This page will tell you how to ship items you sell on eBay. It will cover everything from the best places, to how to find boxes, shipping scales, and more.
Whether you occasionally sell items on an online auction site (such as eBay®) or run a full-time business, you will need to know the basics about shipping.
For instance, which company has the cheapest rates? What kind of shipping scale is best to use? Where can you get free supplies? How can you re-use or make your own boxes? What packing materials should you use and where can you get them? How can you print labels from home, and how does it work? What are some eBay tips to save money? We will cover all of these topics starting with the contents of the page below. Jump to a section, or read the entire article:
- Shipping on eBay: Cheapest Rates
- Best Shipping Scale for eBay
- Free eBay Shipping Supplies
- Make & Re-use a Shipping Box
- How to Get Free Packing Materials for Shipping
- How to Print Paypal Shipping Labels
- Tips to Cut Shipping Costs
Once you learn how to buy and sell on eBay, you are ready to learn about how to ship items. Of course, there are several companies out there offering to ship your packages. The most common are: USPS® (United States Postal Service®), UPS®, FedEx®, and DHL®. Each company has its own pros & cons as well as different rate structures, however, usually the cheapest one to use is the USPS®.
Occasionally (depending on the weight of the package & distance shipped), one of the other shipping companies may have a slightly cheaper rate, however, the postal service usually has them beat. Also, they have cheaper rates for books, flat rate priority boxes ($8.10 shipped anywhere in the U.S. up to 70 lbs.), flat rate priority envelopes ($4.05 anywhere in the U.S.) and more.
Rates are based on how fast you want your package shipped, the size of the package, weight of the package, and the distance or “zone” in which it is being shipped. Below is a basic summary of the different services the USPS® offers.
USPS Shipping Methods & Speed
First Class– for packages/envelopes weighing 13 oz. or less; speed 2-5 days; price based on weight only (regardless of destination in U.S.); goes by ounces. (3.5 ounces would be considered 4 ounces).
Parcel Post– for packages/envelopes weighing over 13 oz. or more; speed 2-9 days; price depends on weight, size, and distance; goes by pounds (example: 3 pounds 4 ounces = 4 pounds).
Priority Mail– for packages/envelopes of any weight; speed 2-3 days; price depends on weight, size, and destination; Flat rate boxes (2 different sizes) & envelopes available. Flat rate box postage is $8.10 to anywhere in the U.S. regardless of weight/destination (up to 70 pounds). Flat rate envelope postage is $4.05 to anywhere in the U.S. regardless of weight/destination; otherwise it goes by pounds (example 3 pounds 4 ounces = 4 pounds).
Express Mail– for packages/envelopes of any weight; speed 1-2 days; price depends on weight, size, and destination. Flat rate envelopes available for $18.80. Goes by pounds (example 3 pounds 4 ounces = 4 pounds).
Media Mail (book rate)- restricted to certain items such as books & other media. speed is from 2-14 days; price depends on weight only (not destination). Goes by pounds (example 3 pounds 4 ounces = 4 pounds).
If you want to estimate all of the different company’s rates to make sure you are selecting the cheapest one, you can go to each website and enter the value. On this site, you enter the package weight/size and zip code, and it automatically gets rates from the top shipping companies. The only problem with this method is that it can take time checking each individually.
Simply visit below & click on “calculate shipping” on the home page.
Click below to calculate rates:
- Post Office®
By the way, you will need to know how much the package weighs before calculating shipping. To do this, you will need a scale.
Now, for information on shipping scales, where to get free supplies, how to make re-use boxes & more:
Whenever you ship packages or print labels online, a good shipping scale can be an invaluable tool. So what are the benefits to getting a postal scale & with all the different scales on the market, which scale is the best to use and what features do you need?
Having a scale can benefit you greatly by saving time & money. Whenever you have a scale, you can calculate you postage online & purchase & print the label online from home. When you do this you get a reduced rate for delivery confirmation ($0.14 for Normal shipping methods & free with Priority Mail).
Considering delivery confirmation can cost as much as $0.60 if you purchase it in the Post Office, this can really add up & save you money. Also, you no longer have to wait in line forever at the Post Office. You can simply drop your packages off and walk out, or even schedule a free pickup by your mail carrier (but only if you ship Priority or Express Mail).
When shopping for a good shipping scale to use for mailing packages, always look for one that has enough weight capacity, proper measuring units (ounces, pounds, kg, etc.) and any other features you may want. Also, you must decide if you would prefer to use a digital (electronic) scale, or a standard (analog) scale.
I would recommend getting a scale with up to at least a 30-50 pound capacity. Of course, you may not be shipping items very frequently that weigh as much as 30 pounds, but you never know when you will need the extra weight capacity.
As far as digital vs. normal (or analog), I would almost always prefer a digital scale. This makes reading the scale much easier & quicker. Also, when you are shopping for a digital scale, make sure to find out whether it runs from just a battery, or if it can use an A/C adapter. Also, read your auction or box carefully because it may say (in fine print) that the A/C adapter is not included- so make sure you know what you are buying.
Another very important feature for a shipping scale to have is the ability to measure in pounds, ounces, and kilograms. You will need a scale that accurately displays up to a single ounce (or even better tenths of an ounce) of accuracy for shipping items via First Class Mail.
What is a good Brand Name in postal scales and where is the best place to get one? Well, there are many brand names to choose from such as WeighMax®, Digiweigh®, MyWeigh®-just to name a few. I would focus more on what features the scale has (and price) other than the brand name.
Where is the best place to get a scale? You will probably the cheapest place to buy a scale is online. Amazon.com or eBay.com would be a good starting point. I personally own a simple digital scale made by WeighMax® that I purchased on eBay® for only $16.99 (shipping & handling included). It has a 50 pound capacity, measurements in pounds/ounces/kg, and it even came with a 9 Volt battery and A/C adapter included! It has has a neat “tare” feature which simply means it will reset to zero if you want to find the weight of an item but you have to place it in a container (example: you want to weigh a plate of food but not the plate-so all you have to do is stick on the plate, hit the tare button, and then stick the food on it).
Again, there are several brand names & features you can choose from when shopping for a scale. I would strongly recommend getting a scale, however, because I know mine has paid for itself many times over by getting the “reduced” delivery confirmation rate & not having to stand in the long lines at the Post Office!
Now, how can you get Free Shipping Supplies, re-use boxes, print labels online, & more? Keep reading to find out!
Whenever you begin shipping packages, your expenses can really start to add up. One way you can reduce your shipping cost & save money is by taking advantage of free supplies. To get free shipping supplies you can do can order them from companies that provide them for free (USPS®, UPS®, FedEx®), or you can collect them from local sources.
So what companies give you free shipping supplies and what kind of supplies will they provide? The USPS®, UPS®, and FedEx® will give you free free supplies such as boxes, labels, envelopes, etc. Below is a list of common supplies you can get from each company.
USPS Free Supplies
The USPS® will provide the following free supplies for shipping: Priority Boxes & Tubes, Priority Flat Rate Boxes, Priority Labels, Priority Stickers, Priority Envelopes & Flat Rate Envelopes, Express Boxes, Express Envelopes, Express Stickers, Delivery Confirmation Stickers, Insurance forms, and Signature Confirmation forms.
What is the catch? You can only use a Priority box if you ship the item Priority Mail, etc. In other words, they provide this absolutely free (and even ship them to your door for free) but you can only use them to ship Priority or Express. This is absolutely great, and it can really save you money when someone selects Priority or Express shipping for their item.
To take advantage of this, just go to the USPS website, order the supplies you want, and they will ship them to your door for free. The only downside is that the USPS® does not currently provide labels that could be used for printing shipping labels online through Paypal®. Overall, this is great and anyone shipping packages should take advantage of this.
UPS Free Supplies
The UPS® also provides free supplies for shipping such as: Self Adhesive Labels (that you can use with Paypal® Labels), Stickers, boxes, & more. To take advantage of this, you have to set up an account with the UPS®. Just go to UPS.com for more information. Again, in accordance with UPS’s Policy, you can only use these supplies when shipping a package via UPS®.
FedEx Free Supplies
FedEx will also provide free shipping labels, stickers, boxes, and more. Again, these are provided for free, as long as you only use them with FedEx services. To take advantage of these supplies, you will have to setup a FedEx shipping account. Simply go to FedEx.com & sign up.
Getting Free Boxes from Stores
Besides using the companies listed above to get free shipping supplies, you can also usually get many boxes locally for free. To do this, simply go to your local grocery and department stores (as well as any other stores that may get boxes on a regular basis).
Most of these sources will receive merchandise in a box, and they will stock the shelves and simply throw away perfectly good boxes that could easily be re-used for shipping purposes. Just go to your local stores or call and ask how they dispose of their boxes. Many will be more than happy to let you have them for free and you may even be doing them a favor since may stores have to take the time to break them down & trash them.
Now, how can you re-use boxes from home, what is the best packing material & where can you get it, and how can you print labels from home? Keep reading to learn more!
Another great way to save money is to re-use boxes you may have received, and also to “make your own.”
How to Reuse a Box
When a box is in great condition with no major designs or colors on it, you can easily re-use it for shipping packages. Just make sure that remove or mark out any logos or barcodes. Then simply re-tape the box and it is ready to go.
Tips on How to Make a Shipping Box
If the box does contain significant colors or designs, then you can do 1 of 2 things: Either wrap the box in a brown wrapping paper, or flip it inside out & tape it up.
Of course it costs money for the brown wrapping paper, so I would recommend simply flipping it inside out. This is a great way to save money on shipping & you can use just about any kind of box–a cereal box, a snack box, shoe box, etc. Just follow the basic steps below to quickly flip any box and use for shipping:
Here is a basic, thin box that used to contain packets of oatmeal. To flip it, look inside & you will see a seam or flap where the box is glued together. Simply pull along the seam until it is separated from the box and the box is flat.
Oatmeal Box after being flattened
Then simply turn the box inside out, and fold the seam or “flap” (that you used to pull the box apart) over and tape it securely on the outside (brown part) of the box. This will give the box it’s square structure again. Then insert the item you want to ship, pack it tightly, fold over the flaps at the top & bottom, secure it with tape, and you are ready to ship your package.
The finished product
Again, this is a great way to “recycle” boxes for shipping purposes. Also, here is another tip. If you are ever re-using a heavy box and you need to cut it down smaller, just use scissors or a box cutter to cut away any excess material.
Then use the box cutter or scissors to make a light cut down the inside of the box where you would like to fold it, then it will bend to form a nice crease.
Now that you know how to re-use boxes, what packing materials should you use & where can you get them?
There are several materials that can be used as a packing material for shipping packages. Some of the most common materials include: Packing peanuts, air-filled bags, bubble wrap, and Styrofoam.
If you are interested in purchasing any of these items, you can check local retail stores. If you are a business, then you can save money by finding local suppliers that can provide these items at a lower price. Of course, any of these items can be great for shipping, but if you do not already have these items, they can be an extra (and unnecessary) expense. So how can you package an item securely for free?
Free Packing Materials
One way to get “free” packaging material is to simply collect newspapers, local trade papers, and any unwanted magazines. Rather than throwing these items away, you can save them for later shipping use. Most stores will have classified papers, real estate magazines, etc. for free. I always grab one when I am out, read it (and sometimes buy items from them), and then I will store them for shipping use. They are a great way to protect packages from damage.
Another great source of “free” packing materials are those pesky plastic bags you get from the local retail/grocery store. Over time, these bags can start to pile up. Instead of throwing them away, store them and use them as a packaging material for shipping. Not only are they “free,” but they are lightweight which could reduce you shipping expense.
Now that you know about what packing materials to use, what about printing shipping labels online? Click below to find out.
This is how to print paypal shipping labels online. Printing shipping labels from home can save time and money. But before you start printing labels, there are several things you need to know.
For instance: What is the best service to use for printing shipping labels & how does it work? What kind of paper do you need? What kind of printers or ink can you use? Can you use self adhesive labels, or do you have to tape or glue the label onto the package? Also, Well, lets find out!
The Best Company to Use for Printing Shipping Labels
First off, there are several companies that will allow you to pay for postage online with a credit card, and then print off the shipping label. Paypal®, USPS®, UPS®, FedEx®, and Endicia® are some of the most common services that people use online.
Personally, I always prefer to use Paypal® labels simply because it is quick, you can use it to print USPS®, UPS®, etc. and because it saves money by letting you get the reduced USPS® Delivery Confirmation rate ($0.14 instead of $0.60).
Also, there is no charge to print out the label other than the postage charge-but only if someone makes a purchase using Paypal®. As a side note, if you ever need to print off a label, but the buyer didn’t use Paypal® (Ex: if you sell something on Amazon.com, Half.com, etc.), then you can still use Paypal to print the label.
Simply use another account to send a penny to your account. You can then go & print a label by changing your address to the buyer’s address.
Using Paypal for labels is simple. Once someone sends you a payment, log into your account and click on the “print shipping label” link. You will then enter the details, such as package weight, which shipping method you are using, and you can add any services you want.
Then verify the information, and click print label. Your label will then print out, and you can ship your package. Below is an example of what a Paypal shipping label looks like.
Picture of a Paypal Shipping Label
What Kind of Paper Can You Use For Printing Labels?
You can use either self-adhesive paper, or just plain regular white printing paper. The paper really does not matter, just as long as it is white in color & allows the ink to stick to it. I use standard paper for my labels.
What Kind of Printer Can You Use for Printing Labels?
You can use either a standard ink-jet printer, or a laser printer to print off labels. Laser printers are much more expensive, but can print faster and the ink cost per page is usually slightly cheaper.
A typical ink-jet printer will also work just fine. It can get expensive, however, unless you find a low priced refill kit & refill your own cartridges. With either printer, just make sure the label prints out without any major ink defects. I use a Lexmark Inkjet printer for my labels. I buy ink kits & refill the cartridge myself to save money.
How to Use a Shipping Label
Once you print off your label, you need to secure it to the package. To do this, you can either use a self-adhesive (sticky) label, or tape and/or glue your label to the package. If you use a sticky label, then just attach it to the package after you print it off & you are done. If you use normal paper, then you must either use tape or glue.
If you use tape, make sure you do not tape over either of the barcodes on the label. I will usually just use some standard glue (like Elmer’s®) and run a small bead around the perimeter on the label’s back. I will then attach the label & apply a small piece of clear tape over the center (covering the buyer’s address), and cut a few small pieces to cover the bottom & top corners. This ensures that the label corner won’t stick up & risk getting pulled off.
Overall, printing your own labels is WORTH IT! I have estimated my paper, ink, & tape costs for each label to be only about $0.02 per label. Again, this saves a lot of money because you get the reduced delivery confirmation rate & also saves time!
Now that you know all the basics about shipping, click below for a quick recap of all the money-saving tips & tricks before you start shipping packages.
Now that you know all of the basics about shipping packages and where you can obtain free supplies, here are a few quick tips to help recap all of the ways to save money when shipping items.
Save Money Shipping Items Online
1. Print labels online. Even though there are some costs of doing this (ink, paper, tape, etc.), you will come out better because of the reduced Delivery & Signature Confirmation fees & you can save time by not waiting in line.
2. Take advantage of all of your free resources for boxes, packing materials, envelopes, etc. Again, use resources such as USPS.com, re-using boxes & envelopes, and by recycling packing materials.
3. Always take time to find the cheapest method of shipping. Of course, if you are selling items online, you can always offer the different services & let the buyer choose & pay additional charges.
4. Always make sure the box isn’t too large for the item. You can always trim the box down. This can also save money if the weight drops below a certain bracket (for instance, if you have a box that weighs 5 pounds & 2 ounces, try cutting it down to make it 5 pounds or less. This alone could save as much as $2-$5.
5. Always remember Flat Rate Boxes & Envelopes. If postage will cost more than $8.10, but will fit in a flat rate box, always use the flat rate box. This way you get to use the free box, save money, & the customer will get the item within 2-3 days.
6. Always count your costs!! Remember if you can save even $0.10 by re-using a box or shipping a cheaper method, it is worth it! That means if you saved $0.10 on every shipping transaction, and throughout your whole life you shipped 100,000 packages, you would have saved $10,000- that’s enough to buy a car!
Don’t forget to check out more of our website for more useful tips!