Best shipping method for home business.
December 12, 2012 3:32 PM   Subscribe

Help me decide on my small home business shipping system!

All righty, my friends the hivemind.

I've got a small business, with an Etsy store. I ship mainly 6x10 bubble mailers and I've got a pretty decent idea on the price. Sometimes I'll do direct sales with Paypal and I may at some point in the future upgrade to taking payment options directly through my site. That is a future ASK though.

(Saw this, but its from 2010)

I'll also occasionally send other items out in boxes, some of them large boxes, different collectibles, stuff I want to get rid of, etc.

I'm thinking of investing a little money in streamlining the postage and shipping.

Etsy does shipping labels
Ebay does shipping labels
USPS does shipping online
Paypal has shipping services
Something else?

The first two really don't work, because they aren't all inclusive for everything that I need to ship.

I need to buy a new printer anyway at this time, and I am assuming a scale.

I currently use USPS and ship most things first class, which works out to be pretty affordable.

I live in the sticks, in South Central PA, and there is a post office by home and work. UPS and Fed Ex locations are further away.

Most of the options look pretty decent and comparable, but I wanted to check with you guys and see if any of you had any personal experience with this.

I need delivery confirmation, possibly insurance, and being able to put in the box dimensions and weight and get a shipping price quote is important.

Any other words of wisdom, I'm always listening.

Thanks in advance gang!

posted by PlutoniumX to Work & Money (8 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I used to use Endicia For Mac and it worked very well. I see that it has since been bought out by Dymo, which might change things a bit. For one, you might have to use a Dymo printer now. Not sure about that. I used to use a Zebra postage printer, which was awesome. Interestingly, I bought it used off of eBay, used it daily for three years, and then sold it to someone else on eBay and got basically the same amount that I paid for it in the first place. Those things hold up well.
posted by spilon at 3:49 PM on December 12, 2012

We run a ~$27 million web retail business using Endicia as one of our major shipping API providers. When things were smaller, we used their desktop software quite a lot to print postage.

I can't especially recommend their product. It'll work, most of the time, but they're prone to mysterious outages and the software gives, in general, every evidence of being a cobbled-together nightmare under the hood. It's on my (long) to-do list to find another way to print USPS postage.

We were talking at one point about giving a shot. I don't know much about them, but if I were starting my own small-scale venture, I'd at least check them out.
posted by brennen at 4:50 PM on December 12, 2012

Also, we still do nearly everything on Zebra printers. Can be a bit finicky to set up drivers, but they work a treat.
posted by brennen at 4:56 PM on December 12, 2012

Shipstation, Shipstation, Shipstation! It comes with a free subscription to Endicia, as well as Express 1 (which has better rates for a lot of what I mail), but it acts as a front end to these systems, so you never deal with them directly, and it can also print FedEx and UPS labels if you need it to. It integrates with Etsy, will automatically generate labels and packing lists based on stored item weights, makes it easy to void labels that you generate by mistake, makes it easy to generate return labels, and even makes international shipping fairly straightforward—I have shipped stuff all over the world with no problems, just using Shipstation's auto-generated customs forms, never having filled one out before in my life. Well worth the modest monthly fee.
posted by enn at 5:13 PM on December 12, 2012

If you want free go with paypal. If you want to pay extra for the service then i hear the bestest things about endicia with after that.

No matter what you do buy a thermal label printer. I mean like right now, go buy a thermal label printer. It will change. your. life. (obviously get one that paypal or whatever paid service you go with uses).

I kid you not, change your life.
posted by magnetsphere at 5:31 PM on December 12, 2012

i have been using for almost a decade and have no problems with it at all.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 5:50 PM on December 12, 2012

I've been using Endicia for several years and have not had any issues. Would totally recommend them.
posted by moosedogtoo at 8:21 PM on December 12, 2012

Our small, home based business uses USPS Priority mail and I'm a big fan of it. I get tracking and I don't have to spend anything on envelopes or boxes. Most items will fit in a flat rate envelope or small box. We got a larger mailbox so the local carrier can pick it up. If it's bigger, I can schedule a pick up.

We use the Paypal shopping cart and we can download the labels right off the transaction page (no need to enter in the label info). The biggest challenge is figuring out how to calculate the shipping charges.

In short, it's easy and inexpensive. I've looked into other services but they seemed geared for businesses that ship out a lot more than we do and/or they cost more.

Shipping has been the biggest challenge for our business and now that USPS is raising rates yet again, I get to spend more time re-figuring our charges.
posted by jabo at 10:34 PM on December 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

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