Who Pays for Shipping?
Ultimately, it's the seller who dictates who's responsible for
shipping charges, and this information should be included in the
your listing. Most often, the buyer pays for shipping, with
the seller stating clearly what terms are required up front. The
seller also determines how an item is to be shipped - what method,
and by which carrier. You have two choices for managing
- Sell the item FOB your location. This means that your
'ownership' of the item ends when the item leaves your shipping
dock; transportation, insurance, liability and cost thereof are
the responsibility of the buyer.
- Sell the item FOB buyer's location. This means that you
are responsible for shipping, insurance and liability until the
item is accepted at the buyer's shipping dock (or doorstep or
doghouse or wherever it is that they choose to accept delivery
of the item).
So its your choice whether you will charge for
the freight and manage the product until it arrives at your
customer's location or whether you make it their responsibility.
Its common for small items to be shipped FOB the buyer's location
with the price of the shipping added to the cost of the goods.
For large items like furniture, you may well want to specify that it
is the responsibility of the buyer to arrange shipping through a
company like Craters and Freighters.
Estimating Shipping Costs on small items
There is a link on your members page titled 'Shipping
Calculators' that allows you to check shipping costs by weight
and destination. The link to IShip allows you to
compare the rates at a glance and is particularly helpful.
Packing and shipping large items
Shipping large items items may require disassembly, crating and
sometimes both. This may also be required for extremely fragile and
valuable items. If this type of service is what you need and
you've never done it before, you should talk with a
professional company that does this as a business. You
have several options:
There are many full-service companies that
perform both crating and shipping as a business -- Craters and
Freighters is one such. This is a specialized field and we
suggest that you use a professional if you cannot deliver the
item yourself. You can use the links on your members page
titled 'shipping calculators' to find shippers who handle this
type of product.
You may also be able to get an excellent rate
on packing and shipping services from a company that normally
does moving of household goods, as long as you are willing to
accept freight space on an as-available basis. Check your
local phone directory for 'household movers'; call and ask.
Finally, if you are able to crate the item
yourself, you may be able to get a good rate from an LTL
(less-than-load) trucking company such as Roadway Express.
Use Google or a similar
search engine to find ones that service your area.
Large items being shipped internationally are
typically handled by freight forwarders and you can probably find
someone in your local phone directory under that heading.
You will need to do so to ensure that the customs paperwork is
completed correctly. In most cases, used items are not
dutiable, but many countries have basic VAT or consumption taxes and
most have customs and customs brokerage fees. As the
shipper, its your job to make sure that the paperwork required to
move the product internationally is correct. Most
freight forwarders and shipping companies (Fedex, UPS) will do the
paperwork for you, but in some cases, there will be a fee for
document preparation. Unless you know this area well, you
should always discuss this with your international
customer and your shipper to avoid any unpleasant surprises.
Shipping costs, particularly for large, crated
items, vary considerably based on the distance, the size of
the item and the weight of the shipment (which, of course, includes
weight of the packing material, which can be very considerable for a
crated item.) If you do not include shipping, you should
be sure your buyer knows that shipping is not included in the cost
of your item and that it will be calculated when you know the
distance and method of the shipment.
When in doubt, buy insurance! We
strongly recommend that you insure everything you ship. This is an
inexpensive way to protect your investment. The additional cost is
passed on to the buyer since it can be included in shipping costs.
If you are responsible for the product until its in your customer's
hands, you need to make sure that both parties are protected.
Note that buying insurance on a per-package basis
is actually extremely expensive -- but prudent if you are a small
business. Standard shipping insurance also often covers only
very low amounts per pound, and if you are shipping an item with a
high value, make SURE you know the coverage that you are getting
when you buy shipping insurance -- if the coverage from the shipper
is limited to $5/pound, it will be of little use if that Limoges
plate that weighs a few ounces breaks in transit!
If your company is at a point where you are
carrying business insurance, you can often get an extension to your
policy to cover a certain amount of in-transit inventory at rates
FAR better than you will ever get from any freight carrier.
Ask your insurance agent what's available and you may be pleasantly
Don't be intimidated by the idea of international shipping --
it's relatively easy to do, and can significantly increase your
business. Mention in your description that you are ready to ship
internationally, but don't quote a price until you find out where
your customer is.
Note that it is often much cheaper to ship US
Postal service to foreign locations than any other way.
Make sure that you and your buyer are very clear
about who is responsible for taxes, import duties and customs fees.
These can add very substantially to the cost of the item. In
general, used items do not have duty imposed on them, but there many
still be Customs Clearance fees and some shipping companies (notably
UPS) may charge a hefty customs brokerage fee for completing your
customs paperwork for you. When in doubt, check this with your
buyer and the shipper.
Getting it to the Shipper
Some shippers (notably Fedex and the US Postal Service) will pick up
for free. Some charge. Find out from your shipper
whether they will come and get the item at your location without
charge -- you don't want to be surprised by a pickup charge.
Documenting Your Shipment
Most shippers have a way for you to get a tracking number through
their system -- even the US Postal Service! The
postal service also has a way to get a document that is a 'proof of
shipment' that you may want to consider. Having a tracking
number will give both you and your customer a way to find the parcel
should it be lost somewhere in the world-wide logistics maze -- and
give you basis for an insurance claim if the item never shows up!
Note that your customer can see the status of
their order at all times! As soon as you have shipped your
item, go to the order and change the status to 'shipped'. If
you have shipped through a service that has online tracking and you
put the tracking number in, the customer will be able to click on
that link and find their product. You should also use the
feature to send an updated order acknowledgement to the purchaser so
they see what the shipper ID is.