In This Chapter
Examining shipping options and costs
Choosing Royal Mail as your carrier
Shipping with Parcel2go
Transporting with e-parcels
We think the best part of eBay.co.uk is making the sale and receiving payment. After that part of the transaction comes the depressing and tedious process of fulfilling your orders. Don’t feel bad if this is the point that makes you take pause and sigh. Order fulfilment is one of the biggest problems (and yuckiest chores) that faces any mail order or online enterprise. The onerous task of packing and mailing is the bane of almost all businesses.
But as an eBay businessperson, you must attend to these tasks, however much you’d rather not. So in Chapter 17, we detail what you need for packing (boxes, bubble wrap, and so on) and some options for purchasing online postage. And in this chapter, we explain just how your items can get to their destinations, exploring your shipping options, costs, and insurance coverage along the way.
Finding the Perfect Shipping Carrier
When considering shipping options, you first need to determine what types of packages you generally send (small packages that weigh less than two pounds or large and bulky packages) and then decide how you want to send your items. Planning your shipping method before you list the item on eBay.co.uk is a good idea.
Shipping the BIG stuff!
In the US, www.freightquote.com negotiates rates with several major freight forwarders. Before attempting to sell a heavy item, you can sign onto this Web site with the weight and dimensions of your shipment, and it gives you a free quote on the spot. The UK version of the service is under construction at the time of writing, but look for www.freightquote. co.uk in the near future.
Deciding on your carrier can be the most important decision in your eBay business. You need to decide which carrier is more convenient for you (close to your home base, provides pick-up service, gives better customer service) and which is the most economical (leverages your bottom line). Most eBay sellers send packages using ground service 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 meet most of your needs is important because all your records will be on one statement. You may also need a secondary shipper 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, we give you the low-down on the two major carriers – Royal Mail and Parcel2go (backed by DHL), as well as a small online service called www.e-parcels.co.uk Parcel2go and e-parcels.co.uk are run specifically for eBay.co.uk users, so you can see who fits your requirements. However, e-parcels.co.uk only delivers packages up to 30kgs; for bigger deliveries, visit its sister site www.deliverebay.co.uk. For a summary of shipping costs from these three carriers, see Table 14-1.
Delivery costs vary according to the size and weight of the parcel, as well as where you’re sending it and how quickly you want it to get there. Compare prices – remember that these vary according to the parcel’s vital statistics. Table 14-1 offers a general price guide.
|Table 14.1 Sample Shipping Costs within the UK|
|Delivery Service 400g||600g||800g|
|DHL Parcel2go 3-Day Delivery £8.99 + VAT||£8.99 + VAT||£8.99 + VAT|
|DHL Parcel2go Jiffy Bag* £6.99 + VAT||£6.99 + VAT||£6.99 + VAT|
|Royal Mail Second Class £1.14||£1.75||£2.90|
|Royal Mail First Class||£1.40||£2.15||£3.36|
|e-parcels.co.uk 48-Hour Delivery||£9.75||£9.75||£9.75|
|e-parcels.co.uk Next Day Delivery||£10.45||£10.45||£10.45|
Royal Mail is the most recognised letter deliverer in the UK, and the company also has a pretty nifty (and cost-effective) parcel delivery service. You can pay for your postage online, receive a discount for sorting packets yourself, and even find out someone’s postcode through the Royal Mail Web site (see Figure 14-1).
The biggest benefit, however, is that Royal Mail costs a lot less than many of its rivals – as you can see in Table 14-1. However, as parcels get bigger, the cost difference is less obvious, so compare before you send! Check out www.royalmail.com for more info.
Royal Mail’s homepage.
The Royal Mail postal prices page (see Figure 14-2) allows you to pick the type of delivery service you require. Do you want insurance? Is the package so urgent that it must be there tomorrow? Do you want recorded delivery for extra peace of mind? Select the shipping options you want, check the costs, and you’re on your way.
The Royal Mail postage options page.
A few fast facts about Royal Mail services:
You can print out your own labels for your packages and track all shipments online.
The Smart Stamp service (stamps that you download from the Internet) enables you to prepare your parcel whenever you like and keep track of how much you spend on postage.
Send more packages and get bigger discounts. Royal Mail gives you money off bulk deliveries. Go to: www.royalmail.com/portal/ rm/jump2?mediaId=400047&catId=400046 for more info.
You can get lots of hints and tips on improving your postal experience by visiting
Parcel2go is an online shipping specialist with a remit to provide affordable delivery services to small businesses like your eBay.co.uk shop. Parcel2go is backed by DHL – the monster courier service – giving you a bit more peace of mind that your stuff will turn up on time. The company’s homepage is shown in Figure 14-3.
The Parcel2go hub.
Specifically designed with eBay.co.uk in mind, Parcel2go features a small, manageable range of key services. Unlike Royal Mail, which has features coming out of its ears, Parcel2go offers just four options: Next Day Delivery, 2- to 3-day Delivery, Jiffy Bag packages, and International Deliveries. These services are designed to keep costs down, but you can add insurance to next day deliveries.
Prices range from £6.99 for standard Jiffy Bag delivery to £18.99 for high value goods that have to be there tomorrow morning. Remember to add on VAT when ordering.
The service works very simply. You register to the Web site (www.parcel2go. com), fill in your delivery details, pay for delivery, and then the courier comes round and picks up your stuff.
A few fast facts about Parcel2go services:
You get a 10 per cent discount if you include a Parcel2go logo in your eBay.co.uk auctions. The service is available only in the UK.
You can track your parcels in the UK, Europe, and across the world (see Figure 14-4).
You can receive preferential rates if you send more than five parcels a day on average.
Parcel2go offers a flat fee for parcels under 25kg and adds on a surcharge for bigger items.
Packages are insured up to the value of £100 as standard.
The Parcel2go order page.
e-parcels.co.uk (see Figure 14-5) works in much the same way as Parcel2go.com – you select a shipping option and pay a fee, and then e-parcel.co.uk comes round and picks up your item. The fees and options offered by Parcel2go and e-parcels.co.uk vary, of course, so compare them.
e-parcels.co.uk is an online parcel delivery ‘broker’. The company works with carriers to provide deals for its customers. Once you topic a delivery slot, your parcel is picked up between 10am and 6pm on the day of collection – so the service only works if you’re in all day. The company offers a same day delivery service – the cut-off point is 11am.
The e-parcels. co.uk homepage.
A few fast facts about e-parcels.co.uk services:
The company’s Web site enables you to topic collection of your packages, track deliveries, and contact customer services.
The maximum weight and size of parcels you can ship is 30kgs. Maximum dimensions are 1.5 metres in length, and 3 metres girth. Girth here means length + (2 x width) + (2 x height).
www.deliverebay.co.uk, Parcel2go’s sister Web site, deals with bigger parcels.
Most of the UK is covered by the same flat rate, but deliveries to Northern Ireland, the Highlands of Scotland, and the Isles of Man and Scilly cost a bit more.