For some time now, I have been wanting to shed some light on my current method for shipping large wall decals. I wrote about it back in February of 2013 in this article, “How To Ship Large Decals“. But, my methods have changed with the times. Let me explain…
My Decal Business: Humble Beginnings
When I first started forging this home-based, online , wall decal business, I did not know diddly squat about shipping – I did not know how to ship decals, who to ship with, how much it was going to cost me, and how much to charge customers – Not a clue.
I first did a little research online. But, for me, a more direct and effective method of learning about shipping was to actually go on Etsy.com and find a similar wall decal Etsy shop that sold designs similar to the genre I was interested in making available in my Etsy shop. So I purchased one from a wall decal Etsy shop that I thought fit the bill. The decal is a frog with my name on it and is 34″ wide x 12″ tall. I still have it on my shop studio wall.
The decal came rolled in a USPS Priority Mail Shoe-Sized box with a bunch of instructions. After further research, I realized this would be a perfect method for me. Why? Because most of my decals would fit the shoe-sized box. Just the same, larger decals would ship in a long USPS Priority Mail triangular box. ALL FREE from the USPS. And they would deliver cases full to my house FREE OF CHARGE! And I did all this online: usps.com
I did not have to invest in shipping boxes or shipping tubes, which was perfect for a beginner like me, and the customer paid for their own shipping. So, I was good and it made life easier as I was first learning the ropes, without worrying about putting in too much startup capital. So, as for my shipping department, I was breaking even.
The other advantage was that I made my customers VERY HAPPY with turn-around time. I would do the double-whammy! On the same day I would receive an order, I would make the decal and have it ready to ship Priority Mail by the next day, getting the item to them in record time (US only). This helped me earn a whole lot of positive feedback points on my Etsy shop.
Overall, USPS Priority Mail boxes were a great method for me, to get me started.
My Decal Business Grows up… A Little
Fast forward to today. Although I did not receive much complaints from customers from those Priority Mail boxes, I eventually became aware that this “beginners method” of shipping, was flawed. I once was told by a customer that the shoe-box sized box came beat up, but the decal was not harmed and it worked just fine. He actually gave me a 100% feedback on Etsy! So, I moved on…
But the real kicker came when an item for which an incorrect address was provided came back to me looking like it had no more life left in it. It was flat as a pancake!
I was embarrassed when I realized that it was possible that even one of my customers had experienced the same trauma as I did receiving that returned package.
So, knew it was time to move on…
It was time to grow up and learn to play more like the big boys. After reading and chatting in the forums, I found most large vinyl decal vendors ship with shipping tubes.
For my size decals, I found the 3″ diameter tubes would suffice. I have even sent multiple decals in the 3″ tubes. Keep in mind my decals can be as wide as 24″ wide to ship. So my tubes are never less than 30″ in length. If you are looking to sell larger decals than mine, you may consider a longer and wider tube.
So here is what I use from a local shipping supply store. This is the same store that sells right from MrBoxOnline.com .
Here’s what I do. I purchase by the case of 24 tubes. They come with 48 white end caps included, two for each tube.
Here is where the numbers work for me. I currently purchase 3″ x 36″ long tubes. With the packaging size of many of my orders, I estimate that 12 out of the 24 tubes are cut in half, making 24 tubes. And the other 12 tubes cover my shorter decal orders, which fit in 1/3 the tube size or 12 inches. That’s approximately 36 more tubes for me, give or take my guesstimation.
But, before you jump for joy, there are other supply purchase costs…
There are the additional white end caps that I must purchase to cover for the extra tubes I make – I only get 48 end caps with my purchase of 24 tubes. I have to make up for the additional forged tubes. They are $0.21 cents per end cap… Ouch!
And of course, I spend a few cents for masking tape and printing a label – I print on printer paper and cover it with clear shipping tape – easy and cheap.
The Bottom Line $$ On Shipping Tubes
I want to make clear of my unfair advantage… I PURCHASE IN PERSON FROM THE SHIPPING SUPPLY COMPANY. In other words, I do not have to pay the additional cost of getting the supplies shipped to me. If you have an unfair advantage like this, then more power to you, brothers and sisters!
But, because of my “unfair advantage”, my customers in the USA pay only $5 for shipping USPS First Class mail. On average it is costing me about $2.75 to ship per sale. That leaves a little kickback to cover for shipping supplies and still cover for a little bit of Etsy fees and such.
This is what is working for me. The only thing that I am considering right now as I write this article is that I am going to see if I would be better off purchasing even LONGER Kraft shipping tubes next time I visit their store. I will look online first and crunch the numbers.
I know, it’s all chump change, but you want to make sure you are not inadvertently paying out of pocket for your shipping.
And yes, add a little to the price of your decals to cover for handling!
Thanks for reading!
Thank You Eileen, a reader who contacted me online and asked me for clarification on my current shipping methods. A great topic to update and re-visit!