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Big Savings With Multi-D

Cutting Costs by Cutting Boxes

by Shawn Tyler

#133, 9 March 2009

In such taut economic times as these, anything that can alleviate shipping and packaging costs is a big help. Especially with yearly postal rate increases and the likelihood of Amazon increasing our shipping allowance pretty much wishful thinking.

One of the more recent trends in packaging has been the awe-inspiring Multi-D. It is a great, low-cost product that is not only light on the wallet but also incredibly protective of the products we ship. What a great combination! With that being said, I would like to suggest a method that could further enhance your savings with the Multi-D.

Let's face it - the Multi-D is a whole lot of cardboard. Especially for the average 9" x 6" book. The small Multi-D (the size I use about 80% of the time), weighs about 3.9 ounces by itself. The medium around 4.9. As such, it is not uncommon for the combined weight of the book and the Multi-D together to push the weight of the package into the next pound rate. That's a big deal because if you can keep the package from going into the next pound rate then you are saving yourself $0.35 cents (Media Mail) each time you do it. It may not sound like much savings, but believe me - it adds up!

Now - what if you can decrease the weight of the small Multi-D from 3.9 ounces to just 2.3 ounces? Could be a big difference and more money in your pocket if you can. I've done it, and saved lots of money doing it (we'll get to that later).

Let me show you how. First, let's take a look at a Multi-D.

Notice how it has kind of an 'H' shape to it. What if we take the section on the left with the company logo, and cut that off with a simple pair of scissors (there is already a perforation there, so cutting it not only takes all of a few seconds, but the cut-line looks very natural, straight, not messy and frayed). We now have two sections of one Multi-D:

Let's say we package a book using just the larger section and put the smaller section with the logo off to the side for later use. The larger section only weighs 2.3 ounces. Here is what a package using just the larger section looked like after I packaged an order with it:

Doesn't it look pretty similar to a package using a full, 3.9 ounce Multi-D? One might say that the package, with less cardboard, is now more susceptible to bending. Not so. Not much difference at all, in fact. In order to bend this package, I would literally have to put it over my knee and try as hard as I can to bend it. Even then I might not succeed; even with a soft cover. The package has the same sturdy, protective, integrity as one packaged using a full Multi-D, but with added value - it weighs less!

This same method can be applied to all sizes of Multi-D, not just the small. This, in itself, will not result in a mind-blowing amount of savings. In fact, I would say, should you ship 20 books, that using this method would probably prevent about 1-3 packages from going into the next pound rate. So you save about $0.35-$1.05 every 20 packages.

What's the big deal, right? Well, we aren't done yet. What about the other section of the Multi-D that we didn't use - the smaller section with the logo on it:

We can accumulate even more savings by packaging another order with this section. Granted, not a large book by any means. Not even an average 9" x 6" book. In fact, most books will not fit well with this small section of Multi-D. However, some will and why not take advantage of it when the opportunity presents itself.

Before you package a book using this section, please use common sense. In an effort to save money, do not sacrifice your professionalism. Most books will not fit with this section of Multi-D. Maybe as much as 95% will not. So use good judgment and by all means make sure that all your packaging looks as professional, safe and secure as any other package that you would normally ship to a waiting customer.

I have packaged some 8" x 5" books using this section. Many others, even smaller books, I have not. Thickness plays an important role in this. A bigger, but thinner book, may well fit better than a smaller, thicker book. The reason is obvious. This is a very small section of cardboard and therefore attempting to package a book that is too large for this section to cover can result in very poor packaging. Sometimes I even use two of these sections to package an order (why not; this section was essentially 'free' so using two of them doesn't increase my shipping costs).

On some days I find myself not using any of the small sections. Other days I end up using a bunch. It all depends on the size and thickness of the books. I also would not recommend packaging brand new or valuable books with this section. CDs are a great fit for these, though! Here's a CD I packaged recently using the smaller section of Multi-D:

Looks great. Nice and small package. Plus it ships First Class. I recently packaged a CD using this method and the total weight of the package was 5.6 ounces. Shipped First Class the CD cost $2.02 to ship. If I used the full Multi-D to package the CD it would have cost me $2.36. Not too hard to figure out the savings:

My CD packaged w/full Multi-D: $2.36.

My CD packaged w/retrofitted small section of Multi-D: $2.02.

Savings: $0.34

Through the course of packaging CDs with this method I was under the impression that all normal, average-sized CDs would end up weighing about 5.6 ounces when finally packaged. I was surprised to see that CDs, even though they look the same, can vary in ounces. So I would not expect every CD packaged using this method to hit exactly 5.6 ounces. One CD I packaged looked exactly the same size and weight as the 5.6 ounce one but ended up being a little over six ounces in total package weight. I recently packaged a VHS with this section of the Multi-D - except I used two sections to package it.

The savings aren't done yet though! Don't forget - I used a part of the Multi-D that I essentially did not pay for (well kind of). So, I guess in my view, I just pretty much paid nothing to package the CD since I used a 'cut-off' portion of a Multi-D. I take that view because a couple months ago I would have used a full Multi-D to package the CD. Last check, small Multi-D's cost $0.25 cents. Therefore, I see it like this: What I would have paid $0.25 cents to package the CD a couple months ago, now costs me nothing. Let's factor in the Amazon shipping allowance as well, and add up all the true savings in just this one package:

Amazon shipping allowance to ship CD/DVD ($2.18) vs. actual cost to ship ($2.02): +$0.16 cents.

$$ saved by not using a full Multi-D to package the CD: +$0.25.

Actual savings: $0.41.

If I used a full Multi-D for that order, it would have raised the weight of the package to a little over seven ounces and would have cost me $2.36 to ship + $0.25 full Multi-D used (instead of 'free' small section of cut Multi-D), which actually would end up costing me $2.61 to ship the package ($2.36 post office charge + $0.25 full Multi-D). Since Amazon gave me $2.18 to ship the CD, I would have lost $0.43 in packaging/shipping costs. Quite a swing from -$0.43 to +$0.41.

That's just one CD. Are you starting to see the savings now? Again - not a catastrophic amount of savings, but ones which certainly add up.

It took me a while to get the hang of packaging orders using this method and at first I'm sure I said "this won't work!" in a desperate attempt to save money on packaging. I stuck to it and eventually got myself into a routine. Every time I do it, I think to myself that I just saved $0.25 cents.

Here is an example of two books packaged using one Multi-D:


Of the two books above, the bigger one ended up hitting exactly on the 1.0 pound mark which would have been heavier if I used a full Multi-D (remember: above 1.0 pound costs an additional $0.35 cents Media Mail; a Media Mail package weighing exactly 1.0 pounds costs the same as a Media Mail package weighing six ounces). The small book, using the small section of Multi-D that I cut off weighed 15.2 ounces and therefore was kept from going into the next pound rate (same package weighs 1.8 pounds with a full Multi-D). All said and done for those two orders, it looks like I saved $0.70 cents by keeping both orders from going into the next pound rate and an additional $0.25 cents I would have used to package the smaller book using a full Multi-D. Total savings with those two orders: $0.95.

Now, I will admit, it does take a little longer to package, but not terribly so, especially once you get the hang of it. Again - be sure to be professional when you package your orders! If it does not fit well with the small section of the Multi-D then do not use it.

It was not long before I started to realize that a large majority of orders that I packaged with the Multi-D, I could at the very least cut off the small section for later use. The small sections are also great for shipping books in flat-rate Priority envelopes as opposed to cutting up some cardboard which can sometimes be a painstaking endeavor (cut a clean piece w/no advertisements, cut off frayed edges, etc.):

In fact, I have a pretty good collection of these small sections of Multi-D that I keep handy.

Lastly - I'd like to show you how much I saved in one day using this method. Actually - it's the orders that I took out this very day before writing this article. Here's some facts:

32 items were shipped (31 books + 1 CD).

3 of them I used the full Multi-D. Just 3.

29 of them I cut off the small section of Multi-D.

14 of 32 I packaged using the small section of Multi-D (savings $3.50)

2 of 32 were kept from going up to the next pound rate by using this method (savings $0.70)

1 of them was a CD that was packaged using the small section of the Multi-D as described above (savings $0.41)

Total savings today: $4.61.

I also shipped two books in flat-rate Priority envelopes. I used two small sections of Multi-D to support the books from bending (saved time from cutting cardboard, plus it wraps the book on both sides and looks much better).

As you can see, the savings can really add up whether you are a big or small seller. Admittedly, the shipment above had much more smaller books than I would normally ship (just listed some smaller religious/inspirational books). So, with that being said, maybe a more accurate average of savings per day for an average 30 packages would be more like $2.50-$3.50 area? Could be higher or lower depending on how many are kept from going into the next pound rate and how thick/large the books are that need packaged.

I now use fewer Multi-D's than before, which means less to order and longer shelf-life per case. It is small savings like these that can really add up and help in this current economic climate.

Thanks for reading!

As a P.S., I would like to note that if you have never used Multi-D's before, I highly suggest using a poly bag or some kind of waterproof wrapping to protect the book from rain and such weather. Here is where I get mine. The last I checked it was the cheapest I could find online, but this may have changed since I last checked. These cover 8/9 out of 10 books - in fact, you would be surprised how many books it will fit.

They should cost you about .03 to .04 cents each. I also recommend this size, for bigger books:

Rarely, when a book will not fit into a poly bag of this size I will just do a massive obsessively-compulsed tape job on the package to weatherize it (rare).

Also - if you are not using a scale right now, I highly recommend it. You can usually find them on eBay for reasonable prices. Before I list books, I weigh the lighter ones to see if I can promise First Class shipping on them. I also weigh every book that has sold before packaging it to get a glimpse of where it's at in relation to the next pound rate. Hopefully this might work out for you, but remember: Be professional in your packaging!

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