I'm curious to know if this is an industry-wide factor for people who run brands as their second job. I often find that a million things get in the way of shipping orders, but I know that it is essential to maintaining the credibility of my brand.

What types of ways do you keep up with the orders, and how do you keep that stress-level down?

I usually ship 2-3 times per week on days off from school and work, and while the orders coming in do indeed feel good, shipping seems to be one of those things that I absolutely dread. That being said, once I'm slaphappy and throwing stickers into everybody's order after a 15 hour work day, it's actually pretty fun. I've found that music and a funny friend is the best accompaniment to shipping time. Though I want to smash my computer every time Stamps.com decides to crash mid-order... Which seems to be way too frequent.
  • 8-bit ZOMBIE

    As 8BZ has grown, I've found it harder and harder to stay on top of packing and shipping. Especially since I put so many personal (And time consuming!) touches into my orders. But I generally pack and ship orders on a daily basis. Even if I can only set aside one hour during the day to pack orders and get them shipped off, that's what I'll do. Letting orders pile up just drives me crazy and I hate the thought of people waiting too long for their stuff. Luckily there is a shipping center right around the corner from me, so that helps a ton.

    My main piece of advice is to stream-line the process as much as you possibly can. Cut out anything and everything that is a time waster. Set up an organized shipping table where everything is in reach. You'd be surprised how much time is wasted walking 5 or 10 feet away for something over and over again rather than setting yourself up a space where everything is right where you need it. Organize, organize, organize. Think of packing orders like an assembly line. Once you get yourself set up and get into the rhythm, you'll be surprised how fast you can pack orders.
  • Random

    I agree with everything that 8-bit has said. Streamlining your business is essential. When I first started out I would write orders out by hand which became a serious problem once we started to grow. Definitely invest in a good label printer, scale, and postal service program. These three things saved me A LOT of time and money. So instead of have to wait on line at the post office for 15 to 30+ sometimes; I can now just drop and go! This will free you up to do other things for your business. Hope this helped.
  • 8-bit ZOMBIE

    Yep a good label printer is a must too. I bought a cheap little laser printer as my dedicated label printer, toner lasts way longer than ink.

    The way I handle my shipping may not be the fastest or cheapest but it works for me right now and might be a good option for others - There is a little shipping center right around the corner from my house. It's a "contract" postal store, so it's a real post office but ran by non-government, (AKA non-apathetic-jerk) people, hahah. I have an account set up with them so that I pay my tab once a month and don't have to wait in line everyday. I simply drop my stuff off and go! It works out great because I don't have to spend time weighing packages and all that. They do all that for me and I pay actual shipping with no fees tacked on.

    Which brings up another point - If you are going to a shipping center that's not a real post office, make sure they aren't ripping you off! My post office was closed one day, so I drove to another shipping center. They tried to charge me a good 8-10 dollar fee on all of the overseas packages! Even the domestic packages had a couple of bucks tacked on. After she gave me the total, I said thanks but no thanks, rounded up all my packages and drove over to the real post office, haha. INSANE. Would have cut a big chunk out of my profits.

    And the worst part about all of that is that they are charging you those fees FOR NOTHING. They don't really do any extra work. It's just a cash grab because they know people hate going to the real post office.

    So yeah, if you are looking at postal centers, SHOP AROUND!

    (Sorry for rambling, haha)
  • deadera

    Wow. You guys are awesome. Thank you for the insightful remarks.

    8-bit ZOMBIE said:Yep a good label printer is a must too. I bought a cheap little laser printer as my dedicated label printer, toner lasts way longer than ink.

    The way I handle my shipping may not be the fastest or cheapest but it works for me right now and might be a good option for others - There is a little shipping center right around the corner from my house. It's a "contract" postal store, so it's a real post office but ran by non-government, (AKA non-apathetic-jerk) people, hahah. I have an account set up with them so that I pay my tab once a month and don't have to wait in line everyday. I simply drop my stuff off and go! It works out great because I don't have to spend time weighing packages and all that. They do all that for me and I pay actual shipping with no fees tacked on.

    Which brings up another point - If you are going to a shipping center that's not a real post office, make sure they aren't ripping you off! My post office was closed one day, so I drove to another shipping center. They tried to charge me a good 8-10 dollar fee on all of the overseas packages! Even the domestic packages had a couple of bucks tacked on. After she gave me the total, I said thanks but no thanks, rounded up all my packages and drove over to the real post office, haha. INSANE. Would have cut a big chunk out of my profits.

    And the worst part about all of that is that they are charging you those fees FOR NOTHING. They don't really do any extra work. It's just a cash grab because they know people hate going to the real post office.

    So yeah, if you are looking at postal centers, SHOP AROUND!

    (Sorry for rambling, haha)

    The main issue for us is the International orders. It seems that we've garnered ourselves a significant following in Australia and Canada (sometimes more orders than domestic) and filling out those customs forms is exhausting. I've been told that you can somehow print them out, but no luck on this end.

    I've always been curious, what is a "normal" sales volume for a successful brand like 8-bit Zombie? I can imagine you're probably dealing with significantly more shipping than us. Do you hire help during major holiday seasons for shipping? Is it bad that I'm enlisting my girlfriend as a sweatshop laborer when we're swamped? I swear, if it wasn't for good friends this brand wouldn't be possible.

    As far as getting price-attacked at the shipping centers, I know exactly what you mean. I drive out to the boonies where we have a small HQ, and I ship at a government-run post office just down the street--they get aggravated when we bring in 50+ packages, but they seem to appreciate that my postage money is going towards their pay at the end of the day.

    Random said:I agree with everything that 8-bit has said. Streamlining your business is essential. When I first started out I would write orders out by hand which became a serious problem once we started to grow. Definitely invest in a good label printer, scale, and postal service program. These three things saved me A LOT of time and money. So instead of have to wait on line at the post office for 15 to 30+ sometimes; I can now just drop and go! This will free you up to do other things for your business. Hope this helped.

    I've gotta figure out how to get this drop-and-go thing set up. The problem is that right now our orders are super sporadic. We have some days where 50+ sales will come in due to some good buzz on our Facebook, and several days we'll pull in 1-2 sales/day. What type of volume do you need to set up one of these accounts? I'd be interested in working this out as a monthly deal.

    At the end of the day, I can't complain! Getting sales is awesome, but I'm super anal, and I feel like a failure when my turnaround is 3 days to process an order.

    Thanks for your help! I really enjoy both of your brands.
  • William Henry

    deadera said:Wow. You guys are awesome. Thank you for the insightful remarks.

    8-bit ZOMBIE said:Yep a good label printer is a must too. I bought a cheap little laser printer as my dedicated label printer, toner lasts way longer than ink.

    The way I handle my shipping may not be the fastest or cheapest but it works for me right now and might be a good option for others - There is a little shipping center right around the corner from my house. It's a "contract" postal store, so it's a real post office but ran by non-government, (AKA non-apathetic-jerk) people, hahah. I have an account set up with them so that I pay my tab once a month and don't have to wait in line everyday. I simply drop my stuff off and go! It works out great because I don't have to spend time weighing packages and all that. They do all that for me and I pay actual shipping with no fees tacked on.

    Which brings up another point - If you are going to a shipping center that's not a real post office, make sure they aren't ripping you off! My post office was closed one day, so I drove to another shipping center. They tried to charge me a good 8-10 dollar fee on all of the overseas packages! Even the domestic packages had a couple of bucks tacked on. After she gave me the total, I said thanks but no thanks, rounded up all my packages and drove over to the real post office, haha. INSANE. Would have cut a big chunk out of my profits.

    And the worst part about all of that is that they are charging you those fees FOR NOTHING. They don't really do any extra work. It's just a cash grab because they know people hate going to the real post office.

    So yeah, if you are looking at postal centers, SHOP AROUND!

    (Sorry for rambling, haha)

    The main issue for us is the International orders. It seems that we've garnered ourselves a significant following in Australia and Canada (sometimes more orders than domestic) and filling out those customs forms is exhausting. I've been told that you can somehow print them out, but no luck on this end.

    I've always been curious, what is a "normal" sales volume for a successful brand like 8-bit Zombie? I can imagine you're probably dealing with significantly more shipping than us. Do you hire help during major holiday seasons for shipping? Is it bad that I'm enlisting my girlfriend as a sweatshop laborer when we're swamped? I swear, if it wasn't for good friends this brand wouldn't be possible.

    As far as getting price-attacked at the shipping centers, I know exactly what you mean. I drive out to the boonies where we have a small HQ, and I ship at a government-run post office just down the street--they get aggravated when we bring in 50+ packages, but they seem to appreciate that my postage money is going towards their pay at the end of the day.

    Random said:I agree with everything that 8-bit has said. Streamlining your business is essential. When I first started out I would write orders out by hand which became a serious problem once we started to grow. Definitely invest in a good label printer, scale, and postal service program. These three things saved me A LOT of time and money. So instead of have to wait on line at the post office for 15 to 30+ sometimes; I can now just drop and go! This will free you up to do other things for your business. Hope this helped.

    I've gotta figure out how to get this drop-and-go thing set up. The problem is that right now our orders are super sporadic. We have some days where 50+ sales will come in due to some good buzz on our Facebook, and several days we'll pull in 1-2 sales/day. What type of volume do you need to set up one of these accounts? I'd be interested in working this out as a monthly deal.

    At the end of the day, I can't complain! Getting sales is awesome, but I'm super anal, and I feel like a failure when my turnaround is 3 days to process an order.

    Thanks for your help! I really enjoy both of your brands.

    I don't think some one like 8 Bit is just going to give out his sales numbers on a public forum. Thats a private issue best left to email.

    As for international orders, you can definitely print them out online. I have an Etsy shop and they recently just started doing first class international through Endicia. All you do is purchase the label, print it, sign it, then drop it off. No need to fill out any of the customs forms as Endicia does all that for you. Pretty sure you can get a free month trial too if you wanted to test it out first.
  • deadera

    William Henry said:
    deadera said:Wow. You guys are awesome. Thank you for the insightful remarks.

    8-bit ZOMBIE said:Yep a good label printer is a must too. I bought a cheap little laser printer as my dedicated label printer, toner lasts way longer than ink.

    The way I handle my shipping may not be the fastest or cheapest but it works for me right now and might be a good option for others - There is a little shipping center right around the corner from my house. It's a "contract" postal store, so it's a real post office but ran by non-government, (AKA non-apathetic-jerk) people, hahah. I have an account set up with them so that I pay my tab once a month and don't have to wait in line everyday. I simply drop my stuff off and go! It works out great because I don't have to spend time weighing packages and all that. They do all that for me and I pay actual shipping with no fees tacked on.

    Which brings up another point - If you are going to a shipping center that's not a real post office, make sure they aren't ripping you off! My post office was closed one day, so I drove to another shipping center. They tried to charge me a good 8-10 dollar fee on all of the overseas packages! Even the domestic packages had a couple of bucks tacked on. After she gave me the total, I said thanks but no thanks, rounded up all my packages and drove over to the real post office, haha. INSANE. Would have cut a big chunk out of my profits.

    And the worst part about all of that is that they are charging you those fees FOR NOTHING. They don't really do any extra work. It's just a cash grab because they know people hate going to the real post office.

    So yeah, if you are looking at postal centers, SHOP AROUND!

    (Sorry for rambling, haha)

    The main issue for us is the International orders. It seems that we've garnered ourselves a significant following in Australia and Canada (sometimes more orders than domestic) and filling out those customs forms is exhausting. I've been told that you can somehow print them out, but no luck on this end.

    I've always been curious, what is a "normal" sales volume for a successful brand like 8-bit Zombie? I can imagine you're probably dealing with significantly more shipping than us. Do you hire help during major holiday seasons for shipping? Is it bad that I'm enlisting my girlfriend as a sweatshop laborer when we're swamped? I swear, if it wasn't for good friends this brand wouldn't be possible.

    As far as getting price-attacked at the shipping centers, I know exactly what you mean. I drive out to the boonies where we have a small HQ, and I ship at a government-run post office just down the street--they get aggravated when we bring in 50+ packages, but they seem to appreciate that my postage money is going towards their pay at the end of the day.

    Random said:I agree with everything that 8-bit has said. Streamlining your business is essential. When I first started out I would write orders out by hand which became a serious problem once we started to grow. Definitely invest in a good label printer, scale, and postal service program. These three things saved me A LOT of time and money. So instead of have to wait on line at the post office for 15 to 30+ sometimes; I can now just drop and go! This will free you up to do other things for your business. Hope this helped.

    I've gotta figure out how to get this drop-and-go thing set up. The problem is that right now our orders are super sporadic. We have some days where 50+ sales will come in due to some good buzz on our Facebook, and several days we'll pull in 1-2 sales/day. What type of volume do you need to set up one of these accounts? I'd be interested in working this out as a monthly deal.

    At the end of the day, I can't complain! Getting sales is awesome, but I'm super anal, and I feel like a failure when my turnaround is 3 days to process an order.

    Thanks for your help! I really enjoy both of your brands.

    I don't think some one like 8 Bit is just going to give out his sales numbers on a public forum. Thats a private issue best left to email.

    As for international orders, you can definitely print them out online. I have an Etsy shop and they recently just started doing first class international through Endicia. All you do is purchase the label, print it, sign it, then drop it off. No need to fill out any of the customs forms as Endicia does all that for you. Pretty sure you can get a free month trial too if you wanted to test it out first.

    Thanks for the tips -- I'll check out Endicia. I currently use Stamps, which I like, but I'd love a way to accomplish International orders in one fell swoop.
  • TwinSrpnt

    I used to print my international labels online and it did save a ton of time but a few months ago usps raised their international prices. Haven't tried Endicia though.

    Anyways, other than international shipping, I separate all the tees and tag them. Small-2XL for easy finding. Then, in bags I put all kinds of freebies. Once an order is placed, all I do is print the packing slip, I put it inside the bag and seal it. I print the shipping label using a thermal printer (zebra) and drop the packages at the post office. (through paypal you can print up to 50 shipping labels at the same time).
  • miles to go

    i use endicia for everything as well and it cut out the 6-8 hrs a week i used to spend standing in line at the post office for international. i just drop off all of it at the dock and dont even go in.

    my process is i write down all of the tees i need to mail that day and bring them over to my shipping table. i have a mailer with extra goodies in it that i use for each and weigh each order, one by one and print them out right after i weigh them and write what they got on the back of the shipping label. e.g. tell tale - m, f451 - m, etc and i print up all of the labels for the day. then, i take all the labels and package them all up at once. weighing each order may sound annoying but i used to just always calculate a small was 6 oz, so two would be 12 oz and most times two would be 10-11 oz and i was wasting extra money by not weighing them properly.

    but a little scale and install endicia. best $15 a month i pay hands down.

    i should mention all of my tees are individually bagged and have size labels on them and are in bins by design to save time finding things.
  • Serji Gold

    While we're on the topic of shipping and stock, I was wondering what the general consensus on storage is.

    Plastic Bins or Shelves?
  • miles to go

    i use 108 gallon plastic bins(got that size because i can fit a ton in my car for shows) and put 1-2 designs in each depending on stock. those bins then sit on shelves and have the name of the design on it so i can find anything quickly.

    i also forgot to mention, instead of a label printer, i bought a small 1 color high yield black laser printer(under $100) and use it for labels. much cheaper than a thermal printer and i buy my labels off of someone on amazon because the ones you can get at places like office max/staples are way too expensive. i just picked up 1000 labels for the price it cost me to buy 100 at office max. i use the ones with two to a sheet.
  • William Henry

    miles to go said:i use 108 gallon plastic bins(got that size because i can fit a ton in my car for shows) and put 1-2 designs in each depending on stock. those bins then sit on shelves and have the name of the design on it so i can find anything quickly.

    i also forgot to mention, instead of a label printer, i bought a small 1 color high yield black laser printer(under $100) and use it for labels. much cheaper than a thermal printer and i buy my labels off of someone on amazon because the ones you can get at places like office max/staples are way too expensive. i just picked up 1000 labels for the price it cost me to buy 100 at office max. i use the ones with two to a sheet.

    I use the same labels. Super cheap and work perfectly.

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