I worry we’ll end up paying more and getting less from USPS—and that the recent post office closures will have huge impact on all online sellers who use USPS for their shipping needs, especially during the busy holiday season.
Where eBay is concerned, this could ultimately hurt a lot of sellers’ bottom lines.
Just from my personal experience, USPS has had pretty good service over the last few years. I understand that some might disagree, especially if they have seen their local post offices shut their doors. That makes it more difficult to ship packages quickly.
In the past few months, I have noticed more of my First Class and Priority Mail packages take two to five days longer to arrive at my buyers’ doorsteps. Still, I consider myself lucky to live in a city with two post offices within a mile radius, and near a mail “hub.” When I drop off my prepaid packages in the early afternoon, I will often check the delivery confirmation information online, and see that packages have already arrived at the hub in Sacramento, and are being readied for the next leg in their journey. From there, though, anything can happen.
With delivery times being part of the Detailed Seller Ratings on eBay, having the post office work so efficiently (for the most part) has helped me keep my Top-rated seller status.
Fast ‘N Free
I always try to ship my items within one business day to stay in good standing with eBay and attract buyers. But eBay’s recent announcement of Fast ‘N Free icons makes me a bit nervous. eBay will add these icons to listings that offer free shipping and show a “high probability that the item will be delivered within four business days or less.”
I would love to have one of these crystal balls that eBay uses to estimate how fast (or slow) USPS will be this holiday season!
With talks of USPS possibly ending Saturday deliveries and shutting down more offices, this will slow down service times in the near future, if it hasn’t already. (Maybe that’s what happened to my slow packages).
And who will be the first to complain when a package doesn’t get delivered in the estimated time frame? You guessed it, buyers. And they may ding your stars for this slowdown, even though sellers may have no control over it. This could cause you to lose your Top-rated seller status and the discounts the designation provides.
Small delay may have big impact
Although this hasn’t been confirmed, one seller has said that, even though their local post office is still open on Saturdays, packages that are dropped off late Friday and early Saturday are being held over the weekend. Employees don’t process or scan packages into the system until Monday.
One weekend may not seem like a lot of time, but if eBay tells a buyer the item they bought on Thursday will be delivered on Tuesday or Wednesday of the next week, who is going to look like they aren’t doing their job if the item doesn’t arrive until the following Friday? The seller.
What can we, sellers, do? We could overstate the handling time in our eBay listings, so if the post office doesn’t deliver as quickly as it should, buyers might not take it out on us and our DSR scores.
On the other hand, this could hurt our status in search results—and could prevent us from getting that nifty Fast ‘N Free icon in our listings! We could start shipping via another carrier with guaranteed delivery times, but that could be quite costly. I plan on rolling the dice and hoping for the best.
I do enjoy a bit of a gamble once in a while—though I’ve never gambled with my status as an eBay Top-rated seller—but I worry that if I adjust my handling time, I could miss out on buyers. What are your thoughts? What do you think USPS’ current state will mean for you this holiday season?
Rebecca Miller is Auctiva.com's Product Manager. As an eBay seller of more than 13 years, Rebecca is well tuned into the needs of online sellers, and serves as an internal advocate for merchants. She continuously monitors Auctiva's Community Forums, answering customer's questions and taking their feedback to developers for future enhancements. Rebecca continues to sell on eBay, and has experience as a PowerSeller and a Top-rated Seller.