Ecommerce Start-up Tips #3: Getting the best deals on postage #ecommercestartup2014

tiny msmoeukIn February 2014, Tamebay co-editor Dan Wilson will be looking at starting an ecommerce business from scratch. Read all the Ecommerce start-up 2014 posts here.
Start on eBay. Then branch out. The choice is yours. Dan’s focus is ecommerce success, profitability and efficiency. Check out his book: Make Serious Money on eBay UK, Amazon & Beyond.

Getting the best deals on postage

As you start out on your ecommerce journey, one of the more bewildering choices you’ll face is how to despatch the items you have sold.

Time is of the essence to get you the items into the system and shipped, but then (as long as you have managed buyer expectation) you can let the mail take the strain.

Royal Mail is not always the best choice
It pays to do a bit of research and do start with your local Post office and the various Royal Mail and Parcelforce services they offer. But be aware that the Royal Mail parcel service is not the only show in town and shopping around is utterly advised. Royal Mail’s great benefit is the universal service: there is a flat rate to every household in the nation. Everyone is familiar with them and they do deliver direct to the letterbox and first and second class is pretty reliable. But for anything a bit heavier or bigger, it’s best to check out the myriad competition.

There are plenty of couriers
Deregulation of the postal service means that there are plenty of potential alternative carriers out there. Sure, they each have strengths and weaknesses but do check them out. You should experiemnt to find out which suits you best.

Many offer home collection or you can drop of at a parcel shop. Service can be next day but for the bargain prices look at 3 to 5 day services or shop to shop delivery. We have a lot of options featured in the TameBay guide.

Thoughts on tracking
It’s a good idea and attracts a cost but for anything valuable, it is well worthwhile when you use a decent service. It also protects you to some extent, because if a buyer says that they haven’t received the goods, you can at least verify it has been sent and for signed for. You can also demonstrate to eBay that it has been received too. Check the eBay rules and the carriers terms, but if you can’t afford a dispute or the loss of the item in transit, insure it, track it and get it signed for.

On bulky items, do try and avoid Collection Only
Some things simply can’t be sent by mail or courier, but check out courier deals for items up to 10kg and above and you may be surprised now much you can send and how much that may cost. Things like car parts and batches of books, are heavy but can be sent reasonably inexpensively. By opting for collection only you greatly diminish the number of people who will bid for or buy your items.