Many people who sell on eBay have beautiful items for sale. They get a successful purchase from a buyer and then the buyer gives them a negative feedback because the item they shipped arrived broken. This system developed by my husband and I who sell a lot of glass and fragile items will virtually eliminate breakage. We now have less than 1/2% per year breakage.
1. The First Step - Have Proper Packing Materials - anyone who ships USPS via Priority Mail can order boxes of varying sizes for FREE! The minimum quantity is usually 25. The Post Office will even ship these to your door! They do ship via Parcel Post so it will take 10 to 14 days for them to arrive. Don't wait until you're out to order. The next supplies you will need are small bubble wrap (about 3/16" bubbles), large bubble wrap (1/2" bubbles), stretch film, 2" box tape and peanuts. If you live in an Urban or Suburban area you can generally find these much cheaper than at your local office supplies store by ordering through and Industrial Shipping Supply companies. These companies are very helpful and will generally sell to anyone who has a resale certificate or business license. Just look in the Yellow Pages under Shipping or Shipping Supplies. If you live in a Rural area there are many companies online that sell supplies there are also eBay listings for shipping supplies as well.
2. How to wrap an virtually unbreakable package. We are going to use a plate for this example but you can apply these steps to any breakable piece.
Step One: Take the plate and wrap it in small bubbles first. If you have 4 plates to ship then wrap each plate in it's own small bubble wrap. You can combine them later. Tape the bubble wrap closed in the center and on each end.
Step Two - Wrap the plate in large bubble wrap. If you have more than 1 plate, now you can stack the plates and then wrap the stack in the large bubble wrap. Tape the bubble wrap closed in the middle and on each end. It is OK to trim the ends of the big buble wrap if you need to.
Step Three - Wrap the bubble wrapped plate in stretch film. This provides an additional cushion for the plate. You need to wrap the plate enough times to have a little cushion. Wrapping in 2 different directions such as crosswise and up and down works great too. For a plate you would probably wrap it 3 or 4 times. You do not need to tape the stretch film because it will stick to itself.
Step Four - Don't skimp on the box size. Use an appropriate sized box with at least 1/2" space around each side of the item to be shipped. If you're afraid of losing money on the shipping then add 1 pound to your item weight to cover the extra cost. Another option is to place the unwrapped plates in the appropriate box and weigh it. The extra packing you will use will weigh about 8 to 10 ounces so don't forget to calculate that in your shipping if you weigh the box without packing material.
Step 5 - Once you have the appropriate sized box. Tape the box with 2 layers of tape on the bottom. This will prevent the box bottom from coming loose. Then fill the box with 1 layer or 2 layers of packing peanuts. Then place your item in the box. Place more peanuts to the top of the box. ***IMPORTANT - Do not make the packing too tight. This can cause your item to explode inside the taped box from pressure.*** The Post Office rule is" If you can shake it we can break it!" So fill the box until you don't feel your item shaking around in the box but not so much that you have to push the peanuts down to close the box..
Step 6 - Tape 2 layers of box tape over the top of the box to seal it. If you ship Internationally, you may want to do a couple of rows across the box because it will be handled more.
Step 7 - Write FRAGILE on the box in more than one spot. If you ship a lot of breakable items it is worth it to order a Rubber Stamp that says "FRAGILE". We did this and got a self inking stamp with Red ink. Self inking stamps can be refilled either by you at home or at most local printing companies.
Step 8 - Relax ! You've done a great job on your shipping! Encourage your customers to buy insurance for fragile items. It is very cheap to buy insurance from the USPS. Inform your customer though, that they will only get what they paid for the item from the Post Office, not some extra money.
This method will bring you lots of great feedback about your packing technique and will help you not to lose money on items that break and you cannot get them back. When that happens you lose not only the money you have to refund but the item too and you cannot resell it.
Good Luck and Happy Shipping!