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Help with postage and the South African Post Office


The most common question we get from designers new to Hello Pretty is "What do I do about posting my products?" (The second most common one is "Are you single?" You know who you are.)

Postage is hard. We hear you on this. Navigating the myriad different postage options has sent plenty nice girls to the drink.

This is possibly the most complicated decision you'll have to make when it comes to setting up your store. Well, that is to say that it would have been, but we don't want our designers feinting and so we have thrown in a puppy here and there. Just a little something to take the edge off the postage situation for you.

In the words of Maria from the Sound of Music, Let's start at the beginning...!


What are you posting?

Which of these things are you posting?

National & international post and courier services all tier their offerings depending on the size and weight of what you're posting.

You'll need this information when trying to decide which option will work best for you.

  • Is what you're posting small, medium, or large?
  • How much does it weigh (even an approximate value is helpful)?
  • Is it bulky?
  • Can you put it in an envelope, or will you need a box?
  • Measure and weigh your products so you have a good idea of what category they'll fall into, and if you can potentially offer free postage, either on individual items, or on purchases of more than one item.
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Where are you posting it to?

World map

Hello Pretty allows you to set various postage options: locally, to specific countries, and to Anywhere else. Locally, you can make use of a courier as your postage method, and set a rate for posting within South Africa, as well as allow customers to come and pick up their order directly from you.

When it comes to international postage, the South African Post Office is the most reasonably priced, and far more reliable than you would think. In some instances we've discovered that the tracking number you're given in SA also works on international post office sites, and there is also a super website that you can track your parcel at, at http://www.trackmyparcel.co.za.

Some countries have restrictions on what is and isn't allowed in the country (eg, Australia has severe restrictions on wood).

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What does With Another mean?

Explaining With Another

If the items you're selling aren't particularly heavy or bulky it will probably cost you the same amount to send two or more items as it would to send just one.

In this case, you might want to consider offering free or reduced postage on the extra products.

You can have a look at our What is this With Another thing on my products? help page for a clear explanation of how it works, and how to decide what will make the most sense for you.

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How do I keep my customer informed?

Make sure your customer knows what's going on!

It's very, very important that you stay in contact with your customer to let them know what's going on.

Remember, they've just bought something online, from someone they don't know, and in their mind they have no guarantees that they'll get what they're paid for.

Customer service goes a long way! Be sure to update your order status: this will email your customer - you'll be able to include a message if you'd like to. If you prefer, email them directly.

They'll have a chance to review your service on the site after receiving their order, and this is an area you can shine in without too much trouble at all.

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How do you want to post it?

Send your parcel by courier or the SA Post Office

You can either send it via regular post, or with a courier. (Remember that if you choose to send it by post, we do require that it's sent with a tracking number. On your Hello Pretty store, you can set several separate postage options for the same product if you want to. So, for instance, you could give customers the choice between regular postage, a courier, and self-collect.

If you want to send it via the South African Post Office, you can download their current rates sheet.

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How much do I charge?

What should I charge for postage?

Ah, the age-old question. Here's the thing: shoppers tend to have a weird mental block about paying "extra" for postage.

Research shows that shoppers are far more likely to buy a slightly more expensive item with free postage, than the same item at a lower cost but with postage charges tacked on. We encourage you to bundle the cost of your postage into your product's prices, or at the very least charge a reduced postage rate.

Try out our nifty pricing calculator if you're not sure how to price your products with postage included.

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What the South African Post Office (SAPO) charges for parcels locally and internationally

Please remember that it is both required by Hello Pretty, and of vital importance that whatever method you decide to use, you send all parcels with a method that provides a tracking number.

There's a very comprehensive pdf document detailing all of the possible post office information, but there is a lot. So we've summarised what will apply to most of our sellers before so that you can have a quick overview of what it'll cost to post your parcel.

Click here to download the complete and unabridged version of the South African Post Office's Postage Rates.

Some things to know:

  • VERY VERY VERY IMPORTANT: in our experience, the post office rarely sends out a first notice. This means that the parcel sits at the recipient's post office and they don't know it's there - and sometimes it even gets returned. It's extremely important to let your customer know what the tracking number is, and that they probably won't get a notice but should keep tracking progress on http://www.trackmyparcel.co.za. As soon as it's at the post office, they can collect it by bringing the tracking number and their ID.
  • Insurance: this isn't ever included by default, and they mostly won't volunteer info on it at the post office. You have to explicitly ask for insurance. It'll cost you 3% of what your parcel is worth, up to a maximum of R5000.
  • Delivery times: the estimates you get for how long something takes to arrive excludes the day that you posted it on.
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International Postage - Small Packets / Padded Envelopes

These are referred to as Letters by the post office. They're a lot cheaper, and a lot more straightforward than posting boxes. If you're sending a little bracelet, a tea towel, a cushion cover etc, then these are the rates for you.

Some things to know:

  • Weight: These can be a maximum of 2kg.
  • Dimensions: The length, width and depth added together have to be 90cm or less. Also, the longest side can't be bigger than 60cm.
  • Rolls / Tubes: If you're posting a roll (eg a poster in a tube), the length plus twice the diameter can't be bigger than 1,04 metres, and the longest dimension can't be longer than 90cm.
  • Zones: Unlike for actual parcels, there are only two zones. One is Southern African countries (Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and Swaziland), and the other covers everywhere else in the world.
  • Tracking: Make sure to get a tracking number and send this to your customer as soon as you have it.

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