Shipping Furniture: The ultimate intimidation (Dun, Dun, Dunnn!!!)
Let me start out my introducing myself. My name is Tina Brown, owner of Vintage Revitalized and I live in Sacramento, CA. I've been refinishing furniture since 2017 and shipped my 1st piece of large furniture in early 2020. I have now shipped my 2nd large piece and want to share my experience and new knowledge with you all. I am very motivated and passionate about continuing to grow my business and to expand my market. Local sales are wonderful and I never want to downplay that fact. But let's be honest, not everyone's local market is willing or able to pay what it takes to create some of these amazing designs. Know your worth! (Something I'm still working on ♡)
Now, let's talk about what I am not. I am NOT an expert. I am no shipping guru and I am definitely not here to tell you I know everything, because I don't. I am just a gal who has taken the scary leap into the world of shipping furniture and I want to help you feel a little more comfortable and confident so you can do the same. WHY you may ask? Because why the heck not! There will always be competition in our world, especially with the ease of access to information. So many WONDERFUL artists have willingly shared their knowledge, techniques and experience with me/us and it has gotten me to where I am today- a proud business owner who LOVES what she's doing. Let's EMPOWER each other and continue to share information. What we do is create unique pieces of refinished furniture. We are recycling and bringing beauty to people's homes. No two pieces are identical and there will always be someone out there looking for a special piece. We are also creating the opportunity for mothers to be home more with their children, for retirees to spend their time doing something they enjoy, for working women to have a hobby that allows for a creative outlet and maybe some added income. At the end of the day, what really matters is being happy. Helping other people makes me happy.
Now that we're all clear on that, let's get to the fun/scary/exciting/anxiety inducing stuff!
THIS BLOG IS LENGTHY, AND THE REASON FOR THAT IS I WANT TO GIVE YOU AS MUCH INFORMATION AS POSSIBLE PRIOR TO MAKING THE DECISION TO SHIP FURNITURE. SHIPPING IS A SERIOUS COMMITMENT. IF READING THROUGH THIS IS TOO MUCH, PLEASE BELIEVE ME THAT SHIPPING WILL NOT BE FOR YOU. I SAY THAT WITH NO BAD INTENTIONS- IT'S THE TRUTH. SHIPPING TAKES TIME, ENERGY, AND EXTRA WORK. IF THAT IS NOT WHAT YOU'RE LOOKING FOR, FEEL FREE TO STOP READING NOW. IF IT IS SOMETHING YOU'RE STILL CURIOUS ABOUT, READ ON. BEING PREPARED WILL MAKE THINGS MUCH EASIER AS YOU WILL HAVE A GOOD IDEA OF WHAT'S TO COME AND WILL EASE SOME OF THE ANXIETY.
So grab a cup of coffee, find a quiet, relaxing place to read through this, and keep an open mind.
Here are the topics I will touch on:
How to get an estimated shipping cost from uShip.com
How to determine what to sell an item for on Etsy.com WITH shipping costs and fees included.
How to find a shipper through uShip.com
Ways to find alternate shipping/delivery methods
How to properly pack and protect your item(s)
(Please make sure you check out my other posts on my tips to making more money refinishing furniture. A key part of all this is selecting the right pieces, taking good photos, and knowing your worth.)
So you have a beautiful piece of furniture that you refinished. You've taken great pictures and you've listed it locally for sale. Let's say it's a dresser close in measurement to the one I recently sold. It was a big-boy at 39 inches tall, 48 inches wide, and 22 inches deep. No joke, it weighed at least 200 lbs.
1. Estimated Shipping cost from uShip:
Locally, you've determined that a piece like this would/should sell for $450. Once you have your local listings up, head over to uShip.com and get a free estimate. Once you click, on "household item" then "Furniture," you can begin to enter in the dimensions and estimated weight. If you're unsure on weight, google search "average weight of common household furniture." Check out:
You will then need to enter your city or zip code and a destination city or zip code. Since we have no idea where the piece might go, I try to stick with a place far, far away. Maybe even try a couple of different locations. You want to be prepared for higher shipping cost than underestimating. I chose the city of New York for this example.
Once you click on "continue," you will be brought to a page that gives you an estimated range of offers that you can expect. It will look like that:
What this shows you is that there is a low, mid, and high amount which shippers will likely offer you to book the job. Keep in mind that many of these companies or individuals will be looking to fill up their trucks and they will be basing their availability (times frames) and cost on where you are located and where the item needs to go. You can now use this information to give you a good idea of how much to charge for an item on Etsy, including the shipping cost. Keep in mind that uShip will charge you a service fee "based on the commodity you are shipping." My experience both times so far, the fee was $24.99.
2. Determining price to sell your item on Etsy, with shipping and fees:
With this information, you can now head over to Etsy. Keep in mind that Etsy gives preference to listings that offer free shipping. So what should you do? List it as free shipping! Once you have your listing created and you get to the pricing section, you will add up all the amounts so far.
$450 for the refinished item + $300 for shipping + $25 for service fee = $775
But there are more costs to account for!
Expect to spend at lease $25-$40 in shipping materials, possibly more if it's your first time getting some of the supplies needed. For instance, the first time I shipped, I bought a large roll of bubble cushion and a decent sized cling wrap. I was able to use both for my second piece I shipped.
If you have a local Harbor Freight, buy some moving blankets from them. Make sure you can cover at least the front and sides of your piece (the back as well, if it's been refinished).
Also, "Once an item sells through Etsy, there is a 5% transaction fee on the sale price (including the shipping price you set). If you accept payments through Etsy Payments, we also collect a 3% + $0.25 payment processing fee when an item is sold." (https://www.etsy.com/sell#:~:text=Once%20an%20item%20sells%2C%20there,when%20an%20item%20is%20sold.)
OK, so here is where you really need the calculator. Your item is listed for $775.
775 x .03= 23.25 + 0.25= 23.50
775 x .05= 38.75
Etsy is expected to charge you around $62.25 in fees. If we left our listed price at $775, after all the fees and cost to ship, you would end up being paid about $362.75 for the dresser.
Wait, huh? All that for less!?!?
This is where you need to go back and UP YOUR PRICE! To break even with your $450 sale amount, you would need to list your item for $875. And keep in mind, your shipping cost could end up being more than $300. Now does it make sense why pieces are so much on Etsy?
***And let me please stop right here and say something important- PLEASE DO NOT LIST YOUR ITEM ON ETSY WITH FREE SHIPPING BUT THEN IN THE DESCRIPTION WRITE "SHIPPING NOT INCLUDED." That is false advertising and you can expect to get cancellations when a buyer finds out how much shipping can cost. So either list as free shipping OR mark your shipping cost low, like $0.10, and mention in your description to send a message with zip code BEFORE PURCHASING for a shipping quote. That way you have been ethical and honest in your expectations so that a buyer shouldn't come back at you for providing false listing information.
So is it worth it? I think so, and here are my reasons why. By not limiting yourself to just local sales, you are opening yourself up to new opportunities, new customers, and new experiences. I write in another blog about knowing your local market. Well, what if your local market only wants whites, grays and black? Or what if you live in a more eclectic area but your taste is more traditional and simple? Also, if you're someone who is limited on space (which I am confident we almost ALL are), why would you not want to pursue all options to move your pieces? I can completely understand if this is just too much of an undertaking for you, because it was for me, but once you at least try, then you can determine for yourself if it wasn't too bad, or "never again."
3. Finding a shipper on uShip:
(Keep in mind that there are other shipping options. When you're first searching in your area for available shippers, make sure to check out Freight Buddy. USPS, FedEx, UPS, and Greyhound, to name a few.)