Fragile Items

We got a call from someone who had bought a piece of equipment online. This was a high value fragile item. The caller needed us to go and pick it up, pack it carefully, insure it, and ship it. This item also required some special handling with some disassemble.

Buying online is a great way to find hard to find items. That is why we do a lot of auction packing. I will tell customers that the size and weight of an item both factor in when shipping items. This is especially important for fragile items which require more packaging. We had a customer get a great deal on some fans, but because of the size the cost of shipping was greater than the value of the fans. Now had he bought 300 fans and wanted us to freight ship the items it would have been worth the money he would spend. He was just trying to get half a dozen fans. He had us just trash the items. We didn’t make any money on that transaction.

I always question whether we are doing the right thing by not charging for labor. Especially with fragile items which take longer. We figure that if the customer lets us pack the items when we have time that we are not losing anything. This item was a little different. We not only had to pack it, but following instructions provided by the customer we had to break it down before packing. I think in the end the customer got a deal that didn’t hurt us. We did charge for picking it up and for the materials in packing and then of course the cost of shipping.

Here you can see the final results before we added final packing material.

Packing Fragile Items




It must be scary to have these high value fragile items picked up and shipped by an unknown business. We go above an beyond and at the same time we try and make it as economical for the customer as possible.

Fulfillment – Helping Small Businesses

It is amazing how much warehousing and fulfillment can cost. It is nearly prohibitive for small vendors. We have the solution. We do not charge any up front, minimum, or storage fees. We only charge the cost of shipping. One of our customers ships about $2500 worth of product each month. She was working out of her house and really just needed to get all of the product out of the house. She looked around for some fulfillment warehouses near bu, but she found that even the least expensive was asking $3000 up front to just start the process. She brought over her product

Now this is just her initial product that she wanted us to have as we iron out the bugs. We suggested that she just have orders emailed to us. She opted to use a site called big commerce. We logon every morning and afternoon to see what orders we are supposed to ship. The site prints out the invoice and the marketing flyer. We do the shipping and she pays us at the end of the month. This is a very low cost fulfillment solution.

We have been shipping for this customer for a couple of years. She would bring her product in ready to ship. About a year ago we offered to make it easier for her and let her drop off her product and then we would just bill her later. This way she did not need to wait while we created all the shipping labels. We then offered to email her customers with the tracking number. This is all very easy for us and actually makes our workflow more efficient as we do these mailings while we are slow. We have now taken the next step and brought the product in house so that we can do all of the fulfillment. The customer never needs to come into the store.

This customer has required will – call service from time to time. A customer of hers may not want to wait until the next day for product. It has not been hard to implement and we end up charging nothing for the service. This works for us because of the amount of shipping business we do get. Because of that we are happy to accommodate the one off situations.

We have a very large capacity to handle fulfillment. The margins on Ebay are generally so low and the cost of shipping using Ebay’s discount is so cost effective working with Ebay sellers is really never going to be an option. This is for those who sell all over the country directly to their customers.

We can handle small $4 shipping and very large multi-pallet shipments. Let us know how we can help.

Shipping Fragile Mirror

Crating, building a custom crate

Crating an item is necessary when the item needs extra protection or is of a high value. No item can survive a truck rollover. Fortunately those are rare. More common, yet still unlikely, is a forklift accident. Crating should protect against most of those incidents. This mirror wall hanging required extra care. If we would have just placed it in the box with some peanuts it would have been damaged in transit.

We examined the art work and decided to float it in the crate, meaning that it would not be depending on the packing for support or protection, even though we would add packing material in as an extra precaution.

building a crate, crating done right

Building a crate around a mirror

Capping the crating job

OSB for bottom of the crate

This kind of crating cannot be done with a standard crate. Even buying a crate big enough to fit this wall hanging would have cost about $400. We were able to build it for under $100. We passed the savings on to the customer. Floating the item in the box made the most sense because the edges were to delicate to support the weight of the whole piece. Once the piece was attached, which we did without adding any screws or holes to the piece, we added the layer of OSB which would become the bottom of the crate.

This piece is very large requiring us to not only create a custom crate, but will also require that we create a custom pallet to place it on.

We will get calls from time to time asking us to provide an estimate. We the only freight company that provides an estimate without having to call or email us. Sometimes people just want a quick answer that will give them some information before they decide whether to ship something. But estimating is just that an estimate. Some items may require special care or crating.

Freight Shipping Palletizing

Freight Shipping items is done via special freight carriers and is quite a bit different from shipping through the standard carriers such as the post office and FedEx. For example we have this load going to Pittsburgh from a customer here in Long Beach. This will require freight shipping.

Freight Shipping Boxes on a Pallet

Boxes fitting on a pallet

Now this is not ready for freight shipping, but you can see that this 200lb load is quite big. We will eventually strap it to the pallet and wrap it so that it is safe and secure. There are 3 boxes and the Post Office wouldn’t even take one of them individually because they weigh to much. We could rebox them and send several shipments through FedEx ground, but the end result is that it would be a lot more expensive. I am going to estimate that this load is going to cost the customer $550. That includes pickup, palletizing and delivery. This came from a customer in Long Beach as it is. We aren’t done because we have to decide whether to use the customer’s boxes or not. They look a little beat up. We may take all the items out and repack them or we may create a bigger box around these three and secure them within that bigger box.

There are a lot of things to consider when freight shipping.

Forklift access

Forklift potential problems


Another thing that concerns me is that this is furniture with some legs.  You can see where the pallet allows the fork lift to get under the pallet. If the legs poke through the  fork lift will tear them right off. We will probably want to reinforce the bottom to ensure the legs can’t poke through

boxes not ready for stacking

Stacking consideration pallets

Another thing we want to consider when freight shipping is that this pallet is not very stackable. Some freight shippers will do things on purpose to stop the stacking of their items. That is game that needs to played carefully. Loads can actually get damaged because of the stackability. If this was a high value item something greater than $3000. Then we might build a box much higher and move the items up in the box.We are going to build something around these boxes that allows other pallets to be stacked on top of it.

These are just some of the considerations of freight shipping. There are a lot more. That’s why people hire us to give the best way to ship their items.









International Shipping Los Angeles

International Shipping

We like to say that we offer the best way to ship international because “best” doesn’t mean the same thing to everyone. We are waiting for some shoes to arrive in Nigeria right now, but back to that story in a minute. Now shipping international is expensive. This is most apparent to people who are trying to return items they may have purchased on Amazon. They weren’t aware that the item was coming from China. Now that they have the item they may want to return in, but the cost of shipping it back is more than the value of the item. We see this all the time. How can that be? You might ask. There is a special arrangement with shipping items from China. The cost of shipping from China can be pennies. I won’t go into the details here. The result is that some sellers in China can make money on free shipping selling items really cheap and you can’t return them. For those shipping from the US shipping is expensive. The least expensive is the US Post Office. There are many reasons that this is the most popular way to ship internationally. But best doesn’t always mean cheapest. For example the US Post office generally gets the items to their destination, but then sometimes doesn’t. The least expensive shipping through the post office only tracks the item to the border (or customs) after that the item is not trackable.  This means that the item is lost, sometimes forever. The other dark secret why the postal service is desirable is that taxes are hidden. Technically the taxes are the responsibility of the receiving party. Somehow the postal services gets a pass when collecting taxes. All the other carries will collect the tax before they will let the receiving party collect the package.

The real downside to using the postal service is that sometimes packages will be delayed mysteriously or will never arrive. With the other carriers (DHL, FedEx, UPS) we will always know where the package is and they will take responsibility for the package until it is delivered. I just helped a customer from Cypress, CA send an anniversary card to her parents in Indonesia. She paid $60 to send the card. She has sent a lot to her parents over the years including prescription medicine. There are other places which mail packages in Cypress but she always comes back to us because she knows the service we provide. She also knows that if she sends that card through the postal service it might no arrive. Personally a card I am going to use the postal service, knowing it might not arrive. But she used DHL (which we discount in order to encourage people to not use the postal service) because she wanted the card to arrive. It was important to her. Now when she sends more important packages there is no question she will not use the postal service.

Shipping international also requires that you follow a lot of rules. The rules are so varied and complex that there is no way to know them all. Now we are aware of some important ones. There are websites dedicated to laying out all the rules but they do not catch all of them. For example we just sent a box to Nigeria with 4 cell phones. DHL caught the package before it left and informed us that packages could only have 2 cell phones. No where on their website does it say this. We went to DHL retrieved the package and broke it into 2 packages each with 2 cell phones. Now if the customer had used the postal service those packages would have been rejected at customs, returned to us (hopefully) with no refund on the postage.

There are two countries where you have to use the postal service. Iran and Cuba. There are a lot of restrictions on what you can send there. For example you cannot send more than one package per month to Cuba. But you cannot use the other carriers.

Of all the carriers we prefer DHL. They are the best to work with when their are problems. They also seem to be the most reliable for getting packages where they need to be without excuses. We will use FedEx when the items need to be insured for a high value.

There is more to shipping internationally. We could write a whole book on shipping large items like cars. It can all be done, but you have to be aware of the rules and what best way might mean.

Do You Need Fulfillment Services?

People ask about fulfillment services all the time. There are a lot of very expensive warehouses here in the LA area that make a lot of money warehousing and shipping other people’s products. I know because we have visited some of those warehouses. The cost of getting into one of those warehouses is expensive. The initial fee just to start placing product in the warehouse is usually around $3000 to $5000. It is a great option for those who will be shipping thousands of different products to thousands of different customers. Amazon has warehouses that does that. In fact Amazon actually outsources some of their work to other warehouses. We went to one warehouse and there must have been 10,000 trash cans. They were all headed to different Amazon warehouse from where they would ship to the customer. I don’t know who the owner of those trash cans was, but I could see that storing all of those trash cans in a retail store front waiting to ship them to customers would have been overwhelming. This is a very efficient way to sell a lot of products. But what if you are just getting started? What if you don’t have a 1,000 different products shipping to 1,000 different customers? This is where we have helped some customers. One customer came into the store. They were starting a product line of cake mixes and such. Honestly I have tried the product and I am still not sure what their niche is. Anyway they were a startup and they needed a way to quickly and simply ship their products to people who would write about them. The solution we came up with was a simple fulfillment solution. They brought in about 100 boxes of different varieties of product. We kept them here on site. They would simply send us an email and we would send out the product. Since we were not sending to their customers but rather to newspapers and publicity outfits we did not need to create packing lists and invoices. It was a simplified fulfilment. We did not charge them a initial fee, nor a warehousing fee. We only charged them for shipping. It was a very smooth and easy process for them and for us. We have the capabilities for much more complicated fulfillment, but we were able to tailor this solution to the customer’s needs. This is what we do.

What’s Your Shipping Requirements?

We are about solving problems for people. Many times people will come in wanting to start shipping the stuff they are selling on line. They want to know how much to charge for shipping. Of course our first question is where are you sending it. And of course they want to sell many things to many locations. That makes it really hard.

We worked with a company that sold bones over the internet from their own website. They were processing 20+ orders a day. They did not want to spend time getting pricing on each order, communicating that to the potential customer, and then finally selling and shipping the product. We analyzed their orders and determined that they should charge $10 flat shipping. Every day they would bring in the packages that needed to be shipped. We would create the labels and then send the tracking number to their customer and to them. Some packages would cost $5 some would cost $40. Sometimes we would send the package FedEx Ground, sometimes we would send it priority mail. This greatly simplified their work and allowed them to do what they did best. They went from a very confusing process to a very simple process. Everyone once in a while we would get an unusual package, maybe it was going international, maybe it was heavier and therefore more expensive to ship, maybe it required a lot of extra insurance. We handled those exceptions as quickly and as best we could. They were the exceptions and we did not try and change the quick process we had created to accommodate the rare exceptions. This solution is not for everyone.

The important aspect of this is that we created a solution that exceeded this customer’s expectations. I will be honest and tell customers that there may be a better solution for them than using our services. In this case the customer is getting the right service for the right price.