save money on shipping

How to Save Money on Shipping for eBay and Amazon Sellers

By: Skip McGrath

If you are going to run a profitable and professional eBay and/or Amazon business, you will need to package and ship your goods professionally.

No one likes to receive their treasures in an old box stuffed with last week’s newspaper.

This does not mean that you have to always use “new” supplies. Recycled boxes and packaging materials are fineas long as they are in good condition.

There are three costs involved in shipping:

  • Your Time
  • Shipping boxes and supplies
  • Shipper charges (USPS, FedEx or UPS)

Let’s look at each one.

Your Time:

Time is money. The time you spend wrapping packages, could be better spent creating listings, searching for new products, answering customer emails and so on. The single best way to save time is to have a permanent area for shipping. Invest in tape guns, paper rolls and a flat shipping service. If you have to clear the dining room table every time you want to wrap a package, that is a major waste of time.

Home shipping station
Home shipping station

We have teenagers to help with the business. It is a much better use of my time to pay my son a few bucks and hour to wrap packages (and now that he is driving to take them to UPS or the post office. Besides anything you pay them is a business expenses for tax purposes. Instead of giving your kids an allowance for doing chores, pay them as casual labor and you can deduct what you pay them as a business expense.

Always take care to package your merchandise carefully to avoid damage in shipping. Your eBay or Amazon customer does not care if UPS or the post office damaged it -they will blame you anyway and expect you to make it good.

Here is an example. My wife and I shop a lot on eBay and Amazon. Just last week I received a package from an eBay PowerSeller containing an antique flow blue plate I had purchased from his eBay Store (My wife collects Flow Blue).

The plate was loose in the box. The seller had wrapped it with bubble pak, but hadn’t taped the bubble pak together or used void filler to keep the plate in place. During shipping it had worked loose in the box. Fortunately, it wasn’t broken. Even experienced sellers who know better, often take short cuts that can result in a disappointed buyer and in some cases, negative feedback.

Shipping boxes and supplies

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

Note: Many buyers hate Styrofoam peanuts. (I know I do.) Here’s a trick to use them anyway for void filling. Just pack them into zip bags and put those in the voids.

Why pay top dollar for shipping supplies, when you can often 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 shops can be a treasure trove of free shipping and packing materialsThese 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 usually require them to recycle the materials, rather than throwing them away. This can be expensive. Believe me — they are happy to give them away to you.The trick is to set up a routine where you call on them the same day every week (preferably the day before the recycling truck).
  • 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, the USPS website offers free shipping supplies delivered (also free) direct to your home or office. Many eBay sellers use Priority Mail for shipping items under three pounds (See below for why).

The USPS will send you free boxes, envelopes, tape and labels direct to your home by priority mail. You can print out labels on USPS.GOV and do Delivery Confirmation at the same time. (This is a saving of 35 cents over doing it in person at the post office).

Shipping Charges

If you are a very occasional seller, there isn’t much you can do to lower your shipping charges. If, however, you are a high volume Amazon or 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. Here is how that works.

You open up an account with your own credit card. UPS or FedEx ties your shipping rate 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 employee usage can raise the company’s overall quantity. And, this will help your employer to get lower rates.

There you have it -several ways to save on shipping.

Learn more ways to sell, and make money on Amazon with The Complete Amazon Marketing System.