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Mon May 14 2012 12:19:56

How Do You Control Your Packaging Costs?

By: Julia Wilkinson

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Some sellers were talking about controlling costs and a lot of folks started talking about packaging and shipping supplies, how expensive they can be, and how to save money on them.

A lot of sellers, including me, save all the packaging they receive in the mail to reuse, and many say they get some free from local stores. I once had to ship a Martin acoustic guitar, and I got a free guitar box from my local music store which sells guitars. As you may know if you sell large items, oversized cardboard boxes can be quite expensive!

Others are known to get some supplies, including bubble wrap and air cushions, from Craigslist, Freecycle, and other swap sites.

One seller found bubble wrap from one of her local grocery stores and a home and garden store.

A brave few even confessed to dumpster diving. I have not actually dived into a dumpster, but I have been known to take something off the top. (Kind of like George Costanza grabbing the cannoli out of the trash can..."it wasn't down in...it was sort of on top").

What ways have you found to control your packaging costs, and if get free material, where do you find it?





Comments (22) | Permalink

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How Do You Control Your Packaging Costs?   How Do You Control Your Packaging Costs?

This user has validated their user name. by: Spartacus

Mon May 14 12:35:01 2012

I don't sell odds and ends due to the difficulty of obtaining suitable packing materials.

I have 8 basic product lines which all fit into 3 different containers or bubble mailers although I do save cardboard, bubble wrap, packing peanuts etc for times I might have a one-off item.

I order my packing supplies in bulk. The savings are unbelievable. For example, a pack of three #2 bubble mailers cost about $5 at Office Max. I order 200 at a time and pay less than 25 cents each. That's 75 cents versus $5.

The savings are even greater with shipping boxes/containers, packing tape and bubble wrap when ordered in bulk.

To digress, one thing I find very frustrating about some eBay buyers is they think packing supplies are free. Then again, eBay themselves actually believe there is such thing as ''free shipping'' so it's no surprise the nut doesn't fall far from the tree.



How Do You Control Your Packaging Costs?   How Do You Control Your Packaging Costs?

by: Quality First This user has validated their user name.

Mon May 14 12:57:19 2012

Furniture stores for styrofoam!

How Do You Control Your Packaging Costs?   How Do You Control Your Packaging Costs?

by: Willabill This user has validated their user name.

Mon May 14 13:24:31 2012

We have been able to reduce our packaging costs in a few ways.  We never pay for packing peanuts or bubblewrap anymore.  Our local newspaper has a little community column that connected us with businesses that throw this stuff out, and now they call us and we go and pick it up.  We also bought 100 rolls of giant 3'' wide tape when Dexter Shoes went out of business here in Maine at $1 a roll.  I don't think we'll ever run out in our life time.  And we get many of our boxes at a local craft store that piles up their empty boxes near the store entrance and are free for the taking.  Craft stores and beauty salons are especially good for finding packing peanuts and good quality boxes.

How Do You Control Your Packaging Costs?   How Do You Control Your Packaging Costs?

by: Mark T This user has validated their user name.
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Mon May 14 14:53:47 2012

I don't.

I order quality supplies and pass that cost onto my customer. :-)

How Do You Control Your Packaging Costs?   How Do You Control Your Packaging Costs?

by: Jim S. This user has validated their user name.

Mon May 14 15:38:27 2012

I am selling factory new items and prefer the shipping carton be clean so, I do not use recycled cartons (though I do reuse styro peanuts  and bubble wrap that may come with my incoming shipments). I purchase all supplies from Uline (they are within driving distance), and I stay with limited number of carton sizes that have the best pricing. Buying in quantity helps bring down the cost too. My shipping supply cost is built in to my S&H charge.

How Do You Control Your Packaging Costs?   How Do You Control Your Packaging Costs?

by: Damariscotta This user has validated their user name.

Mon May 14 16:19:59 2012

Since I sell antiques, and pack really well, I buy quality boxes and packing material.  In the long run, better than having my space taken up with "good used boxes that never seem to fit anything I need to ship".
Last item I bought on ebay came packed in what appeared to be used upholstery or bedding stuffing. Ewww.

How Do You Control Your Packaging Costs?   How Do You Control Your Packaging Costs?

by: Will This user has validated their user name.

Mon May 14 16:41:01 2012

I've asked all my family/friends to save their ~clean~ packing materials for me. Local furniture stores have a good supply of bubble wrap too.  

How Do You Control Your Packaging Costs?   How Do You Control Your Packaging Costs?

This user has validated their user name. by: elpereles
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Mon May 14 17:19:50 2012

If very rare that I recycle boxes because many are like already been recycle or get to damage in transit.

If I need shipping supplies. I always try to buy them in bulk. In eBay there is always some seller offering boxes and padded envelopes in bulk for nice prices.

The most easy to recycle are packing peanuts. I remember my 1rst months as a buyer in eBay. I drop a lot of these peanuts to the trash. Until months later became a seller and saw my big mistake to threw them to the trash. LOL

How Do You Control Your Packaging Costs?   How Do You Control Your Packaging Costs?

This user has validated their user name. by: Stockmiser

Mon May 14 19:28:19 2012

I'm constantly searching for the best prices on bubble envelopes, and I'll sometimes order 1000 at a time if I can get the cost low.  Even something as simple as finding the best deal on USPS labels can be a huge cost savings over time.  And

I always keep a good supply of Priority mail packaging.  If you order directly off the USPS site, you'll often find options that aren't at your post office.  In particular, I love the new flat rate padded envelopes.  You can go crazy ordering from there - and it's all shipped to you completely free.

My best recent discovery was cheap ''chipboards'', which I can use to stiffen envelopes and protect products.  For a few cents a sheet I save the time I used to spend cutting up old boxes.

How Do You Control Your Packaging Costs?   How Do You Control Your Packaging Costs?

by: pace306 This user has validated their user name.

Mon May 14 19:50:52 2012

Since I almost exclusively use USPS, I use ALL of thier free supplies as much as possible. USPS.COM lets you order alot of the boxes and labels for free!

How Do You Control Your Packaging Costs?   How Do You Control Your Packaging Costs?

by: forevervinyl This user has validated their user name.
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Tue May 15 09:36:02 2012

I dont want customers complaining about reused boxes so we order new off Ebay and charge the customer for the package..

How Do You Control Your Packaging Costs?   How Do You Control Your Packaging Costs?

This user has validated their user name. by: Anonymous Annie

Tue May 15 10:08:30 2012

I ship with only NEW boxes and envelopes. However, I have no problems re-using the ''air-pillows'' that I receive whenever I order items from Amazon.com.

There are three common sizes of air-pillows that I receive in my Amazon orders, and I'll sort them into large clear trashbags and used them as needed to fill-in any voids in the shipping boxes.

The best part is that they are FREE! The 2nd best part is that they are MUCH LIGHTER than filling the voids with packing paper. (Now, in truth, we're only talking about a weight difference of an ounce or two... but sometimes that can be the difference that prevents my package from jumping UP to the next weight-class. So that's a DOUBLE bonus: free filler, and lower-rate shipping costs!)

From time to time I'll end up with a box of styrofoam peanuts, and I will use them... but ONLY as padding at the BOTTOM of a box. I don't use them to bury an item, or to fill in the voids on ALL SIX SIDES of the shipping box. ~~ This makes it easy for customers to remove their items without spilling packing peanuts all over the place. For the most part, all of the peanuts will remain in the bottom of the shipping box.

How Do You Control Your Packaging Costs?   How Do You Control Your Packaging Costs?

by: Steevo This user has validated their user name.

Tue May 15 11:41:57 2012

We use all new boxes.  Well, almost all new.  

On ebay, the buyer pays for everything.  Just like any other business.  We have no way to get money except for what we charge our buyers for the item and the shipping.

So if buyers demand beautiful new packaging we just charge them for it.  Does it affect our sales? Yes, probably.  

Our shipping might be higher than some of our competitors who reuse boxes.

With the ebay DSR system it's not in our best interest to create any red flags for uppity buyers who might somehow be outraged and rate us down should we dare to reuse a box.  So we don't mostly.

This is the problem on ebay today. Buyers (and by extension, ebay, inc.) demand we do things a certain way.  So we use new boxes, we ship the same or next day, we charge as low as we can for shipping even if we lose a little money.  In addition the prices are so low on ebay now at least in our categories we are selling for 90 or more off new price.  

So this makes our shipping/handling up to 47% of the item price. But when it weighs 54# and only brings $200 what are you gonna do?

If googleauctions.com was up we'd sure try to be there.  

How Do You Control Your Packaging Costs?   How Do You Control Your Packaging Costs?

This user has validated their user name. by: Tula

Tue May 15 19:59:35 2012

Most of my items ship in padded envelopes, which I buy in bulk, along with plastic bags in various sizes. I do most of my personal and business shopping online and save all boxes (in good condition) and packing materials for those odd items that need boxes.

Some items are cost-effective to ship Priority, so I keep a stash of USPS boxes and envelopes around for those orders and for the occasional customer request for Priority shipping.

Reusing boxes is fine, as long as they're in good shape and not dirty or smelly. Some of the boxes I've received over the years would have been better off in a dumpster than as shipping materials. Ditto for stuff reeking of cigarette smoke. Go ahead and smoke if you like, but just be aware that non-smokers will pick up the odor (even if you think it's not noticeable) and won't appreciate it. Ditto for using those nasty dryer sheets to mask odors. A lot of people are allergic to that stuff (I am) and can't touch it without getting a rash.  

How Do You Control Your Packaging Costs?   How Do You Control Your Packaging Costs?

by: That70sShoppe This user has validated their user name.
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Tue May 15 23:01:56 2012

I both buy new and recycle packaging materials.  I am able to get a variety of nice size boxes to reuse from a local motorcycle dealership.  They also get some wonderful clean packaging paper and even some bubble wrap and air pillows.  Oversize or odd size boxes I purchases from UHaul and bubble wrap I get from Esupplystore.com.  I charge a very nominal handling fee to cover shipping charges on most items and pass on the cost of things like the oversize box within the s/h charge for the item that it will be used to pack.

How Do You Control Your Packaging Costs?   How Do You Control Your Packaging Costs?

by: comet This user has validated their user name.

Tue May 15 23:05:02 2012

TULA--It's prob NOT the scent from the dryer sheets it is the weird "fibers" that are on there for---well I don't KNOW the reason but they irritate the you-know out of a LOT of people.  And they don't remove smells!

For packaging savings:

Use the poly mailers avail on Amazon--no one local seems to have ever heard of them.  I got a great deal on several hundred and different sizes AND a free promo price.  You can ship a small sturdy box that might get lost in the mail in there for pennies and still have room for address etc.  And for clothing and some shoes this saves an amazing amount of $$$.

I re-use lots of boxes and just avoid the eeewy ones.  Have NEVER had a complaint.

I also re-cycle bubble wrap which I get from my sons work or from people who save theirs for me and when ever I see some I nab it.  

I do purchase a roll or so a year of the colored bubble wrap from WallyWorld (when it is on sale) for a particular item I sell over and over.  I want that to have a uniform "look" when shipped and the orig packing is not re-seller friendly.

I purchase tissue paper as much as I can find after Christmas,  Easter and any other time it is cheap.  

For peanuts--if you are using them you can fill a plastic bag (zip bag or grocery bag) and close it and make a Peanut Pillow.  Then you can fill all the voids AND not have the annoying staticy things all over when the box is opened.  Your customers will thank you.  

Sometimes places will give you ski boxes for free or little cost---I also use the large "moving" boxes at WallyWorld and cut to fit and tape a lot.  And I do charge for this.  I can get a long pair of skis in one box cut in half and then trimmed to fit.  And don't let USPS tell you they DON'T SHIP SKIS or that it costs $100 to ship---it simply does NOT want to handle these.  

Use clean plastic soda/water bottles for corner blocking or even tape them together for Pop Rafts for larger or more fragile items.  Again fill the voids with these.  Make sure they are clean and dry and the tops are firmly on and filled with air---almost indestructable.  

And yes I have used "bed material"---I used trimmings from a NEW mattress topper a friend had used for a different project---and the antique china lamp I sent from NY to Hawaii arrived in perfect shape and with great compliments from the buyer.  Used bedding?  Not so much.  

Last week I received a leather portfolio wrapped in a beautiful piece of--cloth!  In a bubble envelope in this nice good sized cloth that I will save and re-use and it will remind me of that seller!  

Beware---my local Dollar Store is selling something called an Air Pillow which claims to cushion odd size and fragile items INSIDE a pillow of air.  I tried these way back and the item arrived in pieces as the air deflated.  AND these had a coupon on them from---2002!   Surely degraded by now!  

How Do You Control Your Packaging Costs?   How Do You Control Your Packaging Costs?

by: SallyH This user has validated their user name.

Tue May 15 23:40:35 2012

We use free USPS boxes, labels and materials when feasible, and purchase lots of brand new boxes and materials. We have discovered it is often cheaper to use a smaller box than what the USPS provides, because it takes less bubble wrap or peanuts.  Our material costs are passed on to our customers either in the price of the item, or as a part of the shipping.

Our local WalMart sells smaller boxes in bulk, much cheaper than we can order them on the internet.

Occasionally we get a pickup load of misc packing materials from a local factory. Lots of styrofoam sleeves, nice for inserting plates and other thin items, lots of bubble wrap, plus misc pieces of styrofoam. It's clean and like new, and does save us a lot. This factory contacted us about their materials after we posted a request on Craig's List and on bulletin boards in local stores.

And much of our shipments of new products are wrapped in large sheets of un-used newsprint paper. When the weight allows, we use paper, and it's nice to protect things that plastic might stick to and damage. Plastic should not be against anything painted in hot weather, as it may stick and peel the paint off. Printed newspaper also damages many things.

I'm also a person who is allergic to scented products, but we do sell some used items, so anything odorous in any way is noted in our listings with a ALLERGY WARNING! and we avoid using scented materials to pack.

Occasional returns come back so scented it takes me days to recover.

With a little thought, there are lots of ways to save on packing materials and use nice ones.

How Do You Control Your Packaging Costs?   How Do You Control Your Packaging Costs?

by: Arch This user has validated their user name.

Wed May 16 00:34:19 2012

I buy all my boxes from a local company that specializes in boxes and packing supplies.  They are half to cost of Office Max, Staples, Walmart etc.  

How Do You Control Your Packaging Costs?   How Do You Control Your Packaging Costs?

by: Gypsy This user has validated their user name.

Wed May 16 07:48:24 2012

I recycle CLEAN boxes only along with packing peanuts & bubblewrap. I buy kraft envelopes & bubblemailers in bulk. I also add a small but fair fee to S&H to offset my costs for packing items I do buy.  

How Do You Control Your Packaging Costs?   How Do You Control Your Packaging Costs?

by: dmg61 This user has validated their user name.

Wed May 16 08:26:35 2012

Friends and family give me the clean bubble wrap or peanuts they get in parcels, which is a big plus. But when I have to order boxes, since I ship almost exclusively USPS first class (small stuff), it's always ULine. Uline.com. You cannot beat their prices on boxes AND they deliver within two days! I also vary the size box I use to save on postage...

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