I have a potential commission for 12 stools to be shipped to San Antonio; I'm in central MA. In the past I have not shipped anything as large as these items - all large pieces have either been picked up or delivered by me.
Does anyone have advice on the best and most affordable packing and shipping methods?
I have done some rough pricing of crating and/or palletizing as well as using large boxes, shipping LTL freight, and my costs are ending up at upwards of 25% of each item. I have not yet heard from the customer, but I imagine this could be a deal-breaker for the order.
You might want to take a clue from the mass merchandisers furniture departments. Everything they sell is shipped as flat as possible and is assembled on the buyer's/receiver's end. Would it be possible to ship parts to San Antonio in flat packs, then pay someone on the other end to do the final assembly? I'm sure there are quite a few custom woodworking shops in the San Antonio area that would be capable of doing some assembly and maybe even delivery for your products.
As far as freight goes, assuming you cannot break the parts down to UPS maximum sizes and weights, you can get competitive quotes at FreightQuote.com.
You could also contact a few household or commercial moving companies to check rates with them. Finding a reputable one could be tricky, however.
Individually boxed through UPS - definitely the easiest way - is pushing $80/ea unfortunately.
The design for this model is not easily flatpacked, as it has no visible fasteners, but i'm thinking about a new 'high-end RTA' version, if that can even be a thing. Good idea to look for a shop in TX that could assemble for me though. I'll look into that.
I have gotten a quote from plycon, as they've been recommended - but still pretty pricey.
No matter how you slice it, it will cost you significantly more to ship these items assembled. Your box will have lots more air in it than product. Trucking and freight is figured on a formula that includes both weight and cubic inches.
Bottom line...ship as little air as possible or have your client figure out the getting the product from your shop to their location.
You mention that this MIGHT be a deal breaker. The customer knows that the product will have to ship as he is not even close to you.
My opinion is to price it a couple of ways and let the customer decide what to do. I have had customers pay exorbitant shipping rates because they wanted it and they wanted it tomorrow. I shipped 3 of my products to Australia. I could have shipped them broken down and he could assemble. He selected to have shipped assembled and paid my more in shipping that what he paid for the product.
You never know till you tell him. He may be fine with whatever price you come up with.
We ship our curved moulding around the country and have developed accounts and systems for doing this safely and as economically as possible.
Feel free to contact me and I'll give you some guidance. We're in northeast CT 20 minutes south of Worcester, MA so could be close. I have plenty of packing material I would pass through to you at cost.
LTL, common carrier, hints. No matter how well packaged, damage rates are high. Their "insurance" is based on cube or wt. not value. Doesn't really matter since they make it such a PIA to get anything out of them you will give up first. There are dedicated carriers that blanket wrap and do a good job, expensive though. Some common carriers are much better than others! We've had the best luck with small independent carriers but finding one that is going near your destination might not be easy.
I have had pretty good luck shipping pieces through uship.com - basically an ebay like marketplace for independent shipping companies - and listing for blanket wrap / white glove shipments. It is not as predictable as setting up & shipping something freight or UPS/Fedex, but it is a good way of tapping into these smaller carriers. And blanket wrap shipping is generally cheaper than going freight especially when you factor in the cost saving of not having to build crates, pallets, etc.
Uship does offer their own insurance (at an extra cost) when you book a shipment & some of the carriers have their own coverage as well. I have shipped probably 20-30 pieces this way & have never had an issue with damage. The only problems I have ever had are with timing & predictability - since you are dealing with small companies, sometimes just a guy and a truck, you are kind of at the mercy of their schedule, the circumstances of the trip & other deliveries, etc. Have had a couple nightmare shipments with delays & hassles, but overall pretty positive experience.
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