Ultimate guide to Etsy shipping

Last Updated on 6th August 2021 by Allison

Shipping on Etsy can be a bit of a minefield sometimes.

You have to consider things like shipping rates, processing times, international shipping etc. It can feel a bit overwhelming, especially if you are new to Etsy.

This article will help you navigate all aspects of shipping so that you can ship quickly, efficiently, and hopefully, stress free!

This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may get a commission if you click through and decide to make a purchase, at no extra cost to yourself.

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Why it is Important to get your Shipping Settings Right.

It is important to get your delivery settings correct when you are shipping on Etsy, because if they are wrong then you could end up with an unhappy customer, which usually results in the seller having to issue a refund or it costs you a small fortune at the Post Office.

It makes sense to spend a few hours when you are setting your shop up getting everything perfect, rather than finding out the hard way that something is wrong.

I learnt the hard way when I first set up my Etsy shop, so I’m hoping my Etsy shipping tips will come in useful for others.

How to Set up Shipping on Etsy.

As I am an UK Etsy seller, this guide will be from a UK perspective with regards to shipping and delivery.

Who Pays for the Shipping?

Well, ultimately it’s you, whether you offer free shipping, a flat rate shipping, or a calculated shipping amount based on size and weight.

I will go through this in more detail as we go.

Processing Time.

This is the time taken from a buyer paying for their item, to you marking it as shipped.

It is important to get this right as if you put in too short a processing time, you could end up stressing yourself out trying to get orders completed.

If you put too long a processing time, buyers could be put off when considering buying from you.

You can have different processing times for different categories of items. I will explain how to do this in the next section.

You can amend the processing times whenever you want. I always change mine from the start of November because of how busy I get with Christmas orders.

A good tip is if you have to lengthen your processing time, add a shop update explaining why, and that it is only temporary.

Delivery Profiles.

Your delivery profiles are what you set up before you can start selling on Etsy.

You can find it in Settings – Delivery Settings – Delivery Profiles.

I have 3 profiles set up, which covers the 3 main parts of my shop. At the moment, all 3 are set at the same processing time of 4-5 business days, which is basically a week.

During January and February I will change it to 3-4 business days, and from the start of November (or sometimes October if I am really busy) I change it to 6-7 business days.

As you can see from the screenshots, there are a number of things to fill in.

etsy shipping create delivery profile

Even though I use Royal Mail for my UK orders, I always amend it to ‘other’. The reason for this, is that Etsy like to give estimations for delivery, based on the carrier, and they are stupidly optimistic ones! I am still receiving therapy for them claiming in the middle of the Pandemic that first class post in the UK was only taking a day!

By typing in ‘other’, you can set the delivery estimate yourself. I have it as 2-4 days as I send First Class. Most of the time it does only take 1 or 2 days, but I change it to cover myself for the few that takes the extra time.

It is very important to do the same with international shipping, if you are offering it. Etsy like to kid themselves that it only takes 5 days to deliver a parcel in the US from the UK.

I extend the time for expected delivery even more when it comes to the middle of October as it can easily take 3-4 week for orders to reach their destination in America. It takes even longer to get to Canada. The Canadians are more used to this so are more patient.

The reason why this needs to be done, is that when Etsy emails the buyer to let them know their order is on it’s way, they give the buyer a date for when it will arrive by. That date is what has been input into the delivery profiles.

If the date is too optimistic, you will get many messages from customers asking where their order is.

Selling Internationally.

You have the choice to sell internationally or not.

I would always advise yes, if what you make isn’t food related, isn’t too fragile, isn’t a stupid shape, and isn’t massive.

Some people turn into nervous wrecks at the mention of worldwide orders, but it is nothing to be scared of.

You will get messages from time to time from impatient people asking where their order is, but, the majority of these people haven’t noticed you are in the UK (even though it states it VERY CLEARLY in your product listing).

50% of my orders are from customers in different countries, and I get a lot of repeat custom from them as well.

You just have to ensure that you have your shipping costs exactly right.

I always explain in my product descriptions that standard international shipping is not tracked. If they want tracking, they have to pay extra for it. A lot of international customers just expect everything to be tracked-I think it must be quite common in some countries.

You could always have tracked shipping as standard and then offer the non tracked option as an alternative if they prefer a cheaper shipping cost.

It is also worth reminding people that tracked shipping doesn’t reach it’s destination any quicker than standard. You are just able to keep an eye on where it is.

Shop Policies.

Etsy sellers are responsible for their own shop policies, and it is very easy to do as Etsy have done most of the work for you. You just need to tick the ones that apply to you.

If there is anything else that you need to add that isn’t included on Etsy’s list, you will need to put it in the FAQ section, as you can’t add anything yourself to the policies.

I have added in mine that if the buyer returns an item that isn’t faulty (they have just changed their mind), they won’t be refunded for the original cost to post the order to them.

How Much to Charge for Shipping.

Cost of shipping is always something that makes a novice Etsy seller a bit nervy.

It is a bit of a minefield, especially when Etsy like to make you feel bad when setting your shipping profiles by telling you your cost of shipping is too high, and you would sell more by offering free shipping.

High shipping costs will affect your sales. You shouldn’t be adding extra on so you make more profit.

If this is the case, you need to reduce your shipping costs.

Free Shipping

Let’s get one thing clear-there is no such thing as free shipping! The Post Office charge for shipping, whether you pay it, or the buyer pays it.

The Etsy shops with free shipping have just added the cost into the price of the item. The customer will always end up covering the shipping costs.

I am a strong believer that, if a person likes something enough, they will pay reasonable shipping costs.

New sellers will sometimes think that they need to offer free shipping to rank higher in the search results. This is not the case. If you calculate the cost of shipping AND packaging for your items, and charge a fair price, you have nothing to worry about.

Etsy now take 5% of what the customer pays you for shipping, in an attempt to encourage you to offer free shipping. This is just another cost that you have to factor in to your prices.

Shipping Supplies.

There are other things to take into consideration when calculating the cost for shipping.

You have to consider the cost of your shipping supplies.

Depending on what it is you sell, you need to consider the cost of bubble wrap, mail bags, padded envelopes, Sellotape, shipping labels, even boxes if you sell larger items.

You may also need a few things to make your packaging memorable and on brand for your shop.

Another thing you need, which is a one off cost is a set of postal scales.

You can use normal kitchen scales if you are only sending small items, but if your items come in all shapes and sizes when packaged, then postal scales are better for you in the long run. A tape measure would also come in handy here as well.

You need to weigh each item, including any packaging that goes with it, to work out how much it will cost to ship.

Royal Mail’s Price List, 2021.

Below is a link to The Royal Mail’s price list for 2021. I suggest you print off a copy of this, or pick up a leaflet from your local Post Office.

royal-mail-our-prices-april-2021.pdf (royalmail.com)

This leaflet will also give you a size guide, so you can work out what type of package you will be sending first, then work out the cost by seeing what weight bracket it falls into.

If you are offering worldwide shipping, there are slight differences in package dimensions, and the countries are split into different zones. Each zone charges a different price.

Etsy shipping Royal Mail shipping zones
Royal Mail’s Postal Zones.

This will all become very important when you are sorting out your delivery profiles later on.

You are also going to need custom labels for any country outside of the UK. You can get these from the Post Office. The customs labels need to be filled in and stuck to each parcel you send to anywhere other than the UK.

There are other ways to ship your orders, especially if you have very large, or very expensive items to ship. Companies like Hermes, Yodel etc for UK orders offer competitive rates to ship in the UK. You cannot use them for sending abroad though.

You will need to go onto their websites to find out a price.

Final Shipping Costs.

Once you have weighed and measured your item, check the cost using the Royal Mail’s leaflet. Next add in the cost of packaging. I add £1 to cover the cost of what I use for packaging.

Your next step is to work out how much extra it would be if a customer wanted 2 of that item. When you are filling out your delivery profile, it will ask you how much extra you are charging for an additional item.

What you need to be careful of here, is that the weight of 2 items doesn’t push you into the next weight bracket price wise. If it does, make sure you charge enough for the additional item to cover that cost.

This is probably one of the most common mistakes sellers will make, and it always leads to you having to pay for the extra cost to ship.

Customising your Etsy Receipts.

Etsy shipping receipt message

When a customer places an order, Etsy automatically emails them a receipt. You can set up a message to go with that receipt by going to Settings, and then Info and Appearance.

You can also add a banner to go across the top of the receipt email. This can be made really easily by using Canva. It has to be 760px x 100px in size.

This is a good opportunity to use your branding for the customer to see again.

etsy shipping receipt set up

Packaging your Items.

Every seller has their own different way of packaging their orders. Some people just stick it in an envelope, while others try to make it look eye catching and professional.

Here is an example of my packaging for Dog Charmed.

I always use a blue spotty mailbag, and I make sure that the tissue paper colour matches the main colour of what has been bought. I buy the tissue paper in multi coloured packs which makes this a cheap and easy way to make my packages look nice.

I include a flyer within the tissue paper, as it helps my collars lay flatter, and then on the top of the tissue paper I put a Dog Charmed sticker and a coupon for 10% off ON MY WEBSITE ONLY. As much as I love Etsy, I would prefer people to come directly to my website where my profit is bigger due to no fees.

And here is an example of my packaging for Dog Cotton’s.

For Dog Cotton’s, I always use a pink spotty mailbag, and I only use white tissue paper. The reason for the white tissue paper is that the bright colours of the fabrics still show through which has a nice effect.

I attach a flyer to the top of my tissue paper with a Dog Cotton’s sticker.

Flyers.

I think it’s always worth including a flyer in with your orders. You can share your social media accounts, and also your website if you have one, to direct people to look there.

I try and give a reason for someone to connect on social media. For Dog Charmed, I ask them to post a photo of their pet wearing one of our creations. This is always very popular!

For Dog Cotton’s, I give them my Instagram details and ask them to share their creations with us, which also works well.

You can get flyers printed very cheaply online if you are just starting out.

If you are technically savvy (unlike myself), you can make a few of your own to get you started off.

Return Address.

I always make sure I have my address printed on little labels to put on the back of all my parcels, so if it doesn’t reach it’s destination, it will eventually get back to me. This happens A LOT so make sure your address is on every parcel.

If you are sending a parcel overseas, you have to put your address on the customs label. I just put one of my stickers on to save time.

Apparently, it’s really easy to print stickers. However, I am useless so I use someone on eBay who always gets them to me quickly, and for the same price as buying a load of blank sticker sheets and doing it myself!

Label Printer.

This is not such a priority for a brand new Etsy shop, but, as you get busier, a label printer is a useful business expense.

I use a Dymo Label Writer 450 Turbo for my shipping labels. I chose this one because it was reasonably priced, had very good reviews, and is a thermal printer so I don’t ever need to pay for ink.

It is so quick and easy to use and is a gazillion times quicker than writing out addresses on a mailbag!

I think printed labels look more business-like than a handwritten label.

Recorded Delivery.

There is an option when completing your delivery profile to offer a delivery upgrade.

I offer tracked delivery as an upgrade for both domestic and worldwide shipping.

Etsy Shipping Labels.

You can buy your postage directly through Etsy, which you then print off. You need to have a printer that will print labels which are 4×6 inches.

2 printers which definitely work with Etsy Shipping are the DYMO LabelWriter 4XL and Zebra GC 420d.

I don’t use Etsy shipping. I’m happy with my smaller label printer and doing it myself then going to the Post Office.

I have a Royal Mail Drop and Go Account which I discovered about 2 years ago.

My local Post Office has my payment card, which I top up online. I get all my packages together, then just drop them off without waiting for them to be processed. The staff sort them out and update my online account with postage details. They also keep hold of proof of posting receipts for me as well, which I pick up the next time I’m in.

It is very important you get receipts for everything in case of any parcels going missing in transit.

What to do when you get an Order.

If you have the app set up on your phone with notifications, your phone will cha-ching when you get an order. I have been selling on Etsy for over 3 years now and I still jump out of my skin every time I hear it. I have no idea why!

Your order confirmation will tell you the customer’s name and address, what has been ordered and in what size (if applicable), how many they have ordered, and the processing time.

It will then tell you the item total and what shipping they have paid for.

There is also a space for any comments they may have left you.

USPS.

If the customer lives in America, it will usually say underneath their address ‘USPS has verified this address’.

USPS stands for United States Postal Service.

Sometimes it will say ‘USPS has not verified this address’. This is not a reason to panic. If a customer has paid through Paypal, rather than through Etsy’s payment processor, the address won’t automatically be verified through USPS.

Sometimes it will say not verified if they have used an abbreviation, eg, ST instead of street.

I usually just Google the address to double check it exists.

When the item is ready, package it, not forgetting any customs labels.

If you have more than one item to package, make sure you put the right label on the right package (I have made that mistake a few times).

Update your orders section to mark it as posted, which will automatically send the customer an email from Etsy saying their order is on the way.

And that’s about it!

How to Deal with any Problems.

You will inevitably have the odd issue when it comes to shipping, especially when you’re shipping to different countries.

I receive messages all the time on Etsy from people asking where their order is. Most of the time, they are just being impatient. I respond saying it’s been shipped, and, depending on where they are, it usually takes between X and Y to arrive.

Royal Mail won’t consider an item lost until 2 weeks for domestic packages, and 6 weeks for international.

I also ask them to double check that their address is correct.

Sometimes they have input the wrong address or it is a previous address that they haven’t updated. In this case, I advise them they’ll have to wait for the item to come back to me. They will then need to pay for the shipping again. If they don’t want to, I refund them for the cost of the item only when I get it back.

If the customer has been waiting a long time, and the address is correct, you need to offer them either a replacement or a full refund.

You then need to file a claim with the Royal Mail for a lost item. Claims forms can be picked up from the Post Office, or get one online. You need to have your posting receipt and also a copy of the receipt from Etsy as well.

Etsy Case.

Sometimes a customer will go straight to Etsy about an item not received and open a case with them. You have to respond to these as your Etsy shop could be at risk if you get lots of them, or fail to respond to them. Etsy will nag you via email to sort the issue out with the buyer. I do exactly as I would if they had messaged me directly-offer them a replacement or a refund.

In Conclusion.

Hopefully, this guide has given you all the information you need to know about Etsy shipping.

It can get stressful at times, especially as your Etsy store gets busier.

If you know of any Etsy shipping tips that I haven’t mentioned, let me know in the comments below!

2 thoughts on “”

  1. I’m thinking of selling on etsy. Could you tell me, will Etsy still take a percentage of the shipping costs if I arrange the shipping myself and don’t use Etsy for shipping. Thanks for all the info you’ve give us. Much appreciated

    1. Hi John, yes, they still take a percentage whether or not you use Etsy shipping labels. I charge for postage but take the Etsy charge into account when setting my shipping cost.

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