I have made my first sale from my online shop, Hynek's Handmade. A wonderful woman (she must be wonderful because she liked my product) from Elgin, Illinois purchased a little boy's layette, which I had dubbed 'Weigh Anchor'. She made her purchase via PayPal last Friday afternoon, an event which left me momentarily giddy and had my 4 year old son saying, amidst hugs and kisses, "You did it, Mommy! You did it!" Thus, begins my crash course in the nuances and technical requirements of selling and shipping from a web based store.
I use PayPal so as to entertain credit card purchases. I have used PayPal to make purchases for a couple of years now but this is the first time that the money flow has ever been incoming. I discovered Friday afternoon, after the bank had closed it's books for the week, that you have to be a 'verified' PayPal customer to receive payments. This is a process which requires a test 'handshake' between PayPal and your bank account. Thus, I was not going to be able to claim my payment from my first sale until the handshake posted this morning. Already, I am three days later than I prefer in completing my end of the transaction and shipping the product. Not the most auspicious start; but I figured hey, I am new at this. So I penned a quick thank you note, printed up care instructions, gathered up my packing materials, and staged it all to be ready to go first thing this morning. That's when I discovered that the small flat rate box I was confident that I had was no where to be found. Oops.... Well, at least that is cured with a quick trip to the post office near my house. No great delay.
When I first set up my Etsy shop, I had settled on Priority Mail Flat Rate shipping as my method of choice. My thought was that that most of my products were small enough to fit in the smallest of the flat rate boxes which meant $4.95 to anywhere in the USA, a price that seemed reasonable at the time. However, no matter how I folded my little nautical layette, it would not fit in the small Priority box with out mangling the box, a very unprofessional package to say the least. So I located a box that did fit and, with a quick perusal of the USPS website, found that I could still make that $4.95 shipping payment. However, I also discovered that I can probably figure out a way to ship my products for less with a comparable amount of transit time. Ah, but that is a issue I will have to address another time. I must get my beloved first sale shipped to that wonderful woman in Illinois, who is probably already beginning to wonder where the heck her purchase is and why is this seller being such a slacker. I also have to pick my son up from preschool and get all my errands finished before the forecasted snow storm hits trapping me in my house for the next 24 hours; but these are all trivial details.
I walked in to the post office for the second time today, once more giddy with delight at the thought of completing the process of my first sale. The post mistress was great and a font of good information, I wish I could download her brain into my computer. It turns out that Priority Mail does not include package tracking. This is an extra service which costs additional money, beyond the $4.95 that I allotted for shipping. This is the point where I slap my forehead as though I should have had a V-8 and realize that, as a SAHM, I have been away from the business environment too long. OK, so I have had an inept and naive last few days, but I am going to remedy the situation with the shipping comparison spreadsheet that I am building tonight. I am determined to optimize things a bit and make the chaos of today improbable in the future.
The important thing is that the precious little 'Weigh Anchor' set is now on its way to Elgin, Illinois. I hope it gets there alright. I hope my wonderful first customer likes it. I hope it withstands the drool and spit-up to which it will soon be subjected. I hope I measured it right when I sized it.
Note: As of 07/26/2010, a copy of this article is also located at the Hynek's Handmade blog site.