I want to start a small business – I have a domain, a product set, but the thing that is holding me back is shipping – how do I ship low-cost items affordably for myself and the customer?

Hey everyone. I want to start a business – I know what my product domain is, I am lucky to be near several major importers so I can get very good products relatively cheaply and earn a decent margin. I have a niche market to advertise to. I am assembling a business plan now.

The thing that is really making me trepidatious is shipping. Frankly, I don't understand how to make it affordable.

I am looking to sell products for a few dollars each (average cost would be in the realm of 4-5 dollars, each, weighing about a pound). At least initially, a fulfillment partner isn't going to make sense until I understand the types of products that do/don't sell, since spoilage is an issue.

Even with free shipping boxes from USPS, I need to purchase packaging materials. Those, from my experience on ebay, aren't cheap (I began to hoard everything I could from Amazon).

Then, the cost of shipping the item to the customer. If I am selling a customer a 5 dollar item that they can get for 6 or 7 dollars in a store, I don't have a lot of ability to charge a lot for shipping. Because, if I were that customer, I frankly wouldn't want to buy a 5 dollar item, but then have to purchase 6.25 USPS flat rate shipping.

I've looked at custom boxes, but the per-piece cost is in the realm of $1.75-$2/box unless I order several thousand at once, and then the USPS price for a 1lb package is over 8 dollars.

I just don't understand how to do this affordably, and would really appreciate some advice about how other people have done this profitably. Thank you all in advance.

Edit: Gee, thanks for the downvotes.


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