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Choosing the Best Shipping Company for Your eBay Items

Deciding on your carrier can be the most important decision in your eBay business. You need to decide which shipping company is more convenient for you (located close to your home base, provides pick up service, gives better customer service) and which is the most economical. Settling on one main shipper to meet most of your needs is important because all your records will be on one statement or in one area. However, you might also need a secondary shipper for special types of packages.

Shipping can make or break your customer service. Whoever delivers the package to the buyer is an extension of your company. Professional labels, clean boxes, nifty packing peanuts — those are the things you control. Safe and timely delivery falls into the hands of complete strangers, but the buyer will blame you for the tardiness or sloppiness of the shipping. Your bottom line isn't the same as the shipper's, and no matter how many refunds they offer when they don't meet their promised schedules, it won't help when you have irate customers. Simple equation: Irate customers = lousy feedback.

Meeting your front line

Try building a relationship with your shipping front line. These are the people who pick up and drop off your UPS, FedEx, or USPS packages. When you personalize a business relationship (for example, when you address them by name), you become more than a street address. When you're no longer a number, you become a fellow human being with needs and wants. Believe it or not, people want to make other people happy.

Location, location, location

What happens if you have to drop off your packages for shipment? It's important to consider the closest local drop-off point for your carrier. Each of the major carriers has a search feature on its website that you can use to find the nearest drop-off location. You input your address or ZIP code, and the feature tells you the locations closest to you.

To get the location lowdown quickly, go to the FedEx, USPS, or UPS site.

Comparing prices

The consensus is that a particular method of shipping is cheaper for large items and another is cheaper for small packages. Each method has its own peculiarities.

Take a look at the following table and compare the pricing for certain types of packages. The prices are based on the assumption that your business has an account (or prints USPS postage electronically). Retail counter rates are the highest; daily pickup rates are somewhat less. Trying to translate the rate charts for some major carriers can be a real challenge. Try to get price estimates directly from shippers' websites or software after you open your account. Some services cost extra, so become familiar with the variations and hidden costs, such as preferred customer rates and gas fees. Home delivery adds up to $2.75 per package for UPS and FedEx packages. The USPS offers regional and flat-rate discounts.

Shipping Times and Costs (NYC to LA)
Weight (lbs) USPS Priority*: 2–3 Days UPS Select: 3 Business
Days
FedEx Express Saver 3 Business Days FedEx Home Delivery 5 Business Days UPS Ground: 5 Business Days USPS Standard Post up to 8 Days
1 $6.51 $18.85 $16.50 $7.21 $9.76 $5.78
2 $9.88 $21.90 $19.20 $8.27 $11.17 $9.71
3 $13.40 $25.20 $21.70 $9.13 $12.86 $11.69
4 $16.13 $28.30 $24.80 $9.80 $13.75 $13.06
5 $18.70 $30.60 $27.80 $10.32 $14.90 $13.81
6 $21.42 $34.40 $31.55 $10.55 $15.27 $14.67
7 $24.05 $37.80 $34.65 $10.85 $15.78 $15.54
8 $27.01 $41.30 $37.85 $11.38 $16.69 $16.40
9 $30.03 $44.45 $40.75 $12.09 $12.09 $17.27
10 $32.66 $47.50 $43.95 $12.89 $18.89 $18.13

* USPS Priority Mail also has flat-rate envelopes for $5.05 and two nice sizes of flat-rate boxes that can be stuffed and shipped for $11.30 and $15.30.

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