Since I started selling on eBay full time several years ago, I’ve shipped several thousand packages that have gone to every US state as well as 50 international countries. Here are a few useful tips that you may want to incorporate into your own shipping practices.
1. Keep a shipping “cheat sheet”. This can be a simple spread sheet that has the dimensions, weight, and cost of all of your boxes and shipping supplies. This will save you a lot of time when it comes to calculating shipping costs.
2. Let the pros pack the crazy stuff. Simply get the (approximate) weight and dimensions of any oversized item that you’re trying to sell and call a local shipper to get a quote (I usually ask for a quote to ship to both Los Angeles and New York). Then, include the shipping cost in with the cost of your item and offer “free” shipping to make the item more appealing.
3. Why not self insure? Shipping insurance is expensive, especially if you ship in high volumes. If you track the amount of shipping insurance you purchase versus the actual amount of claims that you make, oftentimes, the companies that sell you the insurance are earning hundreds or thousands of dollars extra, even after paying out claims.
Domestic shipping insurance is roughly $0.90 to $1.50 per $100 of coverage. So, for every $100,000 worth of goods that you ship, you’re spending $900 to $1500 on shipping insurance, but you’re probably not making claims in that amount (at least not if your packing and shipping items carefully.)
My advice is that for every $100 in sales, set aside $1 in a separate escrow account for insurance. Have a maximum amount that you’re comfortable self-insuring (say $500 to $1000) and purchase insurance if you’re shipping high-value items, so you don’t wipe out your escrow account or impact your bottom line significantly.
The benefits of self insurance are two-fold. One, you can process claims much faster yourself than waiting for someone else to do it, which means it will improve your customer service & retention. And two, any money left over at the end of the year can be reinvested back into your business, or can even serve as a nice year-end bonus to the shipping department for a job well done!