Dr. Penny Pincher founded the popular personal finance blog Penny Pincher Journal in 2013 and has published two books about saving money.
Thinking About the Box . . .
Congratulations! You sold your item on eBay. Now what? How do you ship your sold eBay items?
Follow these rules for shipping an eBay item to ensure success:
- Pack Carefully: Pack the item carefully to ensure that it is not damaged during shipment. Packing materials such as newspaper or plastic bags are cheap, so use lots to protect your item.
- Ship Promptly: The buyer will be notified by eBay when you ship your item. The quicker you ship the package, the quicker the buyer will receive it. Prompt delivery gives you a better chance to receive positive feedback from your buyer- this will help you sell other eBay items in the future.
- Ship as Promised: Ship exactly as specified in your auction listing. Use the exact shipper and shipping method specified. If the auction listing says shipping by USPS, ship USPS even if UPS would be faster or cheaper. Buyers don't like surprises.
- Include an Invoice: Include an invoice in the package—remember to put this in before you seal the box! I print out a copy of the auction listing and write a short note thanking the buyer for his/her purchase.
Boxes and Packing Materials
Small items such as books, video games, and DVDs will fit in a padded mailing envelope (cushion mailer) that can be purchased for under $2 at an office supply store, or at the Post Office or UPS shipping center. You can place the item in a plastic shopping bag, then inside the mailing envelope for additional protection.
Larger items will require a box. Smaller boxes are available at the Post Office or UPS shipping center. I have obtained larger boxes from U-Haul. You can get fairly large boxes for about $5 or less. I once sold some vintage bicycle tires on eBay that needed to be shipped 1000 miles. I did not want to fold the tires to fit inside a box to avoid damaging them. I ended up using a mirror box from U-Haul that was just the right size and was not very expensive.
Inside the box, use lots of packing material. Wadded up newspaper is cheap and works well. I also use plastic shopping bags wadded up to provide filler to keep the item from impacting the sides of the box if it is dropped during shipment. As a general rule, use more packing material than you think you'll need- it will settle and compress during shipment.
Include an Invoice
BEFORE you tape the box closed, remember to enclose a packing invoice. This simply describes the item that was shipped. I print out the auction listing and write a note to the buyer thanking him/her for the order. Many hassles with buyers can be avoided by simply including a copy of the auction listing to remind the buyer of the specific item and condition of the item that was described in the auction listing.
When you have the item packaged, you can obtain the final weight and measurements for the shipping label. You can either print the shipping label at home, or take the package to the post office or UPS shipping center. I like to print the shipping label right from eBay. This will automatically update the status of the item as shipped and notify the buyer. If you don't have a scale, you may want to go to the shipping center to get an accurate weight. You can update the shipment status of the item yourself. Remember to use the exact shipper and shipping method stated in the auction listing.
Shipping the item quickly is the single most important thing you can do to increase your chances of getting positive feedback from the buyer.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2013 Dr Penny Pincher
Dr Penny Pincher (author) from Iowa, USA on May 15, 2013:
Thanks for the comments stephanieb27, kidscrafts, and GregWilliams30! I think it is fun to have an auction going on eBay. I like to watch the bidding, especially at the end of the auction when there is a lot of activity.
GregWilliams30 on May 15, 2013:
I like to look through my house twice a year and find anything that I don't use anymore and sell it on ebay. I have a lot of success with it, and it is a lot of fun. I have had success in getting boxes from stores or restaurants. Also, if you go to a box store like Brown and Pratt (http://brownandpratt.com/ ) they might have some boxes that were printed incorrectly and you could use them too!
kidscrafts from Ottawa, Canada on February 08, 2013:
Excellent suggestions! I never sell on eBay but I have plenty of experience in sending packages overseas and I know how important it is to protect all the items and wrap everything really well! And I also received some packages all torned and the content is dammage so that's too bad!
stephanieb27 from United States on February 07, 2013:
Timely article for me! Just started selling on Ebay and sent off my second item today. Pinning this article for future reference!