How to set up postage for your online shop.

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  • How to set up postage for your online shop.

    When you first get started, setting up your online store postage can be really daunting. Over the years I’ve had to reassess and change this system several times, including when moving to a new website or marketplace. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by all the options available to you, and that you can offer your customers.

    So I wanted to put this handy guide together now that I’ve simplified the shipping rates available on my store, and pass on some tips to cut through the noise and make your life easier.

    Parcel size and weight

    First thing’s first; work out the type of packages you’ll be sending.

    You need to know the weight and size of your parcels so that you can establish which postal services you’ll need to purchase. These may vary with your products, but you can hopefully work out groups into which your products can fit (large letters, small parcels etc.) Work out which categories cover your product ranges and create summaries of those groups.

    For example, in my store, I mostly sell stickers and greeting cards, so the bulk of my orders are lightweight and fit into a standard envelope, which can be sent as letters. I have a few products that need to be sent in little parcels, such as my banner flags or earrings. So my groups are letters (stickers, single greeting cards and art prints) and large letters (greeting card packs, earrings, tote bags and larger art prints). These groups all fit into the services offered by my courier.

    Choosing a courier

    There are loads to pick from including Royal Mail, DPD, Yodel the list is honestly endless. 

    Set aside an hour or two to look at the suppliers available in your area and make a decision about which fits most seamlessly into your business and life. Get familiar with the type of packages they ship, how the handover works, and the costs involved. You may find different parcel types would be best sent with different couriers, depending on the variety of products and packages you offer! Also consider the level of compensation your chosen service offers, and whether that works for your product type. 

    I like to keep things simple and convenient, so I’ve chosen to use Royal Mail. This means I can link my WooCommerce shop directly to their Click & Drop platform, I can drop orders into postboxes near my workplace or my house, and I can deal with simple fees. Most of my products are low-cost and so the standard compensation offered (£20) is plenty for me.

    Postage options

    Now it’s time to consider the shipping options to offer your customers and find a balance that serves your customers but doesn’t over-complicate the process for you.

    Some questions to ask yourself are: 

    • Do you want to offer more than one shipping method?
    • Should customers be able to upgrade their shipping?
    • If your products are high value, is a tracked service preferable?
    • Do you want to offer a free option?
    • Are you going to ship internationally, or keep it domestic?
    • Do you want to build some of the cost into the product itself?
    • Do you want to offer a flat rate across all product types or in groups?

    Once you’ve worked out the above, you can set your online store postage options. Have a look at your chosen courier and work out what the postage will cost you, and then set your shipping prices according to the answers to your questions.

    This is a good place to start for Royal Mail for example.

    To give you some insight, I offer my customers two shipping methods: Royal Mail Second Class, and Royal Mail Signed For. This gives them the choice of cheap postage or a secure and trackable service. The prices reflect these at 75p against £2.75 respectively for products fitting into letters. These necessarily vary for international customers.

    Below you can find a summary of all my shipping profiles:

    Domestic Shipping (UK)

    • Envelope Standard: £0.75 | Envelope Tracked: £2.75
    • Parcel Standard: £2.75 | Parcel Tracked: £5.00


    • Envelope Standard: £2.75 | Envelope Tracked: £7.50
    • Parcel Standard: £7.50 | Parcel Tracked: £12.50

    Writing a delivery policy

    It’s a good idea to have a shipping policy on your website or store.

    This provides your customers with a clear expectation of how you fulfil their orders, when they can expect them to arrive, and whether you accept returns or exchanges and how they can go about that. It also protects you in the instance that a customer raises a complaint or if you’re unfortunate enough that someone attempts to scam you.

    In the UK, customers have the right to request to return an order placed online within 14 days of receiving their goods, and another 14 days to get the product back to you. A refund must then be issued within 14 days of the product being returned. Note that this right does not apply to customised or perishable goods.

    You can find my delivery policy here, which gives my customers a brief overview of how I handle their orders. It tells them how long it takes me to prepare their order, the shipping methods available to them, the way I package their orders and my policy on returning items.

    Setting up shipping profiles

    Now that you’ve outlined your shipping rates, it’s time to set up your online store postage profiles within your site!

    This process will vary from platform to platform, and you will be able to find resources online to help you if you get stuck. 

    My website uses a custom theme on WordPress, and I use WooCommerce to run my store. Setting up shipping profiles isn’t the most straight-forward, but with some patience and all the planning above, I know that everything that I need is set up there now.

    Ready to sell

    And just like that, you’re ready to go!

    You’ve set everything up and now your orders are rolling in. It’s time to get packing your lovely creations and post them to your excited customers. Have fun with your packaging, let your customers feel the love, and make sure your parcels are nice and secure.

    A lot of platforms will offer integrations with couriers to make the process smoother. I use Royal Mail Click & Drop, which pulls my orders through from my site and sets up the order using the customer’s postal address ready for me to apply postage to. I would say it’s not the most user-friendly system I’ve ever used, but with the volume of orders I currently receive, it works just fine for me.

    Etsy postage settings

    As the majority of my orders come through Etsy, I thought I’d touch on how the marketplace handles postage. It’s largely very similar to all of the above, but it’s all built-in and much easier when it comes to actually setting up the profiles. 

    Something to consider with Etsy is that it heavily encourages you to offer free postage to your customers, and so this either needs to be absorbed by your general business or built into your product prices. I sell the same products on Etsy and my own shop, but everything on Etsy is about 50p more expensive than the, to mitigate some of that extra cost. 

    You can now also purchase postage labels within the platform itself, which is done through Royal Mail. This makes it easy for me to make sure that the mail handling expectations of my customers are consistent across every touchpoint with my brand, not to mention it makes my life easier!

    Thanks for reading!

    I hope this guide has been helpful and given you some insight into the sort of things to consider when setting up your online store. The key takeaways are to make the policies work for your customers, but also to make orders as easy for you to fulfil as possible.


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