When it comes to what you can charge for postage and packaging on eBay, eBay certainly pulls the strings and the only way to benefit is to toe the line. In the past, people used to sell items very cheaply and make up for any losses by bumping up the P&P costs. The main reason for this was that eBay didn’t take a slice of the postage costs but did for what you sold the item for. If you sold a book for a penny and added a hefty postage price eBay made nothing.
These days, it’s all different of course. Not only does eBay limit maximum P&P in some categories, but they also incentivize free postage and packaging. What this means is that items listed with free P&P will rate more highly in search results. They have now introduced a new idea called ‘Fast’N’ Free’ where a Fast ‘N Free message is displayed on listings where sellers offers free postage and an estimated delivery within three working days.
The impact of this is that, if you want to stay ahead of the game, you have to radically rethink your pricing. If you are using ‘Buy it Now’ not only do you have to add on the price of the postage and packaging, but you also need to add the cut that eBay and PayPal are going to take off your postage and packaging costs. In essence, this means that if your P&P costs were a $1, you would actually need to charge around $1.20 to your customer just to get the $1 back. If you are auctioning your item, you need to up your starting bid to take these costs into account.
The other problem ‘Fast’N’ Free’ causes is the need to offer fast delivery. If you are selling on eBay as a secondary income and you have a full time job, making sure you can get to the post office the next day can be difficult. If you are selling by Buy it Now, you can’t know for sure when the item will be sold. Even if you have an auction ending on a fixed day, you still might have to wait a couple of days for payment to come through. For some this can be problematic and you might not have an option of meeting the three day deadline. One thing you must not do is offer the three day deadline and then fail to meet it – you’re bound to get low scores for dispatch on your feedback.
A simple tip to help make postage easier is to package your item as soon as it is listed so when the sale comes through you aren’t having to package it in a hurry. You may also be able to take advantage of the postal department at your place of work. If you buy stamps online or in advance, you can simply put them in your work’s postal bag the next day.
The good news is that if you can offer ‘Fast ‘N’ Free’ you may get a sales boost. You’ll be higher in the search results and according to eBay, ‘Recent test results have shown that listings qualifying for eBay Fast ‘N Free on eBay.com and eBay.com.au received a 4% to 6% increase in sales.’
Please note: Fast N Free does not apply to the Motors category. No doubt they’ll be expecting you to drive it over straight away and leave it with a full tank!