Somewhat to our surprise, by noon today we had everything packed up. Four years ago the first TOP Platinum Print Offer had three pictures, available as either Pt/Pd or digital comparison prints, so the orders were complex. Two years ago, the Rewards for the Kickstarter drive-in theater project had half a dozen or more levels and options at all the higher levels. Both times, we pretty much had to custom build each package, working from the order sheets. No problem for an organized shipping operation, but working manually on something you only do every couple of years, it was a headache. This time, there are only three choices. Steep Rock, Church, or Both. So, with just the count break-out in hand, all we had to do was tape up the right number of packages for each of the three options, mark each package with S, C, or B, then stack or box them. I expected it to be simpler, but didn't realize how big a difference the simplicity would make.
We did a test shipment yesterday morning, of the first order to come in, to see what's changed in the USPS Ship 'N Click system. What hasn't changed is that you can't scarf up an order's address and paste it into the system, thereby avoiding typos. Every field has to be entered individually, so you just have to sit there and key in the entire name and address info, line by line, for each order. Also, play with radio buttons for "State." Plus, they didn't provide enough lines for many international addresses, so I'll have to see if that's changed.
[Edit: it has—when you tell it you're heading for England, it opens up enough fields for English addresses, which are just short of the number of lines in a Shakespearean sonnet. Head for Ireland, and the system knows the address may be 'Paddy Murphy, Number 12, The Old Cowpath, Galway.' It knows where states/provinces are needed, and where not, and what sort of postal code to look for (none in Ireland).]
Given past reliability of Priority Mail*, I'm going to self-insure above the "free" $50 level since on that first order, insuring for $230 would have doubled the cost of the postage. Not a good wager. More than one third of our orders were international, so I'll have to see what's changed there as well tomorrow—the forms and printouts are completely different, and of course there has to be a customs declaration.
*Of 190 orders four years ago, only two went missing—both shipped the same day to England, and worth a whopping $900 or so. Despite alleged included tracking, which took it as far as leaving the US, not only I, but the Woodbury Postmaster, could never get a response from British postal authorities about the two packages. On the Kickstarter Rewards shipping, which mostly went Parcel Post, just one package was lost—in Australia—and one other damaged enough that the recipient made them send it back. Shipping begins in earnest tomorrow morning.