I’ve realized that shipping is one of the things that keep people from selling on eBay. They think that it’s complex or that they’ll lose money. I can’t even lie; I understand where they are coming from. I’ve lost money shipping. It was due to my guessing and not understanding how shipping on eBay works. I want to share some eBay shipping tips in today’s post.
eBay Shipping Tips: The Beginner’s Guide
How I Used To Do It
When I first started with eBay, I used to guess shipping costs. I’d look at other listings and use their shipping prices. That worked for some of the items, but not all. I didn’t factor in the weight or where the item went back then. I also did not realize that the price difference could be huge if you send an item to California instead of South Carolina. If you’re reading this, I don’t want you to be in that situation. These eBay shipping tips should help you out.
Flat Rate Shipping
If you’re a beginner, the best thing you can do is start with flat-rate shipping boxes. Flat rate shipping means you can ship your item anywhere in the country for one flat price. USPS has different shapes and sizes of flat rate boxes. Below is an image that shows the box/envelope size and how much the shipping would cost.
This is the easiest way for beginners to ship. You already know your prices. You can send it as long as your item is 70 pounds or less. Flat-rate boxes are also considered priority shipping. That means that your item should get to its destination within 1-3 business days. You can obtain flat-rate boxes from the post office or order them on USPS.com. They are free! You can order as many of them as you want to. Flat rate pricing is the way to go if you are starting.
Flat rate boxes are the easiest way to ship an item but are not always the cheapest. This is why you should learn to do calculated shipping. I needed to work on learning how to calculate shipping. I thought it was going to be difficult, but it wasn’t.
Guessing the weight doesn’t work when it comes to calculated shipping. You have to get a scale. I purchased my scale earlier this year. After I had it for a few weeks, I wondered why I had waited so long to buy it. It has helped my eBay business out so much. Here is a picture of the scale that I have.
It does the job perfectly. Once you have a scale, you can weigh every item you plan to flip. I use the postage calculator on USPS.com. The image below shows the postage difference using calculated priority and flat-rate shipping. Using priority shipping, it would cost $10.90 to ship a 1.5-pound mug from Atlanta to Houston. If you used a large flat rate box, it would be $21.10. It would cost $15.05 if you used a medium flat-rate box. The margins are pretty big.
There are different types of calculated shipping. You’ll use some more than others. Let’s take a look at the different shipping methods.
Media Mail is one of the cheapest shipping options. That’s the good news. The bad news is that only specific items qualify for it. The following items qualify for Media Mail: books, CDs, videotapes, cassettes, records, print music, and sound recordings. In most cases, shipping those items costs less than $10. Do not use flat rate or priority boxes for those items.
USPS Priority shipping is based on weight and dimension. The delivery time is between 1-3 days. Flat-rate shipping is considered priority mail. Most of the items that I send out are done with priority shipping.
It is the cheapest option (economy shipping) for shipping certain-sized packages. It can take up to 9 days for the package to be delivered. For bigger items, I give the seller the option to choose retail ground or priority shipping.
First Class Mail
This is another cost-effective shipping option. Letters and postcards are sent via USPS first-class mail. Any item under 13oz can be first class mail. If you sell clothes, this will be the rate you should use to ship in most cases.
USPS has other options, such as priority mail express, expedited shipping, and international shipping. Check the USPS website for more info on those options.
For me, USPS typically has the best prices. There are other shipping carriers out there, though. Two of them are FedEx and UPS. You can visit their websites for more information about their prices, including FedEx and UPS ground.
I have a couple of more eBay shipping tips for you.
If you have an idea of what you will send the item in, weigh it first, then add the weight to the right section when listing it.
If you don’t weigh the item in the box you’re going to ship it in, you can add a couple of ounces to the weight, so you don’t have to pay part of the shipping price out of pocket.
Print your shipping from eBay or Pirateship. Pirateship is a site where you can purchase discount shipping. It’s cheaper than going to the post office and waiting in line. It’s something that I wish I had done earlier. I could have saved a couple of hundred dollars annually if I had done this earlier.
Remember to recycle. You’ve probably purchased a lot of things this year. If that’s you, save the boxes and the bubble wrap. I recycle a lot of things. It would help if you did the same.
Need help with eBay? Check out my webinar, eBay for Starters
I want to share some of the supplies you should have for your eBay business.
I started using these this year for the clothes that I ship out. It was one of the smartest things that I’ve done. Check out this brand that I use here.
You can get boxes free from USPS. They have different box sizes to choose from. You can also purchase them from Walmart or Amazon.
It would be best to have scissors to cut labels, tape, and boxes. Sometimes, you’ll have to make your own box.
You must have some bubble wrap on deck if you ship bobbleheads or mugs. It is way better than using a newspaper. I use this kind below.
I realized it was time to get serious about the business earlier this year, so I purchased a printer. I bought an HP similar to this one. Many eBay sellers get therm label printers. They look like this. I may eventually get one, but for right now, a regular printer works fine for me.
You will receive a $25 coupon every quarter if you have an eBay store. You can use it to purchase eBay supplies. They have many items, including tape, boxes, and more.
If you like selling on eBay, check out my shirt. You can purchase it on Teespring.
I hope this post about eBay shipping tips has helped you out. I wish I had had something like this when I first started.
Jason Butler is the owner of My Money Chronicles, a website where he discusses personal finance, side hustles, travel, and more. Jason is from Atlanta, Georgia. He graduated from Savannah State University with his BA in Marketing. Jason has been featured in Forbes, Discover, and Investopedia.