Friday, October 29, 2021

How to Use Ebay’s Shipping Calculator to Your Advantage

Last updated March 2022


Let's start off by saying, maximum weight for First-Class Mail letters is 3.5 oz; for large First-Class Mail envelopes and parcels, the maximum weight is 13 oz.

After 13oz the package being shipped turns into "First Class Package Service" mail. This is for anything over 13oz and that is packaged up in your own box (ie cardboard box you had lying around or two pieces of cardboard surrounding a book/magazine then placed into a poly mailer and sealed).

The USPS pushes the "Priority Mail" service like crazy. To the lay person it's almost impossible to find the correct mail service on their website along with pricing as Priority Mail is pushed first on the site.

** I must admit this article is lengthy, however it's complete. So grab a coffee and let's get started. **

I run an eBay account in which we sell hundreds of items per month. Here's how I have it setup to keep the costs down for the buyer:

Start Here:

Go to the listing page for the item (edit item from the selling page). As seen below, scroll down to the shipping section and to the right of "Domestic Shipping" you'll see "Calculate Shipping" in blue. Click there and a popup window should appear with a calculator of sorts.

This is what should open in a pop-up window:

For a normal package, ie anything wrapped up in a cardboard box, your own packaging made to fit the item, etc, select "Package" under "Type" if it isn't selected already.

Enter the box's dimensions, Length, Width, and Height in inches. (Irregular package size would be something like a long rod in a cardboard tube, rectangle boxes don't count here, it's for the sorting machine to be able to handle the package)

Box up the item with packing material. You can seal it at this point. Lay one single 8.5 x 11" piece of paper on top of the box and weight it and enter the weight into the calculator. Round up, so 15.3oz would be 16oz. (in this case round down from under 5 doesn't count.)

Make sure your zip code is your zip code in which you will be shipping from. I leave handling fees empty unless there's an insane amount of packing material and or tape needed.
Section 8 will be the destination section. On the right choose "Anchorage" as the major city. 

In my case I'm shipping from NJ so Anchorage is the farthest point in the US away from me besides Honolulu; but what's interesting is it doesn't matter as they are the same price for all of the USPS mail services.

Once everything from above is entered in hit "Calculate Shipping" at the bottom in blue and you'll get the following page below:

For this example as you can see in the photos I'm using a package size of 11x13x1" with the package weighing of 1lb. Under Economy Services you'll see "USPS Parcel Select", "USPS Media Mail", and "USPS Retail Ground". Parcel select is usually sufficient and faster than media mail, cheaper for the buyer, and is pretty much the same (delivery times) as retail ground.

Farther down you'll see "Standard Services", "USPS First Class". This won't work because we're over 13oz.

The below that you'll see "Expedited Services". This is where it gets pricey. Note that you can only use the "Priority Mail" branded boxes for the prices below as they correspond to a particular package size listed in the "Expedited Services" section.

In the below image at the top of that calculator under the USPS logo you'll see "In-store Rates" and "eBay Rates". Toggle over to "eBay Rates" and you'll see that eBay will give you a slight discount when purchasing the postage through eBay instead of walking into the post office and buying it from the agent. There are no discounts to the Economy Services for you, the seller. These discounts will show up in green.

If you'd like to offer any of the services under USPS that you see there all you have to do is click on the name, ie: "USPS Parcel Select Ground". You should notice that the selected option shows up on the right hand side of the calculator as seen below with a gray background.

Click on all the options you want your buyer to have. I usually stay inside the "Economy Services" as that's going to be the cheapest rate for the customer.

As you can see below I have selected 3 options, one from each category on the left to show for this example:

They will slide up to the right side of the screen after being selected:

*One important thing to note is that sellers who drop ship items from China choose this option, have the item location listed as somewhere in California or another port, and once the buyer places the order it doesn't actually ship from the location it claims. This is why it takes 23487234867 days for a package to show up when you buy it from one of these degenerate sellers. Your order gets placed with the drop shipper, leaves port in China Land, bounces around the world, sits in customs for days, then finally shows up on the map as coming from California or where ever it originally claimed it shipped from. Now it starts it's slow journey to you through the USPS system.

*Unlike other sellers who drop ship things, I do not sell such items. The items I sell are tangible and actually inside the US. They will get to you within 5 days usually (barring the USPS truck getting into an accident). eBay sucks when it comes to this because if you sort the items by location and specify the United States or rather North America as the ship from location, clearly California is on that list, and no one at eBay will do anything to stop this bad practice from occurring no matter how much the customer bitches about it. Remember kids, eBay is not the mom and pop store it was when it first came around. It caters and gives huge discounts to sellers who do volume selling junk.

When you're done offering shipping services to the buyer click "Close" in the top right next to "Offer Shipping Services" and it will bring you back to the listing. Complete the listing as you normally would but do not alter the shipping section. The calculator should prepopulate this information for you.

When you are back to the listing, make sure the "Services" section in the listing's "Shipping Details" section has your selection from the calculator in it as seen below:

In the screenshot below I have selected 3 services I'd like to offer as an example to show how it would look (note each line is a different shipping option):

Set your "Handling Time" to however long it will take you to complete the above and get it off to the post office. This includes how long it will take you to package it up, print out and slap the label on, and get it to the post office. Two to three days is sufficient because anything less than that is a bonus to your customer. For example they see it'll ship within 3 days, you have a tracking number for them the night they buy it, and the next morning it's on it's way to them.

I did international shipping for a while but after a bunch of people complained about delivery times and prices which are out of my control, I chose not to offer it anymore. Basically you ship the item to Kansas and eBay then charges the customer the actual delivery amount to get it to them from the US and import charges, etc.

When you're done hit "List Item".

When an item sells, the buyer will have picked whatever shipping options you've allowed them to use and on the seller page it will direct you to print out a label. You'll use your bank account or whatever account is connected to get paid out in eBay to pay for the shipping label.

Here's the important thing to note about going through the calculator above. It will give you the maximum price it will cost to ship it to the furthest point of the US from your location.

So rest assured it will never be more than this amount for the buyer. You aren't responsible for picking a shipping price, etc. Because you're not setting the shipping as a fixed cost, you'll never lose out on money because the buyer sees the costs for shipping when they pay for the item based on their destination address zip code. 

No need to screw around with fixed pricing and going down to the post office and being screwed out of money after the sale ends.

Final Thoughts:

I've consistently found FedEx and UPS to be ridiculously overpriced when shipping small items to customers. Not to mention FedEx usually likes to play softball with the packages and bounce them around in an inefficient shipping route for weeks. However the biggest crook of them all is eBay with their constantly rising Final Value Fees. As of this writing it's up to around 13-15% in some categories. Unfortunately as a seller we must pass that percentage through to the customer. This isn't very convenient for the average seller as they cannot compete against eBay's power sellers. eBay specifically gives power sellers deeper discounts when it comes to their fee schedule. Basically, sell crap from China in volume, and they'll give you selling discounts. Doesn't matter if the item is a fire hazard or not, they tend to look the other way. No one sells USA based legit made items by the masses anymore because production is all over seas. Maybe if the CEO didn't make 30+ million dollars a year this perpetual scheme wouldn't be a thing......oh well that's a rant for another day.


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