Packing and shipping has been a duty, or shall I say skill, that has followed me from job to job. I have done everything from working at a publishing company to shipping precious antiques sold on eBay. Currently, I am a full-time student and antique dealer. While most of my stuff is sold out of an antique mall in Portland, Oregon, there are certain items best sold on eBay as the shop does not bring in as many shoppers, such as a well-established, online, and globally marketed website. Items I have sold are everything from small marbles to giant speakers, from fragile glass to awkward, bulky items.
The thing I have learned and one thing I can not seem to figure out completely is the price of shipping and how much to charge the customer on eBay to fully cover my shipping cost. Often, I am usually eating the shipping cost either because I did not charge enough, or the buyer feels that the shipping is too expensive and would like a small discount on the item purchased to cover the extra fees. After many trials and tribulations to this reoccurring problem, I came up with a great way to please the customer and save myself time and money, making all parties involved happy. While posting, I will leave the shipping as the last thing to do before the actual post. I go through all the steps of the shipping process to see what is recommended by eBay and the price it would be to ship. I write down the best shipping options, write down each price; I will add 10% of the total order for shipping materials or extras shipping fees that may occur, then add all that into the asking price for the item and post my item; as "free shipping." Not only does the customer notice the "free shipping" that should stand out due to subliminal marketing, it saves you the time from having to adjust pricing, argue with the customer about the actual price to ship, and it gives you a chance to have the shipping paid for appropriately without breaking your bank.
There are other tricks to the trade as well. Packaging is something you have to get right, or it could be devastating on both ends. Recently, I had someone else help package an item that had sentimental value to both my customer and me. When it arrived, it was shattered into pieces. The customer bought it because it was the last piece to a set of German Garden Gnomes he was looking for for quite some time. When the customer sent the picture, a little piece of my soul died as it was a very rare piece. Good thing I purchased insurance because I was able to refund his money while it did not cost me a dime! It was, of course, broke during the shipping process; however, I feel if I would have double boxed the package, it may have saved the little gnome's life. The customer did have it repaired, just not as valuable as it once was.
Shipping and packaging can come in all different shapes and sizes. It is up to the shipper to do the research and discover the best practices available when doing so. A buyer depends on the item to arrive in one piece. I know when I purchase items online, I want my item to be shipped nicely at a reasonable price.