3 Clever Tips for Safely Packing eBay Shipments

eBay shipping
Shipping is as important as price and service on eBay. Getty Images

​Selling on eBay involves shipping. For some sellers, shipping is the laborious or boring part, for other shipping nerds, it can be fun. Just remember that shipping is part of selling and you should pay as much attention to shipping just as you do to choosing items to sell, cleaning items, photographing items, and writing titles and descriptions. A shoddy shipping job can kill an eBay sale. Buyers will be evaluating your shipping just as much as they do to every other part of the transaction.

Here are a few shipping do's and don'ts and a few clever hacks to make shipping cumbersome items easier.

Avoid Taking These Shortcuts

Don't overstuff flat rate mailers. Some sellers actually brag on YouTube about how much they can stuff into a flat rate mailer. Not a good idea. Yes, if it fits it ships, but you shouldn't be cramming items into the padded mailers. These mailers can burst open when overstuffed. Use good judgment when placing items into padded flat rate mailers. Flat rate mailers are free on the USPS website and the padded ones are great for clothing, smaller shoes, and items that are not breakable. (Even though they are padded, it isn't a good idea to ship fragile items in padded mailers.)

Don't wrap packages in brown paper. This is an old-school way of sending packages. Not a good idea in today's world with the machines and automation involved in processing mail. The paper can get ripped off and mangled in machines and there goes the shipping and return address.

Always affix the shipping label directly to the package so it cannot come loose during the shipping process.

Don't use alcohol or beer boxes. This is a big no-no. According to the USPS, "Packages containing alcoholic beverages or with alcoholic beverage markings are prohibited in the mail." 

Try These Clever Hacks

Shipping supplies are expensive.

Bubble wrap, boxes, packing peanuts all cost money. And a lot of this stuff is bad for the environment. Here are a few inexpensive and clever ways you can ship your items securely and avoid the high cost of shipping supplies.

Pool noodles. Yes, those long styrofoam things your kids play with in the pool. They are lightweight and cushion well. These are great for putting around the edges of frames or round items like pizza stones. Just slice them longwise and slip them over the outer edges of framed artwork, needlework, or other framed items. You can even chop them up into slices and use like packing peanuts as filler. Here is a great video on clever ways to use pool noodles as packing material.

Egg cartons. Use clean egg cartons as dunnage to cushion breakable items. Line the bottom of the box with egg cartons, nest the breakable item in the middle of the box, and line the sides and top with more egg cartons. This provides an excellent inexpensive cushion and keeps items from moving around in the box. Egg cartons are free - save your own and ask your friends, family, neighbors, and co-workers to save theirs too. If you get too many egg cartons, you can actually sell the cartons for good money on eBay. 

Black trash bags. Who says poly mailers have to be white? If you have ever ordered a larger item online, such as a rug or wall hanging, they often come wrapped in black plastic. Use thick black leaf bags to wrap larger items like rugs, bedding, or non-breakable home decor. This works best for soft goods. Make sure to tape securely so that all edges are smooth and won't get caught in processing machines.

Make sure to use eBay's shipping workflow to ship your items. Tracking is automatically uploaded so the customer always knows the progress of his package in transit. Sellers also receive a shipping discount so that definitely helps our bottom line. 

Updated by Suzanne A. Wells on October 28, 2016