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shipping scale

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How-To Wednesdays: Shipping Weight

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by on December 12, 2012 at 10:55 pm

Every Wednesday, we’ll do a short how-to where we’ll tackle a topic in the reselling space and try to give clarity on it. eBay and other selling platforms, as well as picking itself, can be daunting. If you have a topic you would like to see in the How-To Wednesday topic, please leave comments and we will try to add it to the schedule. Thanks for reading!

usps-logoCalculating the shipping weight of an item is a very important part of maximizing profit and selling items responsibly on eBay. To do this, you will need a reliable scale. You can get them pretty cheap off of eBay. The scale I use is the Accuteck® All-In-One Series A-PT 50 Digital Postal Scale Silver. This scale weights items up to 50 lbs. It is accurate to .1 oz up to 25 lbs, and .2 oz from 25 to 50 lbs. I bought this scale from eBay seller ever*hotbuy, who I would highly recommend for scales. He has smaller and bigger weight scales too, so check him out, if you are in the market for a scale.

Now that you have a scale, what next?

You will need to have an idea of what the SHIPPING weight of an item is. This is the weight of the item plus the box, packing material, and any other items you may place in the box with it. With some items, you’ll get a feel for this. For example, coffee mugs are almost always going to be 2 lbs. Yahtzee Handheld games will be around 13 ounces, making them first class mail items. With other items, you may have to do some math. If you have a standard sized board game that weighs 2 lbs 4 ounces, this is probably going to be 4 pounds shipped. That is because a box that fits a board game is going to weigh at least 12 ounces and when you add in packing materials so the board game doesn’t get damaged during the shipping, you will be well over 3 lbs. My safe bet with board games is to always add a full pound to the weight of the item, then round up to figure out my shipping weight. If it’s a really oversized board game, the box itself will weigh over a pound. Understanding the weight if boxes is very important, so when you get a box you will use regularly, you should weigh it and make a note of it for your future use.

Once you know an item’s shipping weight, it can be very easy to handle the shipping methods on eBay. If you do fixed price shipping, you will be able to estimate the furthest distance you may have to ship, or perhaps choose an average distance, to account for people in varying distances. I do calculated shipping most of the time, and I find this is the fairest method, both to the buyers and to myself. People who live close by will not pay as much shipping, and as a result, I do sell a lot of items to people in the same state as me. People far away will pay a real shipping cost of what it will be to send to them, which is great for me, because then I’m not losing money because of the cost of shipping.

Free shipping can be thought of like fixed price. Take the average price (or the highest price) of shipping the item and add it to the cost of the item. Be very careful not to underestimate shipping when offering free shipping, because you don’t want to end up with less profit than you planned. Also, be very, very careful with free shipping on board games. If you are selling them at an auction, remember that most board games are going to cost around $10 to ship, so you should never start out an auction for less than $15 if you are including free shipping, or you will be losing money on this item if multiple people don’t bid on it. Most board games will not have a big demand, so auctions are always risky.

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