Rule #10: Your second most important relationship is with your package carrier.
Dealing with shipping has been the most un-fun part of this whole process. That said, it has been very interesting being on the other end of the shipping world.
I’ve got a PO Box at the Post Office a few blocks from my house, and I gave some consideration to using the USPS (and while I certainly want to save the USPS, I can’t do it at the expense of my business.) Ultimately a combination of poor service and a lack of being open late ruled them out for now.
So on a recent Saturday I had plans to go to the UPS store near my house and talk with them about shipping options. I’d already set up a UPS account, and linked it to PayPal (yeah, I’ll get into payment stuff in a future post) but wanted to talk to a real person about the process. Sadly, the UPS store closed about 20 minutes before I got there, so I ended up going across the street to FedEx. The FedEx employee was extremely helpful, and explained how it all worked. The only bothersome thing was that I won’t know the actual shipping price until I have an address. Even if I ship 10 packages all the same size, weight, etc. they may all be different prices. I asked them to run a sample based on a size and weight I had, and when they needed an address, I gave them NYC Resistor‘s since it was easy to find with a quick search on my phone.
The FedEx employee also talked about shipping boxes, and I bought an 8x8x8″ box to take home and see if it was the right size. It was $1.75, and I’m glad I only bought one, because I can get about 6 of them from Uline for that price.
So now I’ve got an account with the USPS, UPS, and FedEx. I’ve also sold one unit, which I’ve shipped out. The shipping I charged was pretty close to what it actually cost to ship it. I’m not an expert on PayPal, but it looks like you can set things up to calculate shipping costs during purchase if you use UPSP or UPS, both of which can be integrated into PayPal. As I mentioned, I’m using FedEx right now. Oh, and FedEx needs a phone number to ship things (?) which I did not have on the PayPal order page, so I had to add that. So yeah, shipping is a pain in the ass.
OK, well, that’s all I want to say about shipping right now. I mentioned PayPal a bit, so I’ll dig into that in a future post. I’m also sure I’ll have more posts on the subject, even though we’ve covered all of the Ten Rules.
(See all the posts in this series: Begin, Stock, Buy Smart, Basic Rules, No Leeway, Be Open, Community, Manufacturability, Marketing, Shipping, Lessons Learned, The Real Costs.)