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ResellingRevealed: Shipping estimates are the bane of many new eBay sellers. Unfortunately, making shipping mistakes do not go away altogether as you get more experience. Even after we have been selling online for several years, making shipping estimate mistakes have cost us more than we care to admit. Recently, we sold a pair of bike handlebars. We bought them for $1.99 and sold them for $29.99 + $8.95 shipping. It sounded like a great flip until we realized that they were oversize and were going to cost us $41 to ship to Hawaii. Great. We sourced a product for someone and paid them $4.05 to take them off our hands. This guide will hopefully greatly reduce the odds of something like that happening to you!
THE BEST GUIDE ON ESTIMATING SHIPPING ON EBAY
Ugghgh, have you spent all this effort in getting that listing together & then you totally missed the ball on the shipping estimate?
It happens to all of us, especially when we’re new.
If you estimate too high, you won’t get bids or you’ll get bad feedback that you overcharge. If you estimate too low, you lose any profit you made on the item. Seems like you can’t win!
After ebaying for a while, I’m finally starting to get the hang of this, and I’ve put together these guidelines on how to price your shipping fairly so it’s really a win-win for the seller and buyer.
1. GET A SMALL SCALE.
If at all possible, get one on ebay for about $25. You will find that it was worth the money.
ResellingRevealed: We have actually reviews the best budget scales available on the market right now! You can read that article here.
2. NOMINAL HANDLING FEE IS OKAY.
To be fair to you and the buyer, you can charge a nominal handling fee, depending on the item. I sell clothing and charge between 50 cents to $1.50 for handling. If I see sellers who gouge on shipping, I go elsewhere or will only bid a very small amount on their auction. A tank top or a tee shirt should not cost $7.99 handling, just not right.
3. USE CALCULATED SHIPPING BECAUSE IT IS ABOUT LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION. YOUR Location and THEIR LOCATION.
Even if it’s a small item and it goes out far from your zip code, it will cost more. It’s surprising how much less it costs to ship something to a state close to you. Buyers who are close to you will also see the lower shipping. Result, you get a bid.
4. PRINT YOUR LABELS WITH EBAY.
Printing your labels saves you money, delivery confirmation is 19 cents online versus 85 cents at the post office. Better use that extra to offset your fees. Even on priority mail you can save almost a $1 shipping at home rather than the post office. Keep in mind now that you are paying for that paper and printing supplies.
5. USE USPS WEBSITE TO QUOTE INTERNATIONAL SHIPPING.
USPS website is your friend for determining International Shipping Rates and they are very reasonable estimates for shipping out of the country. Once you get to the post office, you’ll find it was pretty close. Sometimes I overestimate and to be fair to the buyer, if the quote was so bad ($5 or more), I refund the excess. Your reputation or feedback counts.
6. MAKE FRIENDS AT THE POST OFFICE.
They’ve taught me so much! They tell me when I’m doing something wrong, like not block the UPC bar code on a recycled box, “you know it can scan to go anywhere, tape over it.” Or, when I ran out of masking tape and used a painter’s tape they told me they couldn’t take it because it can come apart when gets wet during delivery. Good to know.
7. MEDIA MAIL IS THE CHEAPEST WAY TO SEND BOOKS AND VIDEOS.
I sold 18 pounds of kid’s videos one day and it only cost $10 to ship. I was suprised, it was really a big box.
8. USE FLAT RATE ENVELOPES & BOXES
They’re great most times but beware that the FLAT RATE boxes sometimes are not the best economical choice for you. Let me give you an example. A jacket (or a pair of jeans) may weigh 3lbs to ship and that can be like $8 to a location close to you, but if you use a priority mail box you will pay about $11 to ship it. That’s a big difference. On the other hand, using a FLAT RATE envelope for $5 is much cheaper than the Tyvek Priority Mail envelope.
9. FIRST CLASS MAIL.
It only goes up to 16 oz and is very economical. You should never charge more than $4 to ship First Class Mail when you ship from eBay. If you’re charging more than that, you are either overcharging the buyer or you are cheating yourself because that item will cost a lot more to ship (due to size and weight). Items that should never be quoted as first class: SHOES, JEANS, JACKETS, and WINTER SWEATERS, TOYS. Items that should always be quoted as FIRST CLASS MAIL are t-shirts (so $8 to ship a t-shirt is crazy!), light winter hats and children’s gloves, small linens, even small stuffed animals.
10. PARCEL POST is best to use when you have something 3 pounds and up. All those bulky toys and household items will use Parcel Post. Sometimes the difference from going from one pound range to the next is about a $1 but remember that WEIGHT and LOCATION are your two the biggest indicators for shipping costs.
11. WHEN TO USE FIRST CLASS, PRIORITY, AND PARCEL POST.
• 16 oz or less – FIRST CLASS (ship tee shirts, small linens, winter hats, single DVDs, single paperback book, small stuffed animals)
• 1 lb – 2 lbs – PRIORITY MAIL (at this weight, it will actually be cheaper than PARCEL POST). Ship clothing, light sweaters, skirts, men’s shirts, gloves.
• PRIORITY MAIL FLAT RATE **ENVELOPE**- heavier sweaters, men’s shirts, jeans and pants. This has a weight limit at 4 lbs.
• 3lbs and up – PARCEL POST – everything else, a lot of children’s clothes, a lot of clothes, jackets, boots, heavy shoes, kitchen appliances, toys.
Bottom line, you want to be fair on your shipping. Buyers do notice. You notice when you’re browsing. I notice and I think some ebayers are nuts. When I see new ebayers put a crazy LOW shipping rate, I feel I’m getting a deal and jump on it.
Now that I’ve done this a few times, I can sometimes do a decent job guesstimating the weights of common items, but I still weigh every one. Remember: WEIGHT AND LOCATION are the 2 single factors that determine how much it will cost to ship something. So if you’re a buyer, give the seller a break and recognize they’re doing the best they can. Sometimes it just is what it is.
Good luck and you will see a difference in your sales once you get your shipping in line!