I have been shipping as a small 1-person business since 2015 and let me tell you... I've learned a LOT in that time, and I'm still learning every day!
I receive a lot of questions about this topic, so I figured what better way than to gather all the info in one place for you.
NOTE: This specifically discusses shipping within Canada, and is always being updated... check back for more later!
First things first: a Shipping Scale is going to be your BEST FRIEND forever more! Honestly. This will save you a TON of time (and money) that would have been spent making multiple trips to the post office, standing in never-ending lines, and also avoiding having to deal with cranky people.... :)
I have the Dymo M3 Digital Mailing Scale (3 lbs) - you can find the same scale in various weight accommodations here. Make sure to take into consideration the type / quantity of products you sell before deciding on a scale.
Tip: If you already have a kitchen scale, this can be used in the same way!
Now, onto Shipping Methods:
1. Lettermail / Stamp Shipping:
If you have small items that can be shipped in a normal envelope, or a small/thin bubble envelope*, you might be able to ship it through lettermail. However, it depends on where you live and the postal service in the area. I live in Toronto, so I haven't had any issues with this, but in some smaller towns, the post office is very very picky when it comes to lettermail shipping. This is where the "Postage Rates" page on Canada Post's website comes in handy, along with your trusty Shipping Scale!!
Let's run through a scenario. You get an order (yay!) for 1 greeting card. The weight is only about 5 grams, so you can mail this as a document, the same as if you were sending a card or letter to a friend. You would use a single stamp which is good for "Standard Sized Lettermail".
But let's say that your customer ordered 50 greeting cards. The size and weight of the envelope will increase, resulting in you needing to pay more for postage. So, you package the 50 cards up in a larger sized mailer (lets say it's a 7x10 mailer), along with any order inserts, packaging slips etc, and then you weigh the package on your scale. The overall weight is now 250 grams! So you're going to use this page as your guide to let you know how many stamps you will need. Since it's classified as "non-standard and oversized mail" you're going to need a different type of stamp too (I use the $1.94 stamps for cases like this, and I just add 2, 3, 4 stamps according to the weight of my package).
But oh no! Your latest order is even bigger! This person has ordered a mug! You definitely can't fit that into an envelope... and it weighs over the 500 gram mark anyways. Now, we have to send it as a parcel...
2. Parcels (more info coming soon!)