Mailing prices as an obstacle to doing business

This may be a bit off topic for actually making, but if a person is to do a business with mailing, I think mailing prices are a big obstacle. This seems to be especially the case for competing with mailing prices from China to the USA. It seems they can make and ship stuff to the USA for cheaper than someone in the USA can ship. I would like to hear your opinions on the matter. Which country you are in will help put your feedback in context. I am sure different countries have different shipping situations, after all.

I have considered the idea of 3D printing some molds or making molds some other way and making some items for sale, but the whole shipping thing seems to make the chances of a successful business a bit slim. I have also considered selling 3D printed or CNC milled goods. So far, my best chances seem to be doing local business and bypassing the whole idea of shipping costs.

I run a side business on Etsy. I’m in the USA and domestic USPS shipping within the US is fairly reasonable for most things. International shipping wasn’t bad until the USPS jacked up the rates a few years ago so that it costs about 4x what it did. That really killed a lot of my international orders.

As I understand it, shipping out of China is subsidized by the gov so you are unlikely to be able compete selling things you can get from China on a shipping cost basis.

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(The following only covers domestic USPS shipping)

I buy most of my postage through Etsy for shipping of Etsy orders and I get a discount on the postage. You can also get discounted shipping by using PayPal shipping if you have a PayPal account. PayPal also just partnered with ShipStation.

For package weights under 16oz (1lb) you are looking at a shipping cost of between $3.35 -6.80 depending on the weight and where it’s going. That’s for basic first class package shipping. Anything over 16oz bumps up to priority shipping which costs $8 and up depending on the weight and where it’s going.

Those prices are also based on discounted shipping. Expect to pay significantly more if you go to the USPS office counter. Also you can’t buy first class package shipping through the USPS online site.

Weight ranges for USPS first class packaging prices. Pricing bumps up slightly for each range.

  • 0.1 - 4.0 oz
  • 4.1 - 9.0 oz
  • 9.1 - 12.0 oz
  • 12.1 - 16.0 oz

There are some flat rate options which, on occasion, make sense to purchase for heavy items.

I also usually add $1 to the shipping cost I charge to cover packaging materials (bubble mailer/box, bubble wrap, printable shipping label). I buy packaging materials in bulk as much as I can, usually through Amazon or sometimes Walmart, to keep the cost down. (Typical packaging costs are usually less than $1 for me.)

I just shipped a package today from NC to NJ that weighed 30oz which cost me $8.49 with the Etsy discount.


Buying directly from USPS would have cost me $10.35.


PayPal Shipping gave me the same discount.


Package size also becomes a factor once one dimension gets over a certain size. Don’t remember off the top of my head.


Back when I was shipping Charge-N-Run I found ULine had good pricing on boxes, tape, etc. But hey, that was back when was just an online book store.


Thanks for that info. I guess for 3D printed stuff, the size and shape would count more than the weight. For some things I might make mold of, that would probably also be the size and shape that matter more. I am thinking it would only be wood items that I would have to worry about the weight for. I did not know there were shipping discounts via Etsy or PayPal. I wonder how that works. I have heard of something called drop shipping, but that involves many packages sharing a palette to get close to the destination and then the palette is opened up and the smaller packages are sent the final distance, but I do not see how you could affordably ship to a place to get things added to a palette to be part of a drop ship so I doubt that is it. It must be that the shippers are just charging the general population more than they charge Etsy and PayPal.

I once worked for a place in Texas that had me make a program to estimate shipped weight including the item, the box and the packing material and I made a similar program elsewhere so I was hoping I would be able to make a program for my own use as well if I start doing my own production business.

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PayPal and Etsy have negotiated for a discount with the USPS because of all the volume they are providing in aggerate.

If you are not selling through Etsy then you can just use PayPal shipping. If you have a PayPal account just go to PayPal shipping after you log-in. If you sell through PayPal then you can have the shipping info come over automatically, otherwise you use the “Create Quick New Label” option and manually enter the shipping info.


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0.1-4oz items in a 4" cube box through PayPal would cost how much from Illinois to Washington state? I figure that sort of distance and box size should fit most things I could 3D print for sale.

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Looks like that would cost $3.42

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Curious what do you sell on etsy?

I have a couple of shops. One sells Masonic themed items and the other Pride items.