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10 Coronavirus trading tips from Royal Mail, Post Office and eBay

By Chris Dawson May 4, 2020 - 9:00 am

Royal Mail, the Post Office and eBay have teamed up to offer advice to to support small businesses and budding marketplace sellers as they sell and ship more goods online. The advice includes 10 Coronavirus trading tips to support small businesses and individual sellers as they come to terms with store closures, and social distancing at the same time as consumers shift much of their spending online.

While the nation remains in lockdown, the role of online marketplaces has never been more important for retailers looking to continue to do business. Retailers who cannot currently open their shops have been joined by suppliers who have had to adapt to new markets in expanding their online presence. In a rush to create an online offering, it can be easy to miss the tricks-of-the-trade that that help makes the transition from high-street to online that much easier.

10 Coronavirus trading tips for small businesses selling online for the first time

The 10 Coronavirus trading tips come from responding to customer’s most asked questions, and from the experience of helping make things easier for customers when they’re up and running and find themselves struggling to meet demand.

  1. Register on an online marketplace to sell your goods – eBay recently waived fees to list or sell for all new businesses registering on its platform until 31 May 2020. Getting set up on eBay is simple; you can register through eBay.co.uk or through the mobile app. Register as a business account and the new seller offer is automatically applied. Then, you’re ready to start listing your items.
  2. Check whether there any restrictions which may mean that items you want to sell can’t be sent by post, e.g. because they contain prohibited goods or are too large
  3. Choose how you are going to ship the items to your customers. You can buy postage at your local Post Office, online via the Royal mail App or website and on the eBay website.
  4. Calculate the postage price based on the weight and size of your items – you can do this on the Post Office website, and via the Royal Mail App – and decide whether you include this in the price you charge to customers.
  5. Decide whether you’re going to allow your buyer to return items and be sure to check out eBay’s returns policy before you start selling.
  6. Package your items safely and securely, before you take them to the Post Office to ensure you minimise your time in-branch and protect the safety of yourself and branch staff.
  7. Please ensure you post items within the timeframe stated in your listings.
  8. Drop off your shipments at a branch that is convenient for you. Check on the Post Office website or RM App for opening hours.
  9. Consolidate your visits into a Post Office to make as few trips as possible, consider incorporating your trip into your exercise time, as per social distancing guidelines.
  10. If frequently posting lots of items, customers should consider using Post Office’s free Drop and Go service. Customers can drop off their items, the Post Office will do the weighing and printing of postage, and the customer minimises their time in the branch.

“The delivery of parcels and letters has become even more crucial as a way of keeping the country together, businesses operating and helping many people who may not have the option to leave their homes. We understand the important role we have to play in helping people to stay connected.

For those who can quickly adapt and grow their e-retail business, there are great opportunities. This handy guide will be invaluable in helping those new to e-retail, or those needing to expand their operation as they experience an increase in demand for their goods.”
– Nick Landon, Managing Director Parcels, Royal Mail

“We recognise just how vital it is for small businesses and online retailers to be able to quickly get parcels and letters out to their clients and customers, while also protecting the safety of both customers and Postmasters. Millions of parcels are processed by us every week, and we’ll continue to play our part, as a partner to small business, by supporting them during this national crisis through our branch network.

We typically see around 75% of all marketplace seller items come through our branches; therefore, by following these steps, you are helping us keep you and our postmaster safe.”
– Mark Siviter, Managing Director of Mails, Post Office

“At eBay, we recognise that the challenges are vast and wide-ranging for SME’s on Britain’s high streets, but while the offline world is on lockdown, a shift to online spending presents a real growth opportunity and a vital lifeline. We hope these tips empower sellers to operate confidently – and most importantly, safely – online, throughout the crisis.

I’d like to personally acknowledge the incredible work of the Royal Mail and Post Office as they help to keep the nation running during this challenging time. With their support, the small businesses that continue to operate on eBay are able to deliver for their customers.”
– Rob Hattrell, Vice President, eBay UK

  • jim
    1 month ago

    .5 Decide whether you’re going to allow your buyer to return items and be sure to check out eBay’s returns policy before you start selling.

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  • 1 month ago

    Thank god for this article…. don’t know what I would have done without it!

  • Dave
    1 month ago

    What a joke 5 is, as Jim points out. The seller just ticks “not as described” (whether true or not), then eBay go in to full buyer protect mode and require no evidence, the seller has to pay up even if it is not true. I have tried arguing with eBay but they don’t listen, don’t care, don’t give two hoots for sellers. Chances of eBay’s Rob Hattrell reading this and doing something to help sellers = zero!

  • Andy
    1 month ago

    10: If frequently posting lots of items, customers should consider using Post Office’s free Drop and Go service. Customers can drop off their items, the Post Office will do the weighing and printing of postage, and the customer minimises their time in the branch.

    10 years experience …. don’t bother!
    If I was to be doing this my post will be delayed till next day my post office due to social distancing has 1 member of staff and a que from 9 – 5 Royal mail slashed last collection to 3pm

  • Bee
    1 month ago

    What a joke all 3 of these companies should merge into one because none of them care one bit for there customers.

  • 1 month ago

    I’d add a Point 11. Set your eBay handling time very high indeed, to allow for Royal Mail being a LOT slower than normal. Their website says that “most deliveries are on time”, you have to click down 3 levels of links before you get a statement that some deliveries may be slightly delayed.

    I analysed a sample of 554 items (387 Tracked 48, 167 RM48) we shipped via Royal Mail since lockdown began. It was painful doing the RM48’s one-by-one on their tracking site (clicking traffic lights and cars every 10th one to prove I’m human).

    Of the Tracked 48, average delivery time was 5.2 days, and RM48’s average time was 7.2 days. 46 RM48’s had no delivery confirmation, and 16 Tracked 48’s have disappeared into their system with no delivery data (in most of those cases, the last scan was at Jubilee). The pattern within this is that from 6th-16th, RM48’s were on average taking around 15 days to deliver, although it has improved since then.

    The actual posties on the ground have been working their backsides off doing all they can, the problem is that Royal Mail management have fallen into the “big business” trap of denying any problems exist. Being more open about it would help us manage customer expectations far better.

    • trumpton
      1 month ago

      POINT 11 is the only one that is effective.

      Well done sir.

    • Tomas
      1 month ago

      Use 17track, you can enter 40 tracking numbers at a time.

  • Jonah
    1 month ago

    No 5

    If it were April fools day I would have laughed. Seriously, who writes this rubbish? They clearly have no concept of the eBay money back guarantee where the seller is shafted on everything and has no rights whatsoever.

  • 1 month ago

    My post has been really good.
    Mind you im not a tight arse and everything we send goes 1st class.

    Remember tight arses you pay 2nd class you get 2nd class service

    • Ratso
      1 month ago

      Better a tight ass than a loose ass or mouthy ass I say……

  • Nick
    1 month ago

    Derek – I sent a replacement by First Class and that also took many days to arrive – no difference to the 2nd Class items.

    When selling some low value items it doesn’t make sense to use First Class. Please don’t start name calling. The service is supposed to be 2-3 days delivery. When we are seeing 20+ days for the first item of 161 posted just after Easter, whether First class or Second Class then it is ridiculous.

    Our account manager confirmed that all the post in the Guildford area and much of the South east goes through Jubilee MC and that was like a car crash with cages of Mail not processed for weeks. It didn’t matter whether it was first or second class. The only difference is whether it is processed on the day it was collected or the next day. When all are being held for 20+ days then First class makes absolutely no difference and is a waste of money!

  • 1 month ago

    @Ratso…enjoy the bad dsr.s that will come your way…..

  • Nigel
    1 month ago

    I have been promoting drop and go. Who knows what the post office normal will be after this. Grab that customer service loyalty whilst you can. I would rather process 10 items for a drop and go than 10 customers with 1 item each. Take every opportunity to protect your business, post Corona virus.

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