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How To Ship T-Shirts for Your Etsy Store or Small Business

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Hey Friends! Dave here with Transfer Express, and today we’re talking all about shipping t-shirts.

We’ll chat about how to package your shirts for the lightest weight and lowest price and then we’ll touch on some of the features you’ll look for in a shipping service.

Ready? Let’s get ship done!

Shipping t-shirts, or any products for your small business doesn’t have to be a daunting or complicated task. Sure, with just a couple orders a trip to the post office or UPS store once a week is perfectly fine, but if your online store or Etsy shop starts pulling in business where you’ll have to be making multiple trips a week or daily drops- you’re going to want a simpler and cheaper way to ship. We’ll get into that in a minute.

First up, lets talk about how to ship a t-shirt. For shipping anything, you’re usually charged based on a few different criteria: weight, size and how far it's going. To cut down on weight, we want to have the lightest packaging possible - for t-shirts, nothing really beats a poly mailer. You can fold and slide a t-shirt right into the bag, maybe even including some stickers or package stuffers like this thank you card. So, forget all of the extra packaging materials if they’re going to be adding weight. This one is a 10 x 13” polybag which works great for shipping shirts, sweatshirts and even hoodies.

Now, a big aspect to shipping isn’t just price, but durability in transit. These polybags are pretty durable, but can be prone to ripping or having holes torn into them, so a lot of businesses choose to double polybag them using a clear polybag on the inside, so if for any reason the exterior bag rips, there is an additional layer of defense against moisture or debris getting in to ruin your t-shirt. Of course you can purchase blank and clear polymailers from sites like Uline, but we love the branding potential for custom printed polybags- just like these! We ordered the printed polymailers from Stickermule, but there’s a few sites out there that might make more sense price wise depending on the quantity you’re ordering.

Now that our t-shirts are packed and ready to ship, let’s chat about some different methods you can use to go about shipping. All of the major carriers, USPS, UPS and Fedex all sell postage online, making it much easier to just go drop off your items, but you’ll find the same retail-price shipping rates online or in-person- so it’s saving you time, but not money. If we are talking about money, typically USPS first class package service is the cheapest option for lightweight pieces.

This is really where those 3rd party shipping services really come in handy. I’m talking about sites like Shipstation, Shippo, Stamps.com, Pirateship and the many others that are out there. The big allure of these services is that you get bulk buying power and access to commercial rates that your volume may not otherwise warrant.

Aside from cost savings, these services have quite a few features you should be looking for when comparing and finding which one is the best for you:

#1 would be online store integration. Not only does it simplify shipping tasks for you and allows you to easily print batches of labels, but, some of these solutions, like Shipstation offer branded tracking pages that your customers can access to easily track their orders, making your store and your user's experience feel and look like the huge ecommerce retailers they’re used to shopping at. These integrations can also automatically update your account dashboards to automatically change statuses and notify your customer when your order ships. Super powerful stuff! So just be sure that your online store platform- regardless of if it’s Etsy, Shopify, Woocommerce or Squarespace can be connected to the service you choose.

#2, Be sure to check monthly fees, shipping markups and any hidden charges that may be in the fine print. Sure, they offer discounted shipping rates, but these costs all calculated together each month can balloon your shipping costs back up close to retail rates- but with simplified and automatic order syncing that you get with website integrations, many see these expenses as a trade off for convenience.

#3, Be sure to confirm what carriers they use. You may have a FedEx store right down the street that is super convenient to drop packages off at, but if that shipping service only ships with USPS and UPS or DHL it may not make the most sense for you and your business. Of course, almost all of these services include USPS shipping, which is typically the lowest cost option like we mentioned earlier and almost everyone has a post office close by.

Before we wrap this up we have to mention thermal label printers. If you are shipping any quantity you should invest in a thermal label printer. The ROLLO printers seem to be the most popular with Etsy shops and small businesses. Not only does it make printing labels super easy at home or in your business, but we’ve even seen creators use these printers to print promotional stickers for their brand! With tons of different colored stocks and shapes available in blank labels, it can work double duty for you and your business.

Be sure you’re subscribed to our Transfer Express YouTube page to stay up to date on all of the t-shirt business tips we’re dropping every single week! Until next time, I’m Dave - Happy pressing!