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Sunday, Jan. 22, 2017

Is it time for a tune-up with your eBay shipping?

Posted Saturday, August 28, 2010, at 10:17 AM

The Christmas shopping season is fast approaching, if not already here for some. We have an Australian customer who has bought well over 30 items for Christmas so far this year she is not done yet! We are thinking about calling intervention groups to see if she needs help.

But I digress.

eBay is big on FREE shipping but as we all know, it is not free, so we do not use that approach much. It depends on what your competitors are doing as a general rule, but our products do not sell better using that approach. It also makes our "buy it now" price look less competitive and we pay Final Value Fees (FVF) on the extra amount, so.... that is one recommendation we do not use, but our sales & marketing approach is always evolving, so one never knows what will be our strategy in 6 months.

In October eBay will automatically award anyone with free shipping a five star DSR (Detailed Seller Ratings) rating, so if you are having trouble with low DSRs in shipping, it is something to consider. Free shipping sellers used to get lower ratings than if they used calculated shipping costs. Maybe the customer thought neutral was the best choice since the fee did not apply, but little did they know the damage being done. Even "Good" is not good enough, so a neutral was costing the seller their discounts and high search rankings.

Anyway, my real reason for writing is to remind new sellers that as the Christmas season gets into full swing, the length of delivery time stretches out, so try not to ship by economy methods during the last three weeks before the holiday, unless the customer insists of course.

eBay will now be showing estimated arrival times with different shipping methods on the buying page, and we list estimated times in our listing, so hopefully the customer will have less confusion and anxiety about the arrival of their purchase.

It might be overkill, but we may include the estimated time in our confirmation e-mail as well. Some customers do not pay when they make the commitment to buy, but they judge shipping time based on when they bought, not when they paid. The confirmation e-mail when they have paid will hopefully refresh the starting time in their mind.

We normally list the least expensive method as the primary shipping value because it is the price displayed to the customer when they look at the item. If we had an expensive method like overnight shipping as the primary, many might not look further.

eBay's search algorithms also consider the overall cost of buying something, and the primary (first) shipping cost is what the algorithm looks at to consider rankings. However, if you are shipping high value items, you may not use economy methods at all. They have a higher chance of being delayed or lost.

All this talk has been about the primary shipping method, but consider offering alternative methods for a second and even third choice. It costs nothing extra (as long as they are paying for it) and gives the customer more control over their delivery.

They may want Priority or even overnight service. Offering it saves the customer an extra e-mail and the time it takes to ask. That may not seem like much, but we are in a world that has come to expect instant answers. They do not know how fast you will respond, so having the answer up front resolves the issue.

The holiday shopping season is a great time to re-evaluate and adjust. If you have additional opinions, don't hesitate to voice them, but we would prefer it stay on topic. I will be happy to make another post for something different.

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eBay is doing a better job at restricting high shipping costs related to the item being sold so if you see high shipping, look a little deeper to see if the seller offers a less expensive method, or maybe the item is coming from overseas. We have international buyers expecting us to ship for the same as we do in the U.S. They say they have other sellers who will do that but the difference must have been built into the price. We do not do that, so we have to respectfully pass on the sale.

If you see no reason for the high shipping, write to the seller to ask about their fee. Mistakes do happen, old listings may not have been changed or worst case, they are trying to make profit on the shipping. If you are sure that is what is happening, write to eBay to suggest they look at it. It does not help eBay or the rest of us when sellers abuse the system.

As a seller, we take the time to explain how our fee is structured. When the customer understands we usually make the sale, even if we did not lower the cost. A "reasonable" handling fee is allowed by eBay and as many of you who sell on a regular basis know, it costs money for shipping supplies, even when using recycled material.

If you get a rude response to your question about lower shipping rates, it reflects how they will handle the rest of the sale should you decide to buy from them, so I would move on to another seller. Just my opinion of course. :-)

-- Posted by stevemills on Sat, Aug 28, 2010, at 10:45 AM

And another thought on shipping.

We ship some fragile items and sometimes get request to lighten the package weight to get lower shipping costs. We love our customers and try to oblige most requests, but this is one area we hold firm.

It is a losing proposition from all sides if the items gets damaged. The seller is the biggest loser since they are responsible to get the item there safely. They lose the item, the sale and the shipping costs unless they bought insurance.

The buyer loses the ability to own what they bought, but in most cases, they can find it again.

-- Posted by stevemills on Sat, Aug 28, 2010, at 11:00 AM

In June I ordered a set of 8 glasses through eBay. The shipper bought postage & insurance on the shipment, & that was included in the cost I paid for the purchase.

When the box arrived, 2 of the 8 glasses were broken. They were all packed well, & I have no idea why 2 were broken. I contacted the postal service, & they said I had to come in with the postage receipt, which she mailed me. It turned out that the USPS could not pay insurance on partial breakage. They would have refunded all of it to me, but they would have kept the entire shipment - 2 broken glasses & 6 that were intact. No thanks. I had rather have 6 for the price of 8. That was a bit confusing to me.

-- Posted by bettyhbrown on Tue, Sep 7, 2010, at 8:50 PM

I believe I would still be arguing that one Betty, The set was broken, Just because you can get some use out of what is left should not matter. Does the USPS really want to get into the retail business?

-- Posted by stevemills on Tue, Sep 7, 2010, at 10:23 PM

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Steve Mills and his wife have one daughter. They previously owned two coffee/ice cream shops, currently operate an internet sales company and teach classes, but his primary job involves the paper industry worldwide. Hobbies and interests lie in gardening, photography, recorded music and of course, their pets.