eBay sellers are always trying to improve their bottom line, and one significant expense is shipping supplies. It is easy enough to order shipping supplies online, but this can get expensive in the long run, especially if the seller’s product line is breakables like glass, dinnerware, or collectibles. Also, if ordering online, a shipping fee may be steep so that adds to the cost. Here are a few suggestions for obtaining shipping supplies for free in your local community.
Priority Mail supplies are free, but they can only be used for Priority. Don’t get creative and turn boxes inside out, or use Tyvek envelopes or padded Flat Rate Mailers as packing material for First Class, Media Mail, or Parcel Select. Supplies can also be conveniently ordered online at USPS.com.
1. Furniture stores usually have an abundance of packing materials like bubble wrap, foam wrap, or packing peanuts. They will also have boxes from smaller items like lamps, small tables, bar stools, or flower arrangements.
2. Grocery stores. Plan your grocery shopping around the time that the shelves are being stocked. Ask if you can have some of the boxes lying in the aisle. Or better yet, ask the manager if you can pick up a quantity of flattened boxes before they go through the baler in the back.
3. Dollar Stores often have smaller boxes that are perfect for a reseller. Some sellers don’t even go into the store to get these – they skim the top of the dumpsters in back. The boxes sitting on top are usually clean and not crushed.
4. Make your own pottery stores will have not only boxes but packing material as well. Remember they are getting breakable ceramic items in quantity. Ask the manager when the best time to come pick up boxes and packing material is – they may only get one shipment a week.
5. Other retail stores including drug stores, pet supply stores, or craft stores. All will have incoming stock in boxes that resellers can use.
Beer or liquor boxes may not be used for shipping unless all logos and labels are completely removed. (See USPS Guidelines here.) Some sellers wrap these boxes in brow Kraft paper or poly mailers, but remember that an outer wrapping can be torn off accidentally by machines during the shipping and handling process. It is better to put a shipping label directly on a box rather than wrapping a box in paper.
If reusing a box, always make sure it is clean and intact. Presentation is part of keeping customers happy on eBay.