startle, congrats on your new business venture! i would give customers an option of paypal or money order (assuming you don't want to deal with personal checks). although i'd like
to think that everyone was cool with paypal, it just ain't the case ... yet. i receive quite a few personal checks; just allow a week or 10 days for them to clear the bank, and you should be ok. DO NOT accept personal checks from international customers!! there are generally hefty fees involved to cash them. for international customers, only accept paypal (which isn't available in all
, US cash (remind them to wrap it securely so it doesn't show, and that it's being sent at their own risk!), or international postal money orders. i just had a discussion elsewhere about international postal money orders; i've never had trouble cashing them, but this other person has ... 'course she lives in an itty bitty town, so that may have more than a little to do with that!!
definitely get a postal scale. the one i have is the "royal EX2" and i got it on ebay a couple years ago for less than $30, including shipping! it's advertised to weigh up to 4 pounds, but really goes to at least 7 or 8 pounds pretty accurately. a friend just got a different scale on ebay for something like $15, and it's supposed to weigh up to, i think, 40 pounds!!
there are lots of "theories" about wholesale pricing. the main thing to keep in mind is that stores will want to double the price they pay for the merchandise (at least double, some may mark it higher than that!). what you don't want to do is put yourself in a position of competing with the store, where you're selling the same merchandise for a lower cost (i.e., if you do art fairs near the stores that are buying your wares wholesale). of course, if the store marks the stuff up more than 2x, you can't really do anything about that, and i wouldn't worry about it.http://postcalc.usps.gov/Zonecharts/
will create a customized priority mail zone chart based on your zip code.http://www.usps.com/ratecase/_pdf/notice123.pdf
once you know the zone you're shipping to, you can look at this chart and see what the postage will be. priority mail rates are on page 6, i think. i printed out the zone chart (above) and also this rate chart for 1 thru 10 pounds. it's rare that i need to mail anything heavier than that ... and anything over about 3 pounds, i send fedex ground anyway!
speaking of which, if you have a fedex counter near you, check it out!! fedex is now located in most, if not all, kinko's copy shops in the u.s.! their ground rates (not
their regular overnight rates) are VERY good, for packages weighing more than about 3 pounds and they're even better if you're shipping to zone 7 or 8 (i.e., from one coast to the other, or most of the way at least). from california, shipping to indiana and points east of there are all zone 8, so that's a BIG chunk of the u.s.! keep in mind that priority mail is zone-based now (and has been for 18 months or so). this means it's cheaper to send a priority mail package within your state (technically within zones 1 thru 3 or 4) than it is to zones 5 thru
. zones will be different for everyone. i'm in california and my zone 8 is indiana and east of there, more or less. for someone on the east coast, their zone 8 is apt to be everything west of denver. this is worth mentioning in case you were considering a flat postage rate, cuz that could get you into big trouble financially ...
ok, back to priority mail, you can get FREE priority mail boxes, a few at a time, at the p.o. or if you really get into this big time, order your priority boxes online, and they're delivered (still FREE!). i was going to give the link for priority mail supplies, but it appears that the ol' USPS has changed it and i don't have time to look for it right now. but it's there, trust me!
comfits mentioned adding s&h costs into the product cost. however s/he also noted that their products are lightweight. soaps will be a bit heavier, so you'd probably do well to add on the shipping. for "handling," i generally just round the priority mail rate to the next even dollar amount.
artzyfartzy said something about a box being "priority mail size." i've never heard of this. but it would be silly to insist on sending something "first class" if "priority" is actually cheaper!
hope some of this info is helpful to you or others!