Shipping Fragile Items

I came across a thread of Ebay customers complaining about how fragile items are shipped in padded mailers. I feel their pain – that doesn’t seem right.

http://community.ebay.com/t5/Archive-Pottery-Glass-Porcelain/Who-puts-a-plate-in-a-bubble-mailer-and-ships-it-to-a-buyer-that/td-p/17088591

While I can sympathize with the buyers, the issue is that the price of packing materials is pretty high, and Ebay is a competitive marketplace, so there’s pressure to drop the sticker price.

Packing materials are expensive. Boxes cost from 25 cents to 2 dollars. Styrofoam and bubble wrap are $20+ per package, and you might use 10 to 50 cents worth. You can easily use more than a dollar if you pack something large and heavy.

Packing glass, from what videos I’ve seen, requires two boxes. Here is a video:

The items go into a small box that’s not much larger than the object – but large enough that the object doesn’t touch any sides. This small box is then put into a larger box that’s packed with foam peanuts, to prevent the box from touching any sides.

When the outer box is crushed, the force is absorbed by the foam, not transmitted to the inner box, and the inner box is safe. The outer box will be crushed. Have you seen the 18-wheeler USPS trucks? Have you seen the bins with wheels on them? Your little box is in there, under a dozen other boxes.

Packaging is at Least a Dollar

The inner box costs around 25 cents, and the outer box is 50 cents if you don’t get free Priority Mail boxes.

The packing material is around 25 cents. Right there, it’s one dollar to package the object correctly.

So, if you’re buying something fragile, it might make sense not to buy the cheapest item. Look at the feedback and see if they have positive comments regarding how fragile things were packed. If they went to the trouble and expense to pack things well, that could be reflected in the price.

Likewise, as a seller, I’m going to be editing my descriptions to explain how I ship… once I get all my supplies in order.

Author: John

I can be reached at johnk@riceball.com.

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