On Etsy, shipping and fulfillment are handled by sellers individually. This leaves a lot of flexibility for a seller’s shipping options — which means it also presents a lot of decisions! This post will give you an outline of the most important shipping issues to consider as well as some tips and links to more in-depth information. We’ve included relevant links for US, Canada, UK, and Australia, thanks to help from these sellers: PeculiarForest, estasketch, terrain, Dancingcircle, memake, magicjelly, fenrislorsrai, lamarquisedesanges and katsai. Soon, we hope to translate this post into other languages, including German and French.
General Shipping Information
- USPS Mailing and Shipping Guidelines
- Canada Post Shipping Products and Services for Your Business
- United Kingdom Royal Mail Tool Kit
- Printable PDF Shipping Guide from Australia Post
- La Poste (France) Shipping Guidelines and Customs Guidelines
Shipping as Customer Service
With the general population increasingly shopping online, buyers are looking for more in the way of customer service, expediency, and convenience. Sellers should come up with a plan for what types of shipping they offer, whether they offer express services, insurance, etc. Most of all, providing clear, friendly information will prevent any miscommunication — which can really put a damper on customer service. Along with the shipping costs outlined in the listing, many sellers put additional shipping details on their Shop Policies page, and link to that at the bottom of each listing.
Depending on the shipping service you use, you may need to calculate weights and parcel dimensions. For example, US First Class Mail uses weights, while Priority Mail rates may also depend on the parcel dimensions, shape, and the shipping destination.
So whip out your measuring tape, kitchen or shipping scale, or take note of the weight of your packages when you take them to the post office. Now that you know the weights and dimensions of the packages you offer, you can use your country’s postal service shipping calculator to determine the domestic and international rates for the countries you want to ship to. You may decide to factor in the price of your shipping materials into your shipping cost.
- USPS shipping calculator
- Canada Post: Find a Rate
- UK Royal Mail: Price Finder
- Australian Postage Assessment Calculator
The holiday rush can be a frantic time! Plan ahead with shipping deadlines. You may want to refer to these in your Shop Announcement as a courtesy to your holiday shoppers.
- USPS Holiday Mailing Dates
- Canada Post: Holiday Suggested Mailing Dates
- Royal Mail Last Posting Dates
- Australia, International Post Guide
Etsy Shipping Profiles
Etsy Shipping Profiles are a way to save a specific set of shipping information, which you can then quickly apply to any item listing during the listing or editing process. Shipping Profiles work well if you have similar items that ship for the same costs. Determine your shipping costs for an item of a specific size, weight and shipping method, then create a Shipping Profile you can quickly add to your new listings for such items.
Further Reading: Find out how to set up your shipping profiles in our Help section here.
The difference between Regional Shipping and Country Specific Shipping.
Combined Shipping allows you to specify a special shipping cost in the event that a buyer checks out with multiple items from your shop at the same time.
Further Reading: Find out how to apply this option to your shipping settings in our Help section here.
You may want to consider offering expedited shipping options. If you end up using these services a lot, you may even be eligible to a discount through your chosen carrier. Chances are, you’ll get a customer who needs an item by a certain date, so do your research ahead of time.
I started this post with a section on customer service, and I think it applies here. If you plan to offer express shipping, figure out how to make it as easy as possible for your buyer. Let them know upfront how much additional services cost. Perhaps include some helpful text in your listings and Shop Announcement. Here’s an example: “I also offer expedited shipping for an additional cost of $x.xx. If you would like this service, please write a note in the Message to Seller when you check out. I will send you an updated invoice from PayPal for the additional service.”
Dancingcircle pointed out in this post that it’s “easy to set up your own account through USPS, UPS or FedEx by visiting their websites. Make sure you clearly understand each carrier’s shipping time frames, if they include delivery confirmation, and where you will need to drop off packages or how to schedule a pick up. Don’t forget to check out their claims or lost package policies.” Expedited services are available with Etsy Shipping Labels, and delivery confirmation is already included for all domestic shipments.
- You can compare expedited services offered by the USPS here.
- Terrain notes that Canada Post offers a variety of expedited shipping services, and “each parcel delivery type indicates whether or not it includes a) delivery confirmation, b) insurance up to $100, and c) supplemental insurance.” Click here to check these out.
- Sending Urgent Mail through UK Royal Post
- estasketch details the shipping options for Australians, “Auspost offers express post for domestic, or express post and express courier services for international. Express post has quite reasonable rates and good shipping times considering how far away we are from everything! Express courier offers a few more services and faster, but also more expensive.”
Express post for domestic
Info on express post international
Info on express courier international
Insurance can offer a great deal of security to you, the seller. As noted earlier, shipping is an aspect of customer service, and in the event there is a shipping problem, you may face an unhappy customer and negative feedback on Etsy. Etsy offers a protection policy for sellers if certain criteria are met in the event of a delivery dispute (read more here). Additionally, there may be local laws in your area that would place responsibility on the seller for a shipping problem. Consider purchasing insurance on big-ticket items, or adding a small amount to each item cost so that in the rare cases where packages get lost, you have a fund that can cover you (or include the price of insurance in your shipping price and let the buyer know you have done so in the item description).
You can find out the cost of insuring your package from your postal service. Some expedited services have certain insurance packages built in, so look into that before buying additional insurance. Also, shipping insurance from U-PIC Insurance Services is available for purchase with all Etsy Shipping Labels.
- How to buy insurance with Etsy Shipping Labels
- USPS Insurance
- Canada Post Insurance
- Check the UK Royal Mail shipping services’ details individually
- Australian Insurance (Extra Cover)
Proof of Shipping
If the buyer happens to claim they have not received their package, proof of shipping is the key to clearing your name, should the buyer report this to PayPal. Ask for this service in person at the post office. Further, we encourage our sellers to keep detailed and accurate records of shipping, as our Support Team may ask you to provide proof of shipping in a non-delivery case on Etsy.
- A Certificate of Mailing from USPS costs $1.20 (at the time of this blog post). You can also include Tracking, Delivery Confirmation, Signature Confirmation, and other extra services with your shipments. Check them out here.
- Canada Post has a DCC, Delivery Confirmation Certificate. Terrain notes that “delivery confirmation is a part of Canada Post’s electronic tracking system. PayPal will accept a Canada Post Tracking Number that shows delivery as proof of delivery. To get a refund from the post office for a lost or damaged item, you would present the receipt you obtained when you sent it, which also shows the tracking number. Proof of shipping for Small Packet, which doesn’t include DCC, would be your receipt plus the copy of the customs form.”
- UK Royal Mail’s Track and Trace. PeculiarForest points out, “If you have a tracked item (Special Delivery 9am, Special Delivery Next Day, Recorded Signed For, Airsure, International Recorded Signed For) you must take the item to your local Post Office to have it accepted. The Post Office will also provide a signature for your Certificate of Posting document.
- Australian seller estasketch says, “To get any proof of mailing you’d need to use an express or registered services. Registered post prepaid satchels seem to be the most affordable way of do this for international packages currently. Delivery confirmation is available but only on parcels over a certain size, and only with insurance. Proof of mailing also comes included with all express post services. Registered post information for domestic mail here.”
As of November 2009, 30% of transactions on Etsy are cross-border or involve both a non-US buyer and non-US seller. Part of the excitement of being on Etsy is shopping and selling across borders. Offering international shipping opens up your shop to the world. That said, sellers need to be comfortable with the ins and outs of shipping internationally if they are going to offer this service to their customers. It is easy to learn, and once you do, you will open up your shop to many more customers!
- International Tools and Tips from Etsy
- USPS International Delivery Services
- Canada Post International Shipping Products and Services
- UK Royal Mail’s International Delivery Options
- Australia Post International Services
If you are selling to a lot of international buyers you should check out Etsy Shipping Labels. You can enter all of your customs specifications while purchasing your label, then we will fill out the form for you, and include all information on your printed label. Learn more about buying international postage on Etsy here.
If you are shipping to another country, you’ll need to include the proper customs documentation. Do not mark it a “gift” if you’re mailing an item you’ve sold to a customer. Check with your country’s postal service to find out exactly what forms you’ll need to attach to your package. In general, filling out these forms thoroughly with information should actually prevent your package from getting held up in Customs.
Shipping internationally will go smoothly most of the time. Every so often a package can get stuck in customs. Make sure your customers are aware that you can’t be responsible for these delays. With some mail classes, tracking information is less reliable than others, once your package has gone out of the country.
The buyer is responsible for any additional fees that may be charged at customs. You should add this to your Shop Policies page.
- In the U.S. you’ll need one of two different kinds of customs forms. Any labels printed through Etsy will automatically use the proper customs form for your shipment. You can also pick these up in person at your Post Office. Find out more here.
- In Canada, refer to this link on the Canada Post website. Terrain adds, “For U.S. and International Xpresspost and Expedited parcel services, fill out the ‘Customs Declaration’ section of the shipping label. For U.S. Small Packet/Light Packet, CN22 Customs Label (white for SP, green for LP).”
- PeculiarForest notes that for UK sellers, “Customs forms will need to be filled out at the post office if parcels are being sent outside of the European Union.” Memake notes that you may also download a PDF form from the Royal Mail website here.
- Australian sellers need the green forms available from your post office for free.
Further Reading: Seller Tip from Katsai
Know What You Can Ship
Some items are prohibited or restricted to individual countries. Magicjelly underscored that it is “absolutely imperative that non-Australian sellers know about customs restrictions on items being mailed into Australia. Here’s a helpful page about what you can’t mail to Australia. Also, some Australian buyers may not be aware of what they shouldn’t buy from overseas sellers… Australia doesn’t have a lot of the plant diseases and pests you have [in other parts of the world], so the Quarantine Dept is very vigilant.”
- USPS’s Country Conditions
- Search restrictions by country on the Canadian Post here and here.
- UK Restricted and Prohibited Goods
- Prohibited goods list on the Australian Post website
Pricing and Sales Considerations
If it costs you little to nothing to ship an additional item to a customer, think about offering free shipping for additional items. This can be an incentive for the customer to look through your shop and see if there is anything else she wants. You may even mention that you offer free shipping on additional items in your listing to entice her.
- Free Shipping: Some sellers use free shipping as a promotion. If you plan to do so, first consider your profits and realize that for lower-priced items, this may not be cost effective. If you decide to do free shipping, you may consider using “free shipping” as a tag or otherwise call attention to it in your Shop Announcement and listing description. Really, free shipping is only effective as a promotion if the buyer is aware of it before she decides to make the purchase! You may also consider just using free shipping as an occasional promotion for your shop, or as a special benefit that you give to great or repeat customers, or for orders over a certain dollar amount.
- Balancing Shipping Cost with Item Price: It can be challenging to try to find a good shipping cost for heavy yet relatively inexpensive items such as baked goods. If your shipping cost is very high or even higher relative to your item price, you might consider the following ideas: Add a bit to your item price to balance the shipping cost, research and find the least expensive method possible, encourage multiple sales in one order if you are using a flat-rate service that will not cost additional money to ship.
Have a tip for shipping from your country? Let us know in the comments below.