Selling on eBay - Getting Items Delivered

If you are looking to sell items on eBay you have two options when it comes to the delivery of your products:
  1. You can ask the buyer to organise their own delivery – this is the easiest option for you as a trader, but you risk your customer purchasing the product from another seller who includes the delivery as part of their service.
  2. You can organise the delivery yourself, which makes your product more attractive to a potential buyer, and thus more competitive in the market.
It is a well-known fact that most eBay buyers look for the easiest option when it comes to buying a product and this for many means purchasing a product from a seller who includes the delivery of the item. In fact, many eBay traders are now including free delivery in the price of their product to make them more competitive and attract more customers. Therefore, in this blog, we will look at the things you need to know as an eBay seller when it comes to the delivery of your products both domestically and internationally.

Regardless of where you need to send your product to, as an eBay seller you want to provide a reliable delivery service for the lowest cost possible – especially if you are including free delivery for your customer. - Therefore the first thing you need to find is a cheap reliable parcel delivery service that can deliver your products to your customers’ location. In addition, your courier should also be able to provide the following:
  • A signed for delivery service
  • Online tracking
  • Real-time scan information and delivery signatures
  • A wide range of delivery services including, same day delivery, next day delivery, timed delivery, international express delivery and international economy delivery
  • Additional insurance options
  • Money back guarantee options
  • An easy to contact customer services. Do not opt for a courier that doesn’t have a phone number as you could be in a pickle if you need to query something urgently.
  • A strong track record of positive feedback from existing customers on an independent review site, like TrustPilot for example.
Assuming you have already chosen a courier that can provide all of the above, we will now look at the shipping process itself.

Packaging your goods for transport via courier

It’s important to note that if your goods arrive damaged, it’s your liability and the buyer will return the goods and you will need to refund them for the goods and the shipping charges. For this reason it’s really important to ensure that your product is packaged sufficiently for transport via courier. This means wrapping your products with internal packaging materials before cushioning and suspending your product inside the box. This is essential to avoid any damage in transit from minor impacts, bumps, jolts and vibrations that are normal in the shipping process. It is also important that you use a strong box or container with rigid sides and corners, as your external packaging.

Always place a copy of the shipping label inside your parcel and write the delivery address on the external packaging so the courier knows where your parcel is going in the event that your shipping label is torn or comes undone during transit.

Delivering Shipments within the UK 

When sending a parcel within the UK, you need to be aware that the Channel Islands, including Guernsey and Jersey, have separate regulations to the rest of the UK when it comes to shipping. The Channel Islands are classed as a non EU destination and therefore requires customs clearance when shipping from the UK. Refer to the guidelines in the ‘International Deliveries outside the EU’ section below if you need to send a parcel to the Channel Islands.

For all other UK deliveries, organising a collection and delivery with a courier is easy and straightforward.

International Deliveries within the EU

When you are sending a parcel within EU, you do not have to produce a customs  invoice. This means that there are no additional duties or taxes for your receiver to pay for importing the goods into their country.
Arranging an EU delivery is as easy as arranging a UK delivery, albeit a bit more expensive. You will also have to check that your goods are not prohibited for import into the country you are shipping to, but your courier should be able to advise you on this.

International Deliveries outside the EU

Shipping to destinations outside of the EU, including the Channel Islands and Canary Islands, requires a little more effort, as you will have to provide a shipping invoice for customs clearance, with your parcel.
The customs invoice is used by customs in your destination country to determine the level duty and tax to apply to each product you’re sending (it is standard practise in shipping for the receiver to pay any applicable import duty and tax). Every product has different levels of duty and tax, and this is determined by the ‘tariff classification’ for each of your items. You don’t have to research this, but if you’re sending a high value shipment it’s best to do so.

For help working out the tariff classification/s for your goods, you will need to check with the customs authority in the destination country (Or you can simply give the buyer the option to look into this if they wish as ultimately they will be the ones having to pay any charges). Most countries have a customs website or helpline where you can get this information from. Once you have established the tariff number for each of your products, you can list this on the customs invoice alongside each of the products you’re sending.
It’s also important to note that if the receiver refuses to pay the duty and tax, then you will be liable. You can request the goods are returned, but you will be liable for the return shipping charges, and it’s at customs discretion whether they release the goods, if they chose not to, then the only way you will be able to get your product returned if by paying the duties and the return shipping charges. For this reason it’s important you check everything out before shipping.

The customs invoice must contain the following information:
  1. The shipper’s address (collection address)
  2. The receiver’s address (delivery address)
  3. The ‘sold to’ address (address of the buyer if different from the receiver’s address)
  4. The goods description for each item you are sending (IT Equipment, clothing, toys, ceramic mugs)
  5. The value of each item for customs purposes (you must assign an overall value to parcel you are sending, and you must also provide a value for each item you are sending inside your parcel).
  6. The reason for export (in your case, as an eBay seller, it will be: ‘Sale’)
It’s important that you provide a breakdown of the contents of your parcel on the invoice. For example; instead of just writing IT Equipment, you will need to list all the items.

Also note that some products are prohibited into certain countries. For example used clothes are prohibited to some South American countries, so it’s always worth checking with your courier to ensure the items you’re sending are not prohibited for the country you’re shipping to.

It is also important to be aware that your receiver might have to obtain an import licence from their local authority in order to successfully clear the goods through customs and this may take extra time to obtain, and result in additional clearance delays. As the shipper you are not liable for any such delays, as it is the sole responsibility of the importer to ensure that they are eligible to import the goods into their country.

It is worth knowing that the transit time quoted by any courier is always ‘pending customs clearance’. This means that the goods will be delivered within the quoted transit time, providing there are no delays with customs clearance. This is because customs authorities are local government bodies and couriers hold no authority over them.

A Final Consideration 

Regardless of which country you are shipping to, it is worth paying for additional insurance with your courier in the unlikely event of any loss or damage to your parcel during transit. You may however chose to give the buyer the option for additional insurance, but remember if they don’t take the insurance and the goods are damaged in transit, ultimately it your liability, not theirs.

Joanne Reader is a freelance writer


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