I still remember my first sale on Etsy. At most, I had half a dozen items listed and thought I would mention to my sister about my new endeavor. Up to this point, she was not aware I had opened a shop selling women's handbags on the internet. Well, lo and behold, she actually bought one of my bags! I remember being almost shocked, which was quickly followed by "So what do I do now?" That was well over three years ago and I have since gone through many evolutions in my shipping procedures and in how I organize my shipping area. I thought I would share with you how I organize my shipping station, as I call it, so that everything is right where I need it.
At one point I had purchased an entertainment center at a thrift store for $10 and was using it exclusively for storing fabric. One day, it occurred to me that by moving some of my fabric around to other locations, I could use part of this as my shipping station. It was one of those now-why-didn't-I-think-of-this-before moments. The most exciting aspect of this idea was that I could use the slide-out shelf, conveniently positioned for me while standing, to be my main processing surface. Normally, whenever I had to package something for shipping, the first order of business was to find a flat surface that did not have piles of stuff on it! Now I had a shelf that could be pulled out when needed and which could be used exclusively as a work surface when processing orders.
Here is a photo of how I have things organized:
[I use the left side of this entertainment center as my shipping station]
Notice the large area where a television would normally have been placed, which is perfect for storing USPS priority flat rate boxes as well as padded flat rate envelopes. The slide-out shelf is right above those. I store my poly bags (three different sizes) on top of the entertainment center, below the metal shelves which sit on top. I also have packing tape, note cards, scissors, business cards and other needed items right there.
To the right (below), next to the scissors, I have my self-adhesive mailing labels on which I print shipping addresses directly off Etsy. I also have pre-printed sheets on which I print out each order ( Download Order sheet), again, directly off Etsy. This enables me to easily keep track of actual shipping costs for that item, any overage to be paid to the buyer, and to indicate if the buyer has been reimbursed.
[Another view of my shipping station]
Although this is far from a perfect set up, it is a vast improvement on some of my previous working conditions. Having a home-based business is always a work in progress. As your business grows, you find ways of doing things better and more efficiently. Five years from now, I'll be remembering that cumbersome shipping station I used to have!