Fulfillment of physical goods
The problem of trying to pack things securely without damage while minimising weight has plagued eCommerce since the beginning of time. Amazon puts millions of dollars into research. Definitely have a think about how you might do it, especially because being familiar with weight breaks will absolutely affect the success of your zine.
You will need: Space, a printer, and a way to get packages to the post office.
Different countries have different shipping tiers and classifications. Shipping will vary based on the country’s post office.
Consider getting sample packs of packaging to really choose what packaging to get. It is generally inexpensive, or maybe Finance can reimburse / pay for it.
Should you already own some books or zines or similar items, you can weigh them and perform calculations as if you were to have them shipped.
Consider informing your other mods the exact or estimated weights of items, which allows them to more accurately contribute in the planning of bundles.
A country’s postal systems will influence what integration systems, if any, can be used to convert hundreds of orders automagically into individual labels.
About labels, the exact type depends on the postal service, but inkjet/laser printers can print them onto printer paper (to be taped) or onto label paper. If shipping mod expects to ship more than 400 then a thermal label printer might end up being more affordable / practicable.
If taping labels, be careful to not tape over barcodes, as sometimes the reflectivity can affect the scanning.
Some postal services allow for one scan to deposit multiple parcels at once. Others have the ability to do drop-offs or pick-ups. You will need to check yours.
For my small volumes of parcels I will laser print onto recycled paper, glue the paper to recycled paper mailers, then use small amounts of tape to secure over the address for safety. You can see how this is not efficient at large scales. A good shipping mod would think and plan their own packing process to cut steps out of the process for large volumes of zines.
Shipping mods will find it a lot easier if the orders for goods are placed in a way so that they can do pre-packing or any assembly processes sequentially, rather than everything all coming in at once or not coming in at all.
Etsy vlogs are an extremely good resource for tips and tricks! With Etsy sellers operating worldwide, they will also tend to come regionally, with plenty of infos about region-specific things. Especially good for regions with fewer zine resources, e.g. Indonesia.
Bundles can also be pre-planned to help make packing easier; too much customisation leads to error.
To further reduce error, using different colours (such as in tissue paper) for half bundles and full bundles is very helpful for visual confirmation.
It's possible to also look at other zines for packaging inspiration. Things such as small bags, envelopes for prints, tissue paper, etc, can all improve the look of a package.
Consider how regularly you will provide updates during production, and if so, how you will fill the “silent period” where nothing happens because everything is being made or mailed.
You can also consider sending some bundles before others, e.g. international full bundles, if packing rate/sending speed happens to end up slow.
On packing zines
To protect from movement damage, the contents should be a snug fit against the sides of the mailer.
To protect from corner damage, the backing board should be larger than the book. The book can then be secured in place - below, we have used tissue paper and then twine. Individually, the backing board, tissue paper and bubble mailers used on this project are not the thickest type. It's combined that they are able to take the force of any impacts.
Discuss (if necessary) what order to pack/send different offerings.
Practice your spreadsheet skills: can download CSV of all orders and use VLOOKUP or Data to Columns to sort all required info into a nice format. Filters and Pivot Tables are also neat too. (Look these up on YouTube!)
Can add comments to each order in a shopfront if there is anything special needed. (e.g., early bird eligibility)
Comments and cancellations/refunds do not always get transferred automagically, depends on the system, so give it a check. You may need to override user data with "REFUNDED" and/or provide separate lists.
Another mod can help check and ready orders prior to the shipping mod packing the order.
Organization or Production can create a list of all things which are to be included in each bundle, for Shipping to reference during packing.
If generating specific lists, ensure to know if you are going by name(+ zip code?) or by order number. Communicate this to your helper mod, lest they send the wrong one.
Usually a lot of brainpower will be internally-facing rather than external during the shipping period. If somebody is not being utilised, maybe they can be tasked with thinking of how and what to communicate via email and social media?
*** These ideas depend on your tools and workflow, so it won't always be relevant.