How to figure what to charge for shipping.

It is tempting to add a handling charge, but I don’t suggest it. From a buyer’s point of view, it adds cost and between the shipping and handling charge, it may very well make the item no longer desirable. Shipping is so darn expensive, it’s better to leave the customer with more money to buy plants and seeds. The customer also won’t feel gouged by the high cost of shipping AND handling and are more likely to become repeat customers.

Plants must ship by a service that has delivery time of no more than 3 days. Any longer in a box, and it’s more difficult to bring them back to excellent health. I have had good results with USPS Priority Mail. They also offer free priority mail shipping boxes and supplies which may be ordered online. Usually, there are priority mail boxes in the lobby of post offices but they are flat rate boxes. They are not as suitable for shipping plants because of the size and dimensions. It is best to order boxes online from their website. The best sizes are the number 4, 7 and shoebox. They allow plenty of room for plant(s) and packing material to keep the plant insulated from heat,cold and excessive rough handling.

Figuring out how much things might weigh takes some practice and just trying it and seeing what the actual weight is. One plant may fit nicely in the number 4 box and weigh less than a pound. Several tall plants may be able to go in a shoebox and that might weigh over a pound. A number 7 box filled with plants may weigh up to 3 lbs. or more. If in doubt, you can always go to the next higher rate and if the actual shipping is significantly less than that either refund the difference or toss in extra plants. Refunding over payment of shipping first shocks customers and then it encourages loyalty. You can also give a store credit for over payment. Once you have the weight of the box, it’s plugged into the shipping section of the eBay listing, Bonanzle, or website and when the customer checks out, shipping cost is calculated from the zip codes.

The address labels can be paid for and printed online through the USPS, PayPal, eBay, and through some website set ups. Or, it can be hand written and taken to the post office to be weighed. If done online, an added advantage is that pick up from the post office can be arranged or it’s a simple matter of walking into the post office and handing the items over.

NOTE: no matter what way you make out the address labels, make sure you get delivery confirmation, either at the time it is weighed at the post office or online. It is free for packages online through the post office or PayPal. Send the confirmation number to the person and they can track it. It also gives the seller great peace of mind because they have proof they sent the package and there is proof of whether or not it was delivered. The buyer appreciates it as well.

Shipping plants internationally.

First, a PayPal account is absolutely necessary for doing international business. This allows the buyer to pay in his/her currency and the seller gets paid in their currency. Some credit card companies will do international transactions, but PayPal does them all. This is done without any effort on the part of either the buyer or seller. Fees for PayPal transactions are paid by the seller, which is a small percentage of the total transaction. It is a safe method of paying and accepting money because the seller never sees the buyers account information and the seller has the money deposited into their account.

Plants can be shipped internationally but it is risky. Time required in transit and getting through inspection in customs may cause the plants to die. In addition, they need to be phyto-certified which means they were inspected and found free from pests and disease. A paper is issued which must be on the box during shipment. If a box does not have this, the plants are confiscated and destroyed. Getting this certificate costs money and there is no guarantee the plants get to their destination in a timely fashion. Dogs, particularly beagles are used in many countries, and now states, to find plant material so unmarked boxes may not get through either. I own a beagle. They are noses with feet. They live to sniff and she constantly amazes us with her olfactory acuteness.

Seeds are much easier to ship and get into countries. Every country has its own standards but Australia has the strictest. I make it the responsibility of the customer to find out if certain species are allowed and I will not change the names of the seeds so they can get them. I also make it known that I am not responsible for replacement if the seeds are confiscated. All that is required on your end is to fill out a customs form at the post office. It’s a small bit of in triplicate papers with a declaration of what is inside and its value. It is not complicated and costs nothing and it must be on the package.  shipping label on paypal I have shipped seeds all around the world and charge $3.00 US for an unlimited amount of seeds.

NOTE: If you have carnivorous plants, it is not legal to ship them or their seeds out of the country unless you have all the proper documentation to show they were not taken from the wild. All of the carnivorous plants are considered endangered and their movement is strictly scrutinized.

U.S. Shipping Restrictions.

There are a few states that have very strict standards for allowing plant material in. California, Arizona, and Hawaii all have strict regulations and rightly so. California and Arizona grow most of the nation’s food and seed crops. They do not want pests brought in that may ruin an industry or cause a food shortage. Hawaii is a state which has issues of alien species disrupting the ecosystems. California and Arizona require phyto-certification, which is paperwork and inspections, to certify the material is free from pests. Beagles are employed to sniff out packages containing plant material which is not properly documented. Those packages are confiscated and destroyed.