Imagine the disappointment on a customer's face when a unique piece of merchandise from your store arrives cracked or broken due to handling. Picture the followup email and brace yourself for a full refund or the need to provide a replacement item. Using a bubble mailer, which will help absorb shock along the delivery route, can help your business avoid these negative experiences for a minimal cost, and the mailers can be shipped through any package handling service, including the United States Postal Service (USPS).
Bubble mailers accommodate a range of merchandise. As you prepare shipments, the weight, size and thickness determines the type of postage you need to buy. An envelope up to 12 inches tall by 15 inches wide and three-quarter inches thick can ship as a first class mail "flat" if it weighs 13 ounces or less. A flat must also meet minimum size requirements of 6 1/8 inches long by 11 1/2 inches wide.
Larger or thicker mail pieces, such as softcover books, ship as first class parcels, while heavier items move up to parcel post, also known as retail ground, or Priority Mail class. When your business deals in repeat sales of certain merchandise, many shipping programs allow you to preset mailing options to streamline postage printing. As you sell the first of each unique item, save the shipping settings. If you're not using a shipping company or online service which has online tools, make a spreadsheet featuring the item name, inventory number, envelope weight, item weight and preferred shipping options.
Preparing for Shipment
To prepare a bubble mailer for shipment, you need a shipping label, a return address label and forms for any additional services. When using a shipping service for metered postage, such as Stamps.com, Pitney Bowes or Endicia, these elements are built into the label. For shipments mailed at a postal counter, prepare and affix the elements separately. A business with sporadic shipments can use self-adhesive labels and a word processing program to make both return and destination labels. Place the labels on the package horizontally, leaving room in the upper right hand corner for postage. Add stickers for special services, such as signature confirmation or insurance, between the return address and metered postage.
Brand Your Bubbles
When a customer receives a package from your store or business, it provides an additional chance to build your business's brand. Purchasing bubble mailers in bulk can provide a substantial discount to package preparation costs. If you opt to invest in large orders of packaging, some manufacturers provider mailer customization with logos or color schemes for an additional charge. You can also customize a plain envelope with stickers featuring your logo or messages to the customer, such as "Thank you" or "Shop with us again."
Additional USPS Options
For a small business just starting out, USPS offers shipping options that can reduce overhead costs. The postal service provides Priority Mail and Priority Express flat rate envelopes for free in both padded and unpadded varieties. You must ship the products via the mail class indicated by the packaging, but the shipping costs can be passed on to your consumers, limiting your expenditures to shipping labels.
- If you've sold an object, be sure to include an invoice when shipping. Place it around the object when you insert it into the envelope in step 3.
- If you mail using postage stamps, you may spend a few more cents than is necessary to ship the package. The Post Office itself will also offer a wide variety of shipping options, such as Media Mail, Parcel Post, or First Class. It also offers optional services like insurance and Return Receipt.
Ashley Mott has 12 years of small business management experience and a BSBA in accounting from Columbia. She is a full-time government and public safety reporter for Gannett.