CANDLE BUSINESS – USA SHIPPING
I find many new vendors confused on how to ship their candles with in the USA. I have spent many hours finding the best ways to do this. Hope fully this helps many of you.
The first rule is NEVER just walk into USPS to pay for shipping. You will being paying FULL retail rates and encouraged to us the flat rate boxes.
If you are using USPS you will want to use PirateShip. Basically is is “Stamps.com” (that is advertised) but with out a monthly fee. Save up to 90% off retail USPS rates with the deepest commercial discounts and no markup, monthly fees, or hidden costs.
PirateShip can import sales and shipping info from eBay, Etsy, Shopify, WooCommerce, Cratejoy, and many more and the tracking information is automatically sent back to your store.
One downside to PirateShip (at the time if writing this) is that they did not link to Amazon yet. (I have my items on Amazon Handmade) So I needed to find an alternate solution. I found that with Shippo. Shippo has 1 other major advantage. The can use multiple carriers such as Fedex and UPS, and when shipping a package can compare rates. I needed to setup a Fedex and UPS account and be able to import those accounts into Shippo. You will find with small candle orders all you need is USPS and PirateShip. SOME larger orders I find FedEx or UPS a little cheaper. I still use Pirateship for majority of my shipping but Shippo is just as capable.
With either of the above websites you can print shipping labels out various ways. If you are just starting out, print on plain paper, cut out the label and tape it to the box. As the volume increases a suggest a label printer. I use the DYMO 4XL which requires no ink and prints out 4×6 labels. If you shop around or look on eBay you can get these much cheaper. There are some other brands that are similiar to this as well.
USPS offers many shipping supplies for free right from their website. Be sure to take advantage of this. I will get into what I get from them further below.
Generally I get my 6x4x4 boxes on eBay from theerb, I have yet to find better prices.
- Do not try to get the EXACT size box you need. You will find there are some sizes MUCH cheaper than other sizes.
- If you box is larger than 1728 Cubic Inches (LxWxH) you may need to pay for Dimensional weight. In which case every inch can save you money.(This is totally a separate conversation)
I get bubble wrap from OfficeMax/Office Depot. Office Depot Brand Bubble Roll, 3/16″ Thick, Clear, 12″ x 200′. In Buffalo, NY the stores offer this as buy 2 get 1 free. Online does not offer this.
I always save packaging from candle vendors I order from. Peanuts and shipping paper are great fillers.
You will need a digital scale for weighing your packages. OfficeMax has some though I usually find cheaper ones on eBay. I also use these scales to weigh my wax and fragrance oils. I found some cheap ones on eBay and ordered a few of them.
If the candle weighs 15.9oz or less after it is all packaged you can ship it via 1st class mail. You need to use you own box. I use the 6x4x4 box, wrap the candle in some bubble wrap ship via 1st class mail. This costs ~$5.50 depending on distance. It includes tracking but NO Insurance. Insurance is optional.
If the candle weighs more than 1 pound (16oz) I use a USPS Flat Rate BUBBLE Envelope. I wrap my candle in bubble wrap place it in a 6x4x4 box and then place it inside the Flat Rate Bubble Envelope. This cost $7.55 includes tracking and includes $100 of insurance.
My next shipping options is Priority Mail Regional Rate A1 or B1 box. So it took me a little bit to figure out how these regional rate boxes work. Rather than a Flat Rate box, this is more of a Flat Weight box. Basically for the Rate A you pay the 2 pound weight and Rate B you pay the 4 pound weight. So if it weighs more than those rates you are saving money. Pricing for Regional Rate Boxes is zone-based. There are 9 zones in the U.S. and the rates are based on the distance from the original package location to the delivery destination. You get tracking and $100 of Insurance with each of these.
I can fix 2 of my 6x4x4 boxes into a Rate A1 and with a little squeeze I can fit 4 for into a Rate B1 box.
Here is a little catch though.
A Rate A box will fit inside a USPS Medium Flat rate box. The flat rate cost (via PirateShip) is $12.80, so if it is shipping to ZONE 9 (usually HI or AK) it is cheaper to use the Medium Flat Rate Box.
A Rate B box will fit inside a USPS Large Flat Rate box. The flat rate cost (via PirateShip) is $17.80, so if it is shipping to ZONE 7-9 it is cheaper to use the Large Flat Rate Box.
I live less than a mile away from the local post office. I go to the post office during normal times and just drop off my packages. My post office usually scans them in with in a few minutes.
You can schedule a pickup, but for me it is easier and safer to just drop them off.
Some post offices have a box you can put packages in. I learned early on in my post office that when it fills up it locks shut. I asked if it was OK it I just place the packages in one of the vacant teller windows and that was OK with them. Have been doing that ever since.
During the holidays after a long weekend of making candles and shipping I have been known to ask for a cart.
I try to be friendly to the workers there, they are friendly with me. For the holidays I dropped off a bunch of my candles for them to share. I am there almost everyday with orders.
I mentioned insurance above but do not get into details about it. When shipping via PirateShip Priotiy Mail packages include $100 of insurance. If you just go to the post office they only include $50.
I do not get insurance on my packages that way less than a 1 pound. For me it is a numbers game. It is easier and cheaper for me to just remake a candle and ship it than pay for insurance on ALL of those packages. So I save the money and just risk it. It is less than a pound it is my less expensive candle anyway.
I have been known to purchase additional insurance if the contents are worth more than $100.
Anyone that reports to me that the candle came broken or damaged I just ask them to send a few pictures of the damage. After I receive the pictures and verify the damage I ship them new candles. I then open an insurance claim with USPS
Filing an online claim with USPS has been so easy for me. I just goto USPS Claims and Start on online claim. You need a few pieces of info including the proof of damage and an invoice proving cost of the items. I include the cost of the item and and shipping charges I charged for the item. With in a few weeks I receive a check in the mail. I just treat it like another order. I have never talked to anyone, no one has ever showed up to verify the damage. It has been so nice. The customers are happy that it gets replaced or refunded with little work on their part. WIN WIN.
Last Update 10/02/2019
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