eBay Tips 2008: Postage and Packaging Efficiency

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It’s worth remembering that eBay allows sellers to charge ‘reasonable’ costs for postage and handling. In recent years eBay has become more hawkish in enforcing this policy and cracking down on excessive P&P.

Remember too that buyers are sensitive to postage costs. It’s noticeable that eBay are keen to promote items with inclusive P&P. A cynic would say that’s because eBay get their share but it’s more to do with the fact that buyers like the clarity and certainty.

If you haven’t had a look at ‘free P&P’ (and, of course, it isn’t really free, it’s just factored into the item price), it is worth considering. Run an experiment: sell like-for-like items and compare conversion. You may be surprised. It could be that ‘free P&P’ works better for you on certain lines or makes a difference on BINs.

There are two ways you can be more efficient with packaging. The first relates to cost and the second to time. Using the cheapest packaging can be a false economy. Crap materials can cost you more in the long-run, once you have to deal with breakages and returns. You should never underestimate the ordeal that the average parcel goes through in transit, so don’t scrimp. Looks for good deals and make sure that your supplier is offering the best value for money, like for like. Buying in bulk will save you money, so if you can, do. I know of one group of PowerSellers who live close to each other and they effectively operate as a cooperative to buy in bulk and save money.

In terms of time, are you using materials that mean that you can pack your despatches as quickly as possible? It’s a serious point because time is money. I remember advising a seller who was selling odd shaped items. He used to make beautiful parcels, using loads of bubblewrap and took real care. But it did take him an age. A box, less bubble, packing peanuts and a bit of newspaper was just as effective and each parcel took him less than half the time to create.

Postage Tips.
I imagine hell is rather like the queue at the Post Office. If you can possibly avoid it, you’ll save loads of time. Find out when your PO is quietest and gun for then and talk to the staff to see if you they can help. Otherwise, if you’re selling loads consider collection, PPI or other services. Time saved on despatching goes straight to the bottom line.

On a slightly different note, make sure you’re paying the right tariff. The size and weight criteria have added ambiguity, and through either malice or ignorance, it’s easy to pay too much. If it fits through the slot, it’s a Large Letter and much cheaper to send. Know the system inside out and make sure you’re not paying too much.

2 Responses

  1. Ohh – lots of good stuff here! Especially in view of the fact most sellers LOWEST DSR is for postage and packaging prices 😯

    There’s nothing buyers detest more than feeling ripped off on postage so any savings to be made are more than worth it.

    Personally I only buy packaging 2 or 3 times per year as I have ample storage, but best advice is always buy as much as you can. It’s cost no more to have 2 boxes of 100 Jiffy bags delivered than it is to have 1 box delivered. Even better order five or six at a time and you’ll probably pay the same carriage charge.

    Definately buyers are expecting more keen delivery prices and however you achieve them (even if it is subsidising a loss with higher item price) it’ll pay dividends with customer satisfaction 🙂



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