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eBay is easily one of the most popular online commerce sites in the world. For a long time, it was the world’s most popular e-commerce site. To this day, it remains one of the biggest names in this market. As such, there is more reason than ever to get in on this growing segment of the economy. For those who may not be familiar with packing and shipping on eBay, we present this handy guide to packing and shipping on eBay.

Step One:

When listing an item for sale on eBay, you have two options on shipping: Charging the buyer for shipping costs or covering them out-of-pocket. When you offer free shipping, your item will be slightly more likely to sell. Think of it this way: If you were looking at two similar items, and the only difference between them was the fact that one of them offered free shipping, you will choose that one every time.

If you are smart, you can make up for the money you spend on shipping by “padding” the cost of the item a little bit. For instance, let’s say the item would normally sell for $10.00 and shipping costs are about $2.00. By charging $12.00, you can make up your losses and still use the appealing “free shipping” designation. Because eBay prices will often vary by a few dollars, even for identical items, your item is still likely to sell.

At the same time, you need to be careful about international shipping. Depending on where you live and where the buyer lives, international shipping can get very expensive indeed. You never want to offer free shipping to international customers, or you can end up spending more on shipping than you made on the sale itself! Making the buyer pay for shipping costs is generally a safer option for the seller, even if it is less appealing to the customer.

Step Two: Calculating Shipping Costs

The calculation of shipping costs can be a tricky matter, indeed. There are a great many factors that can affect your shipping rates, and these include (but are not limited to):

  • Location of the seller
  • Location of the buyer
  • Weight of the package
  • Size and dimensions of the package
  • Package insurance (if desired)
  • Special fees and taxes (if applicable)

Thankfully, eBay has an online shipping calculator which takes most of these factors into account. While machine-generated estimates are often wrong on other matters, these estimates are generally pretty trustworthy. If you don’t trust eBay, there are a lot of online shipping calculators. Unlike most other estimates, shipping costs are based on a set of concrete rules (even if they are a little confusing), and that makes it easy for a machine to give you accurate figures. Of course, you should still bear in mind that these estimates are just ballpark figures and should be regarded as such.

Step Three: Packing The Item For Shipment

Obviously, this process will be a little different for every item. Depending on the size and dimensions of your item, you might choose any number of containers. However, most of your options come down to two basic types: Mailers and boxes.

Mailers are large envelopes that are perfect for small items. If the item is fragile, you might use a stiff card inside the mailer to prevent bending. You might also opt for a mailer that has a liner of bubble wrap. Obviously, you have to evaluate the fragility of your item and take the appropriate level of precaution. As a general rule, you will use mailers for small items and boxes for larger items.

When using a box, it is a good idea to pack any extra space with filler material. You might use Styrofoam peanuts, wadded-up balls of newspaper, bubble wrap, or any number of other things. The only requirement is that the material must be cheap and soft. The more an item moves and shifts in transit, the greater the chance that it will break. eBay does have rules about sending broken merchandise, and you could be required to refund the customer at your loss if the item doesn’t arrive intact.

eBay also has rules about proper labeling, so make sure that those rules have been properly observed. Unfortunately, there are some buyers who will use eBay’s rules as a way to scam you. For instance, they will claim that the item arrived broken when it did not. This practice has become all too common in recent years, so don’t give them any excuse to start a case against you. The more you follow the rules, the less likely that a judgment will be made against you.

Step Four: Sending And Tracking

Once your item is packed for shipment, you will then take it to the nearest post office and send it to its destination. Once you have done this, the postal service (or UPS, FedEx, etc.) should give you a tracking number. By using this number, you can track the location of the package in real-time. You should provide this number to the buyer as soon as possible. This is the only way to verify that the item was shipped.

If there is any sort of delay, it is important to maintain good communication with the buyer. eBay has a message system by which you can easily do this. If the item is going to take longer than a few days, you should politely let the customer know what is going on so that they won’t get suspicious. If you don’t tell them anything, they may get suspicious of you and open a case against you.

Package Insurance?

This is a shipping option that you may or may not want to consider. Insurance will make the carrier liable for the contents of the package. If something happens, the carrier will be required to reimburse you for those contents. Of course, companies aren’t going to give out those kinds of assurances for free. Therefore, you can expect that shipping insurance will add significantly to the bottom line.

So, when should you use package insurance? The answer is simple. You should only use package insurance when the item in question is worth more than $100. Anything below that level would not be worth the extra shipping costs. For anything above that level, it would be foolish to put that much trust in any mail carrier.


We hope that your experience in selling and shipping on eBay is a pleasant one and that you make all kinds of profit in the process. While this article serves as a good introduction to the subject, there really is no substitute for good research. All of eBay’s policies are public knowledge (as are the policies of most governments), so it shouldn’t be too hard to find out the things you need to know. If we have given you a good start on this project, we hope that you will show your appreciation by filling out the contact form below.