Everything You Need To Know About Etsy Shipping [2021 Guide]
Sep 3, 2021

Everything You Need To Know About Etsy Shipping [2021 Guide]

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Estimated reading time: 12 minutes.

The rapid expansion of ecommerce has had a similar impact on the fulfillment sector.

By 2027, global ecommerce fulfillment is expected to be worth $113.6 billion

According to Etsy, you’re far from alone if you’re worried about shipping:

“It’s normal to feel a little anxiety around the delivery and handling process – in fact, it’s one of the most common concerns new sellers have.”

Consumers want fast, free and sustainable shipping today. But how do sellers achieve all that and still make a profit?

In this guide, we explore how to create your Etsy shipping strategy to maximize sales, minimize costs and keep on track for the long term. 

In this guide to Etsy shipping:

Ready to pack up and ship out? Let’s do it. 

Etsy Consumer Expectations Around Shipping in 2021

Shopify sums up what sellers need to know about fulfillment this year in their 2021 Future of Ecommerce Report:

“Immediacy, convenience, and speed are top consumer demands. This is the new normal.”

Across the ecommerce board, high expectations for shipping are the new norm. And according to Etsy, these changes should directly impact your strategy:

“​​The expectations of buyers when shopping online have evolved dramatically in recent years, and it’s important to consider how your delivery strategy reflects those changes.”

Here are a few interesting facts and statistics to bear in mind as you strategize your Etsy shipping plan:

  • The prospect of free shipping persuades around 80% of people to shop online. (Source). 
  • 56% of millennials (Etsy’s primary audience) expect same-day shipping options. (Source).
  • 61% are willing to pay extra for same-day shipping. (Source). 
  • 38% will abandon their cart if delivery is estimated to take longer than a week (Source).
  • 69% of shoppers have cited excessive shipping fees as the reason for canceling an order (Source). 
  • 96% of customers expect shipping issues to be resolved within transit. (Source). 

So based on those, what do we know?

We know that consumers want fast, frictionless deliveries. We know that they’re willing to pay a little more for the privilege and that they’ll drop orders if the option isn’t there.

“Buyers frequently tell us that having to pay an additional postage cost is what keeps them from shopping on Etsy more often. 

And according to a 2018 buyer survey by Etsy’s research team, as items become more expensive, the percentage of the item price that shoppers are willing to pay for delivery greatly decreases.”

It’s not exactly the easiest landscape to navigate, but with such high expectations, and with so much to lose and to gain, Etsy sellers can’t afford not to get their shipping strategy right.

And that’s what we’ll help you do here. 

Etsy’s Shipping Policy

Before we dive into your Etsy shipping strategy, options, and how to filter through them, let’s check the official stuff first: Etsy’s shipping policy. 

Etsy’s policy is split into six categories, five of which we’ll cover here. 

You can find the full policy here, so for the purposes of this guide, we’ll summarize the most relevant categories below.

  1. Delivering your items

You are responsible for the delivery process in full. 

From displaying honest delivery timeframes and origin addresses to communicating with buyers about the progress of their orders, and managing any customs regulations for international sales - it’s all on you.

  1. Using Etsy shipping labels

If you opt for Etsy shipping labels (which we’ll talk about more below), then you are still responsible for fulfillment and correct use of the labels. 

There are additional stipulations for each carrier, so if you do take this route, make sure you’re clear on your requirements. 

  1. Return postage labels

For US-based sellers who use USPS, return labels can be processed and used for getting items sent back to you. This is for within the US only. 

  1. Delivery insurance

Delivery insurance is an optional extra when using Etsy shipping labels. 

The insurance depends on your location and shipping carrier, so once you have chosen this, check out your insurance options via the full Etsy shipping policy. 

  1. Fees

You will be charged shipping fees which are calculated based on the total shipping cost, dependent on carrier, origin, destination, weight, mail class, package type, and dimensions. 

Now that we’ve covered that ground, let’s crack into your shipping options, method, and strategy. 

Your Etsy Shipping Strategy

That’s right, even with shipping there’s strategy involved.

Because being strategic with your shipping is just as important as the other aspects of your business. It could even be one of the first things customers use to decide whether to consider your item in the first place.

“In fact, we know that shoppers on Etsy are 20% more likely to complete their purchase when the item is marked as delivering for free.”

Shipping impacts your sales, so it’s a mistake to consider it a lower priority in your Etsy business plan.  

Check out this video from Etsy for a nice summary. We’ll cover the points discussed below too. 

Here are some Etsy-approved suggestions to meeting your buyers’ shipping expectations:

  1. Research the market. See what the bigger guys are doing. They have probably done the most in-depth research to determine their own approach, so take some insights for yourself. This is both on and off Etsy. 
  2. Recover your postage costs elsewhere. If you’re finding that low-cost or free delivery is an overwhelmingly common approach by competitors (which is likely), then you can offer this by recovering your costs in other ways. 

This might be by adjusting the item listing price (use the smart pricing tool for help), setting minimum spends to qualify for shipping perks, and bulk buying your packaging. 

  1. Offer a free delivery guarantee. You can set up a guarantee for free delivery if shoppers are within the US and spend at least $35. This provides transparency and peace of mind to them as they consider whether to buy your products.

To set this up:

  • Go to Shop Manager > Settings.
  • Select Delivery settings and then the Free delivery guarantee tab. 
  • Click Next > Set free delivery.

Customers will come across numerous obstacles in their path to purchase. 

By removing the significant one that is shipping, you can help maximize your sales and you don’t have to lose out in the long run. 

In fact, Etsy may reward you with better placement in search results:

“​​Soon, to make it as easy as possible for US shoppers… Etsy will start reserving the most visible search spots on the page for items that deliver for free and shops that deliver for free to US buyers for all orders from their shop that total $35 USD or more.”

Setting Up Your Etsy Shipping 

Shipping on Etsy is down to you. 

Unlike Shopify and Amazon, Etsy doesn’t offer a fulfillment service. It helps you create labels that you can print and track, but that’s about it. 

You could use Amazon’s Multi-Channel fulfillment, part of fulfillment by Amazon (FBA). But if your handcrafted products are fragile, or you have a highly customized unboxing journey, this may not suit you. 

So, you need to decide whether you’re going to outsource your fulfillment to a third-party logistics (3PL) company or manage it yourself. 

Here, we’re focusing on the DIY approach. 

Etsy shipping carriers

You don’t have to choose your carrier based on those mentioned in Etsy’s shipping policy, but they’re a good place to start.

These are the top choices for Etsy and most come with some form of optional insurance:

  • USPS (Shipsurance delivery insurance is available).
  • FedEx (Shipsurance delivery insurance is available).
  • Global Post Delivery (fulfilled by Asendia). 
  • Canada Post (carrier’s own delivery insurance is available). 
  • Royal Mail (carrier’s own insurance options are available and sometimes included). 
  • Australia Post (carrier’s own delivery insurance is available). 

Etsy shipping labels

Etsy doesn’t offer fulfillment services, but it can generate shipping labels for you. These labels are optional, so you don’t have to use them. 

When you opt to purchase a label for USPS, FedEx, or Canada Post through Etsy, the platform will provide a label for you to print, and mark your order as dispatched automatically.

You can save up to 30% on postage this way, and you can send items up to 150lb in weight globally. 

How to use Etsy shipping labels

If you use Etsy Payments or PayPal and are based in the US or Canada, follow these steps to buy your Etsy shipping labels:

  1. Head to your shop and select Orders.
  2. Find the order you want to send.
  3. Click “Print postage label”. 
  4. Select your carrier. 
  5. Enter the delivery method, type of package, and its weight. 
  6. Confirm your details and download your label. 
  7. Fix your label to the package ready to be collected.

That’s it. You don’t have to leave home to send your items. 

Find more details about printing Etsy shipping labels here.

Etsy shipping profiles

Once you have an idea of the carrier/s you’ll use for your shipping, whether you choose to use Etsy shipping labels or not, setting up delivery profiles is a good idea.

These are pre-set shipping choices for you to assign to your items so that you don’t need to complete the same process again and again. 

You can also bulk-edit your items and assign profiles to multiple items quickly and easily. 

How to create delivery profiles

  1. Head to Shop Manager > Settings.
  2. Select Delivery settings > Delivery profiles
  3. Click Add a delivery profile.
  4. Fill out your delivery details. You can create specific instructions for domestic and international handling here too. 
  5. Click Save

Your delivery profiles can now be assigned to new items as you list them.

Calculated postage  

Knowing what to charge your customers for shipping is an important part of your business plan and strategy

But by opting for calculated postage on your listings, this is done for you. Your buyers get to see an Etsy shipping estimate without manual input from you.

You can opt for calculated postage when you set up your delivery profiles, as long as you’re using USPS, Global Postal Delivery, or Canada Post. 

How to use calculated postage

  1. Head to Shop Manager > Settings.
  2. Select Delivery settings > Add a delivery profile.
  3. Next to Postage costs, select Calculate them for me
  4. Enter the dispatch ZIP code. This address will be used to calculate the postage.
  5. Choose a processing time.
  6. Select any additional countries to your own to which you’d like to deliver.
  7. Choose any additional delivery services you’d like to offer your buyers. You can include free delivery or extra handling fees. 
  8. Name that profile, and select Create profile.

Discounted delivery for multiple items

You can offer a discount on delivery costs for buyers that order multiple items (as long as they’re not using calculated postage). 

To set this up, when listing an item, you’ll need to assign it a primary and a secondary postage cost.

Primary postage cost: The price to send the item alone.

Secondary postage cost: The price to send the item as part of a larger order. This applies when buyers order more than one item at the same time, including multiple quantities of the same item. 

How to set up multiple item delivery discounts:

  • When creating your listing, add the secondary cost in the Each additional item field. 
  • If you want to provide a discount, then this cost should be less than the primary postage cost. 
  • If you don’t want to provide a discount, enter the same price again. 
  • You can make the secondary cost free, if you want that to be the offering. 

For examples of this discount in action, check out Etsy’s support page here.

International Etsy shipping

Opening up your Etsy store to the rest of the world could be great for sales, but there are some admin challenges that come with it.

Whilst you as the seller are not responsible for the payment of import duties and taxes, you should make it clear on your listings that these may apply to traveling orders. 

This is the best way to reduce issues in transit and stay transparent with your customers.

You may also want to revise your pricing strategy to be able to offer low-cost or free shipping, even internationally. The smart pricing tool can help with this. 

Etsy postage labels are another way to reduce your costs for shipping overseas. 

Etsy has partnered with Chit Chats, for example, to make things quicker and cheaper for sellers in Canada to ship to the US. 

Etsy packaging options

In Shopify’s 2021 Future of Ecommerce Report, the importance of sustainability to consumers has risen significantly - particularly in packaging and shipping. 

In fact, check out these stats:

  • 67% of consumers consider it important for packaging to be recyclable, but 74% don’t know how to identify this. 
  • 54% take the sustainability of packaging into consideration before purchasing a product and 84% are willing to pay more for it. 
  • 74% of millennials (Etsy’s primary audience) are willing to pay more for sustainable products, and they are the generation most likely to buy them.

We know that millennials are largely driven by their values when it comes to shopping behavior, so are likely to look for like-minded brands.

Etsy knows this too, and in 2019, it became the first major ecommerce retailer to completely offset its shipping carbon emissions. 

But it seems that despite being eager to choose sustainability, this demographic isn’t always sure what this means in practice. By setting an example and demonstrating that you have done the work for them, you can appeal to this huge audience.

Just make sure that you pick the right packaging products so you don’t alienate the well-informed among them. 

What to look for in environmentally-friendly packaging:

Home-compostable is the best option for the environment. 

Biodegradable” is not the ideal label for a truly environmentally-friendly product. Everything is biodegradable in the end - it’s about how long something takes to break down and what it breaks down into that matters. 

“Compostable” is the next best thing, but this may sometimes mean a product requires industrial composting which is no good for the average consumer. 

“Home-compostable” is the holy grail, and what you should be aiming for. It means a consumer can add the packaging to their compost at home, and it will break down organically.

Examples of sustainable packaging brands:

Learn more about Etsy’s ecological and social initiatives here.

Shipping fees

You are charged a delivery transaction fee on Etsy. 

This was introduced in 2018, and is a 5% charge on delivery costs on top of the other fees you pay to use the platform.

Essentially, it means that your 5% transaction fee covers the entire cost of the order - the listing price and the shipping. 

You can find out when and if you’ve been charged this fee under Recent activities > Payment account

Keep the Standards High

Whatever way you choose to go, just make sure that you keep your shipping consistent, transparent, and pleasant.

Think about what you would expect as a consumer. 

If you get these things right, your shipping strategy can be more than just a means to an end. 

It could help fuel the growth of your business, and keep your customers flooding back.

Accurate Accounting for Strategic Shipping

Shipping is a significant aspect of your business, and you need to keep track of the costs involved.

You also need to keep track of all the other running costs of your business, and Etsy settlement statements don’t always make that easy. 

A2X for Etsy provides corresponding journal summaries for your bank deposits so that your income and expenses are calculated for you automatically.

A2X also splits your statements that span months and organizes your books via the industry-approved accrual accounting method, for the most accurate accounting with minimal fuss.

Try it for free today.

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