Make Even More Money on eBay Part 4: How to Inexpensively and Effectively Handle Shipping

by Ashley Eneriz · 3 comments

Be sure to read the rest of the eBay series: part 1, Picking What to Sell, part 2, Finding Inventory, and part 3, How to Drive More Business to Your Listings.

Shipping is a huge factor in your eBay business. It can suck up your profits if you price shipping too low, and it can drive potential customers away if the shipping prices are too high. How can you handle shipping costs while still maximizing eBay profits? Here are my tips.

Reuse and Recycle

Since I do a lot of buying online and receive several free books or products from companies, I save and reuse as many packages as I can. This tip alone has saved me about $50-100 a year. I also will save and reuse tissue paper from presents to wrap clothing in before placing it in a packing bag.

Some people have shipped items jammed in old cereal boxes or cracker boxes. To me, that is taking the recycling part a bit far, and I always attempt to make my packages look nice, not like leftover trash. Bubblers are easy to reuse because you can cut a little bit off the top and place a new label over the old label so remember to save those whenever you get them.

Cheaper Packing Supplies

For most of my sales, I ship in poly mailers that I buy in bulk. I usually buy this one and a larger one, and each bag comes out to .09 to .11 per bag. If the item is fragile, I wrap it in tissue and bubble wrap first, both which are also cheaper bought online and in bulk.

I also like to stick to more expensive items that fit into USPS flat rate boxes. These boxes can be ordered in bulk for free through the USPS website, and they make setting shipping prices much easier. I like to sell bulk lots of clothing, as is cameras, and computer parts, and flat rate boxes make shipping these items simple.

Calculate the Potential Profit of Larger Items First

Large items are a pain to ship, so make sure the profit is worth your time first. A larger item will require a large box (if you don’t have one on hand), a lot of packing material to keep the item safe, and a trip to the post office, since you probably don’t have the right scale to measure a large item. These are all extra costs on top of the actual shipping costs, so factor them in!

If you are going to be spending that much time and money on shipping costs, make sure you will be seeing a worthy profit. You might be better off selling it locally, through eBay or Craigslist.

Don’t Just Charge Shipping

If an item costs you $2.50 to ship, then that is not how much you should charge. You should charge more because eBay and Paypal will take a small percentage of that price. Also, you have to calculate how much shipping material will cost you. A shipping price of $3-3.50 for an item that costs $2.50 to ship will give you the right funds needed for shipping, without overcharging your customer.

Ship Via eBay

Since eBay does take a percentage off of shipping charges, they give sellers a discount on shipping if you purchase shipping labels through them. As long as you have a small kitchen scale, you can easily calculate the costs of smaller packages. Other online companies offer discounted shipping costs, so be sure to do your research if you ship several items each week.

Schedule Package Pick Ups

Once upon a time, I use to take all of my eBay packages to the post office and wait in line to have them checked. Talk about a waste of time and gas. Now I can easily schedule a package pick up and leave my items on my porch.

If you live in an area that does not offer this service or an area that is not safe to leave packages on the porch, try scheduling your shipping days to happen once or twice a week. Write on your profile and on every listing that you will ship items on days X and Y, so that buyers will know when to expect their package.

Here are my tips. How do you save money on shipping costs?

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{ read the comments below or add one }

  • Randall Taylor says:

    It is hard to explain to friends why that old book isn’t even worth the shipping cost.

  • Lauren says:

    Shipping is the thing that keeps me from selling on Ebay. I am such a procrastinator! The few times I did do it, it helped me to have it packaged and ready to go (but not sealed, in case more pictures were requested) before I even posted the listing. Thanks for these tips, though. I have some things that are really worth too much to just give away, so I need to jump back in.

    • David @ says:

      You really do need to jump back in Lauren. The more packages you ship, the more you’ll go through the motions without hesitating so it’ll get easier! 🙂

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