When you sell online, it’s important to get the postage right. How much you charge for delivery, where you ship to and the cost of posting additional items can all affect your sales. Plus, once you have an order you need to make sure the delivery service you use is quick, simple and above all reliable, so your orders arrive at their destination on time and intact.
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Everything you need to know about postage for your online shop
We asked postage experts Royal Mail and Folksy seller Martha Copinger Binns from Martha & Hepsie (who has lots of experience sending both direct and wholesale orders) to answer your postage-related questions. Read on to learn the best way to send valuables like jewellery, the best-value options if you send a lot of parcels, the right international postage option, when you need a customs form, how to price additional postage in your Folksy shop, and how to deal with postage on wholesale orders when you sell to shops.
What’s the best way to send jewellery or valuable items?
Ali from Calyx Handmade Jewellery wanted to know the best way to send jewellery: “Would it be possible to have some guidance on the best way to send jewellery please?”
What’s the best option for sellers who send a lot of parcels?
- Martha and Hepsie suggest using the Post Office’s Drop & Go service, which is great for when you’ve got no time but aren’t quite big enough for a business account.
- Drop & Go is a free fast-track service for small businesses, online sellers or anyone regularly sending mail. To use it, sign up for a Drop & Go account in a participating branch, then top-up your account. When you have mail to send, drop off your parcel at your Post Office (some have a fast-track counter), staff will check there is enough money in your account and process your mail later in the day – without you needing to hang around and wait.
- Drop & Go is available in over 97% of Post Office branches across the UK. Find more information about Drop & Go here >
- The Click & Drop service is an alternative option offered by Royal Mail (see below for more details).
- Royal Mail also offers a business account that includes its best rates, extra services and allows you to pay for postage on credit. There are minimums for business accounts but these have recently been lowered, so if you’re sending more than 20 parcels a week it could be a good option. Have a look at the Royal Mail Business page for details.
Can you avoid long queues at the Post Office?
Rachel from Birdhouse Press wanted to know if there was an alternative to queuing up in the Post Office: “I’ve given up on online postage because I still want proof of postage, so I still have to queue up in my Post Office to get it. Are there any better options?”
- The Royal Mail has a new service called Click & Drop that also provides proof of postage.
- Click & Drop allows you to create, buy and print UK and international postage online.
- To use this service you pay online using your credit/debit card or a PayPal account, and drop your parcel at one of 11,500 Post Office branches or even at a post box.
- You can print off up to five postage labels at a time, and fix to your parcels and letters.
- Read more about Click & Drop here >
When looking at postage, don’t forget to include your packaging costs either in postage costs or the item price.
– Martha from Martha & Hepsie
How can you choose the right international postage option?
Rose from Roses Workshop wanted to know: “Can you explain the difference between Royal Mail’s International Tracked, International Signed, and International Tracked and Signed services?”
- International Tracked provides proof of delivery. International Signed requires a signature on delivery. International Tracked & Signed does both. You can find more details about the services here >
- Check postage prices and delivery options for international services at a glance on the Royal Mail’s International Services wallchart.
- When setting the price of international postage for your products, first check the dimensions and weight of the item you are sending and use those to get a quote online using the Royal Mail Price Finder or other courier services. Then add your packaging costs. This will give you a realistic idea of the total postage and packaging cost, which you can use to price your delivery to different regions.
- Comparison sites like Parcel Monkey can be useful for finding the best rates.
- High postage costs can put off international (and UK) buyers, so it can be worth incorporating some of your postage and packaging costs into your product price and keeping the postage price low (or even free within the UK).
When do you need a customs form?
Stephanie from Stephanie Guy Fine Art wanted to know: “When is a customs form required?”
- A customs declaration is required when sending outside of the EU.
- You need to stick the declaration on to the outside of the item you are posting.
- When completing the CN22/CN23 customs forms you need to be as truthful as possible.
- Only the receiving countries’ customs unit can confirm what (if any) customs duty will be due.
- Be clear in your product description who is liable (you or the customer) for any customs due on their order.
How should I price additional postage on my items?
- When you sell on Folksy you have the option to set an ‘Additional Postage’ rate on your items. This allows you to discount the cost of postage on multiple purchases, ie if someone buys more than one item from your shop.
- If a buyer purchases more than one item from your shop and you haven’t set an ‘addition postage’ rate, they will be charged the full postage price on each item.
- If you enter a ‘0’ into the ‘additional postage’ boxes, postage will only be charged on the item with the highest rate of postage. Postage will be free on all other items in the order.
- If you specify a rate in the ‘additional postage’ boxes, full postage will be charged on the item with the highest rate of postage, and all other items in the order will be charged at their ‘additional’ rate.
- To encourage shoppers to order multiple items in your shop, set your additional postage costs as low as possible to cover packaging, or at ‘0’. to offer free postage on additional items.
- If you do offer free postage on additional items, shout about it in your product descriptions!
Some cheaper couriers are cheap for a reason and have pretty poor track records in terms of reliability. Be sure to check out reviews for any company you plan on using. An unreliable courier will cause you headaches, waste your time, and make you look bad to your customers. – Rog from Howkapow
How to price postage on wholesale orders
Ben from The Owlery asked: “I’m worried about posting large wholesale items, like lampshades and cushions. Am I going to massively eat into profit?”
- Many sellers have a standard charge for wholesale orders, which is included in the price lists or line sheets they send to stockists.
- The retailer will understand you need to charge for postage – just make sure your wholesale to RRP margin is at least x2.2 so the retailer can absorb your postage and packing costs.
- For larger items like lampshades (which are bulky and hike up the price of postage on an order) you can charge the retailer an additional carriage charge, or set the price of postage on these items at cost. Just make it clear to the retailer before that certain items will incur additional charges.
- Some sellers offer free postage on larger orders as an incentive for retailers to buy more of their stock, for example free postage on all orders over £250. Before you do this, check your profit margins and postage and packing costs to be sure you can afford it.
- When you invoice a shop for a wholesale order they have placed, add the postage and packing costs to your invoice (in addition to the wholesale cost of the items ordered).
- If you want to avoid having high delivery charges and worry this may deter retailers from ordering, add some of the postage and packing costs on to the item rather than having it as a separate charge.
Is it worth paying for insurance on all the products you send?
- Martha from Martha and Hepsie advises always paying for insurance on fragile or valuable items.
- Always check your courier’s terms and conditions before sending an item because some products may not be covered by their insurance policies and you will be unable to claim compensation.
- Package all your items carefully to reduce the risk of damage. The Royal Mail has a useful guide on how to wrap and package parcels
Find more postage advice for online sellers:
How to get the most out of postage >
Tips for running a ‘free postage’ promotion >
How fast and cheap postage can help you get more sales at Christmas >
If you have a specific postage questions, you can tweet Royal Mail @RoyalMail