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8 Shipping Myths Debunked

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Last Edited 10:09:34 AM

As an eBay seller, you know you’ve got to develop a good business sense and specialized knowledge in your product categories.


Shipping’s an equally important part of your success. Are you doing everything you can to get the most out of how you ship?


Shipping smarter can save you time and money, and earn you repeat customers.


Don’t let any of these common shipping misconceptions hold your business back.

Myth 1: My buyers don’t care what it looks like.


Your packaging is the first thing a buyer sees when their order arrives. Make your first impression a good one, and you’re that much closer to turning buyers into a repeat customers.


According to Shopify, 52% of consumers are likely to make repeat purchases from online merchants who deliver premium packaging. So don’t ship in old pizza boxes or an envelope that’s already traveled back and forth cross country.


Buyers love the colorful flair of eBay-branded shipping supplies. And if you’re a Store subscriber, you already know you get a quarterly coupon for them.


Myth 2: Shipping to APOs and FPOs is too hard!


Army Post Office (APO) and Fleet Post Office (FPO) addresses are technically US addresses, so shipping to military members and their family overseas is a very straightforward process.


Addressing and paying for postage is just like a domestic shipment. eBay labels automatically fills in APO/FPO addresses.


The one difference you’ll face when you ship to APO/FPOs? You’ll likely have to fill out a customs form. Fill out and print United States Post Office form 2976, and ship the order as normal.


Read more about shipping to APO and FPO addresses.

Myth 3: International shipping isn’t worth it.


The exports business is a whopping $3B industry.


While shipping abroad used to require a lot of time and energy, the Global Shipping Program takes the complexity out of getting your items to buyers across borders. It can also grow your sales up to 15%.


With GSP, selling around the world is as simple as selling around the block and gives you access to 68 million global buyers.


See how to make your listings eligible for the Global Shipping Program.

Myth 4: If it fits, it ships.


That may be the slogan for the USPS Priority Mail Flat Rate program, but the truth is more like “If it fits naturally, it ships.”


As explained by the Houston Chronicle, “The contents of the [flat rate] package must fit within the mailing box or envelope you select. [This] rule effectively prohibits overstuffed packages with flaps that will not meet or lie smooth. The rule also negates creative solutions, such as taping two flat rate boxes together to accommodate an oversize item.”


Break this rule, and a flat-rate box might get sent right back to you.

Myth 5: I don’t need a scale.


Shipping with accurate weights can save you money and ensure your orders get to your buyers as fast as possible.


As of August 2017, USPS now identifies underpaid packages, notifies the sender, and automatically deducts the amount of underpaid postage, ensuring prompt delivery and better service for all everyone involved.


Even better, overpaid postage is now automatically credited back to senders’ balance, meaning sellers won’t overpay for postage.


Did you check eBay for a postal scale?

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Myth 6: Regional shipping is too complicated to use.


USPS Priority Mail Regional Rate boxes combine the speed and convenience of Priority Mail shipping with zone pricing to reduce costs.


Instead of charging you one rate no matter the distance, regional rates vary by zone. The closer your buyer, the lower the cost!


Making the most of Regional Rate boxes may take a little mental work to make sure your own costs account for the variance in shipping cost by buyer region, but this blog post from ShippingEasy breaks down how to ship make them work for you. Now watch the savings add up!

Myth 7: I have to go to the Post Office everyday.


If you’ve got just one outgoing Priority Mail or First-Class package, you can schedule a free pickup from your home or office. 

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 Myth 8: I need to have a postal worker scan every package.


Are you shipping multiple items at once?


Scan sheets assign a single barcode to multiple packages being picked up by a carrier, so when a carrier scans one barcode, they’re virtually scanning the labels of all packages on the list.


Check out this quick step-by-step guide on creating a USPS scan sheet through eBay labels.  

Eight myths we can lay to rest! What shipping myths have you busted in your seller journey?


@anthony_payne, great points! 


#6 - ebay makes Regional Rate Boxes horribly underutilized (and causes lost sales to near-zone buyers) by excluding them as an option in the listing tool. Respectfully, items most suited for RR Boxes - heavier than typical for an item of that size - HAVE to be listed with calculated shipping. Offering flat rate or "free" shipping for those items is far too risky, unless it fits in a PM flat rate box. Prime example: I almost lost a recent magazine lot sale (because of sellers illegally using Media Mail...), but the nearby buyer reached out. RRB was only 60% of the shipping rate displayed on the listing. Making this sale required 3 rounds of messages with the buyer & manually updating the listing to reflect shipping to her area. 


Please add Regional Rate boxes to the listing forms. 

by gagscake · Adventurer

Can you clarify this statement:


"Even better, overpaid postage is now automatically credited back to senders’ balance, meaning sellers won’t overpay for postage."  


Are you saying that if the seller charges postage for a 5 ounce package and it weighs in at 4 ounces, the seller is refunded the 1 ounce difference (13 cents)?  


Seeking clarification as I wasn't aware of this automatic credit back.  I tried diligently to post accurate package weights in my listings.  Under the previous system 1 to 4 oz were one fee and 5 to 8 oz were another fee, so if you were within the appropriate range, it didn't matter if you overstated the ounce because you still would have paid the same amount. Under this new system, literally every ounce counts. It's more time consuming, but I understand why it's being done. However, since every ounce counts, this is the first I have paid closer attention to the statement made above.


"Buyers love the colorful flair of eBay-branded shipping supplies."


Not as much as ebay loves to get paid for packagiung that advertises ebay and leaves the real seller identity completely out of it.


In reality most people do NOT care about what and item is shipped in as long as it arrives well packed and safe, as well as on time.


I have customers compain all the time because they do not want to have the cost of packaging materials such as bubble envelopes, boxes and such added to the already ridiculous fees USPS charges. 


I have also had buyers send me messages telling me that they hope I did nopt pay for the poorly constructed ebay boxes. Corners not square, seems crooked, etc.


A couple of quick notes:

RR Boxes have been a part of the calculated shipping listing pages for nearly a year - and part of the standard eBay Shipping form pages for equally as long. I sell to "next-zone" customers all the time, and use RR Boxes, and I have never seen anyone "excluded". I probably just misunderstand those comments.


So far as I and the USPS are aware, there is no credit-back for overpayment of postage. As noted in the other comment, the same postage applies to a range of weights. Any fractional weight less than n.5 oz, is rounded down to the lower ounce value. Any fractional weight of n.5 or higher, is rounded up to the next highest ounce value. That's how it has always been done. I've shipped out many such packages in the past year (rounded up to the next highest ounce value), and so far have never received a penny back for any overestimation of postage.


Please please tell me where the heck to find THAT listing form.  Screenshot of all my available shipping options is below. 


I can PURCHASE a RRB label via eBay's print label screen, and have on many occasions. I just can't include it as an option in the listing, nor is it on the shipping calculator. IMG_0829.JPG


by thallidguy · Rockstar

The only point I would contest is your first one. I've used about 200 branded bubble mailers so far, and I have absolutely no evidence that they have influenced my buyers one way or another. Surveys of Shopify buyers don't impress me. eBay buyers are different because eBay is different, always has been. eBay's uniqueness is why people shop here and continue to shop here.


Almost two decades of experience selling here and on other venues convinces me that quality of packing is much more important than attractiveness of packaging. Take good care when shipping your items, and buyers will appreciate it. Take poor care, and they will smack you upside your head when the item arrives broken because of your negligence. That's the difference-maker.


As for the appearance of packaging, I actually got praise from one buyer when he saw different colors and shapes of packing peanuts in a shipment from me. He assumed (correctly) that I had repurposed them instead of letting them go to the landfill. So there are people out there who actually appreciate it if you're re-using packaging that is still viable.

by gotta-get-stuff · Guide | Updated

Is it my imagination or are some of the eBay shipping boxes pictured some of the larger ones that are no longer carried? They have discontinued the most popular ones, so what good are the shipping supplies going to be soon? Those boxes were some of the most popular ones, and a TON of sellers are mad they are no longer available.


PS-I have been then, am now, and will always be a recycle kinda packer. If it's clean and still useable I'll pack in it Smiley Wink I use many different size boxes and 99.99999% of them I get at Walmart  Smiley Happy


Any actual recent ebay purchase. Nothing remotely related to dog food! This seller has been an ebayer since 1999, and has 599 positive feedback in the past 6 months (feedback score of 4700+). She's evidently convinced her buyers don't care about packaging. But, I have to wonder if she misses repeat purchases, because it's obvious SHE doesn't care about packaging. I'm really surprised this flimsy box survived the cross-country trip with only minor squishing.IMG_0827.PNGIMG_0827.PNG




by gotta-get-stuff · Guide

dcintennessee-see, to me, THAT is NOT a clean, good box to ship in. 


Exactly @gotta-get-stuff! I just can't comprehend that such an experienced seller does this. 


Myth 1: My buyers don’t care what it looks like.


Well, yeah, they don't mostly! It's not a myth! I agree with statements that said buyers care about item's quality more than how the package looks. I've never had a buyer who'd texted to me claiming the item's good, but it was packaged poorly, so he decided to return the item only because of packaging. I've had some disappointed buyers who were disappointed that item was damaged on the road. I swear none of existing shipping providers won't guarantee your item will arrive intact and on time even if you pay extra for it.

Myth 3: International shipping isn’t worth it.


Guess what? It's actually true! Shipping prices for International Shipping are ridiculously high here in US. The only reason international buyers will buy here is on the basis of economic motives. If they can find here something that cost lower than the same product in their countries, they'll buy it. None of them will buy anything if the shipping price will be higher than the item's price (it happens quite often), unless the combined price still will be considered as reasonable. Buyers have to pay some customs duty + the shipping price (the farther buyer lives the higher price of shipping) + the cost of an item.

I know a lot of people here in the US, who'd rather buy in China and save a few bucks than pay for the overpriced shipping and get the damaged item.


by readabouthorses · Guide

Myth 6 ... Instead of charging you one rate no matter the distance, regional rates vary by zone. The closer your buyer, the lower the cost—no matter how much the box weighs.


There are upper limits to the weights of the Regional Boxes so it does matter how much the box weighs.


Myth 7 .... postal pickup is NOT available to everyone. I cannot get it ... the PO won't even deliver boxes to me. If I have something that will not fit in my rural mailbox (which is 3/4 of a mile from  my house) then I have to drive a 12 mile round trip to take it to the PO.


And the biggest MYTH OF ALL on Ebay .... back issues magazines CANNOT be shipped by Media Mail!!


The biggest Myth of All ... USPS guidelines CLEARLY STATE that any printed books, booklets, or other printed materials, that contain Advertisements of any kind - ARE NOT permissible as "Media Mail". That pretty much excludes ALL magazines from shipment as Media Mail. Age of the magazines is irrelevant.


You might have gotten away with it in the past, but make no mistake - USPS is cracking down.  Media Mail has come under extremely close scrutiny, and about 90% of all Media Mail packages are now routinely opened, and inspected for guideline infractions.


Also, a quick error correction to a previous post I made here - Regional Rate boxes ARE NOT an option in the Listing-Draft Calculated Shipping drop-down list. They only show up as options on the eBay/USPS Shipping Label page.


While we are on the subject, does anyone know what USPS Retail Ground Mail is? Customer Service at the Untied States Postal Service assures me that shipping category does not exist. There is only USPS Parcel Select available as an economy method - - - yet there it is, USPS Retail Ground shown on the eBay drop-down list. Hmmm.

Myth #9

  it's fair that ebay charges sellers 10% on the shipping cost because of a few bad apples that were scamming the system even though they can see exactly what we pay for shipping 

by zylor4200 · Rockstar

Myth #1: You're only giving us this FALSE information to push those silly ebay boxes and tape. I would NEVER pay for anything such as that! I re-purpose very good (and sturdier) boxes than those cheesy ebay things. I recently received an item shipped in one of those flimsy boxes and of course the box was bent and semi-crushed but luckily the item itself was fine. No, I don't even waste my money on an ebay store either, virtually nobody looks at a seller's store. If we are searching ebay for a certain item, we look at various sellers selling that item and do NOT take the time to look at those seller's stores. I've been selling on ebay since 2003 and am doing just fine with my boxes retrieved from dumpsters and buying $1.00 packing tape at the dollar store. It's the quality of the ITEM that counts, NOT the box!

by wolfbyte · Guide

re: Myth 7: I have to go to the Post Office everyday.


USPS pick-up is a great service, but do be mindful that mistakes happen.


In the past, USPS failed to pick-up my packages several times. Mostly, this occured at a time when I was home. Luckly, I saw or heard the truck go by and ran out of the house, loaded the packages into my car and chased after the the truck, honking the horn to get the attention of the driver. Sometimes, I had to drive around the neighborhood, looking for the truck. A couple of other times, I came home from work to find the boxes not picked-up and the Post Office closed.


Each time I had a missed a pick-up, I called the Post Office and confirmed that yes, I had been scheduled for a pick-up, but each time there had been an oversight on their part. This all occured several years ago when eBay was less structured with delivery times. Today, this sort of thing can cost you your TRS status.


These days, I live 5 minutes from my Post Office and deliver everything myself. Recently, the postal clerk wanted to interest me in free pick-up to which I responded, "No, thank you. "


Thanks for the correction @themonitorman, but I was sure was hoping that with the various incarnations of Seller Hub I'd somehow missed access to the listing form I'd rather use! And so, @anthony_payne - another appeal. Please add Regional Rate Boxes to the listing & shipping calculator tools. 


I too use recycled supplies as much as possible. Many businesses are happy to pass along their "trash." But, I'll only use clean, plain brown or white boxes, preferably with no imprint. If you need especially sturdy boxes, try a medical clinic. Empty medical supply boxes may weigh double another of the same size, but are essentially uncrushable. 


Secret weapon: USPS Large Flat Rate "Game" box. At about 12x24x3, they're great for bulky clothing, bedding & much more. 


Yeah, those incarnations are a real hassle sometimes @dcintennessee. eBay is getting to be like the NFL - rules, regulations, and policies change so continuously now, it's hard to keep up - - - not to mention the changes they keep making toour poor Seller pages. Just when everything is conveniently arranged the way I like it, I get a new Page and Message "We've Upgraded Your Listing Page! Check Out All the New Features!"


As a sometime professional musician for over 40 years, I can confidently say "Newer, does not always mean Better!",


This is like the "ways to improve sales with a simple policy change"  post about accepting  returns.


It is a major smoke blowing session. It is designed to grab gullable sellers and get them to use ebay shipping materials so that the package, the label all say "ebay". Then ebay gets paid for the shipping supplies, gets their brand out in the public more, and minimizes the identity of the real seller. Ebay is fine with the entire country thinking that when they buy an item off ebay that they bought from ebay.


That is until there is a problem and then it is the sellers fault and they will immediately punish the seller for damaging ebays good "name". They will tell buyer they bought from ebay but if the product is junk they then tell the buyer to file with the "seller", and then throw the seller under the bus. They act like politicians. If it is good ebay did it but if it is bad then their opponent is responsible.


Regional A boxes ship at the 2lb rate and B at the 5lb rate.  So I just set up calculated shipping in my listings using those weights. 


For example if the item weighs 6 pounds but is shipping in a Regional A just put 2 pounds on the listing so that the buyer sees the discounted price.   





by ebetsy · Rockstar

We love Regional Rate boxes — so handy and cost effective!


Re: eBay-branded shipping supplies, if you want to promote your brand, just add your own stickers with your logo and store URL (preferably an easy-to-remember redirect URL such as www.YourStoreName.com) and add it to the box. This works for non-eBay-branded shipping supplies, too. And/or use your logo sticker on the inside packing, such as to give a finishing touch to a tissue-wrapped shirt or seal the plastic bag holding your sold item or to hold the bubblewrap in place.


As for whether or not buyers care about packaging: My husband and I have more than 10,000 feedbacks for buying under our joint ID, and I have more than 2000 feedbacks as a buyer under this ID. And I care very much about how items are packaged. I don't mind recycled shipping materials — packing peanuts and bubblewrap are imminently reusable; we rarely have to purchase either! — but the exterior box had better be sturdy and not on its last legs. 


As for what's inside, presentation is everything. A Blue Fish or Converse top that arrives crammed into a bulging cardboard USPS Flat Rate Priority Mail envelope doesn't make nearly as good an impression as that same item neatly folded, with or without tissue, and slipped into a sealed plastic bag in case the package gets wet (it's happened, more than once!). Folded, wrapped in tissue and tied with a raffia bow, then slipped into a plastic bag? That same item now looks FABULOUS!

Myth number 7 is true for me. My rural USPS post office does NOT have this service.

by rt_21_trading_co · Thrill-Seeker | Updated

Hypocrisy much? 

"Myth 1: My buyers don’t care what it looks like.


Your packaging is the first thing a buyer sees when their order arrives. Make your first impression a good one, and you’re that much closer to turning buyers into a repeat customers.


According to Shopify, 52% of consumers are likely to make repeat purchases from online merchants who deliver premium packaging. So don’t ship in old pizza boxes or an envelope that’s already traveled back and forth cross country."


Chide us for recycling packaging when the ebay envelope sugests it.