The cost of postage isn’t the only big expense in your packaging and shipping budget. Boxes, tape and labels can eat into your profits if you don’t account for them in your prices. However, there are options to get free shipping supplies from the US Postal Service using certain classes of mail delivery that will give your packages a more professional, uniform look.
The US Postal Service offers many different types of free shipping supplies for Priority Mail and Express Mail. And making this service even better is the fact the USPS will send you pre-printed envelopes, boxes, decals and tape for these classes of mail for free. For most items, you must order a minimum of one to 10 items. Maximum orders go up to 500 units for USPS boxes.
If USPS’s free boxes don’t meet your needs due to size, the next best option is to purchase plain brown boxes from a shipping store. You can order free Priority Mail stickers in rolls of 250 through the Stamps.com Store. Applying these stamps to your plain boxes will ensure that USPS recognizes your shipping method as Priority Mail so the item can get to the destination in the 2-3 day delivery window.
As an added benefit for Stamps.com customers, you can easily order your free USPS supplies with just a few clicks. Just log-in to your account, click on “Buy Supplies” and place your order. The USPS will mail the supplies directly to you, a process which typically takes one to two weeks. If you can’t wait that long, stop by your local Post Office to pick up smaller amounts of the free shipping boxes and envelopes.
If you aren’t planning to send your packages through Priority Mail or Express Mail, you won’t be able to use any of the USPS’s free supplies. However, there are other options to find free shipping supplies. People often post free boxes and moving supplies on Craigslist and Freecycle. These boxes are most useful for an eBay seller who ships a variety of large items.
Free boxes often can be found at grocery and liquor stores. These boxes would be appropriate to send a package to a family member, but they would not be a good option to send fragile items. Often times these boxes are glued together and aren’t as strong when put back together with tape.
Free bubble wrap and paper acceptable for mailing packages are also available by calling some local businesses in your community. One good option is to visit your local furniture store to ask if you can have their heavyweight paper and bubble wrap that was used to ship their items. But before you use them to mail your items, carefully look over each sheet to ensure that the bubble wrap hasn’t been damaged and the paper is intact. If it isn’t, it won’t protect your items as well as new packaging material.