18 February 2008

Comic Book and Shipping Supplies

As I've said before every self-publisher will end up shipping products. If you're going to ship product then you're going to need comic book and shipping supplies. If you need them, then you're going to need a source to buy them. Ideally, you want to find wholesale sources for these items, but you may not being buying at a high enough level to qualify for wholesale purchases.

Here's my list of places to look.

Comic Bags and Boards
For comic book supplies like bags and boards, I always go to my local comic book shop first. Comic book stores don't usually make a huge amount of profit on the sell of these items, but most always have some in stock. If you're buying more than 1 or 2 sets of bags and boards at a time, then talk to the store manager/ owner to see if they will give you a better discount. Explain to then that you use them to ship the comics you produce and not only will you likely get a discount on the supplies, but you may also get a new direct customer. Even without a discount, your local comic book store is the ideal place because these items are heavy and you save in shipping costs.

Other sources for bags and boards include eGerber.com, BagsUnlimited.com and any online comic book store. If you are doing a standard sized comic book, I suggest purchasing Silver Age bags and boards.

Other Bags and Boards
All my original art and print sales leave my presence in bags and board.

The board isn't really a board, but just a slighly thicker sheet of paper. A online search will net you a good source at a good price.

My bags are slightly larger than 11" x 17" and have an adhesive strip to seal the bag. My source is clearbags.com.

My envelopes are 9" x 12" manila (or white) catalog envelopes. You can find these almost anywhere. I suggest buying in quantity of at least 100 or 250. Sets of 20-25 take up much less space, but cost about 2-3 times more than the larger quantities. My current set came from OfficeDepot.com.

For larger envelopes, generally a online search and a little research will net you the best prices. The only large size I use is about 12" x 18". Again, buy these in the largest quantity that is useful to you. Most of my prints sell at conventions, so I only buy these in sets of 25. It's been a while since I bought any, so I don't remember my source. However, I found them by doing an online search.

USPS Supplies
USPS will ship Priority and Express Mail supplies to your door at no cost. I don't ship too much via Priority or Express Mail, so I order a one set each of the Flat Rate envelopes and boxes. Once I get down to 5 or so, I place an order to refill my supplies. In a pinch, you can race down to get supplies from your local post office.

You can never have too much tape. For shipping I have invisible tape, clear packing tape, brown packing tape. I even have duct tape and multiple types and dispensers for each and they all get used. If you absolutely can only get one type of tape then get tje clear packing tape as it is the most versatile.

Cardboard Flats/ Pads
I ship almost everything with 1-2 cardboard flats. I fine them essential to protecting the products during shipping. It's much cheaper to ship well once than to replace a damaged shipment. Even if only 1 package out of 100 gets damaged that's easily $15-20 in product and shipping costs. I get 100 flats from Uline for $20 plus shipping.

The extra 25-50¢ per package is worth the extra peace of mind and besides, you pass those cost to the recipient by...

Recouping Packaging Cost
Now that you've purchased all these supplies it's time to recoup that investment. With some products (like prints) the cost is built into the price. All my items ship bagged and boarded, so it's easier (and simpler) to just absorb the cost into the price of the item. I know that 25-30¢ of every sale is the cost of the bag and board. This is ok to me because if I'm shipping an item bagged and boarded that means I'm making the full retail price which is about 100% more than than I make via a distributor.

Of course, there are then the costs of the envelopes, flats, tape (yes the tape). The cost of these items get passed on as the handing fee. I calculate it buy finding the unit cost (including shipping) for each portion of the packaging.
Envelopes: 250 for $25 (including shipping) = 10¢
Cardboard flat: = 100 for $25 (including shipping) = 25¢
Tape (I assume each roll is good for 100 packages and I use 2 different rolls): 100 for $5 = 5¢
That's a total of 40¢ for costs. I then tack a fee for my time to get total a total of $2.

Remember the handling fee is in addition to your shipping cost. I use the handling fee so I always charge the exact shipping costs. Occasionally, the shipping fee that my online store charges is more than the actual shipping costs. When that happens, I either issue a refund or a store discount for the difference. This is just good customer service as it let's the customer know that you care more about being fair to them than making that extra buck and ultimately they return to you again and again.

1 comment:

MrScrappyDue said...

I've sold about 14 comics useing priority buble packs(no boxes fit comics)from the USPS.The 14th time a customer told me it made it but damaged.That was yesterday and today I'm looking for boxes and I can only find one type on ebay so reading your information was/is a godsend.Thank you for taking the time to help me.Chris