Anyone who mails packages on a regular or semi-regular basis needs to keep an assortment of different-sized boxes on hand for boxing up items before sending them on their way. Order fulfillments, promotional items, and gifts must all be put into boxes to keep them safe and secure while in transit through the postal service. A good way to collect boxes for shipping merchandise is to save old boxes from incoming shipments. However, in order to make a profit, it is ideal to have more merchandise going out than coming in. Eventually, there comes a time when one needs to procure more packaging and posting boxes. It might seem odd at first to purchase a box full of other boxes, but it is just like ordering any other type of supplies. Packaging and posting boxes can be flattened for easy posting. There are many sellers who offer packing boxes every day on eBay. The large number of sellers equates to a great deal of competition, which usually means better prices for the eBay shopper. All it takes is a bit of know-how to navigate the eBay site successfully.
Shopping for Packaging and Posting Boxes on eBay
One can find plenty of packaging and posting boxes on eBay. The user-friendly eBay site allows shoppers to locate items in one of two ways. The first method requires that the shopper try a quick and easy keyword or keyphrase search. The user finds the search field on the homepage and then types in 'boxes' or 'posting boxes' into the search field. Add more descriptors for a more specific search, such as 'large used corrugated boxes'. Next, click Search or press Enter. The eBay search engine goes through the site and returns all appropriate active listings. If a search returns no results, it does not necessarily mean that the item is not listed. The shopper should try removing one word or replacing it with a synonym. Something as basic as boxes may be listed under several different categories. Check these categories one at a time until you find the one most likely to contain listings for the desired type of boxes.
If a particular category seems like it is has the most options, return to the homepage and click on the All Categories link. Then, the shopper selects the category obtained from the keyword search and then navigates to that category. He or she then continue through the hierarchy of options until arriving at packaging and posting boxes.
There is not much to searching on eBay. Before you start searching, however, it is good to get an idea of the type of box or boxes needed in order to speed up the search process..
Types and Shapes of Boxes
There are a few basic types of boxes available. As mentioned, most come flat for easy handling and storage but can be folded and put together as needed. The simplest type of box has flaps on the top and bottom that can be taped with heavy-duty sealing tape. Other kinds of boxes fold together but may have folding lids with tabs that can be inserted into the body of the box to close it. Boxes with separate lids and punch-out handles, such as bankers' boxes, are not ideal for posting and packaging.
While generic boxes come in a cubic or cuboid shape, many shipping boxes are designed to fit specific items that may be too difficult or too fragile to put in a regular carton. Examples of special boxes include
- Long, narrow boxes for rolled posters, maps, and other tubes
- Flatter boxes for apparel
- Shoe boxes
There is a variety of these specialised boxes to choose from.
Most people use strong, inexpensive corrugated boxes for posting items, but there are a few other types of boxes that buyers should know about: polystyrene boxes and media mailers. All three of these are discussed below.
Corrugated Fibreboard Boxes
English milliners started using pleated paper in the 1850s to line hats. By 1871, an American had developed boxboard by attaching a layer of pleated paper to a stiff, flat layer of board. This product was known as single-faced board. Within a few years, double-faced board came onto the market. This combination of fluted paper sandwiched between two flat layers is known as single-wall corrugate, meaning there is one thickness, and it is used to form single-wall boxes. In cases where strength is needed, one can also find double-wall boxes and triple-wall boxes, which consist of either two or three layers of standard corrugate, respectively. In most cases, single-wall boxes are sufficiently strong, but there may be certain items, such as books, that require the extra reinforcement of an additional wall or two.
Corrugated fibreboard is an ideal material because it is inexpensive and can be easily recycled. Most boxes can be reused several times over before they are no longer in good enough condition to hold items securely.
Polystyrene boxes are not used as posting boxes per se but as interior package liners. Polystyrene is a rigid foam that is used to cushion fragile items in transit. Such protection is ideal for mailing items such as
- Glass and pottery
- Antiques and collectables
- Dolls and figurines
Anyone who ships these and other breakable items should invest in foam boxes. Some are shaped to hold specific items, such as mugs or wine bottles. Others are less specific and must be filled with polystyrene peanuts or some other packing material to cushion the items within.
Most mailers are not corrugated but thinner board. One can find specially sized CD mailers, DVD mailers, and record mailers. These are convenient because unusually-shaped items can be costly to ship in traditional cubic boxes. Mailers may be either white or brown and are generally shaped to fit the contents exactly, which reduces the chances of the item shifting inside the box and becoming damaged. Mailers can be used creatively for items other than those for which they were designed. For example, DVD mailers may fit small books, and CD mailers can be used to send jewellery or other small items.
Additional Features of Boxes
In addition to the general type of box, a buyer may have specific features that he or she is looking for. Environmentally-conscious businesses may wish to use only biodegradable boxes. Another way to save resources and a bit of money is to find boxes with write-on panels for the return address and ship-to address. These eliminate the need to purchase separate posting labels. Buyers can also look specifically for plain boxes and used boxes.
Buying on eBay
Once you have have an idea of what types of boxes you need, you can start searching for related merchandise on eBay. Narrow the selections down to a manageable number and click on an item photo or title to be redirected to its own product page. Here, you can read the detailed description and get more information on the item's condition, posting options and fees, as well as any return policies. You can also learn more about the seller that is offering the item.
Researching eBay Sellers
On the item page is a seller section that features the seller's eBay user ID and some statistics regarding feedback from past customers. If you want to know more, simply click on the linked username to go to that seller's personal profile page. Here, further information is available, such as detailed seller ratings in a few different categories and comments left by individual users. By leaving your own feedback and comments at the conclusion of the transaction, you contribute to the eBay community. Your honest input helps the seller improve his or her service and assists buyers when it comes to choosing a seller.
Buying from eBay Shops
Many eBay sellers run their own eBay shops. A buyer may be able to purchase large quantities or bundles of merchandise from these sellers and receive a volume discount or a special deal on postage. You can save the eBay shop as a favourite and return to it later to see what other items are listed in the future.
Any business that sends out merchandise needs to have a supply of boxes. While it is possible to amass boxes by keeping those that are received in the mail or picking them up from shops, it is more efficient to keep a stack of uniform, flattened boxes. Flattened boxes are easy to mail in bulk and can quickly be popped open and taped together. These mailing boxes can vary from cartons with overlapping flaps at the top and bottom or more sophisticated cartons with folding lids and tabs that allow for more secure closures.
Most general posting and packaging boxes are made of brown corrugated fibreboard, a recycled and recyclable material that is quite strong. Many fragile items require a cushioning material to be inserted into the external box. A polystyrene liner is ideal for this purpose. One can also purchase flat paperboard mailers for audiovisual media such as CDs, DVDs, and vinyl record albums.
eBay is a good place to buy boxes, and it is not difficult to learn how to use the site efficiently and make a good purchase. By communicating with sellers and learning how to search for specific items, any buyer can quickly obtain packaging and posting boxes and get back to business without making a trip to an office supply shop or a post office.