Pullquote: Besides the simplicity of the interface, its the new range and flexibility of USPS services that drive the eBay online postage solutions popularity.



Imagine for a moment that you run a reselling business from your home. Your marketplace is eBay, the popular online e-commerce site, and the items you sell range from designer clothing and fine jewelry to laptop computers and digital audio equipment. Your profit margins are tight and your time is limited: Between closing sales on eBay, youre searching for new items to sell, while managing your home and family. Waiting in line at the post office to pay postage for your packages consumes a lot of your time.


As you spend countless hours at the post office, practically setting up residence there, you wonder, Is there a better way? You bet. Point, click, pay, print.


Since March 2004, US-based eBay sellers have had easy access to shipping options offered by the U.S. Postal Service through eBay and Pitney Bowes. Since its launch, this browser-based online postage service, powered by Pitney Bowes technology, has steadily gained in popularity.


One reason the postage service is so popular is its simplicity and its integration with PayPal, an eBay company that enables businesses and individuals to send and receive payments online. This integration allows sellers to pay for postage online in addition to printing out a shipping label that shows the postage is paid. Plus, theres no charge for the online service, above and beyond the cost of the postage itself.


eBay sellers can also request e-mail delivery confirmation, purchase insurance, include a personal message to the buyer on the label and send an e-mail to buyers alerting them that the package has been sent. In addition to these services, Pitney Bowes recently added international shipping classes for flat-rate packages.


Good Business for eBay Sellers

Besides the simplicity of the interface, its the new range and flexibility of USPS services that drive the eBay online postage solutions popularity. Three services and options in particular go a long way toward improving the margins of eBay sellers:


            Flat-rate boxes: Using this option, eBay sellers can pack a standard-sized USPS box with up to 70 pounds of content and ship it at one low rate.


            Hidden postage: They can choose not to print the actual shipping cost on the label, allowing flexibility for merchants to establish shipping and handling rates for packages.


    Pickup options: In addition to printing out their own labels, eBay sellers can arrange a free next-day Carrier Pickup or a Pickup on Demand for an additional cost.


Whats Next?

And what does eBays online postage success mean for commercial shippers who sell directly to consumers? It shows that browser-based technology, USPS shipping options and consumer comfort with online postage are finally coming together in a way that makes offering this service a valid business proposition. For merchants who step up to embrace this development, the rewards will be numerous, indeed. 


Jeff Kiker is Pitney Bowes Senior Product Manager for Internet postage. Contact him at Jeffrey.Kiker@pb.com. For a demonstration of the online service, please visit their Web site at www.pbdistributionsolutions.com/cdx93h.


Sidebar: Heres how eBay sellers access and use this service:


1) Click the Print Shipping Label option and log into your PayPal account.


2) Choose the USPS shipping option.


3) Verify the buyer who will receive the shipment (the system automatically posts the buyers name and address and corrects the address).


4) Input and confirm shipping preferences and package information, including:


        The type of package (package/thick envelope, flat rate envelope, large package)

        Package weight, if required

        Shipping preference (Priority Mail, Express Mail, Parcel Post, Media    Mail or First-Class Mail)


5) Print out the label and attach it to the package.


6) Deliver the package to the closest post office or mailbox or go to www.usps.com/pickup or call 1-800-ASK-USPS for a free next-day Carrier Pickup or for Pickup on Demand for a cost of $13.25 regardless of the number of packages.