How eBay Sellers Can Save Money on Shipping Supplies

October 20, 2007

Warning: Some eBay sellers may not like this idea.  You might think it’s not worth your time or might think it’s tacky.  This tip isn’t for everyone but if it works for your eBay Business it will save you money guaranteed.

eBay Shipping Costs


Shipping costs are becoming more of an issue for eBay sellers. The higher cost of gasoline is raising shipping rates across the board and eBay is making it easier for customers to search based on both product and shipping price. So what can you do to keep your shipping costs competitive without eating into your profits?  How about getting free boxes?

Free Shipping Boxes
Do you know how much stuff people buy every day that comes in cardboard boxes?  Just look out your window on trash day and you’ll see the boxes lined up, house after house.  How would you like to get your hands on some of those boxes?  Now, you likely don’t want to drive around your neighborhood pillaging boxes from the trash heap.  Not only would it be inefficient in terms of gasoline and time but you might get some weird looks from your neighbors as well.  The good news is there’s a much better way to get loads of free boxes.

Box Paradise
Here are the steps to finding “box paradise”. Do a Google search on “cardboard recycling” and the name of your town to find directions and hours for the closest recycling center.  Block out an hour of time on the weekend, throw on some work clothes, show up to the recycling center in an empty vehicle, and pull up close to the cardboard recycling. 

You now have access to hundreds of free boxes, of various sizes and shapes to meet your shipping needs.  I know this tip works because I’ve used it many times before.  As a matter of fact, I actually took back a load of boxes today because I’ve been a little overzealous in my box collecting over the last 6 months and had too many free boxes!

Save on Shipping
Since all of my shipping boxes are free, I can offer lower mailing costs without costing myself any money.  If you make one big trip for free boxes every month or two the time and gas it takes is tiny spread across all your sales. I still charge more than UPS or the USPS fee in order to cover my time to package & ship, ink for the printer, and gas to drop off packages but the total shipping charge on eBay is still very competitive.

The tip is a little dusty and you’ll need somewhere to store the boxes but it can definitely save you some money.  Of course, you can always get free eBay branded boxes delivered from the USPS but they only come in certain dimensions.  This strategy is excellent for locating an ongoing free supply of all different size boxes to help lower your shipping costs and keep you competitive on eBay.


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Ben Edwards, the founder of Money Smart Life, saved up enough to buy a Nintendo back when he was 12 years old. When he used the money to buy shares of Wal-Mart stock instead, he knew he wasn't like the other kids... His addiction to personal finance has paid off for his family and now he's helping you to afford the life that you want. Check him out on the web at Google Plus, Twitter and Facebook.

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10 Responses to How eBay Sellers Can Save Money on Shipping Supplies

  • Mike

    I second Sarah’s comment. I am new to eBay and already I am looking for ways to save money. Rates go up again in two months.

    I decided to get the meter and already I feel like I’m saving time at the post office. Plus, I got free shipping supplies from them. Can’t beat that.

  • Sarah

    I do enough eBaying that I felt like most of my week was spent in line at the post office. :/ Over the summer, I ended up finding out about and haven’t looked back. I just prep my normal shipping labels, print my postage from my home printer, slap it on with some tape and I’m pretty much done.

    I never knew that you could take boxes from the recycling center. I’m gonna have to try that when I run out of boxes for my eBay items (or the next time I move!).

  • Ben

    Good points on the USPS boxes and bubble mailers. If everything you ship is small this strategy won’t help you very much. Nice work on the free boxes Brandon, free is good : )

  • Brandon Barkley

    I recently lucked out on the cardboard box front. We got new phones at my company and, just by asking, I got about 20 boxes that the phones came in for free. They are all the same size, but it will be good for shipping items or packing for a move.

  • Kimberly

    I think that’s a great idea! I don’t think I’ve ever bought a box, I reuse or use the priority boxes.

  • Money Socket

    Thats a great idea. Luckily for me my items are small so I use bubble mailers, and those aren’t too bad. For larger items, what you suggest is excellent. It costs you less to ship and it also puts old boxes to use. Just subscribed to your site by the way, I’m looking forward to reading!

  • Minimum Wage

    If you’re shipping anything big, heavy, and at least semi-valuable, the USPS Priority Mail flat-rate boxes are great. I’ve used them to ship 20 pounds of books/magazines and for something that heavy, it’s a great deal on postage, plus it gets there fast and the boxes are practically indestructible.


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