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Shipping on eBay is hardly a mystery. For most items, it is a matter of about 3 clicks and you can print out the label.
eBay handles the transaction with the carrier, puts in your return address, and even sends the tracking to the buyer automatically.
All in all, it works great, until it doesn’t.
This summer we shipped two medical mattresses and thought we did everything right. FedEx and eBay disagreed and we ended up with a…wait for it…$2,000 overcharge on our eBay account (this was before eBay’s managed payments).
In the end, we spent more than 10 hours on the phone with eBay and FedEx trying to work it out until we just decided to eat the cost.
We ended up buying that 2 mattresses for $40 apiece, selling them for $800 apiece, and losing money. Such is life when you mess up shipping large items. This is why we’re here to teach you what not to do!
The best way to ship large items on eBay is to open a business shipping account with FedEx or UPS and ship the item directly on the carrier site. You can then upload the tracking manually to eBay. If the item is too large to be shipped in a box, shipping via freight (on a pallet) can be a cost-effective option.
Cheapest Shipping Method For Large Items
The most important component in shipping large items on eBay is choosing the right carrier. We chose wrong with the mattresses.
Pretty much the only constant rule with choosing a carrier is that USPS is out. While there are some less-commonly used USPS services that can be cost-effective, the default option of Priority Mail is one of the most expensive options for shipping large items.
To give you an idea of which carriers tend to save you money, here is a comparison of shipping three different items with different carriers/services and how much it would cost you:
Our Parameters: 3 pretend items shipping from Salt Lake City, Utah to Chicago, Illinois which is pretty representative of the average distance we ship.
Our items are:
- 3lb Pair Of Shoes In A 12″x12″x8″ Box
- 25 Pound Golf Bag In a 40″x16″x16″ Box
- 70lb Gaming Computer Chair In A 32″x24″x24″
|Priority Mail||FedEx Home Delivery||UPS Ground|
For most oversize items, it’s a toss-up between FedEx and UPS and we usually ship via FedEx because the drop-off location is closer to us.
Shipping Via eBay vs Setting Up Your Own Account
One of the main reasons that our mattress shipping experience was such a disaster was that we shipped in through eBay.
When we first talked to FedEx they were willing to refund us. However, we didn’t have an account so they needed eBay to call them, and then they would refund eBay. Despite several three-way calls, we could never get enough of the right people together to get the refund from FedEx to eBay to us.
It all would have been solved if we had shipped from our own FedEx account and then uploaded the tracking to eBay. Even if we had foregone our eBay discount it would have put us $2,000 ahead in the long run.
Not only do business accounts provide you with discounts, but it makes the carrier beholden to you as you, instead of eBay, are their customer. This simplifies refunds, redirecting shipments, filing damage claims, etc.
Shipping eBay Items Via Freight
The reason that we were dinged for shipping the mattresses is that FedEx deemed them to be over the maximum allowable size. However, they weren’t when we shipped them and dropped them off.
FedEx measures boxes during transit and, because they had been squished, they decided they were oversized.
If you’re routinely shipping large items, don’t be afraid to learn how to ship via freight.
Anything over 150lbs is considered freight and, surprisingly you can get a way better deal shipping LTL than sticking with regular ground shipping.
Shipping Large Items In 6 Steps (With Tracking)
If you’re going to set up a small business account with a carrier to ship the large items you sell on eBay, it will add a step into your normal flow. Still, it won’t take long.
Here’s what you’ll need to do:
1. Put In The Proper Weight/Measurements When Listing
When you’re listing a large item on eBay it’s absolutely crucial that you get the weight and measurements as accurately as possible. If your package is on the edge of being oversize, even an inch in girth can result in you paying twice as much to ship it.
If you mess up the weight and the buyer doesn’t pay enough, you’ll have to make up the difference out of pocket, eating into your profit margins.
Whichever carrier you choose you should have a business account that you do not ship personal items on. This will make your accounting much easier at the end of the year as you’ll have to add the non-eBay shipped items into your expenses.
3. Manually Input The Buyer’s Name & Adress From eBay
Be sure to move the address over verbatim. If you mess it up, you might not be covered by eBay’s Seller Protections.
4. Pay For & Print The Label
As you’re not shipping on eBay you won’t be able to use your balance to pay for shipping labels. However, the shipping that eBay charged to the buyer will simply be part ofyour payout when you receive it, effectively reimbursing you.
5. Return To eBay To Manually Mark The Item As Shipped & Upload Tracking
To protect yourself from eBay scams (and to provide excellent customer service), head back to eBay and mark the item as shipped. You’ll also have the chance to input a tracking number which you can copy over from the carrier.
6. Schedule Pickup With The Carrier
If you’re shipping many large items you probably don’t want to stuff them into your car to run and drop them off. When you ship the item you can request a free pickup for that very day (or the next if you want).
Keep Shipping In Mind When Buying Items To Flip
One of the main deciding factors, when we’re picking up thrift store items to flip, is how hard the item will be to photograph, store, and, ultimately, ship. Shipping large items is doable and, in many cases, profitable. However, you’ll have to account for the extra time spent and materials needed to pack things up.
I’m more than content to double or triple my money if I’m shipping something small that I can just drop in a polymailer. But if I need to get out a box-resizer, pounds of packing tape, and crumple up a bunch of paper to ship something large, it had better be worth it.
While there are ways to bring down shipping costs (like reusing amazon shipping boxes) you’ll still want to take it into account as it affects your bottom line.
I guess my main advice for you is to not be scared of shipping large items on eBay. At the end of the day, most things ship the same way. You find a box that it fits in, tape it up, and send it off. Just be sure that the buyer pays for shipping! Good luck!