eBay Business Packing and Shipping for eBay Sellers

How eBay sellers can save time and money on packing and shipping

If you are going to run a profitable eBay business, you will need to package and ship your goods professionally. No one likes to receive their "eBay treasure" in an old cereal box or shoe box packed with last week’s newspaper. Poor shipping practices are one of the leading causes of negative feedback. 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

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 are two sources of free shipping supplies, boxes and packing materials.

1. 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, kitchen shops and other small retail stores 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.  

These 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.  Simply go in and speak with the owner and they will usually tell you which day of the week is best for them for you to come in and pick up the supplies.

2. The other source is the post office.  Many eBay sellers use Priority Mail for shipping small items because Priority Mail is cheaper than UPS until you get over 6 pounds –then you may save a little with UPS Ground.  If you ship USPS Priority Mail, the USPS Website offers free shipping supplies delivered (also free) direct to your home or office and they come with the eBay Logo on the boxes.

Shipping Charges:

As a 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 (formerly RPS). 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 your employer’s quantity to help them (and you) get lower rates.  The last time I checked FedEx Ground was a little cheaper than UPS to residential addresses (which most of your eBay shipments will be unless you sell a product to businesses.

If you do use the Post Office (USPS) be sure and go online and create your shipping labels.  You should always use delivery confirmation.  If you do this online it is Free, but if you stand in line at the post office they charge fifty cents for priority mail or sixty cents for packages.

Your Time:

Time is valuable. Time you spend 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.

If you use USPS and create your labels on line at their web site, then you can take all of your packages to the back door of the post office and drop them off instead of standing in line.  This is especially important around Christmastime.  Even better, you can now arrange USPS to pick up your priority mail from you home or office.  If you use UPS or one of the other shippers, they will also pick up if you have an account with them and create the labels using their software.

We used to use our teenagers to help with the business. It was a much better use of my time to pay my son $5 hour to wrap packages. Besides anything you pay them is a business expenses for tax purposes.  Now that they are grown up, we hire a local teenager who comes in part time to do this.

It goes without saying (then why do I say it?) that you should package your merchandise carefully to avoid damage. Why do I say this if it’s so obvious? A few weeks ago I received a package from a PowerSeller containing a flow blue plate I had purchased from his eBay Store. The plate was loose in the box. He had wrapped it with bubblepak, but hadn’t taped the bubblepak together. During shipping it had worked loose in the box. Fortunately, it wasn’t broken.


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