EBay shipping Tips
I have several types of eBay items. I type my eBay items by how I am going to ship them. When I am deciding if I am going to sell an item on eBay one of the first things I look at is what will it cost to ship the item.
- FC-First Class US Mail.
- PMFE Priority Mail Flat Rate Envelope.
- PMB Priority Mail Flat Rate Box.
- PMTE Priorty Mail Tyvek Envelope.
- UPS United Parcel Service ground service.
- International I am still evolving this category.
First class mail items. FC
These eBay items when packaged must weigh under 14 ounces. If the box is stable and the item I am shipping will withstand Postal Service abuse I wrap these items in Tyvek. This material is amazingly tough. I buy it from my local lumber yard--it is the material they use to wrap your house before they install the siding. I have several small items that I sell that are about the same size. I will cut up a bunch of pieces of Tyvek and then wrap and tape the items I am shipping.
These items must fit easily into the US Postal Service Priority mail envelope. I have several two or three pound items that fit in this package. There are several advantages of this package.
- Easy to ship items because you can print your label on Paypal or USPS.com. It is one flat rate for shipping, as of May 2007 it is $4.60.
- Free tracking is included if you print the label online at USPS.com or through your Paypal account.
- You do not have to go through the line at the Post Office if you print your shipping on your computer. This is a huge time saver in the Thanksgiving to Christmas shippping season.
- The Post Office gets the package there quickly. Usually it takes only one or two shipping days to get anywhere in the US.
- Shipping to Hawaii, Alaska, USVI, APO, FPO, PR, Guam anywhere in the United States are the same low rate. This is a lot cheaper than other ways of shipping especially to Alaska and Hawaii.
- The Package is Free from the Post Office.
The Priority Flat Rate Envelope is made of cheap cardboard that rips easily. The Postal service will not allow you to strengthen the package with clear tape on the outside. If the item I put in this has any possibilty of poking through the package I will tape a duplicate address label on the item also. That way if the Postal Service breaks open the package there is a good chance my item will still make it to it's destination. Double wrapped and double addressed is Zbikenut eBay Shipping Tip's best idea for using Priority Mail Flat Rate Envelopes. PMFE
Priority Mail Flat Rate Boxes PMFB.
These are great for shipping some items. All of the advantages of the Priority envelope except it costs more. If your eBay item can carry the $8.10 shipping charge (as of April 2007) these boxes work great. The Post Office offers them in a couple of different sizes. The flat rate for these is the same as shhipping a two pound item by Priority Mail. You can put up to 70 lbs in these boxes. That is a little crazy but it is very cheap to ship heavy small items. They are an outstanding value when you sell heavy compact items. PMFB
Priority Mail Tyvek Envelope.PMTE
Some items are too big to fit in a Flat Rate Envelope but are less than 2 pounds. If this is the case you can put them in the Free US Postal Tyvek Priority Mail bag. If the item is over 2 pounds it will cost you more in the bag than in the flat rate box so the box is a better way to go. I have several items that I ship in the Tyvek Envelope. Lightweight items that are too bulky for the Flat rate Envelope.
Large items I ship by UPS. UPS G
If it is too large to put in a flat rate USPS box I will use UPS. UPS service is expensive. Not only do you have to pay for shipping on the item you also have to pay for UPS pickup. This costs between $7 a week and $15. If you spend over $70 a week on UPS fees then the fee drops to $7 otherwise the weekly pickup fee from UPS is $15. The less you ship the more it costs per week for pickup. If you rent a UPS label printer that is another $5 per week.
Warning about UPS Shipping
If your item is large and light you will be hit with oversize charges. You can ship a ten pound item and be charged for ninety pounds if the dimensions of the item are long or bulky. Again before you list your eBay item find out what it will cost to ship the item.
Printing US Postal Service Shipping labels
If you print your label through Paypal or through your online USPS account you get a couple of benefits. First you do not have to stand in line at the Post Office. Second you get free tracking on your priority mail package. Third you can deliver your items to the Post Office after hours. At my Post Office if you deliver the item before 8 PM your item will ship out the same day. The last time for daily pickup will be listed on the drop box.
First Class Mail
To ship an item by first class mail it needs to be under 14 ounces. I like to ship my first class mail items at the kiosk at the Post Office. It almost never has a line and it is usually quicker than shipping through a Postal Clerk. To use the Kiosk you must use a charge or debit card but that just helps me with my bookkeeping. Almost all of my First Class mailed items get there within 3 days. It is very cheap to ship by first class mail. I have a lot of items I sell because I can ship them cheaply with 1st Class Mail.
I normally will only ship items that are less than 14 ounces internationally. I can ship them fairly cheaply. I charge $5 to $10 more in handling for international because they are more time consuming to ship and to cover my self insurance. I do not ship them with insurance, I self insure. I don't use the insurance because it is nearly impossible to collect on it and the multiple hours spent trying to collect are better spent elsewhere. If the item does not make it to the buyer I will resend it. I normally won't ship an item that costs more than $100 internationally because I do not want to take the hit if it doesn't make it there. If I do ship one over $100 internationally I will charge an even higher handling/insurance fee.
Shipping LabelsEven if the shipping label is printed on self stick label material I will put a layer of tape over it. If your label comes off your item will not make it to your customer.
I do not buy insurance on the items I send through the Post Office. I call it running naked but one of the joys of dealing with most people on eBay is they are usuallly honest. A funny story of an honest eBay customer. I sold a bike light to a lady in Seattle. She emailled that the item had not shown up. I said wait a week and if it hasn't shown up I will send another. I reshipped it a week later and when she got the second light she looked down. Below her mailbox, hidden under the plant at her front door was the first light I had shipped. She sent it back and we were both happy.
I use the tracking numbers I get for free from shipping an item by UPS and the USPS. Most people really like to get the tracking number to the item that you send them. You get free tracking from the Post Office if you print your priority mail shipping label online with your computer. This is a great reason to print your Priority labels on your own printer. Any inkjet or laser printer will work. You will either need a Paypal account or a charge card/debit card to pay for your label and print it. The USPS interface is fairly simple to use and although it is slow it works fine.
Before you List your EBay Item
Even before you list your item on eBay you need to know how much it will cost to ship the item. Some large items that aren't very heavy can still be very expensive to ship. Figure it out before you list the item so you don't have to suprise the winning bidder with a huge shipping bill.