This is yet another eBay related post. I'll think of something else to write about eventually. But for now.....
Sometime back we decided on a flat rate shipping for items we sell on eBay. We keep it pretty simple, and it works well in 95% of the cases. We deal with anything odd or out of the ordinary on a case by case basis as it is listed.
Domestically, we offer free shipping on virtually everything, and you can't get much simpler than that. We've been doing that for over a year now, and it works for us.
We've never offered free shipping internationally - it's just too expensive.
The United States Postal Service increased their rates on Jan 22, 2012. The news focused on the domestic rates for letters and postcards, but for us, that didn't matter. What we wanted to know, and what was surprisingly difficult to find out before it actually happened, was the new rates for first class packages, both domestic and international. We ship out a lot of packages that weigh 2 or 3 ounces - and the cheapest (& frequently the quickest) way to send them is first class & first class international.
So this is what we found out.
First class domestic is actually cheaper now, because the post office no longer charges for delivery confirmation if you print the label online. Before Jan 22, the 2 & 3 ounce rate for an online label was $1.56, and they required you to purchase the delivery confirmation at $.19, for a total of $1.75. After Jan 22, the rate went up to $1.64 for 2 or 3 ounces, but now delivery confirmation is added on for free. So it's 11 cents cheaper than before. That's good for us since we offer free shipping on these items, and over the course of a year that 11 cents is going to add up.
First class international is much more expensive. We differentiate international shipping between those items going to Canada, and those items going everywhere else.
Before Jan 22, USPS charged $1.98 for a 2 ounce package, and $2.24 for a 3 ounce package to Canada. Now the charge is $3.15 & $3.30, respectively.
For Europe, Asia, Africa, South America, Australia etc the rate before Jan 22 was $2.59 for a 2 ounce package & $3.46 for a 3 ounce package. Now USPS charges $3.78 & $4.56, respectively.
As a seller, I have experienced international shipping rate sticker shock. The domestic changes were minimal from our point of view, but we were very surprised at the international increase. We were forced to increase our rates because of this, though we desperately did not want to.
International sales are a good chunk of our business. I'm afraid these increases will hurt our sales. This was not a minor increase, it was nothing we could come close to absorbing in the price of our items, and I'm not terribly happy about it.
In reality it won't affect everything - we'll send individual postcards & small photos internationally at the same rate as before. But CDVs, Cabinet Photos, Antique photos and many other things will be more expensive to ship internationally. That's just the way it's going to be.