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The #1 tool for new eBay sellers

Calculating postage correctly can increase your bottom line.
Calculating postage correctly can increase your bottom line.
ebay.com

eBay can be confusing for new sellers – learning the policies and procedures, requirements for photos, and understanding listing types. There are many auxiliary products for eBay sellers including research tools, listing apps, and label printers. The most important tool for eBay sellers from a productivity and efficiency standpoint is a basic postage scale. Before you start selling on eBay, get a postage scale.

Many new sellers make the mistake of estimating shipping or only using flat rate mailers. Both of these strategies can be costly and sellers can end up spending more on shipping than necessary. Or even worse, a seller can underestimate the cost of shipping and their buyer will receive a Postage Due notice, which isn’t exactly conducive to positive feedback. It is very easy to charge the exact amount of shipping due by your customer using a scale when you create your listing.

Every seller should have a postage scale on their desk, next to their computer when listing and follow this process:

1. Always weigh the item when listing. If an item (including the packaging) weighs less than 13 ounces, it can go First Class. Don’t just use Priority Mail supplies because they are free. You could be paying $3 more per package than you have to. Get some poly mailers on eBay and ship First Class items in those. Poly mailers can cost as little as 3 cents each when purchased in bulk.

2. If you are using calculated shipping, place the item on the scale with the packaging you plan to use. The packaging has weight, and it can bump the package up to the next pricing threshold. Enter the total weight into the shipping section on the eBay listing form.

3. If the item fits in a Flat Rate Envelope or Flat Rate Padded mailer and it makes sense to ship it that way, don’t use calculated shipping but choose Flat Rate. The Flat Rate Envelopes (FREs) can ship for around $5.70 depending on your eBay shipping discount. Only use them when it makes sense. For example, don’t put breakable items in them or stuff a huge coat in one. Use good judgment.

Here is a good video on how to charge for shipping and the workflow on eBay when listing an item.

Many sellers use a Weigh Max scale, which can be purchased on eBay or other sites for around $20 including shipping. Do not use a bathroom scale or a kitchen food scale. Get one specifically for your eBay business. The scale does not need to hook into your computer and it does not need to print postage – you can do that through eBay. The scale simply provides the weight needed to calculate the shipping to the customer. eBay is integrated with the USPS so the seller’s zip code, the buyer’s zip code, the weight of the item, and the class of mail are all that is needed to give the customer the correct shipping fee. The seller doesn’t have to do any calculations – everything is automatic once the weight is entered by the seller.

If you are worried about accuracy, take your first batch of items to the post office and have the clerk verify the postage is correct. You may need to add or subtract an ounce or two in the future synch up with the scale at the post office. Once you know if there is a discrepancy, you can easily adjust the weight on your scale at home.

Printing shipping labels through eBay also has three other advantages. First, sellers get a discount on shipping fees so you can save several dollars on one package sometimes. This adds up over the month. Second, all of the tracking information is automatically updated through eBay so the customer can access it easily, and the tracking info is there if the buyer opens a case for not receiving the package. Third, printing postage through eBay is a huge time saver because sellers can simply print labels, affix to packages, and put in the mailbox for their postal carrier to pick up.

Years ago, before eBay offered the option to print shipping labels, sellers had to either take packages to the post office and have each one weighed by a clerk who then affixed the postage, or use a third party postage service online that required a monthly subscription. eBay makes it easy and convenient to print postage from home.