Tuesday, July 30, 2013
How To Keep Postage Costs Down
Like me, I know many of you are big fans of handmade swaps. You might also sell your handmade products online. Postage is the one thing that can be a negative in amongst lots of handmade loveliness. I've learnt a few great tips and tricks over the past couple of years, and I hope some of these will help you too.
Obviously, a lot of this advice is given from an Australian perspective, because that is where I post from. If you have some tips and tricks of your own from your country, I'd LOVE to hear them! Please leave a comment!
Tip #1: Keep It Flat
Keeping your items flat allows postage in prepaid envelopes or as large letters. These envelopes are designed for documents, however if you keep your item under 200mm in thickness, it can go in the regular post as a letter or large letter, keeping the cost way down. For example, the most popular item in my etsy store is a two pack of bibs. Bibs are flat and light, and within Australia I can post them as a large letter in a postage paid A4 size envelope for $2.70. To send them as a small parcel would cost me $6.95. For international post, a parcel would cost me $13.95 but a large letter to the US costs me about $6.
Keeping it flat is especially important for those of you posting from the USA. Standard international parcels are now $23.95, so if you can send your items as a large letter it may help in keeping your price down.
For the last Sweet Pouch Swap, I kept my parcel as flat as I could. I designed a pouch that would sit flat, and I added sweets and a block of chocolate that would not make the package bulky.
Tip #2: Keep It Light
Once you get over 250g it becomes harder to send as a letter. You can send a small parcel, which is $6.95 within Australia or $13.95 to post overseas. So at this point bulk doesn't really matter, but weight does. My rule here is to keep your items under 500g. Once you exceed that weight, postage skyrockets in price. For example, 501g to the USA from Australia becomes $25. To keep things light, I use my electronic kitchen scales at home. Once I have all my items ready to post, I weigh them, then use the Australia Post online calculator. Make sure you leave at least 40g for the parcel bag if you have to buy one. Once I know how much my postage will cost, I will have no nasty surprises when I arrive at the post office to send my parcel.
Want to calculate your post at home? Here are links to the Australia Post calculator, the USPS calculator, the Royal Mail price calculator , the Canada Post Find A Rate and the NZ International Post Calculator.
Tip #3 - Chat to your Postal Worker
There is no doubt that Post Offices around the world are very busy places. But I've found that if you ask a few questions, most people who work at the post office counter will go out of their way to help you find the cheapest price for your parcel. I once had a lady spend 20 minutes with me going through every possibility for the parcel I was sending to Japan. They have all the knowledge and know about the various pre-paid and weight options for your parcel. Be polite, give lots of smiles and the person at the counter will give you the cheaper rate for that 503g parcel! (That happened to me once. I could have kissed the post office lady.)
Tip #4 - Use Registered Post if you can
The biggest problem that occurs within handmade swaps is when the item doesn't arrive. It causes a lot of stress for sender, recipient and host, and a lost parcel can mean hours of beautiful work wasted. If you can afford it, I would recommend sending your parcel via registered mail. Earlier this year I participated in the Covert Robin Swap and I sent my items to Dee in Queensland via a Registered Post prepaid 500g satchel. It only cost $8.25, which is not much more than the regular parcel price of $6.95. Well worth the extra buck for peace of mind.
From what I understand, most USPS parcels are trackable within the USA. With the Royal Mail, I think you need to pay for First Class postage to have your item tracked. (I may not be correct about this - let me know in comments if you know more about USPS or Royal Mail)
So that's it! I hope that helps a few people - I know during the first round of the Sweet Pouch Swap I had a couple of people withdraw as they felt they couldn't afford the postage. Others emailed expressing their shock of arriving at the post office and being charged way more than double or triple what they'd spent on materials and sweets for their gift.
Happy sewing, swapping and posting! Please share your knowledge of your local postal system in the comments!