Once you sell your item and the buyer pays for the sale, it is time to act promptly and ship your item as soon as possible. The real test starts now; so take your time to handle the shipping process with utmost care.
eBay gives the shipping and handling process an immense importance over other things. Look at the DSR areas. There are four DSR areas and two of them are related to shipping i.e. dispatch time and shipping charges.
So once the item sells, shipping and handling is the most important thing that you need to handle professionally with utmost care.
Complete the shipping process to meet the customer expectations and abide by eBay shipping policy, and you are sure to get more and more repeated customs from your buyers. On the other hand, charge exorbitant fees, delay shipping items, package your items improerply and you sure to break your business.
In the UK Royal Mail has been integrated into eBay while UPS and USPS in the US.
What service to use will depend on several things such as speed, prices, service and support.
In the UK, we have used Citilink for larger items and Royal Mail for smaller items. In the US USPS is great for smaller parcels while for larger packages, UPS is a good option.
It is worth mentioning here that you do not have to use eBay integrated shipping services or those I mention here. There are so many companies offering shipping services. Make a choice of the one who can deliver your package fast, safe and in time.
The following guidelines will greatly help you manage your shipping process efficiently.
Weigh and Measure Your Packages
Most shipping services are reliable and would accurately weigh and measure your packages for the right price. However, you must not blindly rely. Buying a scale to weigh them before handing them over to the shipping company can save you money.
Our UK store sell mostly small items in large numbers. In order to avoid the queue in the post office, our local post office agreed that we give them all the parcels already weighed and postal price written on them. This saves us and the staff at the post office. At the end of the day, we just tally our total shipping cost for the day of the post office. 99.9% of the times it tallies with an odd day where a small difference occurs and then sorted out.
A shipping scale is a must for your eBay business. Shipping scales are not very expensive. They are highly accurate. I recommend to use a shipping scale for items up to 10 kilograms (22 pounds). Larger items can be weight using a bathroom scale.
Check out shipping scales on eBay here.
Write Clear Postage Policies
eBay now require that you have a shipping policy attached to each listing. You can write several shipping policies according to the weight, size and service of the item. When you are listing an item you will have to select one of those policies which you have already formulated.
You can calculate the price of shipping for the integrated services using eBay calculator. Measure the size and weigh your item and enter them in eBay shipping calculator and you will get the shipping prices calculated.
You will also have to enter your zip or postcode, shipping service and handling fee.
Fair Shipping Policy
Offer free shipping to your customer. I know it is sometimes not possible and you may to squeeze out your margin in some cases. Buyers love free shipping. Instead of charging shipping fee, you may raise your sale price by including the shipping cost.
If you charge shipping fee separately, make sure to charge only the exact amount. Buyers read the stamps and the postal prices shown on the package and check them against the cost they were charged. You can very easily anger you buyers by over charging them. Alternatively, hide your shipping cost by printing your labels via stamps.com software.
It is important to formula postal or shipping policy that is clear and easy to understand. Do not make ambiguous statements to confuse your buyers.
eBay’s rules stipulate that you come up with a shipping policy that is clear, non-misleading and that you charge reasonable fees for postage and handling.
Buyers can now include a separate rating for shipping in sellers DSR (detailed seller rating). If your DSR for shipping is lower than a certain mark, it may affect your top rated status and your searches in the eBay search engine.
Do Not Contradict Your Shipping Policy in Your Description
You create the shipping policy using a form on the listing page. You can create multiple policies to suit different listings. However, you must ensure that you do not contradict your policy in your item descriptions. Some novice sellers will say one thing in their policy and another thing in the item description or terms and conditions. This creates confusion for the buyers and is clearly misleading and a violation of eBay TOS.
Offer Free Shipping
People love free shipping. Everyone loves it. You and me, too. Imagine how many times have we opted for items with free shipping when we buy online?
As people love free shipping, they will buy more. You get higher conversion rate and so your overall profit increases.
The most confusing part is how can we offer shipping when we pay the cost ourselves to the carrier? Yes, it is a good question. Here is the trick.
The reality is nothing is free. It is psychological for the most part. You obviously pay for the delivery cost. So while working out your sale price, include shipping as a cost. So, instead of 19.99 + 4.99 offer it for 24.99.
Now it is actually the buyer who pays that 4.99 but he does so happily.
Just search the sold listings on eBay for any product and compare the conversion rate of items with free shipping and those with charges. You will be amazed by the difference in conversion!
Apart from higher conversion rates, you also get loads of other benefits.
Once you offer free shipping, eBay automatically awards 5 star rating for postage and packaging in your DSR
Free shipping item gets higher visibility in the best match search results resulting in to more sales.
eBay may also award you the Premium Service badge on your listings.
Use Signature Confirmation for Items $250 and Over
The items over $250 scam is popular with unscrupulous buyers. To qualify for eBay and PayPal protection, you must obtain signature confirmation for items $250 and above. In case any buyer claims of the item not received, you will lose your money even if you have proof of postage.
Include eBay Packing Slip
eBay provides the facility to print packing slips. The packing slip provides all the information like an invoice. You can also include your message regarding your business. You can effectively use the packing slip to advertise your business further.
Go to your list of sold listing and then select sale recorded from the drop down menu. From the several options, check invoice/packing slip and then click continue. This will take you to the packing slip which you can print. Here is an example of packing slip from my own eBay shop.
Some information has been obliterated to protect the privacy of the customer.
Printing Address Labels
You can handwrite your customer address on the package. This is very time consuming. A handwritten address does not look professional. Another downside of this method is that in case of unfriendly environment the ink may spread and the address may become unreadable. An effective way to save your time and look more professional is printing address label. eBay provides this facility. From the sale record page check the address label box and then click continue.
The label also shows you address so you do not have to print a separate label.
You may also print professional self-adhesive labels by using a small label printing machine. You can customize the label by including your logo, web address, shop address etc. Check out some of the label machines on eBay.
Include a Promotion Flyer
From the sale record page you can also print a promotional flyer targeted at your customer. People save these flyers for future purchases. This is a free advertisement.
Use Shipping Software
Sometimes a small thing can go a long way to build your professional image. Using shipping software can print you professional looking labels.
Stamps.com is an excellent place to sign up. The site offers excellent service for a very small monthly fee with the first 4 weeks trial period which is completely free.
After the trial is over, you can cancel any time without any hassle.
There are so many features you can benefit from at www.stamps.com. I like their feature to hid the shipping cost on the label so your buyers do not have much it actually cost you. I am not saying that you start charging higher and then hide it through www.stamps.com. Charging customer with actual cost is good and offering free postage is even better. But sometimes, you may need to charge a little extra as a handling and packing charge and the customers do not want to pay for that.
Customers get very easily annoyed if they see that you charged even a little extra than the amount shown on the label. Such customer are quick at leaving negative feedback or leaving low DSR. You can avoid the problem by signing up with stamps.com
The stamp.com offers great automation features. You do not have to enter the shipping address manually if the buyer paid through PayPal. The software is integrated with PayPal and their address is automatically added to the label.
Stamps.com caters especially to eBay, Amazon and ecommerce store sellers. You can also download order from multiple sources with one click. The integrated tools enables to let the customer know automatically that the item has been shipped with the tracking information provided.
The tool is also integrated with UPS Worldship. The tool can automatically compare the shipping rates between UPS and USPS to help select the most cost effective service for your delivery.
With your free 4 week free trial you also o get the following.
• $25 postage coupons
• Free digital scale value $50
• $5 supplies kit
To sign up with stamps.com click here.
The USPS (United States Postal Service)
This is the largest network in the United States offering postal services. Most eBay sellers uses USPS for their items shipping to their customers.
The USPS provides a software called Click N Ship which can print labels free of costs for services like Express Mail, Priority Mail and International Mail. However, you cannot hide the actual shipping and the buyers are able to see the exact amount.
You can also use their online postage price calculator to find out the exact shipping cost for your package.
UPS is another great choice for sending both small and larger items. Registered customers can print shipping labels from the UPS website. UPS has a large network and you can drop your package with UPS store, authorized outlet or with the UPS driver. The UPS driver can also pick up scheduled packages for a payment of fee.
UK Shipping Companies
Royal Mail is the largest mail network in the UK offering mail and related services.
For eBay sellers, Royal Mail is perhaps the first choice due to the various types of delivery options. Here is a brief description of each service.
Same Day Dispatch
The same day service collects and delivers items the same day. The same day service charges for the distance between pickup and delivery and you pay on a loaded mile basis.
You can calculate the sameday price using the same day calculator on the Royal Mail Website. You simply enter collection and delivery postcode and the vehicle type.
The Sam day service is very expensive. However, there are times that you may need to use it. It is a great service in case you are posting bulk items to the same postcode on urgent basis. You may not need to use the sameday service on a regular basis, but you may come across customers who would like sameday delivery and even pay for the service.
First and Second Class Ordinary
You do not get tracking information for these services. You can still obtain a proof of postage or a certificate of posting. First and second class ordinary services are the cheaper options and are good for inexpensive items. In case of any loss, you will not be able to trace the package and you may have to send another item to your customer.
This is the next day guaranteed delivery. Royal Mail offers two options: guaranteed by 9am or by 1 pm next day.
Special delivery is relatively expensive. The special delivery services is all tracked and is a better option for small and medium parcels that need to be delivered next day guaranteed.
Royal Mail International
There are two main services under this category: ordinary and signed for.
The international ordinary is a cheaper option which does not offer tacking facility. The international signed for offers the tracking facility. However, it must be noted that it offers tracking only up to the country of delivery.
Recently Royal Mail has added more services to their International area. Now you can send internationally through:
- International Tracked and Signed
- International Tracked
- International Signed
- International Standard
- International Economy
- HM Forces Mail
Among the UK courier companies, City Link is our first option. We have been sending all our larger parcels through City Link.
Last year we had to clear two containers of huge table tennis tables with each table weighing 89Kg. The cheapest quote was by City Link for 28GBP.
How to Pack Your eBay Items Properly?
Packing the item properly is an important step in the shipping process. Taking all steps correctly but not packing the items properly can create problems. There is no angrier buyer than the one who receives a damaged item in the post.
For sellers, it is the saddest news to hear that the item delivered was damaged in transit. It costs money, time, and eats up your profit with an extra bonus of negative feedback. Before handing the item to the shipping company make sure that you packed the item with utmost care and all steps have been taken to ensure the safe delivery of the item. Here a few tips and tricks that will help you pack your item properly.
1. Use a Slightly Larger Box
For items which are hard and will not break during transit, it is ok to pack them in tight fit boxes. For fragile items, your box should be slightly larger than the size of the item. When you wrap your item in the bubble wrap and cushion it in the empty spaces, it will fit tight providing extra safety against breakage.
2. Use Double Lined Corrugated Box
Never try to save on this by buying single line cheap boxes. Double line boxes are more sturdy and offer greater protection against possible damage. Corrugated boxes offer higher protection through the arched spaced. For multiple items in the same box, use separate compartments for each item within the box.
3. Use Bubble Wrap, Foam or Peanuts
You may find that there are some empty spaces around the item. Fill in those spaces with bubble wrap, foam or peanuts.
4. Tape to Reinforce
Tape the opening of the box and reinforce all seams. Do not rely on the manufacturer taping of the seams. Tapping around all seams will reinforce you package and thus reduce any chances of damage. You may either use clear or brown packaging tape.
5. Mark the Package Fragile
Use a fragile mark tap or sticker. You may also write in bold or print on a paper and stick it to the package.
It is instructions to the people handling the box to exercise care. You may also put an additional warning sign or writing which says; Fragile! Handle with Care”
6. Use Padded or Bubble Envelopes
You do not have to send all the items in boxes. Many items can be shipped using padded or bubble envelopes. Bubble envelopes are light in weight and provide good protection to items which are not fragile.
You can send the following items in padded or bubble envelopes.
• Boxed Jewelry
Where to Buy Shipping Supplies?
You will need a good stock of shipping supplies to ensure continuous flow of your items to customers.
You can buy either local or online. Here are a couple of online places where you can buy your shipping supplies at competitive rates.
This is the No 1 place I buy all my shipping supplies. Most items are cheaper than elsewhere. There is a huge variety to choose from. Most shipping supplies are free postage so you do not have to worry about the shipping cost.
Buying on eBay saves me money, it increases my feedback score and then I help the community by contributing my part. Remember, they help me every day by providing me this fantastic opportunity to earn money. Just reciprocate.
2. Now mention here only those who have affiliate offers. check with share a sale and CJ.
3. Recycle Your Supplies
When you are buying online, you will obviously get all your supplies packaged. Do not throw away the packaging that can be re-used. You will find boxes, bubble wrap, packing peanuts, foams etc. all as a free source of packing supplies. This will save you money, space and your are helping the environment by recycling the old stuff.