Although you may have no trouble shipping small and medium-sized items, what do you do when you want to sell and ship larger items, such as antique furniture, vending machines or, perhaps, a pool table?
Just because items like these are large is no reason to dismiss the online sales opportunity at hand. The truth is, the online realm is a preferred venue for buyers looking to purchase any
products, no matter how big or small. So, when it comes to selling big items, all you need to do is to find a shipper that can manage the task. The good news: There are plenty of services, accessible online to help you with the really big goods.
First, let's give you a really big hand
When it comes to shipping large items, some of the usual carriers are out of the picture. USPS won't handle packages that exceed 70 pounds. Scratch UPS and FedEx as well, as they won't touch anything that weighs more than 150 pounds or is larger than a combined length and width of 165 inches. This is just to save you wasted time with those carriers when you have something large or heavy to ship.
Don't give up, though. You just need to call in the big-item experts:
Forward Air (www.forwardair.com): When it comes to shipping big items, and cost is your primary concern, Forward Air has the best prices on large item transit, provided you crate items yourself. It provides freight forwarding services, arranging to deliver or receive large items transported via sea or air. Located near 85 major airports in the U.S. and Canada, Forward Air will receive deferred air freight shipments and will transport those to its nearest company terminal.
YRC, formerly Yellow Freight (www.yrc.com): You crate it. YRC picks it up when you schedule a pickup. Shipping rates are always available via the company's RateQuote system online.
Freightquote.com (www.freightquote.com): Sort of an online broker of freight carriers, this site allows you to declare freight specifications, and view a comparative table of freighters that can manage the task for you. The information you enter online will be used to complete a printable bill of lading for your item, while Freightquotes.com begins the process of contacting the selected carrier to pick up your item.
Craters & Freighters (www.cratersandfreighters.com): Here's a company that has successfully serviced the online sales market by offering a tool that allows sellers of large items to establish a shipping-quote calculator for buyers and bidders to use prior to their purchase. Craters & Freighters also offers on-site (residential and business) crating and door-to-door delivery services.
When it comes to large items like video games or restaurant machinery, the notion of 'packing' takes on a whole new meaning
The three previous large-freight service providers should give you a solid first step in shipping big items. Visit their Web sites to learn more about them and, more importantly, about the nuances and terms associated with freight shipments.
Readying big items for shipment
When it comes to large items like video games, restaurant machinery or any other such large goods, the notion of "packing" takes on a whole new meaning beyond cardboard shipping boxes and tape. The two most frequently used methods of preparing a large item for shipment are "crating" and "blanket wrap." Read on to understand each and determine which is best for your shipping situation.
Crating: When the shipment calls for crating, some sellers have learned to do their own crating, while others prefer to hire a crating professional. You can learn to crate your own items without having extensive carpentry skills. Visit a local lumber store, for starters, to learn about the proper materials to use. The nice thing about crating is you can do the whole thing from scratch, or you can prepurchase fabricated portions (such as the pallet upon which an item might be bolted). Of course, if you'd rather not get into crate construction yourself, there are plenty of professional crating services that will do the job for you, giving you a securely boxed-up large item ready for the carrier. Begin with your local telephone directory or search online for crating services available near you.
Blanket wrap: If crating sounds overwhelming or more extravagant than you need to safely ship a large item, consider the lower-cost alternative of blanket wrap. If ever you've hired or rented a moving van when you've relocated, you likely saw those comfy, quilted blankets used to protect items stacked next to or on top of one another. That's blanket wrap.
When it comes to shipping merchandise, most carriers that offer blanket wrap also utilize specialized trucks and trailers designed for the securing of blanket-wrapped items. Items are wrapped and then strapped to van walls to prevent shifting. From there, some carriers install interior decking that acts like a temporary crate that surrounds the blanketed item, but without the cost and construction of an actual crate. If you'll be shipping many large items in a single pickup, this method is also preferred in its ability to best utilize the interior area of a truck or trailer.
Go Greyhound: Now what if the items you're selling are bigger than a breadbasket but not as big as an industrial icemaker? Go Grehound PackageXpress for those in-between big items that are too big for the common carriers, yet not so large as to require crating or special carrying.
Many sellers don't realize that the most widely recognized passenger bus service is also in the courier business. Greyhound PackageXpress (GPX) service is designed especially for shipping items that weigh less than 100 pounds but are too bulky to be shipped via the USPS, UPS or FedEx. If you're dealing in reclaimed auto parts like car bumpers, seats or side panels, Greyhound might be your best shipping alternative. Greyhound provides an online rate calculator on its Web site, www.shipgreyhound.com. Give it a look.
Now that you have help with oversized items, go ahead and think big when you decide to ship big. With some newfound knowledge, and some helping hands, you'll see that shipping big is no big deal.
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Dennis L. Prince has been analyzing and advocating the e-commerce sector since 1996. He has published more than 12 books on the subject, including How to Sell Anything on eBay…and Make a Fortune, second edition (McGraw-Hill, 2006) and How to Make Money with MySpace (McGraw-Hill, 2008). His insight is actively sought within online, magazine, television and radio venues.
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