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How To Save Money on eBay Shipping

August 18th, 2010 by Skip McGrath

eBay Shipping is one of the most controversial topics discussed on the eBay forums. And, shipping issues are the number one source of complaints and negative feedback, so this is one area where you want to get it right.

Packing your goods

If you are going to run a profitable and professional eBay business, you will need to package and ship your goods professionally. No one likes to receive his or her “eBay treasure” in an old shoebox stuffed with your last week’s newspaper. This does not mean that you have to always use “new” supplies. Recycled boxes and packaging materials are fine as long as they are in good condition.

There are three costs involved in shipping:

  • Shipping supplies
  • Shipper charges
  • Your time

Let’s look at each one.

Shipping supplies

Shipping supplies consist of boxes, newsprint or tissue, Styrofoam peanuts, bubble-pak and tape.

Why pay top dollar for shipping supplies when you can get them for free? Here is a source of free shipping supplies, boxes and packing materials. Visit your local gift shop or kitchen store. These merchants receive shipments on a daily basis of usually fragile items that require large amounts of bubble pak, Styrofoam peanuts and sturdy boxes.

Gift shops are deluged with shipping and packaging materials. Local laws often require them to recycle the materials rather than just throwing them away. This can be expensive. Believe me — they are happy to give it away.

Local shops can be a treasure trove of free shipping and packing materials. Other stores that receive large amounts of shipping and packaging materials include drug stores, electronics stores (such as Radio Shack) and small neighborhood hardware stores.

If you ship USPS Priority Mail, he U.S. Postal Service website offers free shipping supplies delivered (also free) direct to your home or office. Many eBay sellers use Priority Mail for shipping items less than five pounds.  Less than five pounds, Priority Mail usually works out less than UPS and it gets there faster.

The USPS will send you free boxes, envelopes, tape and labels direct to your home by priority mail. You can print out labels and select Delivery Confirmation at the web site. (This is a saving of 60 cents over doing it at the post office). Here is a link where you can order free shipping supplies with the eBay logo on the box.  http://ebaysupplies.usps.com/

It goes without saying that you should package your merchandise carefully to avoid damage. Why do I say this if it’s so obvious? Just last month my wife received a package from a Top Rated Seller containing a collectible (and expensive) flow blue plate she had purchased from his eBay Store. The plate was loose in the box. The seller had wrapped it with bubble pak, but hadn’t taped the bubble pak together. During shipping it had worked loose in the box. Fortunately, it wasn’t broken. Even people who know better often take short cuts that can result in an unhappy buyer and in some cases, negative feedback.

Shipping Charges:

As an occasional seller there isn’t much you can do about lowering shipping charges. If, however, you are a high volume eBay seller, you can negotiate rates with UPS, FedEx and FedEx Ground.  Call the companies and ask what their quantity points are to get a discount. If you work for a company that uses UPS or FedEx, they have programs whereby employees can piggyback on their company’s discounts. You open up an account with your own credit card, but your shipping rate is tied to your employer’s rate. Ask you employer to ask his/her shipping company sales rep if they offer such a program. It is good for you and the employer because it can raise his/her quantity to help get lower rates.

eBay also has a program for PowerSellers and Top-rated sellers where you can save up to 23% off UPS Ground Daily Rates. The more you ship, the bigger the discount. Learn more about UPS rate discounts.

Your Time:

Time is valuable. Time you spend making labels and wrapping packages could be better spent launching auctions, searching for new products, answering emails and so on.

The best way to save time is to have a permanent area for shipping. Invest in tape guns, paper rolls and so on. If you have to clear off the dining room table every time you want to wrap a package, this is a waste of time.

When our kids were younger, we used to hire them to do our shipping.  Now they are grown up, we hire our neighbor’s teenagers to help with the business. It is a much better use of my time to pay a teenager a few bucks an hour to wrap packages. Besides anything you pay them is a business expenses for tax purposes.

Calculating postage and making labels is another time consuming task. Take a look at Stamps.com. They have a great $100-off offer they made to my readers.  Using a service like Stamps.com is a great way to save time and money on shipping.  Here are some of the benefits:

  • Get postage discounts on Priority Mail & Express Mail.
  • Import orders from eBay, Amazon.com and more.
  • Save up to 10% on package insurance.
  • Hide the postage amount on your shipping labels.
  • Ship worldwide with USPS First Class International.

The other popular service that competes with Stamps.com is Endicia, but right now this special offer trumps them.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The Complete eBay Marketing System covers issues like shipping and much more.  This is a complete printed training manual to setting up and running a profitable eBay business.

Comments

Comment from Susan Weinberg
Time August 20, 2010 at 4:16 pm

Hey Skip,

I don’t mind if fragile things are wrapped in newspaper. Part of the fun of getting something from another locale is reading the newspaper that it was wrapped in!

I personally turn boxes inside out if I get them from somewhere else or I make my own boxes and on the printed inside, I cover w/ tissue paper so it doesn’t look like they are getting a cereal box. Then I wrap the box in paper bag from the grocery store like we did in the old days. That adds added strength to the box, as well as the packing tape added. For a 3 oz item, I refuse to pay priority mail rates, unless requested by the buyer to expedite shipping. Otherwise if there in no terrible hurry, I ship First Class Mail Parcel.

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