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packing and shipping

updated tue 8 aug 06


Robert Compton on sat 25 oct 97

There is no reason you should lose money because you are shipping an
order but you must be aware of what it feels like to be charged for packing
and shipping fees on the other end. Quick case in point, for 17 years our
primary clay product were large standing fountains, about 5 ft height when
assembled, but were designed to ship UPS in 5 of thier maxium sized boxes.
This cost us out of pocket for boxes and dunnage about $50 plus labor paid to
packer, about another $20 so total packing cost were $70.

`The UPS shipping cost was $60. Our customers ( wholesale or
retail ) never minded paying the shipping cost but when you added in the cost
of packing it made the fees seem high in relation to the cost of the
product, which retailed for $1200. We found that adding in the cost of
packing to the suggested retail price eliminated this dilemina. In fact we
added a bit more in the retail price to help defray some of the shipping
costs and this made the cost of shipping seem down right cheap to the client.
Our retail price went from $1200 to $1400. Hiding the packing cost in the
retail price is easy and puts a few dollars more in your pocket when you sell
your pots direct without packing.

To keep this in perspective we were selling to over 100 galleries at
the time and our price point on the fountains was high, but think how you
would feel if you were ordering a pair of socks from LL Bean and the socks
you ordered cost less than the shipping and handling. Would you have bought

Robert Compton Phone: 802-453-3778
3600 Rt 116
Bristol, Vermont 05443 rcompton@together.n

> ----------------------------Original message----------------------------
> Leslie,
> Two years ago I arrived at the following shipping formula after consulting
> with potters here on clayart and elsewhere to find out what was customary
> and what I could live with. I charge 7% (for my time and supplies to
> package the pots) plus all UPS shipping charges. I include these charges in
> the invoice and put the invoice in the box that has the packing slip on it.
> Shipping charges seems to be a sensitive area.

Jonathan Kaplan on mon 14 dec 98

The recent postings on packing have encouraged me to share our packing
system with the list. I posted similar thoughts a few years ago, so here
they are again.

There are some "rules" we used in designing this system. It has worked
quite well for us for over 20 years or so, and will probably continue. We
ship both bisque and glazed ware all over the country. Our damage rate is
well under 1%, and we are proud of it!!

Rules (or better put, guidelines")

1. Don't reuse boxes that have already endured the trauma of shipping.
While they may appear sturdy, they have been weakened having been used

2. Double box everything.

3. Use new or over-run boxes.

4. Keep a 4" differential between the inner box and outter box, that is 2"
per side, and 2" top and bottom.

5. Balance out the cost of packing materials with the potential of damaged
wares resulting from insufficient or poorly designed packing methods.

6. Keep the packing system as light as possible. The wares are heavy
enough. We routinely ship between 40-80 pound boxes in the system desribed

7. UPS is our primary carrier, with common carrier, Airborne, FeD Ex, and
RPS also being used when necessary. We have used the US Postal Service and
have been satisfied with their service.

8. While "This end up" or "Fragile" stickers on the out side of the box may
seem to help and look good, our experience is that it doesn't matter. Just
pack the boxes correctly.

9. Assume that your boxes will be thrown, jostled, dropped, bumped, stacked
up, etc. etc. and that designing a well constructed packing system will
provide probable safe transit within the parameters of what ever carrier
you use. Although expect someone to drive a fork lift blade through the box
once and a while, and for a few boxes to get lost in the void some where.

10. Don't be cheap. Value your work in packing as much as your value the
work in making it.

Our system:

The interior box is an 18" cube. The exterior box is a 22" cube.Note the 4"
differrential. The ware is packed in the inner box with bubble and recycled
styrofoam, using corrugated pads that are cut precisely to the inner
dimension of the 18" box to separate layers horizontally. This further
reinforces the inner box. The box is over filled with peanuts, shaken to
settle, and sealed.

We use 12" x 12" filler flats from Barnes Paper Company, which are used in
the egg business. These are taped on all four sides of the inner box. A
layer of filler flats is placed on the inside bottom of the exterior box,
and the inner box is placed inside the outer box. A layer of filler flats
is placed on the top of the nestled inner box, and then outer box is
sealed. The result is a virtually indestructable shipping box. The inner
box floats surrounded on all six sides by a layer of filler flats, and the
pots inside are safely cushioned. The system is very rigid. The boxes don't

You can use this system with any box configuration that has a 4"
differential between the inner box and outer box, for example, 12" cube
interior with a 16" cube exterior, 14" cube interior with an 18" cube
exterior, 16" cube interior with a 20" cube exterior, up to the exterior
dimensions that are allowable by UPS.

We stock most of these sized boxes in our storage facility along with 14
cubic foot bags of Mar Pack, bundles of filler flats, corrugated pads, and
rolls of bubble. We buy filler flats every three years. Boxes and related
packing materials come in from Denver when needed. We have arrangedments
with many local businesses to recycle their packing peanuts. They either
drop them off at our facility or we pick them up when available.

Happy holidays to all.


Jonathan Kaplan, president
Ceramic Design Group LTD/Production Services
PO Box 775112
Steamboat Springs CO 80477

plant location

1280 13th Street Unit 13
Steamboat Springs CO 80487

(970) 879-9139 voice and fax

The Sherman's on sun 24 apr 05

........joe koons and mel have spent a week sorting and packing
521 pots for our show in los angeles, cal, AMOCA........

I recently sent a package via USPS from Long Island, NY to Tampa, FL. It
had a fairly thin porcelain plate in it. The plate was wrapped in 2 layers
of bubble wrap and put in a cardboard box with about 1 1/2 inches of space
around it, filled with peanuts, taped all the seams. The recipient called
to say he winced pretty hard when he heard his mailman ring the bell outside
his gate and then toss the box over the gate. No damage at all. I don't
double box. I sent an iced tea set to Texas- large platter, big pitcher,
tumblers. All in the same box- no problem. Bubble wrap is key, and filling
the box with peanuts so things can't move. The peanuts cushion, the bubble
wrap allows for some compression if something gets set on top of the box or
the box gets dropped. And they do get abused- my sister is a USPS worker and
tells the stories about how abusive the crews can be (are you prepared to
have someone kick your package across the room or to the back of the
truck?). Sounds like Mel and Joe were doing about the same thing- packing
to keep things form moving, except I would have viewed the container itself
as the 2nd box.

Marcey Sherman
Zephyr Pottery
1/2 way out Long Island where I got to throw in the new studio for the first
time on Thursday. Let's forget about the facts it has no running water,
there isn't any wiring for the kilns, and the wheel is plugged into an
extension cord from another part of the house. It is a beginning!

Rikki Gill on tue 8 aug 06

Hi all,

Is there a set fee that some have devised and think is fair for shipping and
packing? A potter I know, who rarely send out orders, now has a very large
dinnerware set to send. She thinks it will take her a long time to pack.
The order, she thinks, will be over $3000. She will pass along the actual
shipping costs, but what about packing? I suggested keeping track of the
time, and charging $10 an hour. What say you?

I would appreciate any help.
Thanks, Rikki
Rikki Gill

catjarosz on tue 8 aug 06

Hi Rikki,
7% packing fee plus cost of shipping is fairly standard when doing
wholesale packing. Sad to say you are not getting paid for you TIME. I
know potters that have tried to up the % but it wont fly with retail

When first starting out in the business one didnt have much choice if
you wanted to sell that way. SOme folks would add packing costs to the
pottery prior to shipping. That was wonderful for the person that recieved
in the mail but not fair to the customer that picked up. Maybe thats how
some of the folks made up for the time spent packing?

But if you have your work fairly priced for retail adding 7-10 % for
packing may hurt sales. If it doesnt then I would guess your work is under
valued. ( rock and hard place) I dont believe in doing that for my own
business and its an added incentive for folks to pick it up themselves.

I have pretty much stopped selling wholesale to galleries that wont come
pick up the work these days with few exception. I have met some half way
and I have delivered for a fee usually 10%... It can take a full day plus
to pack an order for shipping and another day to get it to the shipping
office so delivering can be faster in the long run.. I also have friends
that hire some people to drive the work to a gallery ...

Tell your friend good luck.. if the order comes to 3000 then $210 is
7% and I think she can buy good material and pack that order without
losing any money... Just make sure the customer knows upfront that 7%
packing charges apply. She can rest assured that its a standard practice in
our field.

Cat Jarosz

V)''(V woof & >^..^< mew
\||/ chicks with beards rule!!

Elizabeth Priddy on tue 8 aug 06

I would say let UPS pack and ship it and pass on the
charges. They insure their packing job if they do it.
And packing is an art unto itself. If the work is
worth $3000, surely it is worth packing professionals.

And no matter how carefully you pack it yourself, they
don't insure it the same as when they pack it.

Have them call UPS for a quote.


Elizabeth Priddy

Beaufort, NC - USA

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Kathi LeSueur on tue 8 aug 06

catjarosz wrote:

> Hi Rikki,
> 7% packing fee plus cost of shipping is fairly standard when doing
> wholesale packing. Sad to say you are not getting paid for you TIME. I
> know potters that have tried to up the % but it wont fly with retail
> shops.

I don't charge any packing fee for my wholesale or retail orders. That
is always figured in the price of the piece. My accounts appreciate that
they know exactly what my work costs. They pay the full shipping price.
The fact that it is so high is not my fault. It's the fault of the
shipper. If someone is ordering a small piece I always tell them what
the possible shipping will be. Then it's up to them.