How to Get Free Boxes for Selling Items Online
Boxes are one of the essential supplies that you will need if you plan to sell anything over the internet. I ship a lot of items out each week, and they almost all go in boxes! The question is often asked, where is the best place to get them? As is the case with so many things, the answer is, it depends.
Here are a few ways to get boxes along with my recommendation of what to use them for.
1) The USPS
The first place you should consider is the USPS website at www.usps.com. Here you will find several different boxes. They are shipped totally free to your doorstep. The only disadvantages to using these boxes is that you have to use priority mail when shipping with them. This is particularly advantageous, however, if you are successful on eBay and achieve top rated seller status because then eBay will give you a nice discount on priority mail shipping. You can also get flat rate boxes and a wide variety of envelopes at the USPS website too. In the future, I will make a hub about the USPS because there is a lot to explain. One more note about the USPS however... If you do nothing else, order one set of padded flat rate envelopes because they are the best deal hands down for shipping very many small items.
The Tape Dispenser That I Use
2) Asking Around and Rummaging
Boxes are very plentiful and can often be gotten for free from many businesses. This is your best bet if you are just starting out or if you plan on shipping very few items. Keep in mind that there are many shapes and sizes available. There are advantages and disadvantages to using this method however. The best part of this method is that they are free if you don't include the time and travel expense. The other advantage is that you can get some very large boxes and you can also sometimes get heavy duty boxes. Large and heavy duty boxes can be very pricey, and downright absurdly expensive unless you buy in large quantities.
The disadvantage to this method is that it is difficult to get a large number of consistently sized boxes. Remember also, that while wine and whiskey boxes are free, in great abundance, and often times very similar size and weight, you need to cover up any markings on them due to rules associated with shipping alcohol. Lastly, professionalism counts. You should only use clean boxes that have absolutely no stains or smell of any kind. I know of people who have gotten irreversible negative feedback on eBay just because the person thought the box looked ugly!
How to Ship Using the Post Office
3) Buying Boxes Online
If you are shipping the same item or same size item, again and again, you should consider buying that shape box online. You can usually get boxes of a specific shape in bundles of 25. I like to order boxes for shipping first class mail items because the USPS does not provide any free boxes for first class mail. Even if you only ship a few small items first class mail, I would still recommend getting a bundle or two of small boxes for those items that you don't want to get crushed in transit. eBay can be another good place to look for boxes online. Due to the fact that there are so many boxes listed on eBay, you can often find some good deals if you look around a bit because the competition has driven the prices down.
4) Buying Boxes at a Brick and Mortar Store
This option works particularly well if you need large boxes. Large boxes are generally hard to come by for free in clean, excellent condition. Buying large boxes online costs a lot of money. Even buying large boxes at a store is not cheap, but unless you are using huge, bulk quantities, I would recommend that you buy them at a brick and mortar store. Stay away from Staples! Stay away from Home Depot too! The best place to get large boxes is from Walmart.
***Please do not buy tape or bubble wrap there, however, as you will be getting robbed blind.***
I get all my large boxes from Walmart and I get them as I need them. This way I don't need to store them anywhere either.
Save Money on Shipping With FREE Boxes From The USPS
Ultimately, I would suggest that you have to just know what box is best for each item. You have nothing to lose but space by ordering one of each box from the USPS to familiarize yourself and optimize your shipping savings. Small items generally ship first class and so you should have small boxes for them. Most medium-sized items will ship priority mail for a very similar cost as parcel post. Large items should generally be shipped parcel post because for priority they would cost a lot. Large items are of course the most tricky and labor intensive. You will need many other supplies to ship them safely.