How to Ship Board Games is part two to the article Best Places to Sell Your Board Games
Shipping board games is a pretty straight-forward process that a lot of people get wrong. I ship board games fairly often online and handle the shipping myself. These are the tips I’ve learned from personal experience.
Packing The Game
Choosing a Carrier
Most of the time, USPS will be the most cost effective. The only time it may not be, is if you are dealing with an unusually heavy or large box. If you find yourself in that situation, definitely consider FedEx or UPS as an option. For the purpose of this article, we will assume you are using USPS.
The Right Box to Ship Board Games
Since shipping costs are based on package size and weight, you will want to securely pack the game first. This is the step most people cut corners on, but it is the one of the most important parts of the process.
With USPS, your options will be to use a Flat Rate Box or Padded Envelope, or your own packaging. Flat Rate can be lucrative because it is a set rate no matter where your package is shipped to with the USA. For example, a Medium Flat Rate Box will run you $12.40 no matter if it has a 10oz board game inside or a 10lb board game. There are various sizes for Flat Rate, each at different set price points. The actual box is also free, you only pay for shipping. However, even with all of it’s benefits, Flat Rate boxes may not allow enough room to properly protect the game inside, and may even end up costing you more money.
Make sure that there is enough room between the game box and your packing box to allow for impact absorption. In other words: if one of the carriers drops a heavy object on the package you are shipping, the inside contents are less likely to get crushed. Allow for at least an inch of space between the sides of your game box and the wall of the package interior. Allow for at least two inches of space for the cover and back of your game box (the large flat sides).
This is where most people go wrong when they ship board games. More than once, I have received games with dished in covers because the seller skimped on the packaging materials and clearance for the larger surface areas. The sides of the game box, being shorter, are a lot stronger and do not require quite as much.
Note: Small box games like Jaipur or The Fox in the Forest may survive in a padded envelope. Do this at your own risk. Remember you want your buyer to be happy.
Before I actually put the game into the shipping box, I always wrap it completely with Stretch Film/Wrap (it is basically Saran Wrap, but used for shipping purposes). This helps keep moisture out, and most importantly, the lid and its bottom secure.
Packing peanuts or large size bubble wrap will usually be the best options here. Both materials will cushion the game box from most falls and are lightweight. While a bunch of packing paper may suffice, it is a lot heavier and may increase the cost to ship your game if you are using your own packaging. You may also have some air-pack materials leftover from an Amazon shipment. Those may work if you can still fill all of the gaps between your game box and the package material. No matter the material, filling the gaps is important when you ship board games.
After the game is in the box and packing materials cover all sides, close it and tape it up. For tape, 2 inches wide and 2-3 millimeters thick is pretty standard. You can get lots of it cheap here.
Sizing Up Your Package
If this is not a flat rate item, you will need to accurately weigh and measure your package. Use a tape measure to measure the length, width, and height of the box in inches. Always round up to the nearest inch. You will then need to weigh your package to the nearest ounce. Because of this, I recommend getting a shipping scale. They are fairly cheap and if you are going to ship board games often, they will pay for themselves many times over in what they save in postage. When you have an accurate size and weight, you will be ready to print your label.
Printing Your Shipping Label
Where to Purchase
Do NOT purchase postage at a physical post office. Do NOT purchase postage from the USPS website. Instead, head on over to www.paypal.com/shipnow and utilize their commercial shipping rates. Note: If you sold your item through eBay, just go ahead and use their system to print your label. Operation and pricing will be similar. Also Note: PayPal Ship Now offers USPS and UPS for your to purchase postage. eBay uses USPS and FedEx.
PayPal Ship Now
If you don’t have a PayPal account (and received payment for your game sale via some other mysterious method), get one. It’s a life save for when you ship board games. After you are logged in, input the buyers address and select your shipping service. Make sure you enter the correct zip code for where the package will depart from. For example, you may be dropping it off at a post office that is not in the same town as your address.
For both Flat Rate and your own package, ensure the “Carrier” is USPS and “Service Type” is Priority Mail Service 1- 3 Day. You probably want to avoid Priority Mail Express, as it will be much more expensive. For the “Package Type”, you will select if it is one of the Flat Rate box sizes, or your own packaging (Package/Thick Envelope).
For your own packaging (Package/Thick Envelope), you will need to enter your items weight and dimensions. Next, add any other options you might want, like insurance($50 worth of insurance is automatically included) or a request for “Signature Confirmation”. Mailing date should reflect the date you mail the package, but if you do it a day or two later, it wont be a big deal. Then click “Calculate Shipping Cost”, review everything is correct, and purchase your postage. You will then be brought to a screen where you can print your mailing label.
The process for Flat Rate is exactly the same, except you will not need to enter the packages weight or dimensions.
The only thing left to do is attach the label. If you’re just printing this on regular paper, cut out the rectangular label and attach it with tape. Do NOT cover the big bar code at the bottom of the label with tape, as this will cause tracking issues. You can then drop it off at the post office, or schedule a free pick-up via the USPS website. You will have to create an account of this.
I hope you have found this guide useful for when you ship board games. If so, please share this with others. If you have any comments or questions, feel free to let me know in the comments below.