Howdy Pardners

Well, (such a deep subject for such a shallow mind) my blog experience is closing in on 6-8 months now. The winter here in New Mexico has been cold so I have not been able to work in my unheated upholstery shop. The weather is turning and warming up so I may be able to get back to submitting upholstery how-to's and projects soon. As you can read I am still going to the Universtiy of Phoenix and selling in my eBay store. Both experiences have had there challanges. I appreciate all of those (world wide) that take the time and find a tidbit of interest in my bantering. You all take care........Duane

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

eBay Shipping Tips & Keeping Your DSR's High

Hello All. As many of you may have guessed, by now, that I have an  eBay store. I sell books, antiques, collectibles and drop ship home decor items and electronic merchandise. You can find my store AnuDirection by clicking on the link provided. I have been working on this store for nearly five years and have as of October 2, 2010  ( Feedback Score Of 2447Red star icon for feedback score in between 1,000 to 4,999) Get fast shipping and excellent service from Top-rated sellers. Member is a PowerSeller About member eBay Store with a 100% positive feedback score. Now as many of you know there are many sellers that are considered large sellers and there are many, like me, that are small sellers. According to eBay "top rated sellers" are the top 10% of sellers on eBay.

In order for a seller, on eBay, to maintain high DSR's there are four categories that they must receive high feedback scores on. They are communications. item description, shipping time and shipping cost. You can see that shipping weighs heavily on the sellers DSR's scores. Through trial and error, after five years, I have developed a system that works for me and the products that I sell. Other sellers may have their own system that works for them but this blog is about me, me, me.

In order to maintain high scores on shipping you must have a means to have accurate weights on the packages you ship and list. This is one area where you can "lose your shirt" if you list something and the shipping fees are not accurate. If you are to low with your estimate it will cost you money. If you are to high and the shipping costs seem extravagant for the buyer you may lose a sell or get low feedback scores on shipping costs. In a lot of ways with shipping the seller is between a rock and a hard place. It doesn't seem to matter what shipping method you use it is costly. I find it curious that a person will spend $4.50 for a latte but have a fit spending $4.50 to ship an item across the United States. Go figure.

For a seller, on eBay, or any other business that you ship items you need the proper tools and supplies. One of the first tools I purchased, when I started selling on eBay, was a small USPS postal scale.

This scale wasn't to expensive, is digital and is accurate up to 10 pounds. I still use the same scale today. It certainly has paid for itself over the years. I use this scale to weigh books and small light items. There are some items I sell that are weigh over ten pounds. Believe it or not when I first started selling I weighed heavy items on a bathroom scale. Talk about "trial and error". I learned very quickly (remember the losing your shirt comment) that I needed to invest in a scale that weighed accurately over ten pounds.

This scale weighs items up to 300 pounds. This scale has also paid for itself over the years. What is convenient about this scale is not only will it weigh heavy items but the digital monitor is attached with a coiled cord so if you have a very large package you can still read the information.

Most customers, mine included, expect their purchase to arrive intact, unharmed and in the same condition that was described in the listing (customers expect a lot huh?). I use a quality 2 inch packing tape, bio-degradable packing filler and bubble wrap to insure my items arrive to my customers safely. As an eBay seller you are responsible for the item until it is received. When you have a transaction, have taken the time, expense and trouble of packing the item and get a message from your customer that the item is damaged it just kinda ruins your day. But you know "stuff happens" and that is just part of having an Internet business. That is why I don't skimp on packing material. Like my old friend Kossee used to say "you lose twice, with a refund, it is the money that you didn't have and the money that you had to give back".

I have found for me that USPS (grumble grumble humph) is the most reliable, convenient and cost effective way to ship my items. I know there are other sources but remember this blog is about me me me. I do use UPS for larger items (like one of my antique chairs) and the items that I drop ship are shipped through UPS. So I have nothing in particular against UPS it's just that I ship about 98% of my items through USPS.

Here is what I have learned from dealing with USPS over the last five years. It makes you wonder why they have lost 6 billion dollars last year. In order to keep my shipping costs as low as possible and to keep my customers happy (remember shipping DSR's) there are certain techniques that I use to ship my items.

Let's start with the books I sell first.

11 1/2" x 14 1/2 " Manila Envelope

Most of my books I send "media mail" which has its restrictions but most book buyers understand that. Media mail is slow and USPS can, at their choosing, open the package to inspect without your approval. The post office wants to make sure that you are not mailing something that media mail does not allow. Most books can be sent, within the United States, media mail for under $4.00. If the book or publication is under 13 ounces, it can be sent first class mail, it is about the same cost as media mail but it arrives to my customer much quicker and that is usually worth the few cents that there may be in the difference in price (remember customers that receive their item quickly are happy customers that give you high feedback scores). I wrap the book carefully, with bubble wrap, and if the envelope is to large for the contents I will cut some of the excess off. I weigh the book, print my shipping label, insert the packing slip and tape the label to the outside. In most cases, but not all, I list my books "free shipping". Through experience I have a pretty good idea how much the book is going to cost to ship media mail. I determine a price and figure the cost of shipping into it. That way every customer pays the same flat rate. With eBay's system sellers who offer "free shipping" get a higher search rating than those that don't. This also helps with keeping my DSR's at a high level.

USPS Priority Mail Flat Rate Envelope

When I sell a more expensive book, say $20.00 and up, I want my customer to receive their book fast. "If it fits it ships" and I will use a flat rate envelope to ship the book. I may have saved a $1.00 or so by shipping the book media mail but I accomplish a couple of things by using this method that help to keep my DSR's high. First my customer knows that I appreciate their business and want to create a long term relationship with them by spending the extra money to get the product to them quickly. The USPS flat rate envelope will ship from Albuquerque and will get across the United States in two to three days. I have some customers in Texas that will get their purchase the next business day. My customers that receive their purchase quickly generally state their appreciation with very high feedback scores. Those high feedback scores will encourage new buyers to buy from me and isn't that the name of the game.

Because I print my own labels it costs me $4.75 to ship via a flat rate envelope. The envelopes are free from the post office. I generally order a case of them at a time from USPS and they are shipped directly to my address. Ya really can't beat that deal.

I invite you to read some feedback from happy customers that have been posted recently.

Top Rated Seller Icon
 When you are a seller on eBay this is the icon that you work hard to get. This icon identifies me as being consistent in delivering the goods and service that I promise. Like I stated above only the top 10% of eBay sellers are identified as Top Rated Sellers. When you are identified as a top rated seller you will enjoy better search placement, the icon will appear with all of your listings and there are some fee discounts associated with being a top rated seller. It is worth it to receive this seller status and I work very hard to maintain it.

Large Flat Rate Priority Box

Medium Flat Rate Priority Box

I use the medium flat rate postal box and the large flat rate box as a means of shipping some of my products swiftly, securely and I think at a reasonable cost. When I purchase shipping labels from the Internet the medium box costs $10.20 to ship anywhere in the United States and it will arrive in two to three business days. This box measures 11 1/2 x 13 x 2 1/2 inches. Like the flat rate envelope I can order these from USPS at no charge and they will deliver them to my door. The large flat rate priority box measures 12 x 12 x 5 1/2 inches and an Internet shipping label costs $13.40. Both these boxes and the flat rate envelope can also be used for international shipping, USPS also offers a couple of other size priority boxes which I very seldom if at all use.

When I am looking to buy antiques and collectibles I always try to purchase items that can be shipped via one of the methods that I have described. For items that won't fit into one of these envelopes or boxes I resort to parcel post. Parcel post is, in my opinion, very expensive and probably comparable to sending something through UPS but it takes longer. Then there is the additional hassle of trying to locate the appropriate cardboard box.

I do also drop ship home decor items where my drop shipper uses UPS as a shipping service. Of course the drop shipper is a huge shipper and more than likely gets select service and best price from UPS. I will use UPS for very large items, like the antique furniture that I sell, that USPS can not accommodate.

Well I hope that you were able to get some tidbit of information from all of this. Thank you for reading this post. If you have any questions I would be more than happy to try and answer them. If you have any suggestions or comments I would like to hear from you.

Until then "happy trails"...........Duane

1 comment:

  1. Rather than setting off to your neighborhood shipping supply store, attempt to buy your supplies online in mass. Most organizations will offer shipping supplies in huge amounts at wholesale costs to organizations who request with them on a steady premise.