There’s an ongoing discussion among online sellers:
Offer free shipping or to charge for shipping?
Sellers go back and forth on this.
Some sellers offer free shipping on light items only. Some offer it on everything and build it into the price of the item. Some accept best offers, so they feel like charging the customer for shipping is the way to go. Others charge shipping on everything.
Sellers discuss back and forth, what’s the most effective way to handle shipping charges? How do shipping charges affect your DSR’s, your search ranking, your Top Rated Seller status, your monthly sales and other countless angles of this topic.
I’ve tried charging shipping on everything. I’ve tried free shipping on everything. I’ve tried building shipping into the price of the item, and none of those really work for me. When I had free shipping on everything in my store, my sales actually went down……..hmmmmm………it’s taken me awhile to come up with this idea, but here’s what I’m doing lately and it seems to be working:
I charge partial shipping for my items.
What I decided is that by charging partial shipping for items, it makes my items look more competitive.
For instance, on a plush toy, some sellers might have $6.99 listed for shipping, and while it might really cost $6.99 to ship it, when I list the exact same item, I list it as $3.99 shipping. That way, the sale price of my item covers part of the shipping and the shipping charges cover part of the shipping charges, and when the customer looks at it, they feel like they’re getting a deal on shipping.
Keep in mind that eBay charges you final value fees based on the selling price of the item and the shipping costs, so when I price items, I’m looking at the total amount of the item plus shipping.
I noticed that I could get about the same price for an item whether I charged $3.99 shipping for it, or whether I had it listed as free shipping, so I decided that I might as well put a partial shipping price and get a little bit extra to help with the shipping, and it makes it look like a deal to the customer.
On lighter clothing items, I usually put $1.99 shipping, most of my plush I put $2.99 for the shipping. Even if it doesn’t cover all of the shipping, that little bit extra helps with shipping costs.
Please let me know what shipping strategies work best for you.
This is something that I commonly hear from online sellers, especially newer sellers. Yes, I’m an advocate of listing so that you have enough selection for buyers to choose from, but sellers also need to understand that it’s more than posting items for sale.
Knowing how to list is just as important as listing.
The fundamentals of listing are:
I cannot say enough about keywords. It’s in your best interest as a seller to utilize every character possible in your keywords, and to use as many different words as you can to describe an item. A lot of times when I look at a seller’s items that aren’t selling, the remedy is the keywords. If you have characters left or you’re stumped on keywords for an item, brainstorm with a successful seller that you know, most online sellers are willing to help out in any way they can. Or, drop us a line on our Facebook fan page.
A picture is worth 1,000 words, right? So put some effort into what your pictures look like. You don’t have to spend hours on them, they don’t have to be professional, you don’t have to have an expensive camera, but at least take the time to make them look nice. My opinion is that a black background and cropping go a long way to make your pictures look nice.
When you’re selling online, the impression people get of your product is what they see in the picture. You don’t have a storefront for them to walk into, you don’t have fancy displays to catch their eye. If your pictures make your items look like you’re a junk store, that’s the kind of customer you’re going to attract, and the type of price that your customer will want to pay. So if you want your store front to have a department store feeling, you’re going to have to put some effort into your pictures.
Once again, putting a little bit of effort into your descriptions goes a long way. Simply putting something along the lines of “works great” or “beautiful” just doesn’t cut it. The eBay search engine ranks words according to importance. It looks at the first 150 words in your description and if any of the words in the title or items specifics (or both) are repeated in the description, it sees those words as important words and will make your items more visible to customers. If you’re selling clothes, and you want to be successful at it, measuring your items is not an option, it’s a necessity. The same with most toys. By putting more effort into describing your items, you make them appealing to the customers. If the information that a customer wants or needs isn’t in a listing, they’re more likely to look at other listings and find one that has the information they want and buy that one, than to ask the seller a question and wait for a response, so being more descriptive will in turn increase sales.
Lately, I’m seeing sellers with lots of store policies. You can do what you want since it’s your business, but as a buyer when I see stores with lots of policies, I don’t even read them, I look at another seller’s item.
Some sellers offer “Free Shipping” other sellers charge shipping and then there are the sellers that charge an arm and a leg. Let’s be honest, we’re all selling on eBay to make money, no one is saying don’t make a profit, but by keeping your shipping charges reasonable, buyers feel like they can trust you. If you’re going to rip them off on shipping, in their mind you’re going to rip them off across the board.
Categories are very important. I see a lot of sellers who have eBay stores and don’t utilize store categories. eBay allows you to put your item in two categories in your store, so you want to take advantage of that as often as possible. Don’t just use generic categories like shoes, clothes, toys. Use specific store categories too. It helps market your items to your customers when they click on your store. Things like Angry Birds, American Girl, Gymboree, White House Black Market catch a customer’s eye and prompt them to browse through your store more than always having generic categories.
Shipping packages is one of my favorite parts of selling on eBay. Every time I print a label, I hear cha-ching
When I first started selling on eBay, something that intimidated me was shipping costs.
You can choose three different ways to set up your shipping charges on eBay:
1) Calculated shipping. This is where you set up the shipping charges to calculate for each buyer based on where they live.
2) Flat Rate Shipping. This is where you set your shipping rate and the shipping costs are the same for all buyers regardless of where they live in the US.
3) Free Shipping. This is where you don’t charge the buyer for shipping.
Personally, the method I use is flat rate shipping. I set my shipping cost and it’s the same for all buyers in the US.
To determine what you should charge, eBay has a shipping calculator to determine shipping costs. At first, you may want to package your item and weigh it on a postal scale then use the shipping calculator to determine how much to charge. Find an inexpensive mailing scale online — you know where (eBay!).
Choose a scale that can weigh up to 35 lbs for heavier packages.
I’ve been shipping so long that I can pretty much look at an item and know how much to charge for shipping.
For example, most Women’s shirts, I charge $2.99 for my shipping. For smaller plush toys, $2.99. Medium size plush $3.99-4.99 (depending on if it’s lighter of heavier.) If I can fit the item in a medium flat rate priority box, (if it’s a heavier item, this shipping method saves money) I charge $11.99.
I try to cover the shipping with enough left for a small handling fee, which is usually $1.00. Sometimes it’s a little more or a little less depending on where the buyer lives.
I try to use the most economical shipping method possible for buyers. Most of my packages either ship out 1st class or Priority mail. Even if the item is a DVD or VHS that could ship via Media Mail, I send it 1st class so the buyer gets it faster. I use the FREE Priority flat rate boxes and flat rate envelopes as much as possible to help keep shipping costs down on heavier items.