes that they are helpful:

YES- a flat rate box is probably the best way to go. That way you can have the boxes at your house and you can stuff them with multiple items and make just one trip to the post office. BUT you might want to look into the cost to have UPS or FEDEX come to your front door and pick up your deliveries for you saving you time and a trip to the post office with littles (one of my least favorite places to take my littles!). =0)

Etsy I think is a great idea OR you can also just use Paypal to handle all of your transactions. Paypal is what I use on my site and no, you can not accept personal checks but this might be in your best interest anyway in the long run. Paypal WILL accept paypal accounts, credit cards (just about all of them), and DEBIT cards which is exactly like using a personal check. Just some things to consider.

I also personally felt that you were charging a really low price for things considering your time and homemade touch. I know others are probably going to be mad that I posted that! =0) I made my own wool dryer balls per your previous posts about them and it cost me $5 just for the wool to make one where I live. That was before coupons and so I do try to use coupons for them but you add time and labor to that and I can't see how you were charging so little.

All to say, I've worked from home and run some home businesses and I know that it can become a burden if it starts to take away from your family and is not profitable enough. You need to make sure that it is "worth it" in the long run. Your time as a wife and mother are critical right now...especially with how young your littles are right now. Just consider how you can simplify your business so that it doesn't take YOU away from THEM or serving your husband. If it means having to ship for higher or raise your prices a little, it's worth it.

Anonymous said...

etsy sounds like it might be the way to go. i'm hoping you get some comments from people who have "been there" unlike myself. :-) i'm so excited for you, Monica!!!!

~eunice

RT said...

Go with Etsy, Monica!

gemma said...

Why not just go once a week to the Post Office and post the day of the week you will go...if money for an order arrives before that date...swell. If it comes after then the shipping will occur on ...whatever the next date is.

Voila.

Seems to me that if the date is known then no one could object.

Tammy said...

I've been reading your blog for a month or so now, and enjoying it very much. :-)

Shipping: you're using your gas (I assume) to make two trips to the post office, and also purchasing mailing supplies (again, I assume). It is ok to tack on a *little* extra for "handling" fees. When I buy something on ebay and the shipping is so much more than what I actually paid, I feel bad for the person who I bought the item from. Having sold quite a bit on ebay, and a little bit on Etsy, I know that it is very acceptable to have a little cushion for the unseen-to-the-customer expenses. And I also know how easy it is for me to underestimate shipping, which cuts into my profits!

Now, if you really want to be able to calculate the shipping exactly and only charge that, I would get a mail scale. If you know the size and weight of your package you can go to the USPS web site and enter the size/weight and get an accurate cost for shipping.

I personally love Etsy. Their fees are low, it is easy to list items, you get a little more traffic than just your blog readers, and it is much easier to scroll through a shop and see what is for sale. I haven't done much with Etsy since I've been sick with morning sickness for my entire pregnancy, but I can't wait to get back to having a more active shop!

As for billing, you are right - Etsy will take care of that, and you can choose to accept checks or other forms of payment.

Hope this was a help to you! :-)

ChefLeisa said...

Hi Monica,

The Post Office has two different sized "flat rate" boxes that I think mail for around $7.95 or $8.95 a piece. They would be big enough in most cases to hold multiple smaller items.

You can also specify that payment must be received within 5 days or whatever sounds reasonable to you, and that all items will be mailed in 7 or 10 days regardless of when payment is received (of course, only IF payment is received). Then you would only have to make one trip to the post office.

Hope that helps a little. I'm looking forward to seeing the next offering on the Rusty Robin :)

Leisa

letters to elijah said...

a flat fee based shipping fee. let everyone up front know that you will only be shipping on Mondays (this way clients will have their parcel by the end of the week)

fyi.. boxes are free if you ship priority - and they will pick up from your home.

debra said...

Hi-
You might check out the postal service website. www.usps.com. I think you can have your packages picked up from your house and print labels from your computer. If you get a little postal scale (you can get one at Staples) then you can weigh your packages at home.
Good luck!

Meredith@MerchantShips said...

I haven't read the other comments but:

1. I would consider using Priority Mail flat rate boxes and envelopes. Most of your things seem small enough to fit in them. if it fits in an envelope, charge the envelope rate; if it requires a box, it costs the higher box rate to ship.

2. The scrolling doesn't bother me at all.

You are so crafty, you inspire me!

Davonne said...

I haven't read the comments, but here's a thought on shipping...

They charge by weight, right? So maybe you could ask them for a price sheet, and purchase a scale of some sort. Then you just put the packaged items on the scale at your home, and there you go! I think it'd be a good idea to only ship items once or twice a week (Monday and Thursday, or Tuesday and Friday...) to save time. Make sure that's outlined in the "additional information" or whatever and there shouldn't be a problem. If you go this route, you could also charge an additional fee for rush shipping if someone needs their item really soon.

I love Etsy, and I think you would get a lot more sales by using that, simply because people look on Etsy who wouldn't know about your blog. I have never looked into using them myself, so I don't know what the disadvantages would be (other than I'm sure they get a percentage of the sale).

I like the Gallery of Pics Idea! I didn't mind scrolling, but this would keep things very organized and simple.

I know that whatever you decide to do will be great!

Cora from Hidden Riches said...

I've sold on Ebay for years and do all my shipping labels from home. I have a scale, so can weight the items before hand and post exact shipping charges. I have found, that when people are given a choice, they always pick priority mail, even though I offer the cheaper parcel post or first class. I order my priority mail supplies through the PO (free!) and they are delivered to the house. I send my invoices through paypal or the ebay system, and do my labels through the paypal system. The PO will pick these all up for free. No standing in line.

As for the format, I have DSL, so pictures load fast for me. Maybe not for others. Perhaps you could use both venues -- Etsy and your blog. Have your picture link to your etsy sales page. But I do know that lots of people read blogs that don't want to sign up for ebay or etsy but will buy through you on your blog.

People are getting used to the cost of shipping. Even though it seems high, it's still easier and cheaper than paying for the gas and going to look for stuff. Don't sell yourself short!

Cora

Ruth said...

I think Etsy is a good idea. I would love to order from you but would need to be able to send you a money order because I can't use paypal.
Shipping all your things out once a week only is a great idea and I would definitely look into printing the labels at home and having the packages picked up that way.
Just my two cents.
Ruth

Anonymous said...

Monica,
I know for my husbands business he has prepaid fedex slips and has had ups in the past, i'm not sure the cost but they do come pick up for free. I would find out the cost for these and maybe the hassle of the post office can be taken care of.
monica

Jo Ann said...

Just one thing that I haven't seen in anyone else's comments. People can register to have PayPal withdraw straight from their bank account. It's not a debit card, it's just a bank transfer.

My opinion, I would only ship once or twice a week. I would do postage from home. I would research using Etsy.

P.S. I'm new to your sight and love it! I didn't get a chance to buy anything in your first sale, but I hope to be able to next time! :)

Anonymous said...

You can print shipping labels with Paypal too. I think the flat rate shipping boxes from the post office is the best way. You can pick up as many as want from the post office. I use them with my Ebay sells.
Elizabeth

Anonymous said...

Hi Monica! As an Etsy seller I would HIGHLY recommend using the site! The cost is very low and having it connected to your paypal is wonderful. One thing I really like about Etsy is that you can track how many people look at your items. This could be helpful for you in determining if you should try to continue making a certain item and the amounts to have on hand when you offer a sale.

About shipping, I would say it is more than fine to cushion the price (with Etsy you will have to set a price when you post your item). I debated with this but it's not just the cost of shipping but the cost of supplies to actually ship the item as well as gas/time at the post office that all have to be considered. I don't think people would mind, especially as I am confident that you package the item nicely!

Let me know if you want to ask more questions about Etsy, I would love to share information I have learned by using them :)

Lisa
(I'm no longer on blogger so I have to list this as anonymous but I think you and Carrie have my email if you want to ask some questions!)

Michele@Philoxenos said...

I think moving over to etsy is probably the easiest thing, considering payment options. Also, you DEFINITELY need to increase your prices. I realise that your actual costs for supplies may not be high because they're thrift store finds, but your time is definitely worth something. I looked through everything and I think that you could easily raise your prices 20-30% and still sell like hotcakes.
I also highly recommend buying a postal meter or else charge a per item shipping.

Anonymous said...

I'd go for Etsy! It would be much easier for you! Plus, I would designate one day a week as my shipping day.

Kris

D'Rae said...

I don't know if anyone else suggested this but if people pay through paypal, you can print your postage right there through paypal. Then all you have to do it tape it onto your package and put it in your mailbox for the post man to pick up. I use that feature all the time when I sell things on ebay.

D'Rae said...

I also forgot to mention that if you create an account with the post office, you can have the priority boxes and envelopes and what not, shipped to your door free! In fact, I just ordered a bunch of boxes them. It is easy this way and you never have to leave your home

Paige said...

Everybody else said what I was thinking. Go to Etsy, ship once a week, and find an easier way to figure out shipping. Seems you've got a lot of research to do this weekend!
P~

Lea of Farmhouse Blessings said...

A good investment would be a postal scale. I have one here at home. I just place my items on the scale ... sign into USPS ... and can pretty much calculate my shipping to the penny and print my labels right here at home. It includes tracking as well so you can check on where you packages on online. A nice benefit for your customers.

You could note that shipping for multiple purchases will be discounted. So though you won't know the exact shipping at the time of purchase, your customers will know a discount is forthcoming on their invoice.

Don't forget the cost of gas and packaging.

If you use USPS online, they will actually pick up the packages once a day from your home at no cost. That is a really nice benefit when you have little ones at home.

I really like Etsy and have a small shop though time has not permitted me to fill it lately. You might find that due to Etsy's search feature, you might pick up a few most customers who did not know about your blogspot as well. It is well worth the small Etsy charge for each item.

Hope maybe something I've said helps you with your at home business!

Wishing you the very best,
Lea

thehomespunheart said...

Thank you all for the wonderful input!

I have updated my etsy site and will plan to move over there. It just seems like such a good choice in simplifying and streamlining everything.

I am also researching postal scales - have sent a link to my hubby to check out for me!

Thank you, again!

Michelle said...

I think Etsy is a great idea. Then you could just let us know on your other blog when you've added new items and you could do away with this blog completely. Sounds easier!
I definitely thought your prices were way too low last time. Your time is worth something! Price these at closer to what the going rate of them is. If they don't sell, you'll know you should have done them a little lower, if they sell off in the first hour, next time you can charge a little more.
Your creations are wonderful - make a few changes to make it easier and more profitable so that you'll stick with it and not give up!!

stephanie@{Olive Tree} said...

When I sell things I ONLY offer flat rate. Like you, I have three munchkins and it is a huge help that I can take payment through Paypal, and then print my shipping label through paypal. You can also go to the USPS website and order flat rate mailing material (for free) and they will deliver it to your house. My 2 cents!

Jan said...

Monica, Your prices are too low and I notice you have had others say the same thing. You can charge a flat rate like big companies do ($5 for orders $25 or less, etc.) Your work is beautiful and so is your heart. May God bless you and multiply your efforts. In Him, Jan

Joani said...

I have had USPS pick up packages at my door before. They do it for free as long as it is express or priority mail (which it would be if you use pre-paid boxes or envelopes). They pick it up when they drop off your mail and they have a great drop-down menu so you can select where you will leave the package (front door, back door, side door, mailbox, etc.). You just have to request a pick-up online at least 1 day in advance (up to 3 months in advance). It is what I use & I don't even have any kiddos to take to the post office! (I don't use the pre-paid boxes, I weigh my packages myself, pay postage online & print the label). Here is USPS's informational site on the carrier pick-up: http://www.usps.com/pickup/welcome.htm?from=home_shipstartfinish&page=requestfreepickup

Joani said...

Oh, and one more thing, I like the idea of an Etsy store. I live on the west coast & work until 5 or 6 so everything I wanted was gone by the time I checked =).

Lorie said...

You need to purchase a postage scale (if the items you ship aren't ever going to be over 10 lbs it is pretty inexpensive. The more the scale can handle the more they cost)

And then sign up online to print your postage and read about carrier pickup.

You can order the shipping supplies from them as well.

It will save you ALL of the headache of going to the PO!!

patty w said...

I just recently made my first purchase from Etsy and it was simple and easy!

Flat rate boxes/envelopes are always a good option, if the item will fit in one. And you can even order those through the PO website and have them delivered to your door! Justknow, that it takes a while for them to be delivered.

Invest in a scale. I want one badly but can't justify the cost because I don't sell anything! I just ship things occasionally.

I usually print my postage from home through the post office. It's easy and you can arrange to have them picked up at your front door !!

In the long run, you may not want to deal with checks anyway unless it's from someone local that you know.

Wishing you much success in your endeavors!

Hayley said...

Just a thought....and maybe it's not how to run a business, but perhaps you could suggest that you will only be mailing things out on Mondays and Thursdays.....or whatever 2 days a week work for you. That way, only 2 trips to the post office. Otherwise, I agree with another suggestion as to set up postage to print from your own home. That's a good idea. Just brainstorming.....I know how difficult it is to head to the P.O. with 3 littles.

Grace said...

I haven't read everyones' comments So I am sure mine have been repeated. I say go with Etsy and do flat rate shipping. Your prices are very reasonable already so shipping isn't too big of a deal. Also you can order you boxes online in all the different sizes. This saves some time in the packaging department. They will even send you priority mail tape and labels. These were great to have on hand when Bill was deployed.

Jennifer G said...

PayPal has a new storefront widget that you can set up and put right on your blog or site. Plus you avoid the fees of Etsy. You still have the PayPal fees though. I agree with another comment about just shipping once a week. If you are up front with it then there is little room for valid complaints.

Jennifer G said...

I forgot to add that Etsy also has a widget you can put on your blog that will help promote your items. Good Luck! I know it can all make your head spin.

Michele said...

Also you can go to USPS.com and order Priority boxes to be delivered to your home for free. Be aware that is comes in a like a pack of 25-50. If you have the space this is also a time saver. I sold on Ebay in a rural setting. I did Priority only, paypal only and was able to do it all from my home. I printed my postage from Paypal and had the mail carrier pick them up for me. With 4 little children at the time and being very rural it was very helpful. HTH! :)
God Bless,
Michele

Stefan, Sarah and Lukka said...

my two suggestions would be that you put everything on Etsy--so payment is quick and easy, and that you do flat rate and only go to the Post office twice a week--most people who sell a lot on etsy pick only two days to go and do it all at once, so although its a big trip, it doesn't take so much time out of the day, everyday.
A lot of people on etsy just have a standard flat rate OR they budget (for example) $5/shipping for everything...some things will be cheaper than that five, but some will be more, so it will even out for you. AND it's just easy for everyone to be charged a flat rate on every item.
Sarah

Stefan, Sarah and Lukka said...

PS--in reading some of the comments, we have a mail scale (something like, $17 off ebay, so if you're going to ship items from home, this is a good investment!) and padded envelopes or boxes (we sell books, cds, and DVDs on half.com) and it is great. Through paypal you can print out the labels and leave them for the postman to pick up.
BUT this works really great for media mail *(see items listed above)* but I don't know about breakable items AND leaving a number of them out at once--they don't have room for that if they are walking. I would still take a trip to the PO unless you just have one item.

betty said...

Etsy Is a very good idea. But if you wish to continue selling only in occasions, a good idea is to fix a day to realize the sendings,so at the same time the payments speed up, even two days and inform of this, ex. The sendings realized on Tuesdays and on Thursdays so that They already know more or least when it will arrive their order.
BICOS from Spain Betty

Lori said...

Monica,
I use Paypal when selling. You can sign up for a Merchant account and use it right on this site. It gives you a shopping cart for customers and all that good stuff. The only fees will be your Paypal fees and they are not that much.

I bought a digital scale at Sam's for about $50.00. I couldn't sell without it. It was the best investment that I have made. The weight limit is 300 lbs.

Also for customers that don't use Paypal. Only accept Postal Money Orders. That way, when you are at the post office, you can cash them there. Believe it or not this works great for me. I have not had any problems with it. Most people will understand.

For shipping dates. I would only go to the post office 1 day a week, ex.Friday. This would give you all week to get everything ready to be shipped. And if a mail in payment has not arrived, then those items can wait for the next go around, or if your going in the direction of the post office before that day.

Familia Stilwell said...

I think you should somehow recoup a bit of your gas $, etc., in either the price of your items or have a flat rate shipping. You will be losing $ in the long run...my hubby always says your time is more valuable than you can put a dollar amount on and you have to take that into consideration with so many trips to the p.o., especially when you are talking about taking young'ins with you! your items are very reasonably priced and I don't think it would be a problem to raise the prices a bit to take that all into consideration. Also, clicking on pics on etsy would be much easier. Glad you are enjoying your new adventure! Keep up the good work!

Amy said...

Monica-

I haven't read through all of the answers, but a very small investment (that I got off of eBay) was a postal scale. I think I found one for about $20. If you have that and a printer, you can order all of your supplies (for free) off of usps.com. Then you can just start shipping everything from your house. I use my postal scale not only for my shipping, but I tare it when I have glass bowls on it and measure ingredients as well. It has been a great investment and saved me a lot of time on shipping. I hope that helps!

Anonymous said...

I would recommend using paypal shipping and scheduling a pick-up by your postal carrier. I have done that selling on ebay and it is soooo easy. I was making multiple trips to the post office with my two kids and it was making me crazy!!! You can use the Paypal Multi-order Shipping for any number of packages and they don't have to be paid via paypal. You can enter the shippping info., the weight, insurance and everything and pay using your own paypal account, w/ no extra fees. From the site you can schedule a postal pick-up or you can go to the USPS website and schedule it directly from there. It is really really simple. In fact, I use to ship everything and just used it for shipping boxes for my out of town family for Christmas!

katherinemcglynn@hotmail.com

Angel said...

Invest in a cheap kitchen scale (mine was $5 at Walmart) so you know the exact postage cost (and dont forget to add in packaging materials costs)
and then print your postage via paypal (you can do this even if they pay by check, just click multi order shipping)
You just print it and tape it on, and you get delivery confirmation for only .18 and you can have your mailman pick it up from your door!

Elisabeth LaMouria said...

you can sign up to be able to print your own shipping labels from usps - also you can do flat rate by size, a little more, but it never goes over the set price. they will also come pick up your package for you, so you don't have to go anywhere! I have three little boys under age 4, so going anywhere is TOUGH! Anyway, hope that helps!