Finding the Perfect Shipping Carrier The Big Four

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When you're looking at your shipping options, you need to first determine what types of packages you'll generally be sending (small packages that weigh less than 2 pounds or large and bulky packages), and then decide how you'll package your items. Planning this before listing the item is a good idea.

Deciding on your carrier can be the most important decision in your eBay business. You need to decide which one is more convenient for you (close to your home base, provides pickup service, gives better customer service) and which is the most economical (leverages your bottom line). The efficiency of your shipping is only as good as the people who service your account. If the UPS man dumps packages at your door without ringing the bell, perhaps he's not the right person to entrust with the heart and soul of your business. Maybe your letter carrier knows you by name and gives you good service; if that's the case, maybe the United States Postal Service (USPS) is the best choice for the bulk of your shipments. Many eBay sellers send packages using ground services rather than airmail or overnight, but a shipper who can give you both options may be offering you a good deal because you don't have to deal with more than one vendor.

Settling on one main shipper to handle your shipments is important because you'll be able to have the bulk of your records on one statement or in one area. You might also need a secondary shipper (most sellers do) for special types of packages. One shipper can't be everything to every business, so having an account with more than one can be to your advantage. Also, shippers may not sign up new accounts as readily in the middle of a strike or work slowdown.

In this section, I give you the lowdown on the four major carriers — DHL, FedEx, UPS, and the USPS — so you can see who fits your requirements. For a summary of shipping costs from these four, see Table 14-1. Note that FedEx and UPS include tracking numbers for delivery confirmation. The USPS charges extra; delivery confirmation is $0.65 for Priority mail and $0.75 for Parcel Post. For info on eliminating this fee for Priority mail, check out Chapter 17.

Table 14-1 Shipping Costs from Coast to Coast

(Residence Delivery)

Delivery Service

2 lbs.

5 lbs.

10 lbs.

15 lbs.

Flat-Rate Box

UPS 3-Day Select (1-3 days)






USPS Priority mail (2- 3 days)






[email protected] Home (2-4 days)






FedEx Home Delivery (4 days)






UPS on Demand (1-6 days)






USPS Media mail (2-9 days)






USPS Parcel Post (2-7 days)






Shipping the really big stuff!

When it comes to shipping heavy or big stuff, you have a few options. Because I like using FedEx, I generally check FedEx Freight first. A friend of mine once purchased four large heavy-equipment tires on eBay, and there was no way he could go with a regular carrier. We called FedEx Freight and told the seller to place the tires on a pallet and secure them. FedEx Freight picked them up at their location in one shipment. Shipping costs were reasonable, but the only caveat was that the shipment had to be delivered to a place of business, not a residential location.

This is easy to overcome, especially if you have a friend with a retail store or a gym you go to.

A Web site called negotiates rates with several major freight forwarders and will give you a free quote on your large shipment right on their Web site. Before attempting to sell a heavy item, you can sign onto their home page and enter the weight and dimensions of your shipment, and they'll give you a free quote on the spot.

You can now prepare UPS or USPS shipping documents online through PayPal and on Web sites for the other carriers. See Chapter 17 for the ins and outs (and pros and cons) of shipping through PayPal.

When you start shipping a few dozen packages a week, you might want to check out eBay Timesaving Techniques For Dummies, by yours truly, for an in-depth analysis of the big four and their variable shipping rates.

[email protected]

Once considered the outsider in the shipping arena for eBay sellers, DHL has come up with a class of service that makes sense dollarwise. Most sellers consider DHL as the guy for big companies and their very big time logistical needs, but this is no longer the case.

The company was founded in 1969 in San Francisco by Adrian Dalsey, Larry Hillblom, and Robert Lynn (see the DHL?) and is now owned by the German Deutsche Post.

DHL partnered with the U.S. Postal Service to create a service for shipments to residences as part of the DHL/USPS. Drop off your parcels at a DHL location, and the trackable package is delivered by the local post office, including delivery to P.O. boxes.

You can sign up for an account and print your labels online at

DHL has many benefits to the shipper, here are a few:

i Each shipment is covered for $100.00 in declared value. Additional insurance is $0.35 per $100.00 or a fraction thereof.

i Residential deliveries are limited to 70-pound packages.

i Daily pickup service adds an additional charge to your account.

i Dropping off packages at DHL counters incurs no additional charge.

i [email protected] delivers Monday through Saturday through the USPS.

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