March 20, 2013

How To Sell And Ship Furniture Online

This is another installment of "What Sells and What Doesn't"  but this time with a twist!

I am so excited to have Sue from Uniquely Chic as my guest blogger today!  I have always wondered how people sell and ship furniture online.   I think it could be of use to so many people that don't have access to sell at an antique mall or market.

                                           Hi...I'm Sue from Uniquely Chic

Carol, my first blog follower, has asked me to add to her series of "What sells and what doesn't". Mine's a bit of a twist on the topic because I sell furniture and home decor in my Etsy shop, Uniquely Chic Furniture . I live in NJ and antique malls are pretty scarce here. The ones I have visited seem to bring no traffic at all. I envy those of you who sell in popular antique malls. I would love to have a small space to arrange my pieces in rather than a cluttered basement and garage.



However, selling on Etsy is great because it doesn't limit you to a specific geographic area. I ship everything and on occasion someone local will come by and pick up out of my lovely garage showroom. Honestly shipping is a bit of a drag...packing and lifting heavy boxes then hauling them down to the post office is the only part of being able to sell nationally I don't care for. Okay and dealing with untimely freight shippers is up there too. But, don't let that discourage you. Here are some tips on shipping I've learned over the last two years.

                                                                     LET"S TALK SHIPPING

You need to find a good box supplier and I'm not talking Staples or big box stores. They are ridiculously expensive. I'm extremely lucky. I have a box company about five minutes from me and over the last couple of years my box guys have become good friends. They are my friends with benefits :) I call them with dimensions of a piece and they tell me the size of the box best suited. They will even cut them down for me if necessary (You can find a box company in your town by goggling "Box company").  Every inch of box matters ladies because every inch means more money to ship. More money to ship can sometimes mean squashed sale. I also hoard boxes and packing material from the holidays. I use the box dimensions and run the numbers and zip code of the potential buyer through the USPS postage calculator which you can find on the USPS web site ((The combined length and girth cannot be more than 130"). This is how I get an accurate shipping quote. You'll also need the weight of what you're shipping (USPS maximum weight is 70#). I just guesstimate this. I ship standard post which used to be called parcel post because this is the least expensive way to go.  But, I've shipped nightstands and small tables this way so it's not terribly limiting. On a rare occasion when my size exceeds USPS then I'll use UPS but they are quite pricey so avoid them if you can.
  
The rocking chair, is a tough sell because it has to go UPS due to its size and UPS prices are ridiculous.


When I started shipping really large items like dressers, I used Uship.com. It's the Ebay of shipping. You list your shipment and independent shippers bid on delivering the piece. There's a small fee involved only if a bid is accepted which gets passed onto the buyer. I have been able to get some really good numbers this way. I don't use that site as much anymore. I now turn to the shippers I've met through uship for quotes first. I have several guys I use regularly and know what areas of the country they cover. The furthest I've ever freight shipped was a large dresser to Texas. The beauty of freight shipping is they handle wrapping your items. The downside, some are very unreliable.  Freight shipping cost depends on distance mainly. 




The dresser I shipped to TX cost 350.00 to ship, ouch, I know. I think if someone truly loves something though and they can afford it then they will buy it. I ship dressers to NYC for 150.00 and down to FL for about 250.00. Boston runs about 200.00. It's really about making calls and getting the best number. It takes time. Sometimes you'll get lucky and the shipper you call just so happens to be heading where your piece is going then they'll give you a low number because they're going that way anyway
                    
     WHAT SELLS ON ETSY

Painted mirrors and small pedestal tables move quick as do those metal ice cream parlor chairs. You know the ones that look all crappy upholstered in plastic. With a little spray paint and new fabric they clean up super nice. Gray dressers never hang around too long. Nightstands and small cabinets are big sellers too. Colors that are hot right now for furniture are gray, blues, turquoise, apple green and gray/blue. Vintage dressers with stained tops and painted bodies tend to go quickly. French Provincial and farmhouse style furniture are pretty hot too.

 THE SQUATTERS

Squatters are the ones that are not welcome because they've been taking up space for far too long. Pink dressers.... I'll do pink now only if it's a custom order. End tables, upholstered benches and desks tend to linger. Anything that is too big to ship USPS standard and doesn't make sense price wise to ship freight. Coffee tables and end tables fall into this category. Now I carry a small tape measure on my key chain when I go "shopping". If it exceeds the USPS maximum, I walk away. Loser colors...pink, baby blue, red. Fun colored dressers although I love them you're narrowing down the potential buyer. Save the fun and whimsical for custom orders.
HERE'S A COUPLE SQUATTERS



HERE IS A COUPLE DETAILS I WOULD LIKE TO ADD

Typically boxes for me run 3.00 per box. But keep in mind I deal with these guys weekly and they are friends now. Plus I bring them donuts, ha. I wrap legs in bubble wrap and cover tops and sides with bubble wrap as well. I try to make sure there is no wiggle room in the box. The tighter the fit the better off you are. Bubble wrap runs about 25.00 for a big roll. Buy this from your box supplier. It goes a long way. I don't use peanuts because they are messy. When I pick up foam for upholstering I buy scrap pieces on the cheap and will use that as well to create a tight fit in the box.

HERE IS AN EXAMPLE: THE TOTAL COST OF SHIPPING THIS ICE CREAM CHAIR

The pink Ice cream chair went to Virginia and cost 17.39 to ship. The box cost 3.00 and I used a small amount of bubble wrap on the legs and back of the chair. Roughly it cost 21.00 to ship including packing material.


Well, that's my two cents on Etsy selling. Thanks Carol for inviting me over!

Thank you Sue!!!  This was soooo GOOD! If you ever thought about selling furniture online, this should answer all of your questions!  Please visit Sue At Uniquely Chic

Happy Creating
Carol

50 comments:

NanaDiana said...

wow- That is a lot of work...and I know how hard it is to ship those bigger items. We don't have any great shops here either but I don't know if I would want to take on the big job of shipping. You do beautiful work though so that means people are willing to pay for the item plus the shipping. Good job, Sue. xo Diana

Into Vintage said...

I am suddenly more grateful than ever to have a busy mall where I can sell furniture. ;-) Thanks for all of this info! I know many etsy sellers also use Greyhound Freight (as in the buses) to ship furniture. LOVE that gray dresser.

Kathy said...

Great post!! I only sell smalls so far because of the shipping issue so all of this is inseresting to learn. Thank you for sharing!

Maureen said...

This is great information. I always wondered what the costs were involved in shipping furniture.

Kathy @ Creative Home Expressions said...

This was very interesting! I have an Etsy shop, too, but my items are not furniture. Sometimes I have a problem finding boxes or trying to estimate shipping on the pieces I sell. I always wondered how furniture on Etsy worked as far as shipping. I had read once that Greyhound is supposedly an inexpensive option. It's too bad that pink piece is a "squatter" ~ I LOVE it!

Decora Adora said...

wow- That is a lot of work.This is good information. I always wondered what the costs were involved in shipping furniture.

Hosanna said...

Great info! I have recently started selling some larger items on Etsy such as small shelves, etc. and have had to learn abt. shipping the hard way, sometimes! I've also been wondering about shipping the larger items. Thank you! :)

Mad Maine said...

Very informative and honest post! I do not think I could deal with shipping furniture - heck, I started my antique booth partly because I hate shipping small breakables on ebay. But I love reading about dedicated and diciplined people who do.
Your furniture pieces are very nice by the way :-)

Diane said...

Very interesting. Surprised the pink dresser is a squatter-- very cute!

Betsy@My Salvaged Treasures said...

What an informative post. I always wondered how Etsy and Ebay sellers handled large items, now I know. Your furniture is gorgeous and it's always good to know what colors are hot.

Patti@OldThingsNew said...

Great info. I've wondered about shipping because of the cost. Good to know what sells and what doesn't too as it will make me a pickier shopper when I'm out thrifting. Blessings to you, Patti

Dina said...

Thank you for your advices and sharing your experience, Sue! This makes me think about shipping small furniture too.

Carol, thank you for hosting! I love this series!

A Paris Flea said...

What an informative and timely post on shipping...Thanks Carol and Sue. I've been thinking about adding larger pieces to my Etsy shop and was wondering about shipping...I live on the west coast. I see I'm going to need to do more research before tackling this. By the way Sue, that pretty pink squatter is fantastic...just love it!!!

Debbi Oeltjen said...

great info on shipping large items! Personally love the pink dresser and there is a customer out there for it, she just has not found it yet! The blue table would be a great summer porch piece.

DownTheLaneWithDaisy said...

Thanks for all the info. Great post! I Love that dresser so much! Carol, keep this series going. It's fabulous!!

GARAGE SALE GAL said...

Very interesting! I'll stick with my booths.
Also enjoyed the "highlights" from the Ball LOL!!! You had some real "party" girls there! LOL
Yes, hubby wasn't too thrilled when I took his photo!
Warmly,
deb

Jaime Costiglio said...

Hi Carol - just saw your question/problem posted over at Google help in regards to recent posts not showing up on the reading list. I'm having the same issue which started 3/20/13, no resolution yet but I'm glad to have another blogger having the same issue, hopefully we can fix it soon!

Createology said...

Sue really gave us the drill down on shipping and I very much appreciate her insight. Thank you Carol for this wonderful Series. Happy Selling...

Susan Erb said...

Wow, Sue - you are so much tougher than me, I hate shipping anything that takes more than a padded envelope, LOL! Both of those squatters are great, I love how the black looks against the pink and that Union Jack is fab.

Sue

Allison@FabRehab said...

Fabulous information!! Sue, I had no idea you shipped! Great ideas, info!

Stacy's Shabby Shoppe said...

Nice post! I use Fedex Ground for my larger items. They are way less expensive than UPS and I think that alot of people don't realize this. I am lucky enough to have a HUGE room downstairs devoted to boxes, foam, air packs and packing materials. My husband brings them all home from his work so they are free. I am so lucky!

Annie said...

That reflection in the mirror is awesome!

Katherine Wolak said...

Thank you for this sweet post! It is so good to know these things and we are learning something new everyday! :)

Hugs,

Pink Paper Rose said...

Hi, I am also an Etsy shop owner and live in Southern NJ. My husband and I are in a lot of antique shows too. We try to deliver our own furniture when possible, we have a 24ft enclosed trailer, but there are times when we have to go another route with furniture. We use uship a lot, and we are also uship service providers too since we travel all over to shows, in Texas now for Round Top show. Another option we use is Greyhound, which is very reasonable...you box it and take it to the nearest bus station for drop off then the customer picks it up at the nearest bus station on their end. A 2pc hutch shipped from NJ to CA for $120.00 going Greyhound. I absolutely love your blog Carol!! Take care! Karen

Dragonfly Treasure said...

Great post! I always wondered how sellers shipped furniture. Good tips too. Thank you for sharing all your info
*hugs*deb

Debbie said...

I saw the title of this post earlier over on my sideboard and have been dying to take time to read it. It's not that I sell and ship furniture, but I do have a few pieces (not too large) that I have purchased for the DC daughter. I figured I would have to wait until I was driving up there to get them to her when they are finished, but maybe the shipping wouldn't be terribly bad.

Great tips that I hope I can use.

And how cute is that little ice cream parlor chair?

Ellie Clinton Issa said...

Great article, very informative!! Thank you!

Annesphamily said...

I love the ice cream parlor chair and I am always happy to get info like this in case I am buying a large piece on line! Thank you! I admire all of you that have lovely businesses! It is fun to see what sells everywhere! Thanks ladies for sharing!

Perfectly Printed said...

Wow!! I can't imagine shipping furniture across country! I am off to visit her shop, looks like she has some pretty cool things!

chris

Sisters Treasures said...

Thank you Carol and Sue for another great article in your series. Sue, all your info was top notch! I've enjoyed reading helpful info in the comment section also. I haven't braved the Etsy world or shipping furniture but this is definitely a "keep on file" blog post.
Love this series, Carol.
Betsy

Marlynne said...

How interesting! I don't think I'd want to do this kind of selling, but it was interesting to know how it works!

Little Miss Maggie said...

Very informative post. Thanks so much.

Heart Vintage Design said...

I'm impressed. I always wondered how people sold furniture on Etsy. I love the photo of your "squatters." As for that Union Jack, someone should snap him up now.!

Lauren jonczak said...

Great post. I have always wonder how shipping furniture worked. I love that pink and zebra chair! It would look perfect in my daughters bedroom. Thanks so much for sharing.

modular office furniture said...

Your post is really good providing good information about the online furniture.. I liked your post and enjoyed reading it. Keep sharing such important postsfurniture online

Pedro Padro said...

Indeed, it is important, and one of the first things to do, to find a good box supplier. When you're shipping your own products you should learn to minimize outside costs, as it would surely add up to the price you have to ask from your clients. And a slight difference in value can easily discourage a buyer. This is a very helpful collaboration Carol and Sue! Pedro@Pack Crate and Ship

John Smith said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Manasseh Holton said...

This is really one of the best blog and very likable at all. This is very useful for me and one of the very helpful blog. Thanks for making such a useful blog for us. Keep blogging.

Renea Luong said...

There are shipping companies out there that offer their clients proper packing procedure as well, so you don't have to worry how you will pack the furniture in a safe box. They will be the one to do it for you. They use quality packing materials to keep your items safe and secured.

Renea Luong @ Legacy

Luise Pagett said...

Pack your products properly to ensure its safety and to avoid further shipment cost. Shipping cost varies, depending on the location and weight of the product. Always prioritize the security of your product to not disappoint your clients.

-Luise Pagett @ FTA.co.uk

Hewes Enterprises Inc said...

Thanks for this post! I have a booth in an antique mall but unfortunately my local shoppers can be a little "thrifty". I had a terrific vintage ottoman that wasn't selling at the mall (it was only $20 in order to move it quickly), I put it on Etsy and it sold right away for $100 plus shipping! So selling online really does broaden your market.

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badjammamamma said...

This is great info. I LOVE your work and your generosity in sharing practical suggestions. Thank you!

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For more information visit click here. Thanks!

Apsara Sisodia said...

This information is very useful. I needed to make money by selling old furniture in bulk. So, I posted advertisement on Free Online Ads Sites and waited patiently. Within few days, I got calls from customers and BOOM I sold all my furniture.

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What is the best way to ship two cane back chairs?? UPS???

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