Etsy Store Shipping: Should you ship UPS Ground or U.S. Postal Service for a cube box under 8 pounds…and notes on Parcel Post

This is part of a series of post I’m writing about different shipping options once you make a sale on your Etsy Vintage Store.

My first shipping post compared rates for a shipment weighing 2 pounds or less and the options using U.S. Post Office Priority Mail and REGIONAL Priority Mail service.

USPS v UPS

For this post, I compare U.S. Postal Service (USPS) versus United Parcel Service’s (UPS) Ground option, for an order weighing under 8 pounds.

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The items in this case is a set of 4, Mid-Century stoneware salad plates by Lauffer, heading from the West Coast to the East Coast (New York).

After I bubble-wrapped each plate, I placed cardboard in between each then again bubble wrapped (for extra protection!) the entire set.

The package of plates were then placed in a  box surrounded with additional recycled newsprint.

The box for this order measured 11″x11″x10″ — basically a cube shaped box.  The final package weighed 7.8 lbs.

If I ship this item via  USPS Priority Mail, the shipping cost would have been $27.25.

Under 8 lbs USPS Priority Mail

If I elected to ship this package using  USPS “Parcel Select”, the post office’s most economical option (which can take up to 9 days) the cost was $23.93.

To me, this was not a big enough difference to ship USPS Parcel Post, especially that I would have to buy insurance, and would not have a detailed tracking of the shipment.

Under 8 lbs USPS Parcel Post

Note:  I did ship a much larger, but LIGHTER object in the past, where the USPS / Post office Parcel Post option was the best rate.  More on this at the end of this post.

The next option to review was UPS Ground Service.

I already have a UPS account so this was easy enough to do, just by copying and pasting the address from the ETSY order to my  UPS “Create a Shipment” page.

 UPS weight is entered in whole numbers, so the weight rounds off to 8 lbs.

Under 8 lbs UPS Ground

The  UPS Ground rate was $16.64 — by far the most economical option.

Note: Rates depend on your service terms, and fluctuates depending on fuel surcharges, delivery to business address or residential (residential addresses are usually a few dollars more).

The UPS $16.64 rate comes with tracking and and an automatic $100 value for each box.  You can purchase insurance though UPS if your box value is over $100 e, e.g., for $300, $500 and even for thousands of dollars, if needed.

The bottom line?

Don’t rely on just one service option to mail out your orders.  Always have more than ONE option for shipping.

While the U.S. Post Office is typically the better option for small easy to ship objects (especially those that can fit within their flat rate Priority and Regional Priority Mail boxes), I’m finding that UPS rates can be more economical for heavier objects traveling long distances, if it does not fit in the USPS flat rate box options.

Whether UPS or FedEx Ground, just have an alternative outside of the U.S. Post Office.  It is easy to set up an account for either (or both) at UPS.com or FedEx.com.

The bottom line is to  save money for your customers — or yourself if you have a fixed shipping cost, when listing your items.

The last thing you want is for the shipping to cost more than the items you list…,unless of course, it is unavoidable.


And on the USPS “Parcel Post”:

To date, I’ve used the USPS Parcel Post service once.

it was an order for a traditional palm leaf and bamboo, Asian farmers  conical hat, that shipped to Georgia.

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For this very light but BIG object, both the UPS rates and USPS Priority Mail rates were crazy expensive, because the hat took up so much volume.

In this instance, the best rate was the USPS Parcel Post – and I was thankful to have this service option!

However, I did not like the ambiguous delivery date window, which the post office notes at “2 to 9 days” and not much detail on the tracking information.  Plus, you do have to buy separate insurance, as unlike the USPS Priority Mail options, it does not include the $100 insurance.

The shipment did take the maximum 9 days to arrive to the customer.

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I’ve visited an Etsy vintage store that noted they use ONLY USPS Parcel Post, which I found surprising, because it is not necessarily the best service.

Customers are happy to get their items FAST (and will usually report that in the review) and Parcel post can take the longest of the shipping choices.

UPDATED January, 2016

— I’ve used the Parcel Post a few more times, and it found the rates competitive for lightweight items.

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A vintage gathering basket / magazine holder that shipped to an address over 2,500 miles from my location arrived in TWO DAYS!

I was impressed, and so was the customer.

So… it is possible to get items sooner than the experience I had with the Asian hat, but it is not guaranteed.

I will definitely look at this option more this year, as long as there is not an issue with transit time.

This week, also used this service to ship another basket style magazine holder.  This item took 5 days to ship over 2,700 miles  via Parcel Post — totally acceptable.

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If you are an Etsy seller, what shipping service do you usually use, and what do you like best about the service?


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Related Market Tales Blog Posts:  1st post for the shipping series, Shipping for 2 lbs or less — Should you use the U.S. Postal System Priority Mail or “Regional” Priority Mail?

Crafting detailed listing titles, tags and descriptions to help your Etsy vintage item stand out from the crowd

It’s been four months since I opened my Etsy vintage shop, and I’m getting better at crafting titles, creating more specific listing “tags”, and writing descriptions for my items.

This post is about my efforts to make my Etsy vintage items stand out from the mass of products available from web-based stores.

Based on my experience, this article covers:

  • Why it’s important to use all 13 tags within the Etsy listing system
  • How a little research can help a seemingly generic item stand out from the others
  • How including  the size of an item in my listing title may have led to selling it
  • And an example of finding a niche in a product category with 74 pages of listings!

Listing Tags and Titles

Using tags — words or short phrases — to describe your item listing on Etsy helps potential buyers find your item by matching your tags with a shopper’s search term.

Etsy allows you to use 13 tags for each listing.  Each tag can contain up to 20 characters.

At first, 13 seemed like a lot of tags — do I really need to use all of the tags?

I’m finding that the answer is YES, I do!

The tags help potential buyers find a listing in my store among the hundreds — or sometimes thousands — of similar products for sale on Etsy, EBay and the myriad of on-line shops.

Example 1: The Asian Fan with Red-Crowned Cranes

If you are looking for a traditional folding Asian Fan, and type in “Asian Fan” in Ebay’s search box, you will get thousands of results.

In fact, as of today, November 6, 2015, there are 12,406 “Asian Fans” listed on EBay.  Yikes!

Asian Fan in EBay November 2015

It was less overwhelming on Etsy, with just hundreds of fans in the different categories.

Still, there were a total of 2,069 items listed for “Asian Fans”.

Etsy Asian Fan Listings

So when I listed this fancy, gold-painted, traditional, folding “Asian Fan” on my store, I thought it would take a very LONG time to sell…

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The folding fan was an interesting vintage object, but what I really liked about it was the theme, and the painting of the two birds on the gold background.

I took a guess that these birds were a type of crane, since I knew a little about the importance of cranes in Asian cultures.

More specifically, they had a red crown… so I researched “Red-Crowned Cranes”, and learned more about these birds.

I decided to focus the listing on the birds, and used the words “Red-Crowned Cranes” in the title.  and included the string of words as one of my 13 tags for the listing.

Red Crown Crane Fan Listing

I also included a bit of what I learned, for the item’s description section.  Excerpt below…

Red Crown Crane item description

On Tuesday, the words “red crown crane” were among the search terms someone used to find their way to my vintage shop.

Here’s a screen shot of Page 3 of  the top keywords that day…

Red Crown Crane keywordsAnd yesterday…. despite this listing being less than a week old, the fan sold!

It was surprising to me because this item had zero views and zero favorites, prior to the sale.

Also, there was no search term that day for “Asian Fan” (or even Chinese or Japan fans, the other tags I also used for the listing.)

Perhaps someone was looking for something with a red-crown crane as a gift.  And though they may not have thought about an “Asian Fan”, the item became a gift option.

For this listing, I think the focus on the Red-Crowned Crane helped sell the fan.

Example 2: The Long Wood Box

If you type “Wood Box” within Etsy’s search box, here is what you will get (as of November 4, 2015):

Listings for Wood Box on Etsy Nov 2015

A whole lot of boxes —- 69,363 to be exact.

How on earth can you make your particular box stand out, like this wood box I listed among 69,363 wood boxes?

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Well, it’s a wood box with a specific shape (LONG)  and size (over 11 inches long ), information which I included in the listing and the tags.

Long Wood Box Item Listing

And also on Tuesday,  guess what words — actually, NUMBERS — showed up on my top keyword terms?

2by11 box Top KeywordsThe box size, or at least close to it — 2×11.

This box also sold that same day!

So, despite the 69,363 wood boxes on the Etsy website, this buyer found this specific box, because of the size, and this size number included on the listing title, item details and item tags.

Finding a Niche:  The Wood Magazine Holder Example

Here is how the Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines “niche”:

Niche Definition

My last example for this post is a wood magazine holder, listed on my shop pages in August.

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In August, when I typed “magazine rack” in Etsy’s search box  I got 3,097 results.

Being a fairly new seller, I didn’t even want to imagine where — or at what page (out of 74 pages!) my listing would surface.

Magazine Rack

Using a generic tag to include your item in a broad, general category is a start.  But even better is to use more specific language.

My item was a wood magazine rack.

If one types in “wood magazine rack, the results are less daunting.

Wood Magazine Rack

Now there are just 927 items, and only 23 pages of wood magazine racks.

Looking at my wood magazine rack, the wheel part reminded me of a Western wagon wheel, or a Western style decor.  I added the following words for the tags on this listing:

  • Western Decor
  • Western Style Rack
  • Wagon Wheel

And so now, if someone was looking for a “Western Magazine Rack” there is only 1 page of items, and only 13 results (as of August, 2015).  And Voila — there is my item!

Western style Magazine Holder

The wheel also reminded me of an old-fashioned ship or nautical type wheel, so I added the following terms to my listing tags:

  1. Wheel Decor
  2. Nautical themes

If someone was looking for a magazine rack with a specific wheel or nautical theme, they will have 1 page and 23 items to look through (again, as of August, 2015).

Nautical Magazine Rack

And now my listing is up on the top, in the first (and only) page, just as it was on the “Western Magazine Rack” search.

I barely have the patience to look through 5 pages of magazine racks….let alone, 74!  Being on the first few pages is definitely better.

So while this magazine holder has not yet sold, I feel pretty confident that it will find its way to a new owner, eventually 🙂 .


I’m still learning more about titles and tags…

What I do know is that using more detailed descriptions, and specific words or a string of words for your title and tags is a must, in addition to the generic terms for your listing (like magazine rack, or Asian fan).

When posting a new item, remember:

  • There are 13 tags to use — use ALL OF THEM.
  • Be creative, and think about what a potential customer may call the item or what they can do with it.  Can it be re-purposed into something else?
  • Be sure to use the listing title’s 140 characters to your advantage, and be as detailed as possible with your title.
  •   Include the size of your item — remember that the term “11×2” may be all it took for my long box to find its new owner.
  • Incorporate the words used in your title within your item details and description.  So far, I have not reached a character limit on my item detail description  — there is a lot of room for item details!
  • Have fun, do a bit of research on your objects and when possible, provide what you have learned to help the listing stand out from the masses.

I rarely put up a listing without using ALL of the characters allowed on the listing title. My “short” title means I use 138 characters and not 140.

Are you doing the same thing in terms of refining your tag words and using all the characters available for your listing title?

I hope this post was helpful.

— Jane

By the way, yesterday, the customer who bought the long box left a positive feedback — another 5 star review for the store!

Long Wood Box Review

The buyer of the Asian fan also left a 5-Star Review 🙂

Screenshot 2016-07-14 13.39.48


 

Related

Market Tales Article – My first listings — and describing my Franciscan Pottery and Heath Ceramics items

Etsy image link How to Get FoundEtsy Article – How to Get Found in Search Getting found in search may seem daunting, but all it takes is a little know-how

Etsy Blog – Seller How To: Tag-o-rama With Descriptive Keywords


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