Starting a Business

Tips on Shipping Your Product

You can't have a successful eBay business without a way to ship your goods. Here are some tips and tools to help you do it right.
Magazine Contributor
3 min read

This story appears in the October 2006 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

The first impression you make with your eBay listing is crucial to your online success, but the lasting impression you make with your packaging and shipping can help secure a continued customer relationship. Check out these tools and tips to help you keep the customers you work so hard to get.

Shipping Calculator: Use eBay's free Shipping Calculator in the "Sell Your Item" form and Turbo Lister to help your customers determine the actual cost of shipping to their location for domestic or international, flat or calculated shipping rates. Always give your customers as many options as possible by choosing three speeds for domestic and three speeds for international shipping. The Shipping Calculator shows your buyer a total cost that includes handling. Bill Cobb, president of eBay North America, recently announced that sellers who charge excessive handling fees are no longer welcome on eBay. Charge enough for handling to reasonably cover your costs, supplies and time.

Shipping and Postage Labels: Learn almost everything you need to know about shipping at www.ebay.com/shipping. You can print out your shipping labels here and pay for them with PayPal-no more waiting in line at the post office to drop off packages. Other postage printing services include Endicia and Stamps.com.

U.S. Postal Service: Titanium PowerSeller Michael J. Ward, 37, understands how crucial shipping choices are. "Shipping is a critical part of our business," says Ward, who sells toys, collectibles and costumes via his Torrance, California, business, The Collector's Warehouse. "To complete the transaction, you need a reliable and cost-effective way to deliver the products. To be a successful internet business, you need to partner with a reliable shipping company." The USPS provides free priority and international shipping boxes, complimentary pickup service and a new shipping box size-the USPS announced at this year's eBay Live! that it has responded to the demands of online shoe sellers with a free, co-branded eBay shoebox-size box. For more on the USPS, see http://pages.ebay.com/usps/home.html.

UPS: UPS provides numerous services for Seller Solutions and Buyer Benefits at http://pages.ebay.com/ups/home.html. These include the UPS Global Advisor for international shipping as well as packaging tips. UPS has created a page to help you get started at www.ups.com/content/us/en/welcome/index.html.

International: Find international shipping help at http://pages.ebay.com/services/buyandsell/shippinginternational.html. Canada has also created a special shipping page on eBay to assist with the amount of exporting from the U.S. (http://pages.ebay.ca/help/sellerguide/shipping/index.html).

Additional tools: Shipping heavy and bulky items? Check out eBay's Freight Resource Center. You can also use the world's largest peer-to-peer marketplace for shipping and moving -- uShip. "Our marketplace [saves] members as much as 80 percent compared to traditional freight quotes," says CEO and founder Matt Chasen. And don't forget to use the packaging and shipping eBay discussion boards for answers to all your shipping questions.

Janelle Elms,eBay University instructor and online business consultant, specializes in coaching individuals and companies to build successful eBay businesses and maximize their profits. Contact her at www.janelleelms.com.

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