Photo by Leone Venter / Unsplash

As with pricing your handmade products properly, there is also an art to setting the right shipping and handling fees. While most handmade sellers focus on ensuring that their prices factor in their costs of production, the more hidden expense of getting your product to the customer's door can be often overlooked. This is one of the best areas where you can optimise your margins, so it's worth investing time in your shipping strategy.

If you charge too much, you'll start to see your carts being abandoned - no matter how amazing your products, there will always unfortunately be an upper limit as to how much shipping people are prepared to pay. Not charging enough on the other hand can really eat into your profit margins that you have worked so hard to achieve.

Package your products efficiently

While you may not be able to completely control the weight of your items, the size of your box can play a big factor into your total postage costs so it's worth taking the time to play with different ways of packaging your items.

Small Flat Rate Box or Padded Mailers can be quite cost effective if you can fit your items into this size. Always ensure that you can also wrap and protect your items properly within this size as any cost savings you make through shipping can promptly be lost via breakage claims!

For larger items, its good to be aware of maximum dimensions as this can tip prices from one bracket to another. Try optmising the wrapping of your products to minimise at least one dimension - even shaving off an inch can make a huge difference to your shipping fees.

Tip: USPS also offers a range of free boxes from their website here: Free Shipping Supplies on USPS. You can order up to 25 at a time, however note that these boxes can only be used when purchasing Priority Shipping.

Choose the most cost effective shipping provider

It's also really wise to shop around for your best rates for shipping. Although your local post office may be the most convenient, it is often the most expensive - ensure that you get quotes for the same size and weight box for a number of shipping providers to compare and get a feel for costs.

If you sell on Etsy, they offer an integrated option for shipping that is commonly cheaper than the post office. This is because Etsy has negotiated bulk rates with a range of shipping companies on behalf of their sellers. To use this option, simply click the "Print Shipping Label" on your order page. This will lead you through the process of customising the shipping quote for priority shipping or first class, your package type, weight, dimensions and insurance.

Tip: Etsy also allows for you to add in a "Handling Fee" for your orders. If you have items that require some labor to package, you may like to use this option to ensure that you are accounting for this time. Etsy will not display this cost as a seperate item to the customer, it will be incorporated into the total shipping fee.

Giving the customers choice about their shipping options can be useful - it allows you to set a minimum base shipping rate and gives the customer the freedom to pay a little extra if they want to receive their package earlier or tracked.

Most shipping providers include a certain amount of insurance so it's not usually necessary to pay for insurance unless you are selling something that is quite costly. For example, Priority Mail in the US comes with $100 of shipping insurance. For international shipments, this rises to $200.

International Shipping - Yay or Nay?

Shipping your products to far flung locations can be good for maximise your sales, however it can feel like it adds overhead and uncertainty to your shipping strategy. The only real difference from a workflow point of view is that you'll be needing to complete a couple of extra custom forms and ensure that they are stuck to the front of your package.