April 3, 2014 by Andrew Minalto - 127 Comments

The Ultimate Guide to Shipping for eBay Sellers!

ebay-shipping-guideBy now everyone should be aware of just how important shipping is when selling online, especially on eBay. Delivery is one of the most important aspects in buyers’ eyes and this is shown by the fact that two out the four detailed seller ratings are shipping related (dispatch time plus postage & packaging cost)!

And as well as being so important to your buyer’s experience, shipping can also have a huge effect on your margins and profit. I see so many eBay sellers charging stupidly high prices for shipping and it’s just so inefficient and wasteful – they’re losing countless customers and leaving money on the table all because they’re unaware of the best ways to ship their items.

Well not anymore, in this guide – I will go through all aspects of shipping on eBay and will reveal all the best tips and tricks I’ve learnt through my years of experience that will allow you to ship your items cheaper and faster – leaving your customers ecstatic and more money in your pocket!

So let’s get started.

eBay’s Selling Policy on Postage and Related Charges

The first thing we need to cover is eBay’s rules regarding shipping and what exactly you’re actually allowed to charge for as eBay are very strict on shipping charges and want everything to be completely transparent for buyers.

It is against eBay’s rules to provide unclear or misleading delivery information or to charge unreasonable fees for postage and related services.

This means you have to clearly specify the actual postage cost (i.e. the final P&P charged) plus the cost of packaging materials. If you offer any additional services to a buyer, such as proof of postage, recorded delivery, signature confirmation etc., you can only charge what they actually cost.

So if for example your base postage method is Royal Mail 2nd Class but you offer the choice to upgrade to 1st Class – you can only charge the additional cost to you and NOT anything extra.

FREE Delivery

While we’re on the subject of postage charges, let me quickly say that as I’ve mentioned before on this blog – I always recommend offering FREE delivery unless you have a very good reason not to.

There are many advantages to offering free delivery to your eBay customers, including:

  • Automatic 5-star DSR for postage and packaging charges!
  • Higher visibility in best match search results
  • Higher conversion rates (buyers LOVE free delivery)
  • The ability to receive the Premium Service badge on your listings

It’s worth offering free delivery for this last point alone as having listings with Premium Service badge again means higher conversion rates (more sales and more profit) as well as a 15% discount on your final value fees, being a Top Rated Seller.

Now I know what you’re thinking; “but how can I charge nothing for shipping without losing money when Royal Mail increase their prices every year”!?

Well of course it goes without saying that you can’t really offer free shipping, but instead you just have to build the cost into your product’s selling price.

free-shippingIn theory it shouldn’t really matter whether you charge £15 + £4 shipping or £19 and free shipping as the result is the same – the buyer pays £19 in total. BUT the reality is very different! It has been proven countless times that FREE sells and shipping is no different… there’s a reason Amazon, eBay and other big companies are pushing free shipping so strongly, as they know that’s what buyers want and they know it increases sales!

And that’s without even considering the added benefits given by eBay when you offer a free delivery option in your listings.

So, if you can, always try to provide that magic free shipping option to your buyers, and one way to help you do this is to always use the cheapest shipping option available for the particular item you’re selling.

One thing I always advocate is being a “smart seller” and making the most of the options and resources available to you; and running down to your local post office and blindly paying whatever Royal Mail charge for every package you send when there are often far better (both faster and cheaper) options available is NOT smart, not at all!

Royal Mail Price Increases

As any eBay seller will know, Royal Mail have increased their prices fairly constantly for the last few years, with the most recent increase taking effect on 31st March 2014.

royal-mail-price-increaseThese price increases will obviously have had a negative effect on any online sellers, who will either have had to absorb the extra costs (thereby lowering their margins and profit) or pass it onto consumers in the form of higher prices.

There’s not much we can do about price increases and at least everyone is in the same boat… but one thing it does mean is it’s now often a better option to go with a courier service rather than Royal Mail.

Generally speaking, Royal Mail is still the cheapest/best option for small and lightweight items (especially anything that can be sent as a large letter or small parcel) but for anything above the weight and dimension limits a courier will often work out cheaper.

The current size and weight limits for a large letter is: 353mm x 250mm x 25mm, 750g

And for a Small Parcel: 450mm x 350mm x 80mm, 2kg.

We’ll go through some real life examples so you can see how it works for a few different products but before that, let me quickly mention something about couriers and how to get the best prices from them, without having an account and without sending large volumes of parcels…

3rd Party Courier Companies/Middlemen

parcel-monkeyThe best way for you to access the services of large courier companies such as Hermes, City Link, UPS, Yodel etc. at a discount to the prices on their own website, is through 3rd party sites/middlemen such as Parcel2Go.com or ParcelMonkey.co.uk

There are many such sites on the internet but I’m going to stick with these two for the purposes of this article as I’ve found them to generally be the cheapest or at least close to the cheapest for a variety of parcel sizes. Parcel2Go works out best for medium sized parcels and Parcel Monkey for very large and heavy parcels.

Of course it will always be worthwhile checking a few of these such sites to see what sort of prices you get for your packages as it will always be slightly different depending on the size and weight.

These companies book huge volumes of deliveries directly with the courier companies and therefore get the best pricing, which you can then take advantage of.

In essence, booking through these companies is like having your own account with the couriers – so it’s a great option for small time sellers or those new to eBay who aren’t doing the volume needed to go directly to the couriers.

Royal Mail vs Couriers

royal-mail-versus-couriersSo let’s now take a look at a few different products of varying weight and size to see whether it would be best to go with RM or a courier company:

1) Video Game

As mentioned above, for an item like a video game which can be sent as a large letter, Royal Mail will almost always be the best option but let’s take a look anyway –

A video game will fit in a D/1 size jiffy bag (170mm x 245mm) and including packaging will weigh around 160 grams.

The cost for sending this via RM would be:

  • £1.17 2nd Class
  • £1.24 1st Class
  • £2.34 1st Class Recorded.

And the cheapest option via courier is £2.98 for Hermes 2-3 day delivery.

So overall not much more expensive considering the courier will collect from you and the higher level of compensation offered if not paying for recorded delivery, but overall still not worth it over Royal Mail.

Winner = Royal Mail!

Next, let’s take a look at a medium sized item:

2) Pair of Jeans

This would weigh around 700g fully packaged with dimensions of 30cm x 40cm x 3cm.

With Royal Mail this would go as a small parcel and would cost:

  • £2.80 2nd Class
  • £3.20 1st Class
  • £4.30 1st Class Recorded

The cheapest courier would again be Hermes on their 2-3 day service at only £2.98 collected. A signature on delivery would cost an extra £1.

So in this instance both options are fairly similar with the courier being slightly cheaper, it would mainly depend whether you wanted the faster service (RM 1st class) or wanted to avoid a trip to the post office.

Winner = DRAW!

3) DVD Box set

So now a slightly heavier item… I’ll be using a box set weighing 1.5kg with packaged dimensions of 25cm x 15cm x 15cm.

With Royal Mail this would again be classified as a small parcel under the new size rules. The cost to post this item anywhere in the UK would be:

  • £3.80 2nd Class
  • £5.45 1st Class
  • £6.55 1st Class Recorded.

Once again Hermes is the cheapest courier, costing only £3.32 via parcel2go.

As mentioned earlier in this article, now that we’re reaching bigger items that can’t be sent as a large letter with Royal Mail, the couriers are starting to beat it on price by a small margin, in this instance costing about 30% less.

Winner = Courier!

Next we’ll give Royal Mail a real test with an overly large and heavy item:

4) Large Box of Toys

Let’s say you have a large box (40cm x 40cm x 30cm) filled with children’s toys and weighing 8kg in total; to post such an item with Royal Mail would cost a minimum of £20.25 via their 2nd Class service! Using Parcelforce would be slightly cheaper at £16.40.

Compared this to a courier, Yodel, who will collect and deliver the very same parcel for £7.19 – a huge difference!

This really shows the usefulness of couriers for larger items. Just think about what a positive affect it will have on your sales to be able to offer a delivery option that costs about 65% less than Royal Mail.

Winner = Courier!

And for our last example, let’s compare the price of posting an even bigger box.

5) Pewter Chess Set / Chess Table

The dimensions are 60cm x 50cm x 50cm and the weight is 15kg.

The cheapest option if using your local post office would be £23.14 via Parcelforce express48 compared to just £7.20 via Yodel 48 or only £8.10 for Yodel next day delivery.

Once again a courier would be significantly cheaper – sending 3 boxes via Yodel costs less than 1 via Parcelforce (RM)!

Winner = Courier!

So as I’ve hopefully illustrated with my examples, the general rule of thumb that I mentioned earlier holds true – for small/lightweight items that can be sent as a large letter or small parcel, Royal Mail is the best option but for large or heavy items, a courier will almost always offer you significant savings.

And again, for couriers it’s always best to check a third party site like parcel2go as well as the courier’s own website, as the prices they offer vary slightly – so it’s worth shopping around to get the best deal possible.

International Delivery

international-deliveryBut what about deliveries outside of the UK?

Many eBay sellers nowadays are looking to Europe, America, Australia and many other countries around the world to expand their market so if you can offer competitively priced shipping options to customers from these countries, you’ll be one step ahead of the competition!

So who should you use for international deliveries? Well again similar principles apply but with shipping outside of the UK, the differences in price can be even greater!

Let’s go back to our first example, a video game, and see how the couriers stack up against Royal Mail:

1) Single Video Game

With Royal Mail postage for one game would be £3.70 and if you needed delivery confirmation, £8.70.

The cheapest courier option, using the same Parcel2Go and Parcel Monkey, would be £14.27 (using either Trakpak or Parcelforce).

Winner = Royal Mail!

But as you can see, neither option is really affordable if you need delivery confirmation, but generally international buyers won’t get just a single, very small item such as a video game (as the price difference is not worth the shipping cost) so let’s look at a more realistic scenario:

2) Small Box of 7x Video Games

This would weigh around a kilo, with dimensions of 20cm x 15cm x 13cm.

International Standard with RM would cost £9.50 and International Tracked and Signed £14.50

For both courier sites, their prices stay exactly the same, so £14.27 via either of the 2 options.

Winner = Draw!

It may seem surprising that the couriers charge the same price for sending one game as they do for sending seven but it’s just how I mentioned earlier; it’s when sending bigger parcels that the couriers start to offer much better value in comparison to Royal Mail.

To save us going through all the individual examples again, I’ve compiled a table for you to see the best shipping option for a variety of parcel sizes to a few different countries around the world:

*But I will not include Royal Mail’s standard international delivery option in this comparison as it doesn’t include any form of tracking and only offers compensation up to £20 – which is not really a viable option for international eBay orders.

international-feesSo as you can see, it’s a similar story again – with Royal Mail offering competitive pricing on smaller items but couriers offering much better value for heavier or oversized items (sending the large box of toys to France would cost over £60 using your local post office – over 3 times more expensive than having a courier collect!).

I think by now you’ve realised that the key to getting the best postage price possible is to comparison shop! It’s not a simple case of “always use company A – they’re the best!”… it really does depend on many different factors including:

  • The item’s size and weight.
  • The item’s value (some options may seem great at first before you realise no cover is included and you have to pay for insurance on top).
  • Whether you need tracking and delivery confirmation (more on that later).
  • How fast you need the item to arrive.
  • How easy it is for you to get to the post office – for some people that will be a big consideration if they have to drive and queue up for ages.

I think you get the point! There is no one right answer for everyone. The key is finding the solution for your business and products so you can offer the best shipping option possible to your buyers.

Just please don’t be one of those eBay sellers who puts £40 for postage because that’s how much his local post office charges – you’re simply driving away customers and leaving money on the table.

And for anyone with a specific niche or anyone selling the same type of products, this will be a one-time job. Just one day, spend some time researching your various options and you’ll reap the rewards for years to come!

Now I want to talk a little bit about other services/accounts offered by Royal Mail and Post Office for businesses as obviously in the above examples, I’ve assumed you’re just sending mail as a regular customer.

Drop & Go

drop-and-goThe first thing I want to mention is the new fast-track service for online sellers and small businesses, called Drop & Go.

It’s basically a free service that allows you to beat the queues and just drop your mail off at the post office when needed.

All you need to do is complete a very simple, one-page registration form and you’ll be given a Drop & Go card. There are no minimum spend or any other requirements so it’s perfect for new or part-time eBay sellers.

Once you’ve set up an account and are given a card, you need to top it up so there’s a pre-paid balance. Then the next time you need to use the post office, simply go straight to the fast-track counter, drop your mail off along with a Drop & Go Manifest and after a few quick checks (basically making sure you have enough balance on your card) you can leave! No need to wait around for tedious paper work to be completed or for your mail to be processed – that will all be taken care of later on, with you card charged as they go.

So no queuing and no waiting – what could be better! Especially considering that’s it’s a completely free service, eligible to anyone.

And don’t worry if you need proof of postage or tracking receipts – they can all be kept for you to pick up whenever you want!

Overall I think this is a great new service for small sellers and I can’t see any reason for you to not sign up for it.

Franking

franking-machineYou may have come across this term before but were unsure of what exactly it meant? Well basically franking is a quick and easy way to manage your mail, while saving time and money.

With franking, you have to buy or rent a franking machine from one of Royal Mail’s authorised manufacturers/suppliers which you can then use to buy your mail at a discount to regular prices!

How much you save will obviously depend on the volume you send as you have to factor in the machine rental cost but here are some of the current franking discounts to give you an idea:

franking-pricesSo as you can see, the savings are sometimes quite significant, especially for regular 1st and 2nd class stamps.

For a full list of the 2014 franking prices, please take a look at this wallchart.

Then for the actual franking machine, which as I mentioned before you can either rent or buy, what you need will depend on your situation, the type of mail you send, what features you want etc.

The best thing to do is contact a few of the authorised manufacturers and get some quotes so you can assess what savings you’ll make based on the volume you send. Here is the full list of suppliers approved by Royal Mail.

There are also a few websites online that will send you quotes from a few different companies if you fill in your info so may also be worth trying a few of them, such as:

http://www.easyfranking.com/quote.php

http://frankingmachines.expertmarket.co.uk/franking-machine-rental#top

Apart from renting fees, you’ll also need to purchase labels but all in all – if you send significant amount of parcels each month, franking will provide you decent savings.

Printed Postage Impressions (PPI)

printed-postage-impressionsAnother Royal Mail alternative to franking machines is Printed Postage Impressions, better known as PPI. PPI is basically when you pre-print your own postage (Royal Mail labels) onto your packages.

You then drop them off at your post-office (in one lot) or have it all collected (though this comes at an additional cost)– simple!

PPI is also marginally cheaper than franking but of course you don’t have to buy a franking machine or pay any rental fee.

You can find full details on current franking and PPI pricing from Royal Mail’s 2014 Business Price Guide here

And so you can also compare all the Royal Mail options, regular franking is generally one or two pence more expensive than the account price for anything being sent as a letter but for parcels they’re exactly the same. And MailMark franking is the same price as account.

How Do You Apply for PPI?

One of the benefits of PPI is you will be given a credit account with Royal Mail (usually up to 30 days) so you don’t have to pay for postage as and when you use it. This will of course help with your budgeting and cash flow.

But this also means that to be accepted for PPI and to be issued with a license, you first have to apply for a Credit Account with Royal Mail. To apply you should either speak to your account manager or call Royal Mail on 08457 950 950 – but bear in mind that as you are being given credit from Royal Mail they will carry out a standard credit check on you.

You also need to be a registered business, have been trading for over 3 months, and spend at least £100 a week on your postage.

Then once your application is approved, you’ll be issued a PPI number and set up onto Royal Mail’s Online Business Account.

There are some terms and conditions you have to adhere to when using PPI, for both the design of the labels as well as the actual packages, such as:

  • You must send an accurately completed confirmed sales order or posting cheque with every mailing;
  • All mail must be presented in a fit state for posting, and in containers that are clearly labelled;
  • Mail should be bundled and faced, separated by class, price band, format and service type;
  • A single PPI posting is one that we can clearly identify as one consignment;
  • If you wish Royal Mail to return undeliverable items, you must include a return address on the back of each item. This must be an address within the UK. Without this, undeliverable items could be destroyed.

All fairly obvious and nothing that should cause you any problems.

So overall PPI is a good alternative if you send a large volume of mail as you will save a lot of time in comparison to the more labour-intensive franking option. Plus of course there is no machine rental fee to pay!

Courier Surcharges for Rural Deliveries

courier-sur-chargesOne thing you have to be aware of when using a courier for your deliveries is the large surcharge they add on to deliver to the Highlands or Islands – which can be as much as 50% or even higher!

You can of course simply add on this extra cost or refuse to deliver to areas that are “too remote” but that is bound to annoy many potential customers and will either result in the loss of a sale or potentially low DSRs being left.

A survey by Citizens Advice Scotland had more than 3,000 messages received from Scots unhappy at the unfair delivery charges applied to people in rural areas… So if you can offer delivery to these places without a huge surcharge you’ll be one-step ahead of your competition.

But how do you do that without absorbing the cost yourself? Well the answer could be good-old Royal Mail! RM charge a flat rate for delivery anywhere in the UK so in some instances where they may have been more expensive than the courier, they’ll actually work out cheaper for deliveries to the Highlands and Islands.

But of course as I’ve mentioned a few times, you should always weigh up the options in your individual case and use what’s best! It’s not as simple as me saying always use Royal Mail for these deliveries as they may still be more expensive in some cases… but just be wary of these surcharges imposed by couriers and wherever possible; always offer alternate methods to your buyers.

That way you’ll keep them happy and get those few extra sales that your competitors are missing out on.

Printing Postage through eBay

paypal-shippingIf you’re just starting out or are not using any of Royal Mail’s business services, then you can also pay for and print postage labels directly from eBay itself, though this only applies to delivery services from Royal Mail, Parcelforce Worldwide and Collect+.

Though the Royal Mail pricing is the same as you’d get at your post office, eBay has negotiated special postage discounts with Collect+ and Parcelforce Worldwide and they pass these savings on to you.

The discount for Collect+ is minimal (3%) but with Parcelforce it can be as much as 72% on larger items!

There are a number of other advantages to using eBay’s Pay and Print Label service if you’re just starting out or aren’t using any of Royal Mail’s business services, such as:

  • Quickly and easily pay for postage online using PayPal;
  • Print labels pre-filled with your buyer’s details (though you can change it if needed);
  • Automatically letting your buyer know that you’re getting ready to post the item and updating them with any tracking info;
  • Saving time at the post office.

The process for printing labels is very easy; you just go to the Sold section under My eBay and select Print postage label (which will be next to your item).
Then review the pre-filled data to make sure everything is okay.

Once you’ve done that, enter the weight of your packaged item and click Calculate. To compare pricing click Compare delivery services, then select the one you want and click Save.

Lastly, you can add a note to your buyer in the Add message to buyer email section (this will be included in the preparing for dispatch email eBay automatically sends to your buyer) and then all that’s left is to Pay for postage (via PayPal) and Print postage label. You don’t need a special printer or adhesive labels for this, simply print the label on normal A4 paper and attach it to the package.

And that’s it – simple and easy! A useful tool to save time and hassle for new sellers.

Lost Shipments/Delivery Confirmation

signature-on-deliveryA big fear of many people looking to start an eBay business is the dreaded item not received claim, and it’s something I receive a lot of emails about.

Basically if you post an item without signed for delivery/delivery confirmation then if the buyer claims to have not received the item, you will have to refund them in full.

It DOESN’T matter if you have proof of postage, if you can’t prove delivery via a tracking number, eBay will always side with the buyer.

And because of this, you see many people recommending that you send all items recorded delivery so you have proof of delivery should you ever need it.

However I don’t agree with that 100%, as a smart seller would calculate whether the extra postage costs are worth it in the long run or is it better to simply refund the occasional claim?

This is something that will depend entirely on your individual circumstances – what is the cost of the item? What percentage go “missing”? How much extra is recorded delivery? These are all things you need to take into account before you make a decision on this.

Let me run you through a few examples to make sure you understand exactly what I mean:

If, let’s say, you are a video games seller and, for simplicity purposes, every game you sell costs you £10.

You send everything 1st class so your two postage options are:

  • Royal Mail 1st Class – £1.24 OR
  • Royal Mail 1st Class Signed For – £2.34

The second option of course includes delivery confirmation.

Let’s say on average, 1 from every 100 games you sell results in an item not received claim – what would be the best option?

Well if you didn’t send recorded – posting 100 games would cost you £124 plus replacing the game “not received” costs you another £10 so in total £134.

If however you send everything recorded, you won’t have to replace the lost game as you have proof of postage, so your total cost will be £234.

Exactly a hundred pounds more than if you just accepted the occasional loss in order to save on postage.

So not very smart to send recorded in this case!

Let’s take a look at another example; someone selling custom branded Chinese tablets that cost £75 each.

The two postage options are:

  • Royal Mail 1st Class – £5.45 &
  • Royal Mail 1st Class Signed For – £6.55

This time, 2 from every 100 tablets sold get an item not received claim.

Sending without delivery confirmation would cost £545 in postage plus another £150 to replace two tablets, meaning a total cost of £695.

Sending all items signed for on the other hand would mean no replacement costs and total postage of £655.

So in this instance, posting items signed for is the better option.

Of course these are simplified calculations as I haven’t considered legitimate INR claims or factored in any compensation you might receive from Royal Mail as that is heavily dependent on a cooperative buyer.

But I hope this illustrates that you shouldn’t just blindly listen to those people who say “send everything recorded” or “just send everything via regular post” as there is no one right answer and a smart seller would take the time to calculate the best option for their business. And this blog is all about making you a smart seller!

So I hope I’ve covered everything in this post and you’re now ready to tackle shipping on eBay armed with my years of experience and knowledge! If however I’ve missed anything out or there’s something else you’d like to ask me – don’t hesitate to post below in the comments section and I’ll do my best to help you out.

Until next time.

Thanks,
Andrew

127 Comments
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  1. I am looking at selling plain red paper cups a packet of 8 on ebay for £1.50 and want to offer free postage is this even possible because the cheapest i can find to send the cups is £2.79 they weigh very minimum and are to big how can i get round this.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      You can’t.

      That is not a price you can sell that item at a profit.

  2. Hi Andrew,

    What a fantastic guide I’ve stumbled on here. Thanks for putting it together.

    Whilst we acknowledge that most parcels are best going through one of the parcel networks, there are a large volume of local collect only items on eBay.

    These tend to be the large and bulky items you can’t take down to the post office.

    That’s where we can help over at Shiply. You list what you need to move on our site and then receive quotes from thousands of rated couriers who are already making similar journeys. We’ve been used by over a million eBayers since 2008!

    Hope we can help when you are moving anything larger than a parcel.

  3. Martin Winlow

    Using Parcel2go (P2G).

    I have been using P2G for about a year sending items heavier than 2kg outside of the UK. I usually use the ParcelForce (PF) option as it is convenient for me as I usually have other Royal Mail items to post at the same time and my local PO is very handy.

    I have an account with PF as well for heavy UK items but their ex-UK costs are astronomical compared to P2G’s prices – still using the same PF services. Generally, it works quite well.

    However, I have recently been getting a lot of ‘Additional Charges’ coming through from P2G where PF are (apparently) claiming that my parcels are a lot heavier than what I booked them as. Whilst occasionally I might make a mistake, the last 2 (within a week of each other) have been completely ridiculous in that PF are claiming the parcel weighed nearly 3 times what it actually did. Furthermore, in the case of one particular item, I have booked several of these in over the months using exactly the same booked weight and dimensions and then out of the blue PF claim one is 7.2kg when they are all actually 2.3kg (and booked at 2.4kg).

    So, my advice is to photograph the parcel with a tape measure showing the size and on scales showing the weight. A faff but there is is. If I keep getting them in the future I’ll try parcelmonkey instead.

    I really feel like some sort of scam is going on. The first couple of disputes were resolved amicably with P2Gs staff but they are now refusing to accept my word for things (despite a lot of indirect evidence eg weight and dimensions of products on my website).

    I will also weigh the parcel at my helpful post office and get the clerk to initial the proof of postage receipt with the weight on it.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Thanks for sharing this with us Martin, very helpful!

  4. Oliver Cleverne

    Hi Andrew,

    I use eBay to purchase my Royal Mail postage labels, what printer would you suggest to print adhesive labels?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Oliver,

      Any laser or thermal printer will be good.

      I wouldn’t recommend ink jet as inks are not weather resistant while toners are and thermal printers don’t use inks/toner at all.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

    2. Martin Winlow

      The DYMO LabelWriter 4XL (thermal) printer does a good job, generally. 6″x4″ labels can be bought for 3p/label or less. Unfortunately, the system eBay uses for generating the labels is very out of date and creates very poor, spindly text but it will look the same using any printer. At least the bar codes come out well using this printer. It is also Windows and Mac compatible and not too expensive.

  5. Hello, I have some questions I’m hoping you can answer…

    I’m looking at my seller’s overview and it says my ‘Tracking Uploaded and Validated’ is currently at 81%. Why is that number so low?

    I have my shipping time set at “Same day, provided payment is received by 12:00 p.m.”..which I always do.

    However, in the past, the postal carrier has failed to pick up my packages even though I put in a pick-up request, so the packages would get picked up the next day. This happened when my regular carrier had the day off. I can see how this would adversely affect the percentage, but this hasn’t happened for a couple of months…so wouldn’t my percentage be going up?

    Once I started looking at this number, I decided I would take the packages in myself if they were ever forgotten, but I haven’t had to.

    Does the time I print the label make a difference? For instance, Something sells in the evening and I print a label right away, even though the package won’t be picked up until the following afternoon. If you’re counting the hours between the label being printed and the postal carrier scanning the label, it’s a rather long time.

    Anyway, thank you for your attention, I look forward to your answer.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Paul,

      Thanks for your comment.

      Are you based in the US?

      And what carrier do you use?

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  6. Hello Andrew
    Agree with everything you have said on your site – exactly right.
    I hope you don’t mind my contacting you – I run a parcel brokerage (10 years + now) – we have much better rates than Parcel Monkey for the UK.
    We deal with most of the carriers you have been discussing (Hermes, Yodel, Royal Mail, UK Mail, UPS, DHL, TNT etc…
    We have software that can speed up shipping for anyone sending more than 20/night, and many years experience.
    We’d be delighted to give a competitive quote if you or any of your readers would like to contact us. I don’t guarantee we’ll beat every rate – but we’ll do our best.
    Would you be interested in talking to us or passing our details on?
    Thanks
    Kind Regards
    Karen

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Karen,

      Thanks for your comment.

      I will just put your website link in case anyone wants to check you out:

      https://www.inxpress.com

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  7. Hi Andrew,
    I read your article with great interest and am hoping you might be able to offer some additional advice. We sell customized invite cards and want to start selling internationally. How on earth do we calculate shipping costs? They vary so much as 10 or 20 cards might go as a large letter but 30 or 40 might already be a small parcel. We’ve been stung on shipping even to NI before so are trying to find a fair way of working it out. Our cards vary in size and weight and until everything is printed and packed it’s impossible to know the final weight. We sell anything from one single sample (varying weights) to hundreds of sets of 4 that might weigh 2 kg or 5 kg.
    Is there a way to set a few rates for say a sample, up to 20 items, up to 50 items and over 50 items for example?

    Thank you for any advice.

    Kind regards, Julie

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Julie,

      You can set various shipping costs for various quantities.

      But if you don’t want to under-charge or over-charge international customers, you can simply say/ask buyers to contact you prior buying so you can calculate/give them exact shipping cost.

      Andrew

  8. Hi andrew
    I have business account on hermes and interlink and I send around 200 parcels every week but I pay lot less than what you have listed.

    Royal mail franking machine pete bowes
    Large letter under 250g – 89p
    (£20 per month)

    Hermes tracked (collects parcels)
    0 -1 kg £2.64
    1-2 kg £3.54
    2-5 kg £4.90

    Above 5 kg with interlink
    Upto 10 kg £6.60 – next day delvery tracked and signed for

    The main problem with hermes is ebay shows lot more delivery time with hermes since the option with hermes is only 3-5 days. I cant see hermes 2-3 days while listing products on ebay but hermes normally deliver within 3 days. We wanted to go with royalmail but our concern is for parcel between 2-5 kg royal mail charge above £12. I see most of my competetors are using Royal48. I have no idea how they can afford to deliver with royal48 for the parcel above 2 kg while the price of their items are around £12

    1. Royal Mail operate an average weight on the business account 48/24 product. You can’t sent >2kg on 48, but you can send upto 20kg on 24.

      If an item is around 2-4kg I sometimes upgrade it to 24 service, then put in some of my lighter items (some items are 100g packets) to average the price down to under 1kg. So, price comes in under £5 usually – and an added benefit is a few other customers get their products next day.

      Okay, it’s not tracked, and there is no compensation, so I have to weigh it up whether to send courier or RM.

  9. Hi Andrew, I have a technical problem printing labels that has bothered me without end. Hopefully you would kindly help out.
    I sell only one item in my basic ebay store and it fits in an A/000 (110 x 160) Jiffy envelope which would be first class large (£0.96)
    Every time I go to print a label on ebay, it defaults to ‘parcel’ and tries to bill me £3.30.
    I have to change the ‘package type’ to ‘large letter’, recalculate and then confirm. This equates to several clicks + roughly 10 seconds for each item X 60 items or 70 items daily.
    I have tried to sort this from ‘Postage and packaging preferences’ within the acount tab and also ‘Package details’ in the advance listing tool, but none worked for me.

    Is there anyway to default my postage settings to ‘large letter’?

    Sorry for moaning and thatn for your response in advance.

    Michael

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Michael,

      I don’t know really whatever it is possible to set it to different method/type by default.

      try contacting eBay and ask them about this?

      Andrew

  10. Great article. Hasn’t solved my dilemma though…

    I sell two products. As they weigh differently, the shipping costs are different for each product. I want to set up (international) shipping preferences for each of the two products. When I saw the shipping tables option I thought “great, problem solved”…until I realised it had to apply to every product you sell, across the board.

    Can you see any way around this? I just want to set the prices for each region for each of the two products and then forget about it!

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Nick,

      Can you use Business Policies for this instead?

      http://pages.ebay.co.uk/help/sell/business-policies.html

      Andrew

    2. Hi Andrew,

      I’m very new to all of this and was wondering how you can sell an item for less than the cost of p&p and still offer free p&p?

      I see this all the time but surely it leaves the seller out of pocket.

      Thanks

      1. Andrew Minalto

        Yes, it does.

        1. Is there a reason why people do this?

  11. Hi Andrew,

    Thanks for the article.

    I just wanted a bit of advice. We offer free postage on all our items and ship with myHermes as that is the best option for us. MyHermes will attempt delivery on three occasions, if still unsuccessful, they have changed their policies recently that they now invoice the sender and return the item back to the sender. Previously, they would email us informing us of the situation and ask us for further info to assist delivery or give us the option of recalling back to ourselves for an additional charge + vat.

    In these circumstances, where we get charged extra because the item hasn’t been delivered,can we deduct this amount from from the refund we provide the customer. Would it be acceptable to include this in our return and refund policies.

    Eg. Item cost 19.99, free P&P. Courier attempts delivery on 3 occasions. We get invoiced £4 to have item returned back to us. Can we deduct the £4 from the refund?

    Any advice is greatly appreciated.

    Thanks
    F

    1. Andrew Minalto

      No, I don’t think you can do this on eBay.

      On your own website you could probably do this, by having this in your T&Cs but on eBay there’s simply no option to add EXTRA shipping cost AFTER the sale has been made.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  12. Richard Taylor

    HI Andrew,
    I stumbled across you following a Google Search to try and resolve my problem. Interesting stuff, much of which I have used myself.
    The free shipping issue was one that annoyed me as I pride myself on making money from the items I sell and not the P&P and I used to be able to show my shipping charges and I also often sell more than one of an item. So buy 1 for £10+£4, Buy 2 for £20+4 became buy 1 for £14, buy 2 for £28 and buyers taking more than one of an item were penalised.
    So I know have multiple buys set up as variations.

    Anyway, to my problem, which is setting up balanced shipping rates to the European destinations that I can ship to with my courier DPD.
    DPD has tiered charges based on the distance away from UK, so the cheapest options are Belgium, France, Holland and Germany.
    They increase incrementally so so Italy and Spain are mid-range and then Greece, Bulgaria etc at about a 50% higher rate.
    The problem is when I set these in the Ebay system.
    I can put Germany and France in at Rate A.
    I can then put Italy and Spain in at Rate B.
    But I then have to put a Europe wise Rate C which encompasses the farther flung Nations such as Greece, but throws in Belgium and Netherlands (for example).
    I’m sure it’s costing me potential sales as I do sell these items in Germany in particularly, and yet nothing in Holland or Belgium.
    The “Chose custom locations” option for international shipping has some rather odd options.
    Ireland – I can understand for UK, Germany and France OK, but Greece? Ahead of Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark?
    We have the exclude certain locations option, we could do with an include certain location for each overseas shipping tariff.
    Any ideas would be gratefully received.
    Richard

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Richard,

      The only way to set this up properly and according to your costs is to simply set shipping costs for each country you want. And then in rest of Europe, which will leave just few countries, you can put the highest cost. These will probably be small countries very few people would order from you anyway.

      So just take your time and get accurate rates and enter them for top 20 countries.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  13. Much Appreciated for sharing all the very useful information.

    Thanks for your time and effort Andrew.

    Best Wishes

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Thanks Sky!

  14. Hi, please tell me how a UK seller (not shipping from china) can sell items with free post on something that there selling for £2.99 and the post is a definite £2.80 royal mail 2nd class because the size in depth is 35mm instead of the allowed 25mm and is to large for a large letter and falls into the small parcel bracket? I have tried every way possible to find this out with no joy!! by the time ebay has taken there fees for the sale, the package cost, the cost of the item also, then how on earth can it be possible?? the allowed measurements for large letter 353mm x 250mm x 25mm the item in question falls under the first 2 but its 35mm so 10mm over the allowed depth in size. thanks

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Heidi,

      You should simply buy that item from them and see what shipping method they use.

      Also, if something is selling on eBay, don’t automatically assume that they’re making profit on it. It could be that they are building sales history to increase rankings or simply trying to build feedbacks, get rid of old stock or use that product as loss leader.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

      1. I sell a product that (frustratingly) just goes over the large letter size and is usually a small parcel. I have competitors on Amazon selling this generic product for £2.20 where I have to sell for £4.

        I thought I’d buy the products, so bought one off each of my two competitors. Both were sent out using the Royal Mail PPI (BPL code) post. Both were way over the large letter threshold by about 5-10mm deep.

        I’m 99% certain it’s not a loss leader or end of line, I think they are effectively sending as LL and defrauding Royal Mail. If you are aware of the PPI account and that fact that is generally not audited much, and have seen some of the big RM fraud cases, I think it’s rife with some sellers.

        And to add insult to injury, one of the sellers sent 87g of product when it’s advertised as 100g!

        Scary. But unfortunately there isn’t really much you can do in this scenario, it’s frustrating but unless Royal Mail did more auditing of mail sacks, they’ll just carry on.

        1. Andrew Minalto

          Yes, I agree.

          I think many eBay sellers somehow manage to send LOTS of over-sized packages via large letter format/price.

  15. Hi Andrew, had a question on this if you wouldn’t mind offering some ideas or clarity.

    I’ve noticed on Ebay some items selling per cubic feet such as loose fill – but im slightly confused by the prices they’re managing when I add postage up.

    Say 5 cubic feet in a bag. Thats 21″x21″x20″ or so in inches. The cheapest postage for those measurements at the moment is Yodel at £9.59. Yet they’re being sold in bags/boxes for £11.

    Thats £1.41 for the loose fill, their own packaging & to pay postage from their own supplier to just break even?

    I guess im asking if they’re managing to ship it for cheaper than Yodel are offering, as otherwise how is this viable?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Jonathan,

      I don’t know what product you’re referring to but many such items are made much smaller buy vacuum sealing them in plastic bags.

      Could that be the case with products you’re researching?

      Andrew

  16. Ebay seller sends item through hermes but listed Royal mail . Item never arrives but seller wins the case as courier send seller a random signature. Who can I claim my refund from neither seller, ebay or courier is accepting any responsibility. In ebays new rules seller can do this.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Irfan,

      In cases like these, the only option really is to do a charge-back with your credit card company, if you funded transaction with a credit card.

      If not, I don’t think you can do anything about it…

      Andrew

  17. Hi Andrew,

    I pay for my postage through eBay but I was wondering how I can print 4 labels per page as I have purchased 400 labels which are on 100 A4 sheets but the Royal Mail label that eBay generates only allows one label per page.

    Is there a simple software that can merge 4 labels that eBay generates to one page?

    Thanks.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Yep, it’s called Word and you use the Merge function to get this done.

      Andrew

  18. Richard Lucas

    hi thanks for this article

    I am researching a repair business where I need be able to ship two way (pick up from client, deliver to my repair shop, return to point of collection) across Europe within the EU. If I am doing at least 20 shipments in/out per week so 2000 per year (less than 2KG) what type of company will give the best deals
    Thanks

    Richard

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Richard,

      You want to use a company that is available in all EU countries.

      This basically means using a courier like DHL, UPS, Fedex, TNT, DPD etc.

      You want to contact all of these and get quotes from them, delivery time frames, discounts on volume etc.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  19. In the picture for printing via ebay you show a small printer that prints one label but in the information you say you can print on an A4 sheet of paper which is also A4 sheet of 2/4 labels. I used to use smartstamp which has closed and I used my printer to use the out of date pay in advance print on an A 4 sheet Royal Mail the system was slow usless and the last time I used it because you have to put the A4 label sheet in 4 times messed up my fairly new printer and I have just had to buy another one. So the question is does this ebay system use the printer show if so which one is it.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Kate,

      There are 2 ways to do this:

      * One label at time with a thermal printer – Demo 450 in my guide. This way you print each label separately.

      * Integrated labels – these come on A4 sized sheets of paper, with label window pre-cut (so you print and peel off the label – the rest of the page is essentially your invoice/packing slip).

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  20. The myth of free shipping increases sales. It does no such thing free shipping cuts into your profit margin, does not effect Ebay’s profits and lowers costs for buyers. Heavy items have become impossible to list on Ebay. Simply place your item elsewhere locally. I personally will strip heavy items from a sale just to make it a feasible Ebay item to reach a larger market or produce a quick sale. Take a PC with a good processor if the PC only brings 150 as a unit and takes forever to sell, I will pull the processor and CPU fan and dump the 15-20 pound unit and just sell the processor. Boom its gone in 1 hour on Ebay. I have figured out the numbers small sales 25-125 will pull 16-20 percent of the profit just for fees and shipping. Larger sales even more. Thus if an item doesn’t pull these numbers prior according to the market I don’t even bother listing the item. Its killed the Desktop PC market on Ebay. Thus I must keep all items lighter and must transfer all mailing costs to the customer. A non sale is better then a waste of time weak sale eating up my time prepping and shipping. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve told sellers to dump the monitor and cut the shipping costs its not worth my time. But the rookies haven’t learned. Sell only items that bring you the proper margin, small and quick and dump the rest on Craigslist or elsewhere.

    1. Don’t agree. I’m currently bidding on a 25 Kg printer on Ebay that is marked “collection only”. It”s taken me more than one email, giving links to the right site, showing that Parcelforce 48 can delive it to me for £11.72. The seller has now decided that it’s correct and is offering a postage option.

      £11.72 – if that, is not going to put the purchaser off buying a £150 PC.

  21. Leigh eglington

    Hello.

    Just read your article and it has helped me out a lot. However one question I have is, I am starting to sell laptop and tablets worth over £300. Couriers seem to charge a lot for extra cover. What is the best way to send these items fully covered.

    Kind regards
    Leigh

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Leigh,

      Couriers are safest option when it comes to more expensive items, electronics, laptops/tablets and similar items. There are couriers that have pretty high cover built in the standard price, £300 is def. not that much.

      Andrew

  22. Rob Stevens

    Hi Andrew
    Great site; thank you!

    I have been trading on ebay 10 years from the UK and doing ok.
    I sell second hand/collectors watches.

    I have recently moved to Italy and would like to resume trading. However I am finding it very difficult to find a delivery service. In the UK I used Hermes, Parcel Monkey, Royal Mail
    I will be primarily shipping TO the UK.
    The Italian post office is notoriously inefficient and sadly ‘lost parcels’ are very common.

    Do you or any of your people have any experience of selling from Italy or Continental Europe??

    Any help would be greatly appreciated

    Many thanks……. Rob

  23. Anyone got an idea how to post a snowboard within the UK…..1.75m long is the issue. Most carriers not interested or charging over £30!

  24. Andrew Hope

    Hi Andrew,

    Love your posts, very informative and useful. One thing clicked with me in relation to your eBay, with the whole debate over DO/DON’T I send everything recorded delivery. Normally I would but being a business seller it’s about saving money to. I’m also going to be basing my decision based on the ebayer buyers feedback rating.

    My ebay sales I try to minimise my losses, so I put bidding blocks on some auctions. Things like disable bidders who have negative feedback of more than 4. Feedback count of lower than 50 that type of thing.

    If someone buys a product from me and they have 100% positive feedback with a score over 300. I’ve felt confident in sending it without tracking.

    If someone purchased a product from me, they have left negative feedback in the past, or they have low or a bad feedback score. I’ll send it recorded delivery.

    It may cost more, but in the long run when I’m on a goal to achieve power seller status on eBay, spending the extra £1-2 every 100 sales or so, is a lot better in the long run when power seller status gives you greater selling possibility and opens up bigger options

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Andrew,

      Thanks for your comment!

      yep, this is a very good approach, totally agree! Only thing is that it is suitable only for new sellers with low sales volume as when your business grows, it takes too much time to go through each customer’s feedback history…

      Anyways, thanks for sharing this with us! 🙂

      Andrew

  25. Martin Winlow

    Hi Andrew,

    I know your article is aimed at eBay but it is such a useful article regarding postage for people selling ‘stuff’ generally that I think would it be useful to cover label printing software – online or off. I’m thinking about the sort of thing that prints on a special A4 sheet which has a packing list and one or more removable delivery address label for attaching to the outside of the parcel/package.

    Regards, Martin Winlow
    EVBitz.uk

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Thanks Martin for your suggestion, will def. cover that in a post!

      Andrew

  26. Hi Andrew,

    I have a product which is 25mm in size, by the time I pack it, it is roughly 30mm, what would the post office say if I tried to post it as large letter? A case of try and see?

    Thanks, another excellent article.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      try and see, yes, lol!

      From my experience, they will return it to you as underpaid.

      You can probably get away with it occasionally but in long term it won’t work.

      Andrew

  27. Hi Andrew

    Wow I’m picking up so much information from you since discovering you in a google search while investigating selling on ebay.

    i have a question which I have spent loads of time on but can’t seem to find an answer, apart from Linnworks which is too expensive for me.

    Is there any software out there, SMP or similar, that will help despatch ebay items, but importantly be able to use the A4 invoice sheets where the address peels off to stick on the packet AND is able to print the postage on the same form, again to be removed and stuck on the packet.It seems really easy to pick the goods from the invoice in front of you then simply peel, stick and post.

    I do have a Dymo 4XL but when bulk printing the postage and address on the labels I have to go and match them up on the order screen to see what to pick. Obviously this is prone to errors.

    Any advice will be very gratefully received.

    Thanks

    Jeff

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Jeff,

      Yes, there’s very cheap software available that can do this for you:

      http://www.integratedlabels.co.uk/Free-Software-Downloads-For-Integrated-Label-Paper.html

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  28. Hi Andrew,
    thank you for huge info about shipping. It`s very useful.

    I have a problem :
    I an item
    – quantity: 1500
    – price that I paid: £1.50
    – price that I would like to get: £2.50

    I`m asking for help because I really don`t know what to do:
    What should I do to send 1500 items and still get any profit? what is the best way to do it? Do you think it is possible to earn anything?

    Thank you in advance,
    Paul

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Paul,

      How big is the item?

      £1 for eBay, PayPal fees, shipping, packaging materials is not going to work, no… you need to sell it for higher price to cover costs and make some profit.

      Andrew

  29. Hi Andrew,

    I’m relatively new to selling online (mostly eBay so far) and I’ve recently applied for a Royal Mail PPI account. Do you know of an easy way to print postage labels in bulk (without postage)?

    Thanks

    Helen

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Helen,

      Software like Channel Grabber, Linnworks can do this for you automatically. But they’re quite expensive.

      Cheapest way would be to get a Dymo 450 label printer and use that in manual mode – meaning you’ll need to copy/paste customer address in manually from eBay.

      Andrew

      1. Thanks very much for your help Andrew.

        I have recently downloaded Linnworks express which I was hoping to use to solve this problem. I think this it’s going the best option in the long run so I might as well bite the bullet and try to get to grips with it asap (although that looks like it will be easier said than done).

        Can I also say that your website has been a massive help to me and I think you deserve a lot of credit for the effort you must put into it.

        All the best!

        Helen

        1. Andrew Minalto

          Thanks very much Helen & you’re welcome! 🙂

          Andrew

  30. […] So first things first, you should always ensure you are using the best shipping option for the products you sell. Feel free to take a look at a previous guide I wrote here to help with this: The Ultimate Guide to Shipping for eBay Sellers

! […]

  31. Bradley Morley

    Hi Andrew

    Me and my friend are setting up our own eBay page and will be selling iPhone accessories. This article is exactly what I have been trying to find for weeks! We have had meetings after meetings trying to figure out between us what needs doing when setting up a page as a seller. This is perfect. You’ve covered everything so clearly and saved us a job by giving us a full scope on what options we can look at in terms of delivery! I have saved this article to my favourites / bookmarks to look back at when in need.

    Whilst at it, given that I have just stumbled across this article I haven’t had a chance to explore your page further. Do you cover any other information about selling on eBay?? We are struggling to understand how to sell our items as we want to do it as a business seller, but in order to do so we aren’t sure whether this requires you to be registered as a business and whether we have to be VAT registered? Our items we are selling will be brand new products. We have a supplier who we retain our goods from and we will be setting up our own eBay page to sell these goods on at our own profitable prices but unsure on how to go about the whole business seller option! Is this something you can help me with?? I’d be so grateful.

    I look forward to hearing from you

    Bradley

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Bradley,

      Please check out my blog archive page:

      https://andrewminalto.com/start-ebay-business/

      I cover these and many more questions in my blog posts.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

      1. Bradley Morley

        Andrew

        That is most helpful! I’ll check them out, thanks a lot.

        Regards

        Bradley

        1. Andrew Minalto

          You’re welcome Bradley!

  32. Hi Andrew
    just looking at the Drop & Go option which you mention (and I’ve wondered about before).
    At the moment I print Address labels in bulk from Linnworks but dont spend enough to use PPI.
    Do you know if drop & go is integrated into Linnworks? as I dont want to print from the drop & go interface but I’m fed up with buying and sticking on stamps.

  33. Hi Andrew,

    First of all thanks for very good information. Few people like yourself would go out of their way to help others.

    I sell on eBay with big competitions I have just 900 feedbacks while my competitors have way more feedbacks and they sell quiet cheap what sort of profit margin should I look for when I buy something to sell on eBay

    For example I buy phone cases 0.80p other sellers sell it for 1.99 including postage or 2.99 including postage how can it possibly make money on that

    Or a hat I see a seller selling a cap for 0.99 plus 0.99 for shipping shipping alone without product cost is and eBay and PayPal fees comes to that price
    Please if you could let me know what to keep in mind when I put an item on sale on eBay like price, competition,profit margin

    Thanks and much appreciated

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Ali,

      You’re looking at completely wrong products selling at completely wrong prices. You’ll NEVER be able to compete on eBay and make any profit if you follow this route. You have to stop looking at common, super cheap products millions of other people are already selling. You really have to put more time and energy into proper market research to find products with higher prices and less competition.

      A good starting point would be this guide:

      https://andrewminalto.com/best-products-to-sell-on-ebay/

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  34. HI Andrew just wanted to ask …
    I am selling small items what is around 3 pounds. Sending them via Royal Mail 1st Class delivery. After 5 days buyer sends mail that he has not received the item. What is the best option? Should we send replacement or full refund is better ?

    Thank you

    Sarah

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Sarah,

      Do you have a tracking info for that package? If so – what does it say?

      If you don’t have tracking info, apologies for delay to customer and ask whatever they would like to receive a refund or replacement sent (this time signed for only).

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  35. Thanks for the informative article but I don’t think offering free postage is always the best option (certainly for me)

    For example, I sell items that are of value around £10. I list then at a £0.99 price in an auction listing and offer 2nd class RM postage at £1.99 (small packet).

    I believe (and it works), because I offer the bidder the ‘excitement’ of bidding (as opposed to Buy it now), i do well for 95% of my sales. So at the very least if i charge reasonable postage, at least that is covered if the bidding doesn’t go well.

    I’d be interested to know what your strategy would be in my kind of scenario to reducing postage (if there’s any?)

    Thanks

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Sean,

      Obviously, you don’t have to always offer free shipping BUT don’t forget how huge impact it makes on your search positions. You may do well with added P&P yes but maybe your competitors are making much more sales, because they offer P&P and get ranked higher?

      Another important aspect of this is competition – if you sell in a very niche market, with small competition, sure – charging for P&P won’t affect you as simply there aren’t that many listings you’re competing with.

      Lastly – don’t forget about added benefits you get when using free P&P – eBay’s Premium Service badge (again, increased rankings), automatic 5 star DSRs for Shipping etc.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  36. Hi
    Thanks for info. Aim of always saving money.When using franking labels on parcels.Rather than buying stick on labels can I just sellotape label on, therefore taping over the franking mark or has this got to be free of sellotape ?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      I think you can do that, yes.

      As long as it’s clear, scanners should be able to read them. You can double check by making one and bringing to post office and ask them if it scans ok.

      Andrew

  37. Hi Andrew,

    What do you recommend for sending electronic goods (specifically used tablets)?.

    As you know the vast majority of couriers have such items in their prohibited items list, or will take no responsibility if they damage the item.

    Many thanks,

    James

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi James,

      This is first time I hear that electronics are on prohibited list for couriers…

      Most electronics are sent via either courier or RM (smaller packages).

      Andrew

  38. Katie Steele

    I am rather impressed with your article and it was interesting, informative, and also very helpful! Thank you!! But if there is one thing I have noticed in regards to people offering any sort of helpful or informative info in regards to how to make or save money selling on ebay, all they actually offer (that you can actually read all of without paying some sort of fee) is simple information that is basically common sense….and then tell you how they can offer you the ins and outs of all know-how on building a profitable buisness on ebay — which, of course, they possess this know-how because THEY ARE a profitable buisness on ebay….. but for a fee, of course.
    The point I am trying to get at is that I dont understand why people who claim to be running a profitable buisness on ebay (or anywhere for that matter) and claim to know what it is like to be desperate and broke and practically homeless and bankrupt blah blah blah, will only offer this so-called secret to sucess BUT ONLY IF YOU PAY THEM FOR IT!! I think that if someone truly has struggled and honestly knows what its like to be a single mom of 3 (plus a 7 month old grandbaby) who pays all the bills by herself with NO help from the state or government or anything else, yet just lost her job and now is close to possibly loosing the roof over their heads, hardly has any food in her cupboards, has to dig thru dumptsters looking for aluminum cans and plastic bottles to recycle sometimes just to put food on the table or buy diapers…. then they would understand that a majority of the people seeking such information really dont have that kind of money. I know for myself, the last thing I would want to do to someone that I can relate to and have experienced their struggles and know how hard it is to be down and out like that, is make them pay me for just a little bit of information that may help get them out of such poverty and crisis!! I mean, come on!! No wonder this world is so messed up…. what ever happened to helping out those who are less fortunate (especially if you claim to have been among the less fortunate before!!). I just dont get it…..

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Katie,

      Thanks for your comment.

      It’s simple – I’m a business man and run this as a business, just like any other business I own. Creating a blog, updating it, creating courses takes A LOT, I mean – A LOT of my time! Time I could spend on anything I want. To make this whole thing worthwhile to me, I do sell some premium products, mind you, at very, very reasonable/low prices.

      For people who can’t afford them, I do share lots of free information on my blog. I think this blog alone is worth money paying for, but I don’t ask any fee for all the posts I have published here.

      So I think it’s only fear that I also make some extra money by selling some high quality information products or make some cash via affiliate links. It’s a true win-win situation for both sides.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

      1. Katie Steele

        Hi Andrew, I apologize if I came off harshly with the comment I made. It was in no way actually directed at you personally. In fact, I actually enjoy and also appreciate the things you say and the knowledge you offer freely…. I guess you just, by chance, happened to get the brunt of my frustrations at my breaking point from the endless bills and what seems like sometimes the endless mouths to feed, and no matter how hard I try I just cant seem to get ahead!! I know you could care less about my problems and I am not trying to spit my life story at you… just wanting to say “I’m sorry” and also say I commend you for your success and by all means, keep doing what your doing!! I don’t hate on the successful, I just hate on the fact successful doesn’t seems to be in my cards.
        Anyways, once again I apologize! Have a great day
        Katie

        1. Andrew Minalto

          No worries Katie, all good! 🙂

          Good Luck!

          Andrew

  39. […] sellers certainly aren’t paying for it from their own pockets, buyers are. Please check out my Shipping guide for eBay sellers to learn more about […]

  40. I received a nasty handling fee surprise of £12.38 on an American purchase as a buyer on eBay. I was completely unaware that royal mail charge these fees until this week. In my opinion, sellers should pay this, as part and parcel of the complete delivery process. I haven’t yet paid the fee demand and appealed to seller for their help and assistance, and because that is a huge handling fee charge for a parcel the size and weight – less than a bag of sugar!. I had paid £43.50 in total for the cost of item including postage, so if I pay the handling fee charge of £12.38 – equates to a total of received £56.08 for goods, that thus takes away the ‘getting a bargain’ on eBay where you can get one. I am quite positive that sellers must pay for handling fees, even though this isn’t specified by eBay selling regulations, they simply assume that seller pays for total shipping services which would also be any handling fee. Under the consumer rules and regulations international authority, sellers certainly are responsible, just that eBay don’t break down and make clear these things.

    In addition, although the seller sent the item tracked and paid sufficient postage: the item on eBay buying page says that item ‘delivered’ even though actually it hasn’t been delivered at all as I have to pay the handling fee in order to receive it, then collect from my local sorting depot. Clearly I want the item, and don’t want the owness to be placed on seller to pay for the handling fee, yet for me to pay it, means dipping into my limited personal budget to do this. Please could you offer any clarity on this situation and how to proceed with it?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Kira,

      Thanks for your comment.

      This really is not seller’s fault – when you purchase anything from outside European Union, you have to pay VAT and import duty on goods valued above specific price point. These taxes are “handling fee” you describe.

      So just keep in mind this when you next time you by something from sellers residing outside EU.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

      1. Great Article.
        I have been selling on Ebay, Amazon Website for a number of years and on UK items we opt for FREE 2nd class. We do get the odd Item not received but it is minimal.
        The trouble we all have nowadays, especially selling on ebay, is that as soon as a customer is led down the, “I haven’t received my item” route, you automatically get a “DEFECT” B-).

        International, we used to send as standard airmail, but so much grief with INR and what’s my tracking number, even though they paid for standard airmail. We then went TRACKED only and of course sales dropped considerably due to the high shipping. The trouble is the balance.
        Do you risk the “BAD” reputation you WILL get from the neg feedback and defects but increased sales or do you send tracked only, which most of the time will give the customers the security they have paid for., but cuts your sales and profit.

        It’s something every company will have to make their own mind up about and will be different for everyone.
        I am looking at exactly this dilemma for myself at present.

        Any thoughts on CHEAP TRACKED INTERNATIONAL PACKETS

        We currently use Royal Mail for international packets.
        We ship worldwide but mostly USA, Australia and Germany but many other countries too.
        We use Royal Mail international tracked as Large letter.
        We don’t require a signature just tracking to say delivered.
        Tracking has to be valid for Amazon, Ebay and Paypal etc

        The packets we send are mostly C5 in size.
        They are apx 26cm long x 15cm wide and depth apx 25mm.
        Weight is apx 20-30 grams (Pretty light)
        We currently send apx 5-10 packets a day international. (Not huge quantities)
        Value is £5.00 to £30

        Royal Mail will charge us apx £8.50 Int Tracked USA

        1. Andrew Minalto

          Hi Simon,

          For such small packets, Royal Mail is the cheapest option, by far…

          So I’m afraid it’s just a question of taking that tracked service or not.

          Maybe you can do Tracked for selected countries? Ones you get most problems with? And to others simply send normal AirMail which is by far cheaper.

          Thanks,
          Andrew

          1. Ha,
            thankyou for the reply Andrew.
            “Ones we get most problems with” B-)

            Well there’s USA, Germany (especially with their strikes), Aus where the tracking doesn’t show.
            I think there all as bad as each other.

            I was hoping you may have found an ultra cheap tracked service!
            But it doesn’t look like it!!!!

            Just getting a quote from Spring Global Mail.
            She told me that she can’t give me prices but someone will call me tomorrow BUT, and wait for it, they will be able to beat Royal Mail. How does she know if she can’t give me prices !!! If they do manage it, I will let you know, but I won’t be holding my breath!

          2. Andrew Minalto

            Let me know indeed, lol

            I highly doubt they can beat Royal Mail letter/large letter prices. Unless it’s some kind of super slow service.

            Andrew

  41. Hi. I recently had a buyer who wasn’t very happy as when she paid for the item she had to pay an extra £3+ for “postal insurance” on top of normal postage costs. Apparently there was no option to cancel and it stated the seller “would not cover the cost”. Do you have any idea what this is about and how I can stop it happening again or I’m going to get my 100% feedback seriously damaged! I certainly didn’t receive this £3+ extra she had to pay! Really not happy :0(

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Debra,

      Hmmm, that is really weird… what shipping method did you use?

      Sounds like something dodgy is going on with that transaction.

      Andrew

      1. It was just normal 2nd class postage. Have tried to contact ebay and have sent them an email asking what’s going on, but not heard anything as of yet.

  42. My issue is that I’ve ended up having to use recorded for everything because believe it or not the moment I don’t the moment I sell an item without I get the email saying it hasn’t arrived. I even missed it off one listing but added it myself, and then received a SNAD email demanding a refund (she’s not returned the item since I mentioned that I security mark my things to prevent switching).

    I really don’t want to have to price myself out of the market with this but the demographic I seem to attract seem to be a lot of .ac.uk who seem to want items for free. There seems to be a level of entitlement and expectation with buyers which has mushroomed in the last five years. I’m a mature student myself so losses hurt – I don’t know what to do.

    Then of course if you aren’t selling at a high volume, negatives and 4 stars make a difference especially if they don’t realise that Ebay now take 10% of the postage and that unless you post for free you can’t do anything. Some buyers give 4 stars on principle not realising how much damage they can cause.

    I need to carry on with Ebay to fund my studies but how do I remain competitive, give people a good and fair service whilst not losing out myself?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Yes, some niches/items particularly attract a lot of scammers on eBay. There’s no easy answer to your question I’m afraid – if the niche you’re working in requires to use recorded only, you have to do it.

      Maybe you should look into other product groups that are less attractive to scammers? As I know for sure that this mostly depends on items you sell as I see this happen every day when working with people – in some niches (most) people are really genuine and sellers can maintain 100% feedback with ease while in other niches, there are a lot of trouble customers making the whole selling on eBay process miserable.

      Not much of a help, I know, but eBay is eBay – it comes with disadvantages you trade in favor of such a big market.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

      1. Thanks for your response – today isn’t a great day… Maybe later!!! Thanks again

    2. Martin Winlow

      Hi,

      I know it sounds a bit daunting but it is relatively simple these days, to set up your own webshop even using free software (including that which your ISP may provide as part of your ‘shop’ package) and using PayPal’s ‘payment buttons’ tool. It is quite possible to end up only having to pay PP’s 3.4% and avoid eBay’s – frankly, rather extortionate – 10% extra.

      I offer free postage on all my items as a very positive draw to customers. Have a look at my webshop to see what you can do (I do not claim it is the best way to do it!) and, if you deal with international customers, note the ‘international postage’ payment button at the bottom of the Welcome page. I thinks this is the easiest way to deal with international postage.

      Ping me an email if you like (the address is on the same Welcome page) if you want some help.

      MW
      EVBitz.uk

  43. Hi Andrew,
    I have a question on managing costs for exchanges. I work in a category that involves products coming in different sizes and at times, despite detailed listings, customers find their product don’t fit and request an exchange. I was wondering what your recommendation would be on exchanges? At the moment all of our selling prices include free shipping so when an item is sent again, do we take the hit on postage again (and kill our margin %) I would be good to understand what you derm best practice in these cases! Thanks. Natalie

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Natalie,

      Thanks for your comment.

      You are already following best practices – this is what most “good” companies do – they exchange returns at no charge and send back goods at no charge. Some even cover shipping both ways but for a small company that may be too extreme and eat up too much into your budget.

      To minimize exchanges, make sure you have really got sizing guides right – easy to understand. Improve on this area if needed, create a video that explains sizing, offer a printable size guide on your website. Anything that minimizes risks of ordering wrong size means more profit for you.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  44. I signed up to eBay Global Shipping and had an unfortunate experience. The listing indicated collect plus for UK and various for Europe. My item sold to a German buyer who paid £14.90 including £9.90 for the European leg. I received £5 of this. But I discovered this later.

    When the print postage button was clicked i was referred to PayPal. The postage cost £18.90 which I wrongly believed was to Europe, and included 5.25 insurance.

    Total cost to deliver to Germany £9.90 + £13.65

    Using the calculator the same postage tracked and signed for would have cost £11. 49

    There was no option that I could see to use collect plus to the eBay warehouse in the automated system. Are eBay using inertia to get a profit boost?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Patrica,

      Thanks for your comment.

      Unfortunately I can’t give any advice on this as I haven’t been using eBay’s Global Shipping program myself.

      Andrew

  45. WoW this a great amount of information..
    I have been doing Ebay for 15 years in the USA and shipping can make or break you,, I have a work shop that I keep my shipping supplies in and I can ship everything from a small box on up to a forklift. I am always picking up boxes and packing material every where I go..No one cares that you had to buy tape, boxes and bubble wrap.. people think that things just jump into a box and ships itself and no time spent on doing it..
    Thank you for helping out.

  46. Hi I have a question. Royal Mail may be dearer than a courier but with Royal Mail I can guarantee I will get my goods. I buy a lot off ebay and I prefer to have my goods sent Via royal mail. My reasons are I’m out most of the time. There is no access to the building after 2pm and they only deliver parcels up until 3pm. Most of the time they are early and will post a collection card. I can then go to the sorting office and pick up the parcel myself. I have had issues with unmaked couriers and unlnown delivery times. And its hacking me off because my last two parcels I purchased off ebay stated Royal Mail signed for but arrived by courier well one has I’m still awaiting on the other. Is a seller allowed to do this advatise one methord of shipping then when payment is received use another.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Anthony,

      Thanks for your comment.

      Yes, for many people Royal Mail is more practical, others, prefer couriers. It’s a personal choice for buyers.

      But you do bring an interesting point about eBay sellers using different company than stated in the listing. I haven’t researched this but my guess is that it is against eBay rules.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

    2. I agree entirely, and sellers ideally should take this into account – as a _buyer_ Royal Mail is _far_ preferable to private couriers.

      For two reasons –

      Firstly, if I miss a RM delivery, the depot is 2 minutes walk away – the private courier companies are about an hour round trip away by train (and at least some of them have the nerve to insist you ‘book’ a specific hour to collect the item!). This is a HUGE issue.

      Secondly, the RM guy (i.e the postman) knows the area very well, and knows how to get into blocks of flats like mine, even if I’m not in (someone else will buzz him in if necessary) – private couriers almost always fail to figure that out and as a result don’t leave a ‘while you were out’ card, which causes no end of problems.

      As a buyer I tend to be averse to sellers who use private courier companies.

  47. Hiya Andrew,

    Where you say ‘tracked’ does the item have to be fully tracked online in order to be protected by eBay or is a signature on delivery sufficient? This is one thing I’ve never really been able to find the answer to so have for the past year or so just used hermes for everything so I know I can track it online but if I can do it cheaper and still be covered that’d be ideal.

    Thanks

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Emily,

      No, it doesn’t have to be fully tracked online.

      Signature on delivery is enough proof for eBay & PayPal.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  48. Hi Andrew,

    I sell posters on eBay and I use Hermes in the UK, far cheaper than Royal Mail, ok no probs there. However this blog has opened my eyes regarding international postage. I started sending every parcel using Royal Mail tracked and signed, or signed or tracked depending on the country. I’m sure my sales have dropped 90% charging for this extra security, and Royal Mail don’t always track all the way to the destination anyway but just to the UK border, and now that eBay charge me 10% on the postage I’m losing out twice. I just couldn’t understand how someone in Italy was dealing in the same items and their postage costs were rock bottom. I shall in future take the risk and send all my stuff not tracked and take a hit once in a while from scammers!! Until I read this I never thought for a minute about the cost to me of losing sales because I have been ‘one of the sheep’. I’d just like to say thanks very much, I’m looking forward to increased sales in future. Cheers Andrew!

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Steve,

      Yes, exactly! Great to hear you’re getting valuable advice out of my blog.

      With cheap/simple items it’s really not worth paying extra for international signed for, within EU. Just stay away from risky countries like Italy and you’ll be fine.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

      1. Hi Andrew,

        Thanks for the speedy reply. What would you do about sales to the U.S., Canada though. I’ve just had an order from Thailand too?!?

        Steve

        1. Andrew Minalto

          not sure really as I don’t know the missing parcel rate for those countries as I stick with EU mostly.

  49. Great article Andrew,
    I sell items at the large letter RM service as the volume is small at the moment. As you say I can offer free postage and increase the item price. I sell international as well as UK – approx 50/50 UK/Int. How do I offer free International post on the same listings? The only thing I can think of is charging the extra cost of sending international which to US is approx £3.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Kevin,

      You simply set International postage to 0, that’s it.

      Or you can differentiate it and set standard international postage to 0 but offer signed for service for added cost.

      Andrew

  50. Hi, great post! Would you have any idea on couriers for posting furniture such as sofas which weigh over 30kg. The sofas come flat packed and I know my competitors use one man delivery as it states in their listing.

    Thanks

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Hamzah,

      You already answered your question – with complicated items like these, it’s always best to check out what your biggest competitors on eBay are doing, especially ones that are selling loads every month. They have most likely researched best shipping options for these items so all you do is find out what they’re using and use same!

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  51. Hi Andrew

    Happy Easter! I am about to start my eBay business, but sourcing packaging is quite a headache because I have a great varieties of products for sales – with different sizes! So could you share where to source cheap packaging materials, like jiffy bag, small parcel boxes etc.? Did you always buy loads of packaging materials in one go and avoid buying them from retailers (even Poundland)?

    Thanks
    Gabriel

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Gabriel,

      Use whatever cheapest place you can find for each packaging material.

      In general, eBay is the CHEAPEST place to buy any kind of packaging material so unless you need thousands of units, just buy these materials on eBay.

      Happy Easter to you too!

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  52. Shimon Aviv

    Hi Andrew
    It is great post however no mention of PPI at all.
    It is vital way of posting with RM and I wish to know what you think about it.
    Sincerely
    Shimon

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Thanks Shimon, I’ll try to add this to the post too.

      Andrew

  53. Great article … I’m just starting out but I have been using Royal Mail for the smaller items but as soon as I hit a certain size or weight I instantly start looking at Hermes as I have a Hermes parcel shop near me that means it can be even cheaper to use their services and even with their basic service you get some tracking so customers can follow their item

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Thanks for your comment Ian!

  54. This is a great article. Very interesting and lots of great advice, as usual.

    One thing you didn’t point out is the high surcharges applied by courier companies for delivery to the Highlands and Islands (in fact, when it comes to large parcels some of them even charge more for delivery to the South West of England, Wales and the whole of Scotland). Royal Mail always charge the same for the whole of the UK. Sellers who have a customer in the Highlands therefore have a choice – swallow the extra cost, try to charge extra to their customer, or refuse to deliver to the Highlands. This last tends to be what most of them opt for.

    Also, if you are a seller who happens to live in the Highlands, the so-called National couriers don’t collect from Highland addresses themselves. They employ a third party courier (usually one based in Inverness) to collect the parcel and then deliver it to their hub for onward distribution by themselves. This literally adds days to the shipping process.

    For example, if you order a collection from MyHermes on a Monday, their system will tell you the earliest collection date will be the Thursday, this is because of the extra time needed for a third party to collect and then hand over the parcel. The trouble is, because MyHermes only issue the order to the third party courier on the Wednesday (the day before they want the collection to take place) in reality the collection only actually happens on the Friday. This is because the courier needs an extra 24 hours to arrange their delivery and collection schedule accordingly. That’s the whole working week gone already!!

    Finally, the third party courier then has to pass the package on to MyHermes and this usually doesn’t happen for another couple of days (more if the weekend gets in the way). So here we are, half way through week 2 and the parcel has only just been handed over to MyHermes. From this point on it goes quite quickly but many customers really don’t want to wait for 2 weeks to get their item, but they also don’t want to pay the amount that Royal Mail charge for delivery either.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Liam,

      Many Thanks for your comment and sharing your experience with us.

      Andrew

    2. Hey everyone

      love the article but still I am so confused about one thing.How on earth do people sell a item on ebay for example a sports drinking water bottle for around £2.60. I mean just the postage would cost around £2.80
      for a small parcel ? Anyone care to enlighten me

      Thanks Abdul

      1. Andrew Minalto

        Hi Abdul,

        Those are shipping from HK/China where shipping costs are MUCH lower than in UK.

        Andrew

    3. Hi there,

      Very useful site that has benefited me lots., so thank you.

      I wanted to ask if you could know anything about the following. On average I send out about 70 parcels a day plus, I use second class postage for the majority of my items (due to the value of what I sell) , using PPI.

      The problem is my delivery rate. Now 99% of the time I get all my items out according to the dispatch time, the problem is my delivery rate with eBay is getting worse. At the moment it is over 8%. As such I have lost my top rated seller status and more importantly I do not get the 10% discount. I feel like this is a problem a. with eBay as sometimes it seems they are generous in the estimated delivery time and also Royal Mail. I am at a loss at what I can do, if I am getting my items out on time what more can I do to resolve this issue? I did ring eBay but they were pretty useless to be honest.
      Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you. H.Dixon

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