suzanne-wells_1The USPS Flat Rate boxes seem like an easy and convenient way to ship merchandise for any business.  You don’t have to worry about the weight of the items in the shipment and as the USPS says, “If it fits, it ships for one low price.” In many cases  Flat Rate packages are often a great choice, but depending upon the contents of the package and destination, sometimes it is better to use a non-Flat Rate mailing.  On eBay, this is particularly important because the way you ship your products can have an effect on your DSRs – Detailed Seller Ratings.

eBay’s Detailed Seller Rating Score
eBay has a seller rating system set up for buyers called DSRs.  After a buyer makes a purchase and receives their order, he/she can rate the seller on four different aspects of the transaction by using a five-star rating system.  Five stars equate to perfect service and on the other end of the spectrum, one star is unacceptable service.  One of the rating criteria is shipping and handling charges.  In other words, if a seller over charges for shipping, or the customer perceives the seller has overcharged him, he can give the seller a low rating in this category.  This is where most sellers have a problem when using USPS Flat Rate boxes.

Delivery Distance Plays a Huge Roll in Costs
Let’s say you are going to ship an order in a Medium Flat Rate box and the order weighs three pounds.  According the USPS site, the cost to ship a large three pound Flat Rate package is $14.50. (A three pound package could contain something like a coat, a pair of shoes, or some cookware).  But, the cost to ship the same three pound package via regular Priority Mail from my location in Atlanta, Georgia to Charlotte, North Carolina only costs $6.55, a difference of $7.95.  While both options result in the same delivery service, the Flat Rate box is more than double the price; the result is the customer is forced to pay much more for shipping the product than was required.  In the event that the buyer notices that regular Priority Mail could have been used to help lower the S&H cost, they  may be upset and give a low rating on DSRs.

While it may be easier to always use a Flat Rate Box, it is not always the most economical choice.  For customers who do pay higher shipping rates, you also run the risk of negative feedback.  Based on personal experience, I can safely say that customers are not happy when they come to the conclusion that they paid double for shipping because the seller didn’t use the right method.

Use eBay’s Calculated Shipping for More Accurate Rates
What is the answer?  Use a calculated shipping rate rather than the Flat Rate.  Calculated shipping is the most fair and accurate way to charge for shipping.  When setting shipping and handling rates, be sure to remember these selling tips:

Watch your handling fees – avoid adding them at all. Add handling fees on to the price of the item instead so the buyer does not feel “swindled”.  Many buyers on eBay are not business people and do not necessarily understand the cost of doing business.  We have to keep that in mind to get good DSRs.

Use USPS Flat Rate boxes cautiously. Flat Rate boxes are easy by design and are great for heavy items going a long distance, but are not always the best choice.

About the Author
Selling on eBay since 2003, Suzanne Wells aka The eBay Selling Coach has sold over 17,000 items as a one person operation and has achieved the status of Silver Level Power Seller on eBay.   Suzanne’s book, The Stay-at-Home Mom’s Guide to Successful eBay Selling helps eBay sellers learn what products to sell, where to find them and how to successfully market on eBay.

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