It used to be a constant complaint on eBay that sellers couldn’t either surcharge or block buyers from certain parts of the UK. Many sellers would specify surcharges in their listing descriptions but buyers either wouldn’t read that far or would simply choose to ignore the surcharge when they paid.
This is now an non-issue since eBay introduced new shipping features, but I still see listings on eBay where sellers manually specify surcharges. Read on to find out how to avoid disappointing buyers when they find you’re hitting them with an unexpected delivery surcharge.
UK Courier Zones
Royal Mail offers a universal service with a fixed price delivery to every door in the country, but that’s not the case for most couriers. Couriers tend to charge based on how much it actually costs them to deliver items and so split the UK into zones with different charges.
There’s also some anomalies, for instance Royal Mail treat the Channel Islands of Jersey, Guernsey and Sark the same as the UK with parity of price. Other couriers (and even Parcelforce, part of the Royal Mail group of companies) treat the Channel Islands as an International destination and charge accordingly.
As a seller you have two main options – you can either block buyers from locations which your courier surcharges for, or you can simply pass on the additional costs to your customers. Your only other choice is to charge a flat rate for the whole country and accept that some customers will pay a little extra to balance the times you lose on shipping costs for customers who live in more expensive zones.
Exclude Postage Locations within the UK
Excluding Postage Locations within the UK is an extension of the ability to block buyers from the International destinations that you choose not to ship to. Whilst there are understandable reasons why you might not want to ship to certain parts of the world, there are fewer reasons for not shipping to the whole of the UK.
If you sell particularly large or heavy products costs could be prohibitive, or your courier might not offer a service which includes a water crossing in which case excluding certain areas of the UK might prove your best option. Generally though it’s better to offer delivery as some customers are happy to pay delivery charges no matter how high they may be.
UK Delivery Rate Tables
With the Delivery Rate Tables (available in your eBay Preferences), you can set different carriage costs for certain parts of the country.
Prices can also be set by delivery service level, so if for instance you offer a choice of Standard Delivery via Royal Mail First Class postage and an Express Delivery via a 24 hour courier you can surcharge for courier deliveries but not for Royal Mail as there’s no extra expenses for that service.
You can set delivery rates by item, by weight or you can apply a set surcharge for the available UK regions. The areas you can increase postage rates for are The Channel Islands, Isle of Wight, Isle of Man, Scilly Islands, Scottish Highlands, Scottish Islands, and Northern Ireland.
If a buyer lives in a region where you are applying a surcharge, the buyer will pay the additional amount which is automatically rolled into the delivery cost. Your customers won’t see the additional amount of the surcharge as a separate charge.
Best Practice for Shipping
The best solution if possible is to at least offer shipping to all areas within the UK, even if that involves postage surcharges. Let your customers decide if they’re willing to pay the price to have their purchase delivered.
Only exclude areas of the UK if you absolutely can’t ship your products to those areas. Why miss out on sales if customers are willing to purchase from you? Using the Delivery Rate Tables means that you can specify the full costs up front. This advice also applies to any other countries you ship to around the world – make sure if it’s a location you’re willing to ship to that you specify delivery costs up front.
How do you handle deliveries within the UK? Do you surcharge for certain parts of the country or have you blocked buyers from any areas of the UK where delivery costs are higher?