Tuesday, May 26, 2015

A Crash Course Shipping Tutorial For A Lolita From The USA : Domestic and International

Hello and thanks for stopping by! After a much needed hiatus, I am returning to blogging in full force and in doing so also start my lolita spring cleaning. Now when spring cleaning comes to mind, the act of shipping your old items to their new homes is almost always mandatory unless you have a lot of folks in your local community that have very similar tastes to you. After much contemplation I thought it might be a good idea to go over some good methods as well as tricks and tips I use and will share to make your shipping experiences easier.This is unfortunately a tutorial for lolitas within the usa shipping domestically as well as internationally. 

First thing first is finding and obtaining shipping materials. If you visit USPS's website you can actually obtain packaging envelopes and boxes as well as any other priority materials to your house free of charge [ link to supplies can be found here.] Now if for whatever reason your particular post office can not ship to you, all of these items are readily available to you in the lobby of your local post office. 

With these materials you will notices most of the boxes and envelopes will be marked 'Priority' or 'Priority Express.'  You can only ship with the method mentioned on these materials so make sure to watch out what you grab and order, priority express ( and priority express guaranteed ) is like the equivalent to EMS so the postage can get expensive if you are not paying attention.

Another thing to mention with priority mail is there is Priority flat rate and Priority by weight. Most envelopes or boxes will state if they are flat rate like the images above. If they are not they will be priority by weight ( tyvek bags, and boxes.) If you are mailing priority flat rate, the weight of the item does not factor into the cost of shipping. This can dramatically cut the cost of shipping if done properly.

As you can see in the photo below, I like having an assortment of options from them as I tend to ship a lot of things quite often. The top envelops and boxes to the right are flat rate while the bags to left are by weight.

I like using priority shipping because whether it is domestic or international shipping, a tracking number will always be attached and an automatic $50 in insurance . [ I will show you how to pull the tracking for international shipping later in this post. ] Tracking is very  important for a lolita that buys and sells items because it creates a record of an item being properly received. It also protects you as seller, so I would suggest to always include tracking and insurance whether you are buying or selling to safeguard yourself as well as the item.

But for some people who don't usually have your own packaging on hand, the free shipping materials are a plus. Here below are some other shipping components though if the ones above are not available to you. 

I picked these up at Office Depot in bulk and most of these envelops will cost 3.99 for a 4 pack. Now you do not always need to use priority boxes or envelopes to ship priority either, you may use your own packaging like these items above. 
Now in the case you might be shipping something fragile or might need special packaging, I have also included other shipping materials that are good to use.

In the photo above I have included clear cellophane bags, air bags, and bubble wrap. I'm going to include the use of brand bags as well because taking a note from BTSSB and AP, sometimes the best shipping packaging covers are these exact bags. They are sturdy, waterproof, and do well for use shipping overseas. I have collected quite a bunch of these materials from saving these items from shipments to me from Japanese retailers direct, second hand stores and ss services.

Now that we have all the components needed to ship our lovely items to their new home, lets cover how to prepare our items for shipping. As I mentioned before I prefer to ship priority because it is the cheapest while including tracking. I will be using flat rate envelopes in my examples, but feel free to use whatever you have on hand as long as they are sturdy and will keep your item safe from damage and weather.

I usually tend to wrap the item I'm sending out in a protective covering. In the image above you see the plastic wrapping to the right which I mentioned before, fully covers and protects the garment from water and other elements. If you do not have bags like these on hand you can also use Ziploc bags, like the dress on the right.

When packing the dress or garment into the bag, make sure to fold it neatly and tightly. It should fit into the gallon bag rather snug and if it is a regular cotton or chiffon, it should become very compact. Not all dresses can be packed this way so try not to force it. (  I have had some dresses before that took two gallon bags, every garment is different so pack accordingly! )  But in this example it does fit and the bag closure should come together nicely. Before closing it all the way, make sure to apply pressure to the bag to push out any excess air before closing it. This will create a vacuum seal effect to the contents of the bag and making the bag smaller and fit snugly to the garment. In a lot of cases, when this is done your ziploc bagged dress can fit into the flat rate envelope shown below. Sometimes also for added protection, I will wrap my ziploc bag in a priority tyvek bag with the address attached ( The priority by weight bags ) just for the extra added protection in case the envelope should break. 

You should be able to fit the ziploc right into the flat rate envelope. After placing it in the envelope take the flap over and seal the envelope closed. There might be a little bit of bow in the packaging, and to ensure the closure and envelope to stay sealed, you can add additional tape to the top closure. The Priority flat rate envelopes have a flat rate of up to 4lbs, so as long as your dress isn't velvet or other heavy material ( in which case I would not recommend shipping with this regular flat rate envelope, I would suggest shipping with the Priority medium size flat rate box OR Priority by weight tyvek bag. ) it should be a fine fit. Photos examples are below. 

Now that you have your dress packaged and ready, you can either take it to your local post office for the shipping label, or you can print the shipping label at home. Shipping this particular way with the Priorty Flat Rate Envelope costs a whole $6.00 usd with an automatic $50 insurance with the option to cover to full amount of the item up to 5,000 for an additional cost. Thats a steal for both you and the buyer. It really doesn't matter which way you choose if shipping domestically, but if shipping internationally I would recommend printing your shipping label from home.

At the post office when shipping internationally, priority does not offer a tracking number and you must pay more for it to be a registered mail parcel to get the tracking. When shipping from home or from your usps account ( they are free to make ) tracking will be provided for the parcel free of charge. There will also be an option to send a copy of everything to your email as well as notify the recipient by email that you have mailed the parcel as well as send the tracking information.

Something to note though, when shipping items internationally and printing the labels at home, you will have to fill out the same customs declaration forms as you would if you are at the post. Make sure to fill them out as clear as possible, and be aware of the weight of your package because you will have to include that in your customs declaration. I would suggest procuring a digital or household scale for this. Again, this does not apply to domestic parcels, just international ones. And in the rare occasion for whatever reason the online post states that the customs forms need to be included in its own windowed portion located on the parcel, put it in a ziploc bag and tape just tape the bag to the box. I know it sounds crazy.. but it works, trust me. This has only happened to me when shipping to the Netherlands and to Spain, but both took the package with the customs taped to a ziploc bag. Just make sure the customs forms are readable while in the bag.

When using the usps online store to print your shipping labels it creates a paper trail for you shipping the package and makes the tracking information easily accessible for both parties. This can be a handy tool especially if the item gets lost or the buyer for whatever reason opens a paypal claim in regards to the shipment of an item. What is also really cool about printing shipping labels from home is after you've printed your labels, USPS.com keeps a history of every label you've ever purchased and paid for and keeps a log of all of the tracking. So in case you might need to pull something up for your records or the buyers, it is readily available.

So lets say you need to pull the tracking number because you forgot to add the buyers email when filling out the form. You would just sign into your USPS.com account, go to the shipping history and search for the buyers name or address, or you could even search by date. The page will look like the image below. All of the label information will appear; from the address, the buyers name, the label tracking number as well as how the transaction is paid for. From here you can copy the label information to give to the buyer or paypal and there will be need to keep receipts from when you go to the post!

I hope this has been a helpful resource for how to ship items within the United States domestically as well as internationally. If you have any questions regarding shipping items please feel free to inquire, I would be very happy to help! Happy closet cleaning and stay tuned for more from your neighborly Texas lolita!


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