BEFORE YOU BEGIN
136 Set Payment and Shipping Options
167 Handle Shipping with Shippertools.com
New sellers at auctions think a lot about how to create auctions that sell, and they certainly enjoy accepting payment. But the odds are that they spend little time, if any at all, preparing to ship the items they've sold.
Don't let yourself fall into that trap. For sellers, shipping can be the most important part of the deal in many ways. If the goods are damaged or lost en route to the buyer, or if they're late getting there, you can end up with an unhappy buyer, be in a situation where you are forced to reimburse the buyer, and end up with bad ratings on eBay. If this happens, you'll have a very short life, indeed, as a successful auctioneer. So follow these steps for shipping:
150. Ship the Goods
Make a Shipping List
Although the types of supplies you need to keep on hand vary according to what you're shipping, here's a good starting point. Keep these items on hand and you'll be well prepared for most kinds of shipping:
Get Free Shipping Supplies
One of the hidden costs of selling items is the cost of shipping supplies. All those boxes, packing tape, and other things you need can add up pretty quickly. But there are ways to get them for freeor at least inexpensively.
Before buying supplies, see what you have around the house that can be recycled. Almost anything you buy new will be packed in a box, so save those boxes. If space is a problem where you live, and you can't store all the boxes, take off the tape holding the boxes together and fold the boxes flat. You can store many boxes when they're flat.
One of the best places to get no-cost supplies is your place of work. Don't take new supplies home and use them. But at most offices, an enormous amount of material, such as boxes, is thrown away. Office supplies, computers, software, printers, and other office equipment come in boxes that are usually discarded. Much of this material makes great shipping containers. Check for boxes that are being thrown away, Styrofoam-packing peanuts, bubble wrap, oversized heavy-duty envelopes, and anything else that looks like it will do the trick.
Before taking anything home from the office, of course, check to ensure that you're allowed to do so. In fact, if you check with your office manager and tell her what you plan to do, you can make an arrangement to take as much of the discards home as you can on a regular basis.
Ask friends to save the supplies for you as well. Yes, you might have to swallow your pride a little when asking, but they'll be happy to comply . After all, what are friends for?
Retail stores in your town or neighborhood are good sources of supplies as well. In particular, they have many boxes they throw away on a regular basis.
Also, check with your shipper to see what they supply. Many shippers supply a wide range of free items. The U.S. Postal Service, for example, provides some kinds of free supplies when you ship using Priority Mail and Express Mail. Services such as Airborne Express and Federal Express also offer free packaging. Check at your local post office or call your shipping company.
You won't always be able to get free supplies from your office, home, or shippers. In that case, you must pay for them. Your local office supply store is well stocked and is a good place to turn . Also, look for stores such as Mailboxes Etc. (which are being converted to UPS Stores) that specialize in shipping goodsthey always have a big selection of shipping supplies. You can reach the company on the Internet at www.mbe.com.
www. staples .com
You can order shipping supplies online at office supply sites such as these.
Pack the Item
All your great work in creating an auction that sells can be destroyed by improperly packing the item you're shippingif you're not careful, the item can arrive damaged. Follow this advice for how to pack items for shipping:
Choose Your Shipper
You can choose from many shippers, including the U.S. Postal Service ( www.usps.gov), Federal Express ( www.fedex.com), Airborne Express ( www.airborne.com), and United Parcel Service ( www.ups.com), among others. Although there are differences among them, those differences aren't dramatic enough to make one much better than anotherhere's an instance where your personal preference should take precedence. Take into account how convenient the shipper is to you, whether it'll pick up from your house, and similar things. Depending on where and what you're shipping, the rates of all the carriers vary.
If the buyer has a P.O. box, you have to ship using the U.S. Postal Service because most shipping companies, including United Parcel Service and Federal Express, don't ship to post office boxes.
Make sure that the shipping costs you list on your auction page are accurate. To ensure they're accurate, buy a low-cost shipping scale from an office supply store. Then weigh the item along with the packaging in which you'll ship it. After you know the weight of the item and packing material, get the shipping price using eBay's shipping tools as detailed in 136 Set Payment and Shipping Options .
Use Shippertools com
The most efficient way to handle the entire shipping end of the transaction is by using an online site such as www.shippertools.com. For details on how to use it, see 167 Handle Shipping with Shippertools.com .
Ship the Goods and Track the Package
Now comes the easy partship the goods. Bring the packaged item to the post office or shipping company, or have a company pick it up at your residence or place of business. Get a receipt so you can track your package; most shippers let you track your packages online.