Postage and Packaging tips UK

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Postage Guide


Postage charges can be a controversial issue on eBay, with some sellers using high postage costs as a way to avoid fees and others offering free postage to make their items more attractive.

As a seller, there are a few simple rules to follow

  • Don’t overcharge – this is a sure way to put off prospective buyers. If someone is willing to pay £10 for an item and £3 postage they will feel ripped off if you charge £3 for the same item with £10 postage – even though they are paying the same amount overall. In reality the buyer will feel they should pay £3 for the item and £3 postage.

  • Make sure you cover your costs – do you buy boxes to pack your items? Do you buy bubble wrap or other packaging materials? Do you tend to sell one item a day and have to drive any distance to the post office? Take all these into consideration when setting your postage charges – but remember to keep it realistic. Don’t add on £2 per item for petrol costs if you live a mile from the Post Office and post 20 items per day. Your buyers won’t know this, but they will notice if your postage costs are higher than your competitors.

  • Remember that Paypal will take a small percentage of everything you are paid through that method, including postage costs. If you sell a heavy item cheaply (i.e. 99p sale with £10 postage), Paypal may take a bigger chunk of the money than you allowed for and in extreme cases could end up with the sale costing you money. This doesn’t happen often, but is one to bear in mind if this applies to any of your sales.

  • Send items in appropriate packaging – this means breakable items are packaged securely, and non-breakable items have less packaging, therefore are not as heavy and don’t cost more than necessary to post.

  • Use an appropriate sized box. It might be worth investing in buying new boxes – they may be cheaper than you expect. This reduces postage costs in two ways; the cost of sending the box (and the larger the box, the heavier it will be) and the cost of sending packaging to fill the empty space inside the over-sized boxes.

  • Weigh your items, with packaging, before setting your postage charges. Guessing can result in you losing sales because you are overcharging, or being out of pocket because you have underestimated how much the packaging will weigh. Normal kitchen scales are fine for this, and the Royal Mail website has details of all postage costs. If you don’t yet have scales, look at what other people are adding on for postage for the same items.

  • If your scales are not 100% accurate, err on the side of caution and add on 100 grams or so. If this increases your postage costs, stand the additional cost – this is a preferable option than your customer having to pay a surcharge to receive their item. And let’s face it – it is your error, not theirs.

  • If you need to increase the packaging costs, for example additional packaging materials for very delicate items or because you intend to send the item by Recorded Delivery, put this in your listing. Don’t assume your buyers will know what you intend to do, and don’t assume they won’t notice the increased costs. Treat your buyers with respect, and give them credit for common sense!

  • If your listing states First Class postage – send it First Class. Saving a few pence on postage makes you look cheap and may result in bad feedback for poor service. If you have underestimated the postage costs that is your problem, not your customers. Keep in mind that most buyers have a good idea of when they expect their items, and having to wait additional days to save you a few pence will quite rightly not be looked upon kindly.


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