Normally, we devote our blog to information about our marking, coding, and packaging materials. But as we all know, the times we are living in are anything but “normal.” As the world waits anxiously for the Covid-19 vaccine, we thought we’d take a moment to address the question that’s weighing on everyone’s minds: Why is this taking so long?
Now, just to be clear, we are not handling any part of the vaccine rollout (although we can dream that one of our boxes or rolls of tape might make contact, somehow). However, as a supplier for some of the biggest distribution chains in the country, we feel that it’s not too off-topic to discuss this particular rollout. With no further ado, here are some of the top factors that are coming between you and your Covid vaccine.
Ingredient & equipment shortages
One of the main bottlenecks slowing the vaccine distribution happens at the very start of the process: a simple lack of ingredients. At the time of this writing, the FDA has approved three vaccines for emergency use, and two of the three (the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines) require tough-to-source ingredients like mRNA-building plasmids, nucleotides, and enzymes. While it was easy for researchers to procure these components for their trial studies, the amount required to create millions of vaccines just isn’t in ready supply.
Another rather simple issue affecting production is a lack of equipment. According to Glenn Richey of Auburn University, many manufacturing facilities aren’t stocked with the amount of vials, syringes, and machinery they’ll need to create and move millions of vaccine doses. Like everyone else in what you will see is a very lengthy supply chain, vaccine manufacturers have no choice but to “build the airplane as it flies,” so to speak.
Challenges in making, storing, & shipping the vaccine
Even if a plant has everything it needs to make a vaccine, doing so isn’t as easy as mixing up a pot of soup on the stove. All three currently-authorized vaccines have long, complex, and risk-abundant manufacturing processes, with lots of potential for missteps (and therefore, wastage). The Pfizer vaccine, for instance, must be created in three separate phases at three different facilities, a process which takes several weeks to complete.
Once a batch of vaccines is made, distribution is complicated by their stringent refrigeration requirements. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine must be stored at -70 degrees Celsius—colder than winter in Antarctica—while the Moderna and J&J vaccines must be stored at -20 degrees Celsius, the temperature of a normal freezer. Assembling the materials necessary for shipping this kind of product (like dry ice and specialized stay-cold containers) is a supply chain in and of itself, and executing a prompt delivery presents another hurdle.
If all this is starting to feel kind of depressing, keep in mind that things might not be as bad as they appear—literally. Some experts have noted that there can be a big delay in the time it takes for a vaccine to leave a distribution center and the time it takes for its use to be recorded, creating the false impression that huge amounts of vaccines are being wasted. Julie Swann, head of the Department of the Industrial and Systems Engineering at NC State University, told Scientific American, “If you think, ‘Two days to ship, three days to give it out, and another two days to record that,’ there can easily be a week between when the government says it has been distributed, and when you can really expect to see that number [of administered doses] change correspondingly.” She added that internal issues like this are impeding distribution much more than factors like transportation.
Bottom line: The vaccines are coming
Again, learning about the complexities involved with distributing the Covid-19 vaccine may leave you feeling a bit overwhelmed—but it’s important to stay hopeful. Remember that everyone involved in this massive supply chain—from the manufacturers, to the shipping and delivery personnel, to the medical administrators—have a vested interest in executing the rollout as efficiently and safely as possible. The longer the rollout continues, the more experienced everyone in the supply chain will become, and the more smoothly everything will flow—an effect which you have surely experienced in your own working life. In the meantime, all we can do is sit back, remain positive, and trust that one day we’ll all be able to live mask-free once again.
Here at SSI Packaging, we’ve got boxes--1600 sizes of them, in fact. We’ve got big boxes. Small boxes. Cargo boxes. Moving boxes. We have so many boxes of various size, shape, color, and thicknesses that we’re pretty sure many of our clients don’t even know how many options they have! In this week’s blog, we’re here to correct that. If you’re planning to ship or move a lot of items in the near future, here are some of the many box options you can choose from.
Packing up your kitchen items, bookshelf items, and clothing items is pretty straightforward, but what do you do if you have to move an exceptionally heavy item, like a barbell and weights? You invest in a heavy-duty shipping box, of course! Heavy-duty shipping boxes come with either a single-wall, double-wall, or triple-wall feature that ensures extra-heavy items stay in the box, and off your movers’ toes. You can also order double-walled boxes with hand holes in the sides, a nifty feature that makes moving heavy stuff just a little bit easier.
One question we often receive is, “What the heck is a Gaylord box?” Okay, we don’t actually receive this question, but we imagine that it occurs to a lot of our clients. A Gaylord box is a generic term for a large cargo box that’s the size of an entire shipping pallet. Gaylords can be rectangular, or octagonal; you’ve probably seen the latter in your local grocery store during watermelon and/or pumpkin season. As for the unique name, it refers to the Gaylord Container Company, the first company to patent this type of container system.
Like our heavy-duty boxes, you can purchase Gaylords with either a single-wall, double-wall, or triple-walled thickness. You can also opt for a telescoping Gaylord, which have a fully overlapping “lid” that lend the box extra durability.
These super-convenient, one-size-fits-all boxes are pre-scored around the sides at various intervals, so that all you have to do to get a perfect fit is cut around the closest line. Multi-depth boxes are a particularly useful option for businesses that can’t easily predict exactly what their shipping needs will be in the future. Instead of buying multiple sets of small, medium, and large boxes, you would be able to simply buy one large unit of multi-depth boxes, and cut each box to fit its contents when the time comes.
Specialty Moving Boxes
One typically thinks of a moving box as a simple cardboard cube, and we do indeed have quite a few of those. But many people are unaware that there are shipping boxes designed specifically to accommodate one type of item. For example, at SSI, we have moving boxes for:
…Just to name a few. We also have moving boxes made specially for transporting dishes, wardrobes, and electronics. So, no matter what you need to pack, as it says in our title…there’s a box for that!
Corrugated Mailer Boxes
Mailer boxes are wonderful packaging options, because they are so easy (and in our opinion, fun) to assemble. Thanks to their interlocking flaps and wings, mailer boxes usually don’t even require any adhesive to stay closed (though it’s still probably a good idea to use some for safety’s sake). Box mailers also tend to be lightweight, yet sturdy, and relatively inexpensive compared to other shipping options. All in all, they’re the perfect choice for mailing consumer items like books, CDs, DVDs, posters, clothing, cosmetics, and more.
Insulated Shipping Boxes
While the US Postal Service prohibits shipping perishable items via its standard mailing process, certain items are permitted as long as they meet certain requirements. So, if you’re interested in sending some backyard-laid eggs or fresh-killed venison to a friend or relative, you’ll be able to do that with the right paperwork and an insulated shipping box.
An insulated shipping box consists of an outer cardboard box, and an inner, tightly-fitted Styrofoam carton. The carton, which is several inches thick and fitted with a tight lid, helps simultaneously insulate the items and protect them from being crushed or otherwise damaged. To keep the package contents cool, you can also add a cold pack.
On the outside, insulated shipping boxes are printed with Rush, Perishable, and This Side Up instructions to further help ensure that the items arrive safely and on time. The Postal Service doesn’t want your products to rot any more than you do!
Get all your moving & packaging needs from SSI Packaging
If you are still with us at this point, it’s safe to say that you are now aware of our main takeaway: We Have Boxes. But you may not know that we also have essential packaging items like tape, Bubble Wrap, foam packing peanuts, labels, and mailing envelopes! If you live in Richmond, Virginia or nearby areas, feel free to order anything you need from our vast product inventory, or stop by and see us on 1514 Brook Road. And, if you have any questions—box-related or otherwise—that haven’t been answered in this article, just ask one of our friendly salespeople. No matter what you’re planning to box up and send, we’ll make sure that you get everything you need to make the process as easy as possible.
The Amazing, Accidental History of Bubble Wrap
The invention of bubble wrap revolutionized the shipping process and helped launch today’s billion-dollar Ecommerce industry—but it was never intended to. As part 2 of our series celebrating National Bubble Wrap Appreciation Day this month (January 2021) , today we present you with the strange, surprising history of an iconic product that started life as a failed experiment.
In 1957, the Beat generation was just beginning to usher in an age of creative experimentation. Just like music and fashion, interior design was also getting a groovy new makeover, and it wasn’t unusual to see walls outfitted in vibrant patterns and natural materials such as bamboo. It’s amidst this context that inventors Alfred Fielding and Marc Chavannes set out to create a unique, textured wallpaper out a popular modern material, plastic. (Although prototypical plastic had existed since the late 1800s, new chemical technologies in the ‘60’s led to an explosion in plastic manufacturing throughout the decade.)
After placing two pieces of plastic shower curtain through a heat-sealing machine, the two men were surprised by the results: a single sheet of film with air bubbles trapped inside. While the wallpaper idea would never take off, the inventors knew that their product could be used for something. The trick would lie in finding out what.
Patents & Patience
Fielding and Chavannes promptly filed six patents for the manufacturing process they had used to create “Air Cap,” as they called it, as well as the lamination equipment and materials. They then put their heads together to brainstorm a useful application for the material. Though they came up with over 400 ideas, only one—greenhouse insulation—ultimately made it off the drawing board, and the reaction from consumers was lukewarm. For the time being, Bubble Wrap remained a solution in search of a problem.
As Fielding and Chavannes scratched their heads in New Jersey, up in Armonk, New York, a company called International Business Machines had just launched one of the world’s first mass-produced business computers. The delicate device, called the 1401, would need to be transported across the country without sustaining any damage, and the preferred packaging material of the time—balled-up newspaper—wasn’t quite up to scratch. Bubble Wrap was the answer to IBM’s problem. It was cheap; it was clean (newspaper often left ink smudges on package contents); and it adept at protecting the 1401’s fragile components. Once IBM—which, by 1960, was a powerful business entity—signed on, it seemed like only a matter of time until Bubble Wrap skyrocket to the top of the shipping market.
The Dunphy Era
As the ‘60s crept into the ‘70s, Bubble Wrap rose steadily in popularity and household usage. Despite this, though, and in spite of IBM’s seal of approval, Bubble Wrap still hadn’t turned a significant profit for its parent company, Sealed Air Corporation. Part of the problem lay in the interests of its founders: Chavannes and Fielding were engineers, not businessmen, and both were much more interested in making inventions than in selling them.
It was T.J. Dermot Dunphy, who became CEO of Sealed Air in 1971, who helped turn Bubble Wrap and its sister products into money-making machines. An entrepreneur by training, Dunphy helped Sealed Air stabilize its operation and diversify its product base. For example, he was able to expand the brand into the swimming pool industry, popularizing Bubble Wrap pool covers that were able to keep the water beneath them warm. By the time he left the firm in 2000, Dunphy had successfully built Sealed Air’s sales up to $3 billion annually. And Bubble Wrap, of course, had become a name so ubiquitous, most of today’s consumers aren’t even aware that it’s a brand.
Bubble Wrap Today
Today, Sealed Air has relocated to Charlotte, North Carolina, and devotes most of its time and business to food product packaging. But even though Bubble Wrap provides less than 10% of Sealed Air’s revenue, that hasn’t stopped company leadership from considering a name change. “’Sealed Air’ does lack a bit of marketing pizazz,” company CEO Bill Hickey told Forbes in 2012. A name like “Bubble Wrap, Inc.” would no doubt bring instant name recognition.
Naming aside, there’s no doubt that Bubble Wrap is here to stay, as it’s now used to protect billions of products each year. It has also become a staple of modern society, repurposed as everything from wedding dresses to therapeutic treatment tools. Sadly, though, no one has tried using it for its first intended purpose, wallpaper—at least to our knowledge.
Order Bubble Wrap for Richmond, VA | Richmond Business Packaging Materials
Looking for bubble wrap or any other packaging material in Richmond, VA? Stop by SSI Packaging today! In addition to bubble wrap, we offer a wide range of packaging and shipping materials to keep your products safe, including cardboard boxes, foam cushioning, and packing tape. Feel free to stop by and see us, or check out our product inventory online.
Although, by January, you have doubtlessly taken down your Christmas lights and recycled your tree, the festivities aren’t over. That’s right, January 25th is National Bubble Wrap Appreciation Day, which Americans celebrate on the last Monday of January. We here at SSI Packaging love the bubbly stuff, even though we have to save the fun of popping it for our customers. In celebration of bubble wrap, here are 6 facts about it that may surprise you.
Bubble Wrap was originally marketed as wallpaper
Bubble Wrap’s original incarnation was, believe it or not, wallpaper. This isn’t so crazy when one considers the context of the late 1950s. As more and more household gadgets entered the public market, it became quite normal for designers to experiment with futuristic-seeming textures, materials, and patterns. In 1957, an engineer named Al Fielding and a Swiss inventor named Marc Chavannes teamed up to create a three-dimensional, raised wallpaper. To test their idea, they glued two shower curtains together, leaving pockets of air throughout. Ultimately, the wallpaper idea never took off…but luckily, the inventors managed to find a great buyer for their product, in a small manufacturing company called IBM.
Bubble Wrap® is a brand name
Like Chapstick, Kleenex, and Crock-Pots, Bubble Wrap is actually a brand that’s dominated the market so well and for so long that it’s become a ubiquitous term for all items like it. Fielding and Chavannes themselves filed several patents for Bubble Wrap in 1960, and created a company to sell it, called Sealed Air Corporation. More than 60 years later, Sealed Air is still going strong, and its star product has been embraced around the world as a lightweight, yet protective shipping material. Writers beware: if it doesn’t come from Sealed Air, it’s “laminated cushioning material.”
It has incredible protective qualities
But just how protective is it? In 2000, Sealed Air itself decided to answer that question via the rather unconventional method of dropping a pumpkin onto a bubble wrap landing pad. The 815-pound pumpkin, nicknamed “Gourdzilla”, survived the 35-foot fall completely intact—for a few seconds, anyway. “The pumpkin survived the drop,” said then-CEO William Hickey. “The problem is that it bounced.”
Popping Bubble Wrap is scientifically good for your health
For many people—or, dare we say, most people—popping Bubble Wrap ranks among one of life’s greatest pleasures. And beyond being fun, there’s some scientific evidence that it’s actually good for our mental health, too. In 1992, psychology professor Kathleen M. Dillon conducted a study wherein a trial group of undergraduate students were given two sheets to pop, while a control group remained pop-less. At the end of the study, the pop-ers reported that they felt more calm, energized, and alert than they had been before, while the pop-less control students reported feeling more or less the same. Dillon theorized that bubble wrap popping, like finger tapping and other sensory habits, might be a way anxious humans find a way to relieve muscle tension while simultaneously freezing in their tracks.
It sent a military base into lockdown
When most of us picture Bubble Wrap bubbles, we imagine the small, pill-sized kind which make relatively quiet pops. But Sealed Air manufactures its product in all kinds of sizes, and it was sandwich-bag-sized bubbles that ended up sending a New Mexico Air Force base into lockdown. After a civilian employee stomped on several “air pillows” in order to flatten them, another civilian mistook the sound for gunfire, and called 911. Base Director of Public Affairs, Eric Elliott, noted that the caller’s response was doubtlessly influenced by a mass shooting which had occurred in San Bernadino, California, earlier that week. In any case, all was well that ended well, and local authorities were appreciative for the unplanned emergency. “We got a good exercise out of it,” Elliot said.
Get bona-fide Bubble Wrap in Richmond, VA
It’s safe to say that no packaging material has brought more joy to consumers than Bubble Wrap. Whether you need a roll to protect some fragile materials during shipping, or to simply relieve some stress, SSI Packaging has what you need—real, authentic Bubble Wrap made by its original manufacturer, Sealed Air. We also offer a wide range of packaging and shipping materials such as cardboard boxes, bubble mailers, foam cushioning, and packing tape. If you live in or near Richmond, Virginia, stop by and see us, or check out our product inventory online.
Without a doubt, the impacts of the COVID-19 virus have been devastating. At the time of this writing, the disease has claimed over 1.75 million lives worldwide, 330,000 of them in the U.S. alone. However, as we look back on this past year with respect and grief for the many lives lost, we can also reflect on a few small positives that resulted from the pandemic. Many industries were able to alter their manufacturing and distribution practices in ways that will benefit our world for decades to come, and packaging is chief among them. Below are 5 ways the Coronavirus changed the packaging industry for the better.
It created an Ecommerce boom
As brick-and-mortar stores began to shutter their doors in response to the pandemic, consumers turned in droves to Ecommerce alternatives to satisfy their needs. The leap from brick-and-mortar to online retail was significant; according to data from the US Census Department of Commerce, Ecommerce spending leapt by 42.2% from the first quarter of 2020 to the second, a period of about 6 months. The packaging industry, in turn, benefited from the surge in Ecommerce sales, particularly pharmaceutical packaging and plastics. According to market research by Reportlinker.com, the global packaging market is projected to grow to $1.6 billion by 2021.
It changed the way we package and prepare food
Perhaps no other sector was impacted by COVID as much as the food industry. In just a few short months, restaurants, grocery stores, and other food suppliers had to adjust to meet new safety standards and assuage the fears of anxious customers. Salad bars, food steam tables, and “bulk bins” of products like beans and nuts were converted into display areas for prepackaged foodstuffs. And everyone in the food distribution chain became more conscious of the way we handle and prepare food. Already, food manufacturers are exploring ways to make their wares more hygienic and tamper-resistant while remaining easy for consumers to open and use. While the future is never certain, it seems likely that the COVID-19 pandemic may have shifted the way we buy and consume prepackaged food forever.
It expedited a technological transformation
Even though, as noted above, the effects of the pandemic were mostly negative, it did have the silver lining of speeding up business adoptions of new technologies—not by just one or two years, but several. For instance, in the 2020 McKinsey Global Survey, executives across several major industries reported that the pandemic accelerated the digitization of their customer and supply-chain interactions, as well as internal operations, by as many as four years. Company leaders also reported a big shift to digital offerings—a change that may have otherwise taken five to seven years.
According to Keith Higgins, VP of digital transformation for Rockwell Automation, the tech revamp will continue long after 2020. In an interview with Digital Journal, he stated, “The pandemic has demonstrated the need to adopt digital tools to automate processes, obtain real-time information, and create agile supply chains that comply with new restrictions.” He went on to say that flexible adaptation to new technology will be a must for companies that wish to thrive in a post-COVID world.
It brought awareness to longstanding distribution issues
The U.S. has long been reliant on other countries, especially China, to supply pharmaceutical products like acetaminophen, antibiotics, and blood pressure medication, but it was not until the pandemic that the issue was brought to the forefront of public awareness. Leading news outlets such as the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times ran articles about the chaos the US would face should it suddenly lose access to China—which supplies over 80% of crucial medications—due to war, trade disagreements, natural disaster, or another pandemic. While, again, the future remains to be seen, it seems far more likely, post-COVID, that lawmakers will push for American-made pharmaceuticals, and that their constituents will demand it.
It brought DIY-ers together
As the nation’s biggest manufacturing and distribution centers struggled to execute their gigantic pivot, everyday Americans stepped in to create badly-needed PPE equipment for healthcare workers and first responders. Individuals and small “mom-and-pop” companies used their own 3D printers, laser cutters, sewing machines, and other fabrication equipment to create face shields, masks, and more for their local communities. In a year characterized by loss and anxiety, it stood as a stark reminder that, even in the darkest times, total strangers will come together to fulfill a cause bigger than themselves.
Need Packaging Supplies in Richmond, Virginia?
During this tough time in our nation’s history, SSI Packaging is proud to provide packaging products to small local businesses and individuals. Our product catalogue includes everything you need to package your products, including bubble wrap, envelopes, and cardboard boxes. To place an order, check out our online store here.
With so many people celebrating the holidays at home due to the Coronavirus, there’s little doubt that a lot of gifts will be sent through the mail this year—more, perhaps, than ever before. If you’re reading this article, you’re probably wondering whether it’s possible to ship a relative a nice bottle of whiskey, or send perfume to a special lady in your life. Get all of the answers to these holiday shipping questions, and more, below.
Can I Ship Alcohol?
For many people, the most thoughtful, grown-up Christmas gift is a fancy bottle of wine, whiskey, bourbon, or miscellaneous indulgence.
Unfortunately, if you’re socially distancing this holiday, you’ll have to come up with a different idea. No alcohol may be sent through the USPS, UPS, or FedEx, except in certain limited, extenuating circumstances. To be more specific, you can usually ship items with an alcohol content of .5% or less, like mouthwash and cooking wine. College kids beware: if you can’t find a regular box to pack your gift in, you won’t be able to grab a box from the liquor store.
Mail carriers will reject items that are shipped in an alcohol-branded box, regardless of what’s inside. (You’re better off just ordering some unbranded Richmond packing supplies.)
Can I Mail Cigars/Cigarettes?
Cigars are a classic gift for new and expectant fathers, and in some families, cigarettes aren’t an unusual addition to an adult’s stocking. If you want to include cigarettes in someone’s holiday gift box, you’re actually in luck, because while the USPS does forbids the mailing of tobacco products, it accepts “small-quantity, individual gift shipments” as an exception to the rule. It will also accept shipments to Alaska or Hawaii, shipments to military bases, and shipping of returns to a product manufacturer.
UPS and FedEx are a little stricter in their allowances, so if you’re planning on shipping a tobacco product, we recommend sticking with USPS. As for cigars, no worries there: all three major US carriers will ship cigars domestically.
Can I Ship Hand Sanitizer?
In any other year, hand sanitizer might not be a very exciting gift, but 2020’s pandemic has turned it into a much-appreciated necessity. However, since most hand sanitizers and sanitizing wipes contain alcohol, they are flammable, and therefore they are treated as hazardous materials by the top three major mail carriers. It is possible to ship hand sanitizer, however; you’ll just have to do a little extra paperwork: the Dangerous Goods Agreement for UPS; the Shipper's Declarations for Dangerous Goods for FedEx, and other, more specific instructions for the USPS. For all carriers, you’ll have to accept surface shipping as your only option.
Can I Mail Nail Polish & Perfume?
Regulations are similar for potentially-flammable cosmetics like nail polish and perfume. Both UPS and FedEx require that these items be mailed via ground only, provided they meet the specifications listed above. As for USPS, it will permit perfume or nail polish to be transported by air, as long as it has a flashpoint between 140° F 200° F. Cosmetics with a flashpoint between 100° F and 140° F can be shipped via surface transportation only.
Can I Ship Live Animals?
We’re mostly including this one for fun’s sake, although if you’re legitimately thinking of mailing a friend a carton of live worms this Christmas, don’t let us stop you. Yes, USPS will ship live earthworms, as long as certain conditions are met. It will also deliver certain types of birds; certain types of bees; what it describes as “harmless, cold-blooded animals”; and, for some reason, scorpions. We’re not sure exactly why the Postal Service decided that scorpions would be the only stinging, non-honey-producing animal it would handle, and though we could Google the answer as well as the next person, we don’t want to ruin the mystery. To return to our topic, since the regulations for shipping animals are numerous and specific, we’re not going to list them all here. Interested persons can view them here (for USPS), here (for UPS), or here (for FedEx).
Get Everything You Need This Christmas from SSI Packaging
Need packaging supplies in Richmond, VA, or in nearby areas? Stop by SSI Packaging for all your holiday packaging needs. We offer everything you need to keep your gifts safe and secure during transit, including cardboard boxes, bubble wrap, foam sheets, edge protectors, mailing tubes, and more. To learn more about our wide range of products, click here, and be sure to visit our blog for packaging-related tips and tricks, like how to safely package glassware!
Yes, It's Possible to Sell Art on Etsy. Here's How
Last year, Etsy's annual gross in merchandise sales reached $2.39 billion. And, while, yes, a lot of that income likely went to foreign resellers, we’re guessing that someone achieved that all-holy dream of artists everywhere: making a living through selling artwork, and nothing else. In fact, we’re confident that the Etsy dream is attainable, because as a Richmond shipping supply company, we often encounter people who do just that, and use our supplies to send their work all over the world. Below are some of the best tips we’ve heard on successfully selling artwork on Etsy.
Scope out the Competition
Let’s start with something rather obvious: there are a lot of shops on Etsy. Making yours successful lies in two key strategies: firstly, marketing the shop outside of Etsy itself—which we’ll discuss later in this post—and secondly, standing out from the crowd. The best way to accomplish that second one is taking a good look at the crowd in the first place. See if you can jot down a list of what tends to work, and what doesn’t. You will have to ultimately reach a sweet spot in-between “artwork that people want” and “artwork that no one else is offering.” Just as a stock investor tries to curate a diverse portfolio, you, too, will want to offer a nice mix of both popular items, and rare, niche items. If your eggs are distributed throughout multiple baskets, you’ll succeed no matter what the market “mood” tends to be.
Offer Different Sizes/Price Points
You’ll also want to mix up your sizes and price points, so that every type of shopper can support you, if they really want to: budget-stretched college students who can only afford a pair of earrings; and serious art buyers who want to add elaborate pieces to their collections. The great thing about art is that the college student in the first example can eventually turn into the collector in the second. In other words, if you offer smaller original pieces at lower price points, people who can’t afford the large or expensive pieces might return one day for more expensive, original work.
Leverage Tags and Keywords
Tags and keywords are the most important tools you can leverage on websites like Etsy. Without tags or keywords, your products will be buried in the Etsy ethos, without a way to be seen by potential customers. As you start to type in a keyword, you may notice that Etsy will suggest keywords. Don’t ignore these, either! This is Etsy’s way of helping you choose the terms people are actually using to search for items like yours. (Remember, since Etsy takes a cut of all proceeds, it has a vested interest in helping your site succeed).
In addition, try to use plenty of identifiers in the item description, like the item’s size; the medium; supplies used; and anything else that shoppers may have questions about. Add some personality to endear your shoppers to you—we’ll touch on this below—but don’t go overboard; descriptions that are long, meandering essays tend to chase potential buyers away.
Space out Your Listings
Setting up, photographing, uploading, and editing artwork tends to be tedious, so most artists tend to do it all in one day. That’s fine, but try to resist the urge to post it all on the same day; spacing out your listing helps you reach a much wider audience. That’s because Etsy features new listings at the top of each respective category for a short period of time after they are posted. If you upload everything all at once, you’ll only have front-page status for that brief moment—versus nabbing the spotlight over and over again, with every new upload.
Be as Socially Active as Possible
The extent to which you use social media, and how well you use it, will likely be what makes or breaks your efforts as an Etsy artist. This is because, to be frank, few people spend their time hanging out on Etsy, typing in various keywords and discovering new items. The majority of today’s art-buying audience spends its time on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Reddit—so you should, too. On Instagram, try following pages which re-post artwork (with attribution), to reach a wider audience. Comment and react to other peoples’ artwork; as a popular quote by Dale Carnegie goes, “You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.”
Note, too, that you don’t always have to take on the persona of a salesperson; many forums on Reddit, for example, discourage our outright forbid solicitation. Instead, try simply posting your art and asking for feedback. This can help get more eyes on it, without irritating forum moderators.
Package Your Work with Care
As a professional artist, you will need to take a professional approach to everything you do, right down to the packaging and delivery of your work. Neat, professional packaging can help make a great first impression and subliminally justify the price, and quality, of your work. It also reduces the chance that the work will bend, chip or break in transit, prompting the buyer to demand a refund. Remember to pair prints and unframed drawings in a hard surface, like cardboard or chipboard, and wrap them in a clear sleeve. Consider building the cost of packing materials, like boxes, packing peanuts, and bubble wrap, into your shipping charges. Lastly, including a handwritten thank you note, sticker, or other unexpected goodie can boost the buying experience, and the likelihood of future sales!
Ship and Send Your Art Safely with SSI Packaging!
Looking for high-quality shipping supplies in Richmond, Virginia and the surrounding areas? SSI Packaging has everything you need to package, track, and deliver your work safely and securely! We are proud to serve our local artists at VCU School of the Arts and beyond.
To view our full selection of products, please click here.
So, you’ve just started your new business selling bath bombs/small-batch hot sauce/vegan soy candles/et cetera. Congratulations! Before cracking open the champagne, though, it’s important to consider the less-exciting aspect of running a small business: getting the product to the buyer. Though it isn’t very fun to think about, it’s a fact that the way you manage your business’ shipping, fulfillment, and returns process will strongly impact your long-term success. If you’re feeling overwhelmed with all the questions and options, below are some key small business shipping tips that can help you get started.
Weigh Your Carrier Options
When people set out to purchase a car, they generally don’t just go with the closest option, or the first option they see. The same mindset should be applied to choosing a shipping carrier for your business. FedEx, USPS, and UPS all have different rate options depending on the items’ distance traveled, dimensions and weight. Make sure to compare and contrast all the available options before making a decision. You can perform your price comparisons by hand, or you could invest in an online software that identifies the cheapest carrier for you. Once you’ve chosen a carrier, try to establish a good relationship with your account manager, as this can open up doors to benefits like shipping discounts.
Implement a Low-Risk Return Policy
Though returns can be a bit of a headache, having a zero-return policy is generally a bad idea. Firstly, it can result in some outraged (and vocal) customers; even worse, many consumers won’t risk purchasing an item in the first place if they know it cannot be returned. Therefore, as much as it may hurt, recognize that buying something online is a high-risk activity, and if customers can be assured that there is little risk involved, you’ll be much more profitable in the long run. If you can provide an easy and pleasant return experience, a disappointed customer might be willing to give you another try.
Consider Ways to Offer Free Shipping
“Free shipping.” No two words are more appealing to modern consumers. And thanks to Amazon, free shipping is expected of all vendors these days, even though few can afford it like the giant itself can. Luckily, there are two great ways to offer customers free shipping without tanking your profits. Firstly, you can create a “free shipping threshold”, which requires customers to order a certain amount of product in order to receive free shipping. This is a great way to drive up your sales without irritating your customers—most purchasers are actually secretly happy for the excuse to buy more goodies!
The second way to offer free shipping without sacrificing your profit margins is to simply bundle the shipping costs into the product cost. The item will be more expensive, but shipping can still be listed as “free.” Is this a little sneaky? Maybe—but, as a counterpoint, consider that the customer will end up paying the same amount either way. The bundled distribution only changes how the consumer feels about the purchase; not the actual amount leaving their wallet. We say, no harm, no foul.
Don’t Forget to Factor in Packaging Costs
When charging customers for shipping, don’t forget to factor in the cost of packaging items, like insulation, cushioning, boxes, and tape. All these items can add up fast, and you are unlikely to be profitable if you swallow the cost yourself. Remember that your customer isn’t just paying for the actual delivery; they are paying for the extra steps you take to ensure their product arrives safely, too.
Offer as Personalized an Experience as Possible
Today’s consumers expect online orders to be delivered rapidly and cheaply, but small businesses rarely have the resources to meet those demands. What we do have, though, that the big distributors don’t, is authenticity. The more automated and remote our world becomes, the more value is placed on authentic, human connection. That’s why you should strive to make your entire purchasing experience as genuine and personal as possible.
For instance, try always including a handwritten note in every box you send out. Include stickers or other “surprises” not mentioned on your product pages. Follow top clients on their social media pages, and don’t be afraid to “like” and comment on their posts. Every personal interaction you can create will strengthen your client relationship and reiterate the value in ordering from you, rather than a massive corporate retailer.
Need Packaging Supplies in Richmond VA?
If you are located in Richmond, Virginia or a nearby area, consider SSI Packaging for all your packing and shipping needs. During this tough time in our nation’s history, we are proud to be able to keep small businesses going from the safety of their owners’ homes. Our business shipping products include everything from boxes and stretch film, to bubble wrap and envelopes. We are also able to mark and code individual products to help them as they move along the distribution pipeline. To place an order, check out our online store here.
Earth Day 2020 is something we will all remember, even if we're a little confused on which day today is. With most of the world's population observing stay-at-home orders, we're seeing an amazing impact on the environment. The canals in Venice, Italy are crystal clear, toxic gas levels have had a sharp decline, and pollution in major cities and remote villages have been replaced with clear skies. In a way, the corona-shutdown has given the Earth a much needed reset.
While the environmental impacts of the corona-shutdown is great for Mother Nature, it has also had major impacts on businesses and global economies. Some companies have closed and may never open again while others are thriving like never before. The thing about the American economy is that challenging times often give birth to innovative solutions from entrepreneurs and business leaders. We are already seeing factories pivot from things like clothing production and car manufacturing to high-volume mask and ventilator production. New innovations are already on the market like gadgets that let you open doors and use ATMs without actually touching anything to new methods of supply-chair production and delivery.
As new innovations develop, SSI Packaging is here to help solve your packaging and shipping needs while providing eco-friendly solutions that help protect the environment. Our eco-friendly packaging supplies can help continue the healing of the Earth while delivering the much needed goods and services needed around the globe. For example, our boxes are 100% recyclable and, even better, reusable. We have bubble wrap, loose fill (packing peanuts), kraft paper, and shredded paper solutions that can protect your products in shipping and transportation while being environmentally conscience.
If your business needs reliable eco-friendly packaging and shipping supplies, we're here to help. Our Richmond, VA warehouse is stocked with thousands of eco-friendly packaging supplies that are ready for curbside pickup. Just call one of our packaging specialists at 804.649.1111 for curbside pickup or order online at www.ssipackaging.net and we will ship it to you right away.
As we all do our best to stay home and continue with life the best we can amidst COVID-19, some folks find ourselves snacking more than ever. Maybe it's nerves, or maybe you're like millions of others who are working from home. Whatever the reason, we are snacking more and also finding learning new things. For example, did you know there are many types of "date codes" on foods? Here is a short explanation of the various types of date codes and what they mean for you.
"Sell-By" date tells the store how long to display the product for sale. You should buy the product before the date expires.
"Best if Used By (or Before)" date is recommended for best flavor or quality. It is not a purchase or safety date.
"Use-By" date is the last date recommended for the use of the product while at peak quality. The date has been determined by the manufacturer of the product.
"Closed or coded dates" are packing numbers for use by the manufacturer.
If you are a manufacture of food products, healthcare products, or paper goods (these days think toilet paper, right?), then let us help you solve the problem of accurate date coding for your production. SSI Packaging Group has been in the date coding business for decades and we are ready to listen to your needs and find the right solution.
Do you need cate coding equipment on a short-term basis? We rent coding equipment so that you can focus on fulfilling orders and we'll worry about the equipment.
Call one of marking and coding experts now to help you get production done on time and accurate the first time. 804.649.1111