Learn to buy and sell antiques and collectibles

eBay Shipping Advice

Here's some quick eBay shipping advice for sellers.

21 tips about mailing, packing, and shipping eBay items.

  • Use USPS priority mail service for items under 15 pounds going to US addresses. The cost is comparable to UPS 3 day service, but the Post Office is usually easier to deal with.
  • Pay attention to oversized box rates. Currently Dec. 2012 any Priority Mail box that's over 1 cubic foot in size gets a oversize rate that can double the postage cost. A cubic foot is 12" on each side. A good rule of thumb is any box with a side longer than 12 inches needs to be measured for volume. Shipping by parcel post avoids oversize fees.
  • If you use the UPS shipping counter, ask the clerk for a frequent shipper card. This card will allow you to ship eBay items without having the clerks look into each box. They usually will not give you the card until you have shipped with them a few times. I once had a UPS clerk break an item I had enmeshed in Styrofoam peanuts. The idiot reached through the peanuts and pulled the fragile toy out. The card prevents UPS clerks from examining the packages.
  • Always OVERPACK your eBay items. Even when you are selling garbage, pack well, and ship securely. The first thing your buyer sees is the way you packed the item. If you pack it well, you are sending a message that the shipment is valuable. See the video where I open two packages and compare the way they are packed.
  • Use Styrofoam peanuts and/or packing paper as needed. I use 60 pound craft paper, unprinted newsprint, and peanuts in my packaging. The peanuts won't prevent a heavy item from shifting, but the Kraft paper will. The Kraft paper is also good for light fragile items that would be damaged by compressing peanuts around them. See my article on packing with paper for a photo tutorial.
  • Buy your shipping supplies from a packaging wholesale company. I pay approximately $1.00 a cubic foot for peanuts at my local packaging supply. U-haul charges twice that, and office supply stores are even higher.
  • While you are picking up your shipping supplies, always look for a discount table. I once bought a thousand boxes perfect for mailing toy trains for 20 cents a box. I don't like to buy boxes, but for the price it sure beat digging in dumpsters.
  • Ship in Priority mail boxes when possible. You can get order the boxes online at www.usps.com, and they will be delivered to your door. Also order labels and priority mail tape.
  • Never use liquor or beer boxes to ship with. Other boxes marked ORM-D or corrosive liquid should also not be used for shipping. These types of boxes will be rejected at the post office counter, or worse be returned to you if the clerk isn't paying attention and accepts the box.
  • Always have your items ready to go when you get to the window at the post office or UPS facility. Make it easy for the clerks to help you, and they will make it easy on you.
  • Always go to the same post office or UPS counter. You want to build a relationship with the clerks. This includes having your items ready to go. The relationship will help you because it will speed your time. When I was heavily into eBay Consignment Sales, I was shipping 200-500 eBay items a week. Even though I had a lot of packages, the clerks preferred to deal with me because everything was ready to go.
  • Shop around for the best post office and UPS facility in your area. All post offices are not the same. Some tend to attract better clerks than others. This may be because of the way the Postmaster acts, but the end result will save you time. If a local post office has a business line use it.
  • Some post offices will allow you to offload your packages right onto the dock. This is a great effort saver. If I had to carry all the packages I ship into the post office it would take many trips. Instead, I just put them on a cart on the dock. A post office employee wheels the cart inside, while I go around to get in line to see the clerk.
  • A good place to find boxes is behind Subway restaurants. Subway has a recycling program and uses separate dumpsters for cardboard boxes. This keeps them cleaner, and usually they are folded flat. Using boxes of similar sizes will make them stack better on the trip to the post office. NEVER look for boxes in dumpsters behind sushi restaurants.
  • If you do international shipping, always ship first class or Priority Mail. Watch the price differences for flat rate and normal Priority Mail as there can be a big difference.
  • Do not turn Priority mail boxes inside out, or wrap them in paper, to ship at Parcel Post rates. Shipping eBay packages like this looks cheap. You want your buyer to be happy with his purchase, not think you are cheap.
  • If you smoke, do not store your eBay shipping supplies in a room where you smoke. Some ex-smokers are quite "nosy," and will complain about receiving items that smell of tobacco smoke.
  • Always include your name and address within all packages in case the label comes off during shipping. I use simple business cards with a short thank you and my address and email preprinted on them. I used to print the same information on six squares on a sheet of paper and have the print shop cut them up. Whatever you use, use a bright colored stock so it is easy to see within the packing material.
  • Another great place to get boxes cheap is at packaging recycling businesses. These businesses buy used and unneeded cardboard boxes and sell usable ones cheaply. Look in your local yellow pages for recyclers. Harbor Freight also usually has larhe sturdy boxes for sale cheap.
  • Never wrap painted items directly in bubble wrap. Some types of paint will react to the bubble wrap and be damaged. I have seen 80 year old items damaged by contact with bubble wrap and other plastic packing materials. Wrap the items in paper first, then in bubble wrap.
  • Do not tape bubble wrap around items. Wrap them in a second sheet of paper, rather than using tape.
  • Use the Free eBay Shipping Calculator. You set your zip code in the calculator when you download it, and then you just need to enter the zip code and weight of a package to get costs. So much faster than going to the post office website and entering in all the required information.

There's 21 tips about mailing, and packing that will make shipping your eBay sales easier.


Many of the articles and free reports here on IWantCollectibles were originally sent to readers of my Antiques and eBay Newsletter. Not all articles make it onto the website, and readers also get notices of free reports and special offers.

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