Chapter 23. Packing and Shipping Your ItemsCheaply and Safely
I N T HIS C HAPTER
The auction's over, you've received payment from the high bidder, and now it's time to pack your item and ship it off. If you don't have much experience in shipping items cross-country, this might seem a bit daunting at first. Don't worry, though; if you've ever wrapped a Christmas present or mailed a letter, you have all the skills you need to ship just about anything
Before you ship, you have to packwhich doesn't sound too terribly difficult. However, if you pick the wrong container, don't cushion the contents properly, don't seal it securely, or mislabel the whole thing, you could risk
Checklist: Packing Supplies
Now for some elaboration. I recommend keeping both clear and brown packing tape on hand. Clear packing tape is best not just for
When it comes to filler, I prefer peanuts to newspapers. That's because peanuts don't leave ink stains, and also because of the weight factor; using newspapers as filler can substantially increase your package weight, and thus your shipping costs. Of course, newspapers are free and peanuts aren'tbut peanuts are cheaper than the added shipping costs you'll incur with newspapers. And you can reuse all those peanuts that come in the items you purchase online!
I like to keep all my packing materials in a single, easy-to-access placekind of like a ready-to-use packing station. For me, an
The other materials are somewhat self-explanatoryalthough you might ask why you need a knife when you're packing. I find
So where do you find all these packing materials and shipping containers? Lots of places.
First, some boxes are free. If you're shipping via the U.S. Postal Service, you can get free Priority Mail and Express Mail boxes, envelopes, and tubes. (Figure 23.1 shows some of the free boxes available for Priority Mail shipping.) Some post offices carry these free containers, or you can order in bulk (but still free) from the United States Postal Service (USPS) website at supplies.usps.gov.
Most post-office locations also sell various types of boxes,
Another good source of shipping supplies is eBay itselfor, more accurately, retailers who sell on the eBay service. There are several eBay Store sellers who specialize in packing supplies for other eBay sellers; go to stores.ebay.com and do a search for "shipping supplies" or "boxes."
Many eBay sellers also do a good job recycling old boxes. That's right, you can reuse boxes that were shipped to you, either from other eBay users or from online or direct mail retailers. (I'm a big fan of Amazon.com's boxes; they recycle quite
Many of these eBay Stores
You'd be amazed how many times a box can be reused. As long as the box is still structurally soundand sturdy enough for whatever you're shippingit can be pressed back into service. Just be sure to remove or cross out any old shipping labels and confirm that the box is in good shape, with no weak spots or cracksand
Finally, don't forget your local
What a retailer calls trash you might call reusable packing materials. Short of dumpster diving (which many eBay sellers are masters of), try making a deal with a local retailer to help dispose of those excess boxes and Styrofoam peanuts. You'll get free packing supplies, and the retailer gets a little less stuff to throw away.
After you have all your shipping supplies
First, you have to decide whether to use a box or an envelope. If you have a very large item to ship, the choice is easy. But what if you have something smaller and flatter, such as a laser disc or a coin? Your choice should be determined by the fragility of your item. If the item can bend or break, choose a box; if not, an envelope is probably a safe choice.
Whichever you choose, pick a container that's large enough to hold your item without the need to force it in or bend it in an inappropriate fashion. Also, make sure that the box has enough extra room to insert cushioning material.
On the other hand, the container shouldn't be so big as to leave room for the item to bounce around. Also, you pay for
If you're shipping in an envelope, consider using a bubble-pack envelope or
If you're shipping in a box, make sure that it's made of heavy, corrugated cardboard and has its flaps intact. Thinner boxessuch as shoe boxes or gift boxessimply aren't strong enough for shipping. When packing a box, never exceed the maximum gross weight for the box, which is usually printed on the bottom flap.
Although a bunch of different-
First, you can take a larger box and cut it down. That means cutting through each corner of the box to make it shorter, and then cutting off the ends of the flaps
Second, you can combine two smaller boxes. If your box is 16 inches long and your item is 20 inches, just take two boxes and insert the open end of one inside the
Use the combination box technique judiciously, because it can significantly increase the weight of the packageand thus your shipping costs.
Here's what you don't do: Drop your item in an empty box and then seal it up. A loose item in a big box will bounce around and get damaged,
How do you pack your box? Professional shippers use Styrofoam peanuts, and lots of them; amateurs tend to use crumpled-up newspapers and other materials found around the house. Here's where you can learn something from the prospeanuts are much lighter than newspaper. Weight is a factor in how much you'll pay for shipping, so anything you can do to lighten the weight of your package is important. Because peanuts cost…well, peanuts , they've become my preferred cushioning material. (And I used to be a crumpled-up newspaper kind of guy, until the latest increase in Priority Mail rates.)
As you might expect, packing needs vary for different types of items. You can use these packing tips when it's time to ship your
If you have the item's original shipping box or packaging, use it! Nothing ships better than the original shipping containerassuming, of course, that the original box is made of shipping-grade cardboard.
If you're shipping a common itemDVDs, videotapes, books, and so onlook for item-specific shipping containers. For example, most office supply stores stock boxes and padded mailers
Always cushion your package contents, using some combination of shredded or crumpled newspapers, bubble wrap, or Styrofoam peanuts. (For example, when I ship a CD or DVD, I wrap it in bubble wrap and cushion it with peanuts.)
Whatever cushioning material you use, don't skimp on it. Pack your items tightly to avoid shifting of contents during transit, and make sure that the cushioning material covers all sides of the item.
You can also use plain (unbuttered!) air-popped popcorn for cushioning; it's inexpensive and environmentally friendlyand tastes good when you're watching a movie!
Position the item toward the center of the box, away from the bottom, sides, and top. (This means placing peanuts under the item as well as on top of it.)
If you're shipping several items in the same box, wrap each one separately (in separate smaller boxes, if you can), and provide enough cushioning to prevent movement and to keep the items from rubbing against each other.
Not only should items be separated from each other in the box, but they also should be separated from the corners and sides of the box to prevent damage if the box is bumped or dropped.
If your item has any protruding
Be careful with the bubble wrap. Although it's great to wrap around objects with flat sides, it can actually damage more fragile
Stuff glassware and other fragile hollow items, such as vases, with newspaper or other packing material. This provides an extra level of cushioning in case of rough handling.
When shipping jars and other items with lids, either separate the lid from the base with several
When shipping framed photographs or artwork, take the glass out of the frame and wrap it separately. Do not let artwork come in direct contact with paper or cardboard.
Wrap paper items (photographs, books, magazines, and so on) in some
When shipping electronic items (including toys and consumer electronics devices), remove the batteries before you ship. Wrap and place the batteries next to the items in the shipping container.
When you're packing an item, watch the weight. I make it a point to have a postal scale at my packing station, and to weigh the itemshipping container and allduring the packing process. When I'm using Priority Mail, the difference between shipping a one-pound package and a one-
When shipping computer partscircuit
After you think you're done packing, gently shake the box. If nothing moves, it's ready to be sealed. If you can hear or feel things rattling around inside, however, it's time to add more cushioning material. (If you can shake it, they can break it!)
Packing for international customers shouldn't be any different from packing for domestic customersas long as you do it right. Foreign shipments are likely to get even rougher treatment than usual, so make sure that the package is packed as securely as possiblewith more than enough cushioning to survive the trip to Japan or Europe or wherever it happens to be going.
different about shipping internationally is the paperworkand the shipping costs. I cover all this in Chapter 28, "Selling Internationally," so
After your box is packed, it's time to seal it. A strong seal is essential, so always use tape that is designed for shipping. Be sure to securely seal the center seams at both the top and the bottom of the box. Cover all other seams with tape, and be sure not to leave any open areas that could snag on machinery.
What kind of sealing materials should you use?
Do use tape that is designed for shipping, such as pressure-sensitive tape, nylon-reinforced kraft paper tape, glass-reinforced pressure-sensitive tape, or water-activated paper tape. Whichever tape you use, the wider and heavier, the better. Reinforced is always better than non-reinforced.
Don't use wrapping paper, string, masking tape, or cellophane tape.
One last thing: If you plan to insure your package, leave an untaped area on the cardboard where your postal clerk can stamp "Insured." (Ink doesn't
The eBay Seller's Tax and Legal Answer Book: Everything You Need to Know to Keep the Government Off Your Back and Out of Your Wallet
How and Where to Locate the Merchandise to Sell on eBay: Insider Information You Need to Know from the Experts Who Do It Every Day
eBay 101: Selling on eBay For Part-time or Full-time Income
Three Weeks to eBay Profits, Revised Edition: Go from Beginner to Successful Seller in Less than a Month (Three Weeks to Ebay Profits: Go from Beginner to Successful)