How to Ship on eBay

Last updated: May 30, 2017 - 10:34am EDT

Once you've sold something on eBay, you have to find some way to get the actual item from you to your eagerly-awaiting buyer. That may sound simple, but there's actually quite a bit of preparation involved, both before and after a buyer makes a purchase. In this lesson, we'll outline some things that you should do to get the items that you sell on eBay.com ready for shipping, both before you even list them for sale on eBay and after you actually make a sale.

3 shipping tips before you list items on eBay

1. Have enough packaging supplies on hand to securely pack each item.

It's generally not fun to sell something and then have to run around doing last-minute shopping because you can't find a box that properly fits your item! Always make sure that you have a sufficient quantity of various types of packaging materials on-hand before you list items for sale. As a basic guideline, make sure that you have a box and enough packing supplies (bags, envelopes, tape, bubble wrap, plastic foam peanuts, etc.) for each item that you wish to sell.

You can order free co-branded boxes from the U.S. Postal Service and eBay. You can also buy packaging supplies from sellers on eBay, or branded materials directly from eBay. The U.S. Postal Service, FedEx, and U.P.S. also have packaging supplies for sale.

2. Pack your items carefully using well-fitting containers, plenty of cushioning materials, and the right kind of tape.

After you take any pictures that you need to in order to properly show off your item in its listing, pack the item before you list it. This saves you time when sending items off after they sell, which means that they reach their buyers faster, which generally leads to happier customers!

However, fast handling times mean little if your items arrive broken, defective, or missing! Here are some tips for how to pack your items properly.

  • Pack your items in boxes that are just slightly larger than they are. That way, you have room for packaging materials.
     
  • Put packaging materials (paper, bubble wrap, plastic foam peanuts, etc.) around your item in the box, and then close the box (but don't tape it shut) and shake it. If you hear or feel the item inside the box shift, you should probably add more cushioning.
     
  • When taping a box shut, secure not only the opening of the box, but all other seams as well. To do this, use packaging tape, packing tape, or paper tape that is at least 2 inches wide. Do not use masking tape, cellophane tape, or any kind of string; these materials will usually not be strong enough to hold the box closed.

3. Calculate shipping costs, so you know how much you'll have to pay and how much you want the buyer to pay.

Unless you plan to offer free shipping for an item, you will need to calculate how much you will pay a courier service to get the item to its buyer for you. This will help you get an idea of how much of the cost you should pass on to the buyer.

Measure the dimensions and weight of your package, and then plug them into eBay's Shipping Calculator (you will need to log into your eBay account to use this) to see how much your package will cost to send through U.P.S. or the U.S. Postal Service. This will help you gauge how much you want to charge for shipping and handling when you list your items for sale.

How to combine shipping on eBay

A way to help your customers save money (and potentially become repeat buyers) is by offering combined shipping discounts. This allows them to pay reduced shipping costs if they buy multiple items from you at the same time (or within a short amount of time). You can set your account to do this automatically, or you can do it manually if a user has bought some of your items but hasn't paid for them yet.

To combine shipping automatically:

  1. Go to www.ebay.com and log into your account.
     
  2. Move your mouse cursor over your name in the top-left corner of the page to make a drop-down menu appear, and then click Account Settings.

    eBay Account Settings
     
  3. Once on your settings screen, click Site Preferences in the left-hand box. Then, under "Selling Preferences," click Show beside "Shipping Preferences" and then click Edit beside "Offer Combined Shipping and Payments."

    Edit shipping preferences
     
  4. To offer combined shipping discounts, you must first offer combined payment options. Click Edit below "Combined Payments" to make a window pop up. Click the check box within the window to enable combined payments, and then click the drop-down menu below it and select what time frame buyers have to purchase multiple items from you in order to be eligible for combined payments (3, 5, 7, 14, or 30 days). Then click Next.

    Set up payments

    On the next screen, click the drop-down menu and select whether you want your combined shipping discounts to apply to items listed in U.S. dollars or ones listed in your local currency. Then click Save.
     
  5. You can now click Create underneath "Flat Shipping Rule", "Calculated Shipping Rule", or "Promotional Shipping Rule" and follow the on-screen instructions to create guidelines for when you will apply discounts to combined shipping, and how big those discounts are. Click Next to advance to the next screen, and click Save when you're done.

    Set rules for shipping

    Once you've made any of these rules, click Edit below them to change them.

To combine shipping manually:

  1. Go to www.ebay.com and log into your account.
     
  2. Move your mouse cursor over My eBay in the top-right part of the page. This will make a drop-down menu appear; select Selling from it.

    eBay selling activity
     
  3. Click the Sold option under the "Sell" heading in the left-hand menu, and then click the Awaiting Payment header in the main activity window.

    View sold items awaiting payment
     
  4. Click the Send Invoice link beside any item that a buyer has purchased but hasn't paid for yet.
     
  5. A list will appear containing all items that a particular buyer has bought but hasn't paid you for yet. Click the check boxes beside each item to select or deselect it. Then, enter the shipping & handling charges and/or sales tax that you wish to apply to the combined order, select what payment methods you will accept, and then (optionally) write a message to the buyer. Finally, click the Send Invoice button.

How to ship items on eBay after they sell

Step 1 – Print and attach a shipping label to your package from your post office, a courier service, or eBay.

The first thing that you need to do after one of your items sells is to print a shipping label for your package and affix it to the container. You can do this at your local post office, or you can do it online at the websites of many of eBay's supported couriers (U.P.S., FedEx, U.S. Postal Service, etc.). However, the easiest way to do it is to print your shipping labels right on eBay; it's free, too!

To print eBay shipping labels:

  1. Go to www.ebay.com and log into your account.
     
  2. Move your mouse cursor over My eBay in the top-right part of the page. This will make a drop-down menu appear; select Selling from it.

    View selling activity
     
  3. Click the Sold option under the "Sell" heading in the left-hand menu. Then, find the item that you want to print a shipping label for, click the More Actions drop-down menu beside it, and click Print Shipping Label.
     
  4. Click the "Carrier" drop-down menu and select which courier company you will be using to send your package. Then, click the "Service" drop-down menu and select which priority of shipping method you will use.

    (NOTE: If you select U.P.S., you may be taken to PayPal; follow the on-screen instructions that you are given.)
     
  5. Enter or correct any information about the package that you need to, including its weight, dimensions, destination address, and return address. Then, select any additional shipping services that you need (which may result in fees), and then click Print Postage Label.
     
  6. Make any other selections that you need to, and then click Print.

Once your shipping label is printed, attach it to your package with tape or built-in adhesive.

Step 2 – Get your package to where it can be shipped, and ask if tracking information is available for it.

Once your item is fully packed, it's time to see it off. Take it down to your local post office or courier service branch, and have them print and apply a shipping label for it (if you haven't done this yourself already). Then, hand it off to them for delivery.

Be sure to ask for a tracking number (if one is available); we'll explain why in the next step.

Step 3 – Go back to eBay and add tracking information to the order, or at least mark it as "shipped."

There's one last thing that you should do after you've handed off your package to the post office or courier service for delivery, and that's update the buyer on the status of their order. This isn't totally necessary, but it's generally considered good business practice to allow your customers to know how close they are to receiving what they buy from you.

There are two ways to do it: add tracking information to the order (so that the buyer can trace approximately where their package is), or mark the order as "shipped" (so at least the buyer knows their package is on its way).

If you printed the shipping label on your package through eBay (which we provided instructions for doing in step 1 of this section), then a tracking number will automatically be added to your package for you when one becomes available. That means you can skip this step completely; you're done shipping!

If you didn't print your package's shipping label on eBay, you can add tracking information to the order manually. This is why we recommended that you ask the post office or courier service for a tracking number in step 2 of this section.

To manually add tracking information to an order:

  1. Go to www.ebay.com and log into your account.
     
  2. Move your mouse cursor over My eBay in the top-right part of the page. This will make a drop-down menu appear; select Selling from it.

    View selling activity
     
  3. Click the Sold option under the "Sell" heading in the left-hand menu. Then, find the item that you want to add a tracking number for, click the More Actions drop-down menu beside it, and then click Add Tracking Number.
     
  4. On the next page, enter the tracking number for your item in the appropriate box. Then, click in the box marked "Carrier" and type in the name of the courier service that you are shipping with. Finally, click the Submit button.

If you don't have a tracking number for your item (perhaps because the courier that you are shipping with doesn't support package tracking), you can still let your buyer know that their order is in transit. You can do so by marking the status of the order as "shipped."

To change the status of an order:

  1. Go to www.ebay.com and log into your account.
     
  2. Move your mouse cursor over My eBay in the top-right part of the page. This will make a drop-down menu appear; select Selling from it.

    View selling activity
     
  3. Click the Sold option under the "Sell" heading in the left-hand menu. Then, find the order that you want to change the status of, click Change Status, and then click Shipped.

How eBay international shipping works

If someone in a country outside your own buys an item from you on eBay, the rules for shipping are a little bit different. Fret not, though, because your item may very well be eligible for eBay's Global Shipping Program. This basically lets you drop off your package at a local shipping centre, and then the rest of the international shipping and customs legwork is taken care of for you! Click here for more information on eBay's Global Shipping Program, including eligibility requirements.

If you or your items are not eligible for the Global Shipping Program, or you otherwise choose to opt out of the program, then there are some additional things to consider when shipping items sold on eBay to international destinations. Learn more information about alternative international shipping on eBay.

 

That's pretty much everything that you need to know in order to ship things that you sell on eBay! Next up, we'll take a look at how you get paid for your eBay sales!

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