How to Determine Shipping Costs on eBay

Shipping is one of the most confusing things about selling anywhere online, including eBay.  There are lots of things to consider when setting the shipping price, including weight, destination, and shipping method.  There are a few different ways you can handle shipping.

Flat Rate Shipping

The least confusing way to calculate shipping is with a flat rate.  Using a flat rate lets your buyers know what to expect without having to use a shipping calculator.  But there are some things to consider when using a flat rate.

One disadvantage of flat rate shipping is that shippers do not charge a flat rate.  They base their charges on the package's weight, destination, and how quickly you want to get it there, and in some cases other factors.  When charging a flat rate for shipping, it is important to make sure that your costs will be covered no matter where you ship it.  Some handle this by using an average cost, while others figure the most expensive cost to ship to any location and use that.

Another problem with flat rates is that they are prone to scrutiny by eBay.  It is against the company's policy to charge excessive shipping costs, and if your flat rate far exceeds the actual cost of shipping and materials, you could be subject to disciplinary action.

Calculated Shipping

The most accurate way to determine shipping costs is using a shipping calculator.  This requires you to know the weight of your package and shipping method.  You can offer more than one shipping method and base costs on which one is used.

One of the most important things when using calculated shipping is knowing the actual weight of the package.  This includes all packaging materials.  Some buyers do not package items until the auction is over so that they can answer any questions that buyers might have, which means it may be difficult to get the weight right.  If possible, package the item with everything except the tape and weigh it, and it should be within a couple of ounces of the finished package weight.

Choosing a Shipping Method

When deciding which shipping method (or methods) to offer, it is important to consider the convenience of using those methods.  Most carriers offer free pickup if you choose to use it.  If you would prefer to take the items to the carrier's facility yourself, don't forget that you will incur transportation costs that you will need to cover somehow.

If shipping through the Postal Service, you can save money by knowing as much as possible about their different services.  USPS First Class is usually the cheapest method, and delivery time is usually within a day of the more expensive Priority Mail.  The only differences are that you get a free box when using Priority Mail, and you can mail heavier items with that method.

Shipping charges are a very important consideration when selling on eBay.  If you charge too much, buyers will be hesitant to bid, and eBay could even remove your listing.  If you charge too little, you could lose money.  Finding a happy medium will ensure your success and profitability.