Congratulations! Now you have earned your first sales permission (click HERE if not so), set up your Paypal account, prepared for your package(click HERE if not so), and just need one more step to get started to sell all your cool Pokemon merchandise. However, every one of experienced sellers, no matter individual or business, would find this last step painful when they are just like a rookie as you selling their first item. That is the reason for bringing me here and write this tutorial on this ultimate mission:|
How to Calculate Your Shipping Cost?
Before we head on to this topic, make sure you have read the rule of thumb below.
What you all need is:
- If you are shipping a minimal number of packages in a long time and your postal staffs would not bother weighing every package for you, close this tutorial and leave that amount of work to your local postal staff.
- If you are like me who is always questioning the pricing and do not always have a kind postal staff there doing all those "unpaid" work for you, you just hit the right place to figure out all those simple yet "mysterous" pricing in regard to your package.
1. First-Class Mail U.S.
- A digital scale. I got my digital scale for $18 shipped off eBay three years ago when I started selling, and it has worked well and always gives me the most accurate reading. You can get yours with minimum reading to 0.1oz and maximum reading based on your average shipping weight of items. (Mine is 3lbs at maximal, so I have added up the weights of my items when I shipped a box weighing 4lbs in total. LOL.) Trust me, you will benefit from it in a long run.
- A 2014 USPS Postage List. Believe or not, I just found there actually a "Holy Bible" existed for sellers right before I am sitting down and starting to write this tutorial. Now, you are lucky since the Bible is right here. All we need is to take a simple reading of it.
- A Zone Chart for your own use. You may wonder what this is, but I will just show you a section later when finish the first chapter.
Okay, you may or may not know that to calculate the shipping cost for your item, you need a zipcode/location from the buyer inside the U.S. But, is it really true? The answer is YES and/or NO. Excuse me? I would have been as surprised as you are before reading this guide, thinking of all those zipcode I need to type in online to get a shipping cost estimate. The truth is, if you are shipping your item as a First-Class Mail, either a letter, large envelope, or a package, you do not need to know the zipcode of your buyer if you just scrolled to the bottom of Page 1! For your and my convenience, I would just snip and paste a screenshot of the table.
Page 1. What you would pay for at a post office-
Get the idea here? Yes, if your package weighs under 13 ounces, you can always find the price here just by rounding the weight of your package to the nearest UPPER weight. For example, if I have package with a weight of 7.2 ounces, it would have a shipping weight of 8 ounces on USPS scale and a postage of $3.22. So, next time you are calculating your First-Class Mail postage, just use the table and save the time looking them up on the USPS website. It would even save your more work if you just set a flat shipping charge for, let's say 1 to 4 ounces, $3.00 since you would like to account for the cost you pay for materials such as mailers, boxes, bubble wraps, tapes, etc.
So far looks good, right? But wait, pegasus, some people might ask me, "This is a retail price for First-Class Mail. What if I am printing my postage from say Paypal or Click-N-Ship for a First-Class Mail Package(temporarily down or maybe forever LOL)?" Your anwser can be found at Bible Page 13.
- If you are shipping single flats such as topper cards, stamps, pan stickers, and/or trading cards, and you are using toploaders to prevent them from bending, please ship them as Packages NOT Letters, or Large Envelopes. The difference of charge you are getting around here is minimal, and you are challenging the staffs in your post office if they would be qualified. Plus, you would get FREE tracking if you print postage online for shipping as Packages/Thick Envelopes. If it REALLY doesn't matter if the flats you put into the envelope or bubble mailer get bent, which I would doubt in most cases, you could ship them as Letters (you could pay for $0.21 to cover nonmachineable charge) if they are in envelopes, or Large Envelops if they are in bubble/poly mailers. However, you should double check that with your buyers. I believe most buyers wouldn't mind paying one to two bucks extra to cover tracking and mailer cost.
Page 13. What you would pay for at Paypal-
What we want to look this time is just the last column. Please do not ask me what the previous three columns mean since the smartest TA in a college cannot solve some tricky problems, right? LOL. What I wish to point out here is that by printing the postage directly from Paypal not only save you those dimes and time standing in a line at a post office (you can drop off your packages at the blue collection boxes on the streets or the big collection box at your post office), but it can also send your buyer a notification that you have shipped their item PLUS there is no extra cost for TRACKING. Yes, that tracking number you always want to peace out yourself and your buyer but would cost you $1.05 for each package you are sending. It is totally FREE when you print the postage from Paypal. Who don't like FREE?
2. Priority Mail U.S.
That's it for First-Class Mail and there is no more needs to say. Alright, now let's move on to the topic I promised you at the first of this tutorial - what is a zone chart and why would I ever need it? First, let's take a look together at what a Priority Mail pricing chart would look like.
Page 3. What you would pay for at a post office
The Priority Mail pricing table is so long that it covers package weight up to 70lbs, and I doubt the box would just break apart before you reach that limit. Usually that is not we would care about unless you are weeding out a really big collection; and I am sorry that I do not have sufficient knowledge to help you with that since I have not yet had that scale of collection. However, time will come when you would like to sell a few of large plushies, a mixed lot of figures, and/or a ton of trading cards you have collected when you were a kid. You find the weight of your package, usually in a box, has passed the upper limit, i.e. 13 ounces, to be qualified as a First-Class Mail. What should we do now? Answer is we need to make ourselves a personal zone chart first.
Here are the steps how to make a zone chart
Below is my personal zone chart (NOT yours)
- First, head to this link: http://postcalc.usps.gov/Zonecharts/
- Second, enter the first 3 digits of your zipcode (CAUTION: it is YOUR zipcode NOT your buyer's)
- Third, print the following page for your future reference until you are moving
So what does it tell you? Combining with the Priority Mail pricing chart, it would tell you the shipping cost of any package with any weight shipped to any place in the U.S. Feeling confused? Now, let's use a real life example. Say pegasus is selling his friend's Pokemon Cards to TrollandToad.Com. The packge weighs 4lbs, and the zipcode of TrollandToad.Com is 407XX. Now we first look at the Zone Chart and find the Zone # corresponding to that zipcode, which is a 4 (falling into the range of 399---410). Now we head back to the Priority Mail pricing chart, find Weight for not over 5lbs and Zone #4, which would give us the postage of $11.35. If you would ever find that the postage would cost a lot, you could always switch to the Priority Mail Flat Rate. You could get those red-n-white-color boxes at your postal office or order them online for FREE.
For your convenience, here is a list of all those USPS boxes qualified for the flat rate.
No, you CANNOT use those boxes if you are not shipping them with Priority Mail Flat Rate.
8 11/16" x 5 7/16" x 1 3/4"
8 5/8" x 5 3/8" x 1 5/8"
Medium Box 1
11 1/4" x 8 3/4" x 6"
11" x 8 1/2" x 5 1/2"
Medium Box 2
14" x 12" x 3 1/2"
13 5/8" x 11 7/8" x 3 3/8"
12 1/4" x 12 1/4" x 6"
12" x 12" x 5 1/2"
The retail prices of Small/Medium/Large Flat Rate are $5.80, $12.35, and $17.45 respectively. Plus, you get FREE tracking and a maximum of $50 insurance when you are shipping Priority Mail or Priority Mail Flat Rate. The online prices, i.e. Paypal, Click-N-Ship, etc., would be $5.25, $11.30, and $15.80 respectively. You could find an entire list of online pricing at Page. 9
Page 9. What you would pay for at Paypal
3. First-Class Mail International
Okay, comrades. Now we have conquered our national postal system, and we are going to spread our love for Pokemon to the World. There is just one more thing you need to know before doing that, and that is Country Price Groups. Now, you can pick up the idea here really quickly since it is just a Substitute of Zone Chart we havel dealt with above. However, we are talking about around 200 countries. The info is located on Page 53-55, but I would not adhere that table here apparently due to the size of it. I would provide you with a rule of thum of the Groups. However, this number ONLY applies to First-Class Mail International.
Group 1 Canada
Group 2 Mexico
Group 3-5 Eastern Asia, Europe, and Australia
Group 6-9 Western Asia, Africa, Latin America, Carribean, and New Zealand
For a specific country you are unsure about, you should always refer to the Tables located on Page 52-55.
Page 46. What you would pay for at a post office
There is not much for me to say if you have kept reading this far. You plug in the weight of your package and the Group# of the country you are shipping to, and you would get the corresponding postage of it.
Page 47. What you would pay for at Paypal
What I want to point out here is that in the past, you could go to the Click-N-Ship and print a shipping label from it with the Comercial Base price above. You can even fill out the customs form there, and it will give you a label number which functions the same as a tracking number would do. Unfortunately (again), the Click-N-Ship page is down for blocking people from proceeding to the Next page after filling out all the required info. I am with my fingers crossed and wish they could solve this problem fast, but not just complain the loss which cannot be covered by government's support. How would you expect to get funds while you are turning your customers down?
In the end of this tutorial, I would thank you for keeping reading this long and redundant article. You would find that the idea of Zone Chart and Country Group is just repeated, and you would also feel surprised how simple it works and you feel yourself just like a genius figuring out the postage by yourself. You would also find that by printing those tables and getting your packages weighed, you would never bother yourselves typing those zipcode, package value, weight online, and choose which service should be the cheapeast.
You have all of them in hands!
Now you can start playing with the Bible and see what you can dig up there. I am pretty sure there is more I do not cover here, and feel free to question and/or comment. I would be love to discuss all those stuffs about shipping with you.