Would you pay £9.99 to have it by Tuesday?

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eBay estimate I’ll get this item delivered for free by Tuesday or Wednesday. Alternatively I can pay £9.99 extra to have it delivered on Tuesday. I’m not going to pay almost a tenner for “faster” delivery!

I’m a firm believer that eBay have struggled to get postage options right. For years they’ve pushed Free Postage, even going so far as to give a boost in search for items shipped with Free post.

The problem with Free Post

The problem with free postage is that it usually means the slowest possible service. Whilst buyers might downgrade to a cheaper service to save money it’s much rarer that they upgrade and choose to pay more for a faster service. Not only that but offering budget delivery services lowers standards across the eBay. It’s tough enough to offer the cheapest delivery service for free let alone the most expensive premium delivery choices.

eBay tried to counter this with their “Fast & Free” program but all that means is that if a more expensive free post option is included then there’s no way to offer a slower cheaper service for buyers who aren’t in a hurry to receive their item but would rather save money – You can’t discount free.

Why Amazon is better than eBay for postage options

I don’t like to compare eBay with their rival Amazon, but in the case I have to – Amazon have it right! On Amazon you get offered a standard postage option – a service which will be delivered in a reasonable time scale. If you want to you can pay more to upgrade to a next day delivery service (or access it through a paid Amazon Prime membership). If you’re not in a particular hurry then you can downgrade to free supersaver delivery (which Tamebay reader Maciej has spotted appears to have been upgraded from a 3-5 day service to a 2-4 day service, nice one Amazon!).

What happens on eBay if you try to offer delivery options? The biggest complaint I hear from sellers is that there is no point because buyers never or rarely upgrade to a paid faster service. I’m not really surprised as eBay don’t give buyers a reason to and that’s becoming worse.

Why buyers rarely pay for upgraded delivery

Postage and Packaging options

Take the two examples above, in one I can have Royal Mail 1st Class postage for free, or I can pay £5.99 to have the item delivered by Special Delivery and arrive on the same day. What’s even worse is that 1st Class might arrive “on or before Tuesday” but Special Delivery is displayed only as “estimated by Tuesday”. Surely Royal Mail Special Delivery is a guaranteed premium service?

In the second example I can have Fast & Free Parcelforce 48 delivery or I can pay £9.99 to have it arrive on the same day via Parcelforce 24. These are real live listings on eBay today, but why would I pay for an upgraded service?

The situation has been exacerbated by eBay lowering the delivery estimates for 1st and 2nd Class mail. There’s little point offering a next day 1st Class postage option alongside Special Delivery, Parcelforce 24 or any other next day courier service. They’ll both be displayed as arriving tomorrow with the only difference being price.

How to choose delivery options for your eBay listings

Next time you revise your delivery options make sure you choose alternatives that give buyers a real choice. For instance offer a 24 hour courier (charged), 2nd class post (charged) and perhaps a budget 5 day delivery option (free). That way your delivery options will give buyers a real choice – fast delivery, normal delivery or a budget free delivery option.

If your delivery options show a real difference in the speed that items may arrive then buyers might be willing to pay for an enhanced service. All the time eBay display products scheduled to arrive the same day, there’s no way that buyers will pay an extra tenner for what appears to look like the same service.

24 Responses

  1. The thing that Pees me off with Amazon is that they STILL charge us sellers a commission on the postage.
    Now jewellery is 25%.
    You get my picture.

    I never knew it until around a year ago and I was trying to work out some figures.
    I phoned them up and said “You aren;t seriously charging me 25% on my special delivery price are you”.

  2. If it is a guaranteed next day delivery why do ebay estimate delivery?

    Buyers may be more inclined to upgrade if the language used offered certainty and compensation for next day delivery failure.

    But of course no fees in this for ebay. Buyers who pay high postage have less money to spend on other fee earning sales.

  3. What is a good budget option? I am struggling to find such a service, when most services in this day and age are geared towards speed.

  4. Sadly I will lose TRS badges on my listings even though my service and product quality & value compare very well with any other seller in my category.

    But I will simply not offer a free ‘second rate’ delivery service that would also necessarily inflate prices to the detriment of combined orders. Never have, never will.

    eBay have got this well wrong.

  5. It is crackers, we have very little uptake on next day service on ebay as we offer free 1st class post, we tried changing to free 2nd class post and this effected best match and lost us sales.

    Perhaps ebay would like to come and have a look at the 50 or so messages we have had today asking where items are because of the bank holiday, these estimated times need to be much clearer that it’s an estimate and not guaranteed which customers think it is!!!!!

    I can’t believe that ebay can’t monitor all these ‘where is my item’ questions and cases that are being opened.

  6. Delivery note on ebay,


    Yeah mate im coming round on my bmx to deliver it.

    The difference with amazon compared to ebay is, they make it clear on sales, which time you are expected to ship by and deliver by.
    Delivery statements expected delivery times are very clearly mentioned up from on Amazon.

    As a seller dispatch and expected delivery times are next to each sale awaiting shipping.

    They are also mentioned on the sellers side.

    We quote for example 3-5 working days for delivery on ebay and 2 day handle time. Off course we deliver faster and send dispatch and tracking emails.

    But we still get marked down for postage. Because it was not next day. When in actually fact we should be scored on what was offered upfront and then what service was delivered. I.e We should of delivered in 5 days but did so in 3. Delivery scores on ebay are based on expectation or opinion as opposed to facts.

    We have only been TRS once or twice since it was launched and that was only for one period at a time, and in that time we had featured first listings So spend more on ebay. We can do that now.

    eBay are motivating sellers with TRS, and now making TRS impossible for most sellers buy making the choices of options impossible. Im sorry im not going to sprint to the post office at 5.15PM to dispatch same day for the weak margins we make on ebay. Sure for a decent margin id do it.

    As for TRS missed for shipping, We have never had it basically, and therefore I dont care if we ever do have it. Im not motivated even 1% to work for it. Because the discounts are not worth the hassle. Id rather slap a couple of 0.99p auctions up a few times a week instead and get traffic that wat.

    For GOOD customer service, fast shipping and all the bells and whistles. First eBay Should provide its sellers with GOOD customers. Give me GOOD customers ebay and i will give bells and whistles in plenty. In fact ill dedicate a whole office to bells and whistles

    eBay demand to much in terms of delivery and cost from their sellers. whilst the massive sellers are prob doing ok due to massive revenues. When stepping back and looking the businesses, i bet when you look at stock cost, and investment the returns are weak. Making 4% margin and selling 1000 air fresheners or batteries and other random stuff to me doesn’t seem like a good business plan. But this exactly what eBays larger sellers they love to promote are doing.

    eBay doesnt care about the sellers businesses, They only care about their own.

    Overall is ebay really worth the hassle, being only 8-10% of all UK online sales. Our sales on ebay are usually the lowest margin and the most hassle of all our sales platform. They also feel like the least rewarding and satisfying when they do come in too. With the feeling that the ‘customer prob bought of me, because i was the cheapest’. With the sense they will use ebay again, but probably never buy from us again.

    When someones asks where did you get that lovely item so cheap, They will say eBay.. Not ‘my store on ebay’.. eBay need to address core issues like this if they want sellers to Try harder.

    Sure it should be part of your sales platform. But there is a whole other 90% out there and sellers need to make steps to venture even a little into it.

    But I for one, Wont be pushed around into becoming some kind of eBay gimp.

    This few topics are only the tip of a massive iceberg.

  7. The last time I paid a premium price to Amazon for Next Day – Saturday delivery, it eventually arrived after 4 days and only them because I chased the courier myself. This was direct from Amazon order, not a marketplace seller.

    As an eBay seller I offer 2nd class and 1st class on almost all items, most buyers select 2nd class and seem happy with that. On the few items I offer ‘free’ 2nd class or upgrade to 1st class I do get occasional buyers upgrading to 1st class. So, for me it is worth giving the options.

    But, the way eBay has decided RM are delivering more quickly now and adjusted the estimated delivery dates does nothing to help sellers.

  8. Until Ebay start selling goods themselves- and have to deal directly with the end customer, they will continue to make changes that lead to bad buyer & seller experience……….They seem to be betting the farm, on trying to get sellers who can offload 1000 new branded blu ray players with 24 months guarantee for £19.99 with Free next day delivery……

    Until Ebay realises that what buyers want is transparency – there will continue to be a mismatch between the raised buyer expectation (courtesy of Ebay), and the inability of sellers selling goods under roughly £50.00 in value, to match those raised expectations- as the U.K. postal service is not set up to deliver goods cheaply in a guaranteed 1 working day timeframe.

  9. Today I started removing our products from eBay. It has been the most rewarding day I’ve had dealing with anything eBay related in a long time.

    We’ve been selling for 9 years and it has never been this bad. So we’re off. We’ll be spending our eBay time dealing with nice customers and not worrying about changes on that site every other week.

    After the time and effort we’ve put in you’d think we’d be sad but it’s like a weight has been lifted.

    Good luck those who are going to stick with first class as a free option – that combined with disputes being opened automatically for everything now is going to keep you very busy. 🙁

  10. You’re right David. Two months ago we’d never have dreamed of doing this but we feel we have no option now. I hope they see sense and change things though.

  11. We have just received our third message in as many days from a buyer complaining that they paid for next day delivery and haven’t received their item.

    They have not actually selected next day delivery, that have selected first class post, which is neither trackable or guaranteed, particularly to locations such as Cornwall and Scotland which is where these messages are coming from at the moment.

    It seems that eBay’s new delivery estimates are misleading buyers into thinking they are purchasing a next day service, rather than paying our modest £3.99 for the next day service. Buyers are seeing a message that 1st class post will be “delivered on” and the Courier Option only shows as “estimated by” which is very discouraging.

    If it keeps going at this rate, we will have to remove our first class option completely which surely can’t be beneficial for buyers 🙁

  12. Why do people by online? Because they live in isolated areas of the UK with a slower postal service. Ebay have forgotten this and that a far higher percentage of post to these areas takes longer to arrive than the average figure that ebay have based their new delivery speeds on.

    They should have retained a range of days and not specified a specific number.


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