Monday, December 8, 2008

Shipping Strategies

It looks like etopps will start offering autographs on Tuesdays now rather than Mondays and they will be offered on Fridays rather than Thursdays.

As predicted, the Bradshaw auto has turned out to be a tough sell for etopps based on the secondary market performance of the two Joes that were auto'ed out of this set, the quality of Bradshaw's signature, the ailing economy and the holiday buying season.

It's been awhile since I posted about the process of selling etopps cards on ebay. One area I did not include is third-party vendors to make the proces of sending out etopps cards to happy customers easier.

To me, the process of shipping out an etopps card from my home is one of the more tedious tasks as an ebay seller. The process of hand-writing the buyer's address on a shipping envelope, guestimating the postage and over-stamping the package drove me nuts at first. But over time, I've found ways to make it easier.

First off, if you haven't already you should find a reliable source for bubble-lined mailers for etopps cards, size #000. Because of my location, is a great vendor. They are loaded with everything imaginable for shipping and give you cool stuff if you order a lot at one time. U-Line comes in handy when you realize (all of a sudden) that you're low on mailers and you need them soon. When I order form this company, I usually get my order delivered UPS within two business days.

But if you can anticipate you'll need shipping supplies like mailers in the next week or so, I would recommend another company. is a company I first encountered at ebay live this year. They were giving out cool t-shirts and told me about their services. They said they can beat U-Line on price if you can wait a little longer than it takes from U-Line. And they're right. They offer free shipping, good selection and send via UPS from California which is why they take a little longer.

Another way to curb the tediousness of shipping is to process the shipping costs through paypal. On the payment email from paypal for an etopps card, click on the link to show you the details of the transaction online. On this landing page, scroll to the bottom of the page and click on the link that reads Print Shipping Label. You will go to a page that makes it so easy: a pull down menu for the type of shipping you'll use (most likely first class), the weight of the package and the date you'll be shipping the package.

An etopps card in a bubble-lined mailer is three ounces. You pay a few nickels more to cover the delivery confirmation expense which is well-worth the price in the long-run if you get someone saying they haven't received their package from you yet. When you plug in this information, you click a confirm button to get to the payment page and it tells you how much will be deducted from your paypal account for the shipping label.

When you click the Pay button, another window pops open to print the label. After clicking print, you have yourself a shipping page that can be cut out with scissors and taped to the package. I highly recommend purchasing shipping label pages that has one label you can peel out per page rather than two labels per page because the print out also provides a receipt of the transaction including the delivery confirmation number which is good to have for your records.

I use to provide me with these labels and you can buy them in quanitity of 100. Trust me: after using scissors and shipping tape to cut out and stick on these shipping labels a few dozen times, having the luxury of peeling off freshly-printed labels that saves you time is well worth the price of those labels.

When applying the label whether they are from shipping label pages or from plain paper, I recommend applying the label on top of where the mailer flap is sealed. It's an extra level of protection and let's the buyer know whether or not the shipment has been tampered with.

If you get a multiple-card order and the shipment weighs more than 13 ounces, you have to bring the shipment into a post office to mail it. You cannot just stick it in a mailbox. I made the mistake of waiting in line just to hand over shipments that I had paid the night before via paypal. Don't be like me: walk past the long holiday lines and tell the post office clerk what you have in your hands has been paid for already and they'll tell you where to place the packages.

So this is another advantage: by paying for the packages at home you don't have to wait in line at the post office.

In sum, shipping is the least exciting aspect of being an ebay seller but by following a few professional steps and saving time by printing out shipping labels via paypal, it's not such a bad thing and your buyers will notice this.

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