Stamps category on eBay to see new postage option with tracking
By Bill McAllister, Washington Correspondent
The giant online merchandise mart eBay that offers a forum for trading and selling all types of merchandise has created a new postage option with tracking. It currently is only available in the trading cards category, but eBay plans to also offer it in the stamps category.
The California-based company introduced this service called “eBay standard envelope” in January to customers who buy or sell lightweight items such as trading cards.
In announcing the service in December, eBay said that it allows sellers in the United States “to print labels and ship trading cards priced $20 and under and up to 3 oz., in an envelope with tracking included, for less than $1.”
The service could also be an asset for sales involving stamps, covers or other small items when eBay brings this option to the stamps category.
The label includes a tracking number that allows the shipment to be tracked as it travels through the mail.
The advantage to eBay customers is obvious.
“Ship and track trading cards for less than $1,” says an eBay flyer.
The new service is cheaper than mailing such an item with tracking and postage purchased directly from the United States Postal Service.
“We’re always looking for ways to improve the buyer and seller experience, especially for lightweight, low cost inventory,” Evelyn Kha, a senior manager at eBay, told Linn’s.
“We know that it wasn’t cost-effective for our customers to buy or sell a lightweight item, like raw trading cards, then spend more on shipping, so we worked with our sellers and partners to deliver a unique solution that would fit the needs of our marketplace while also allowing sellers to meet eBay top seller standards,” she said in an email.
For this service, tracking is not available via the Postal Service’s tracking program. It is only reachable via eBay’s purchase history and thus is restricted to the buyers and sellers of the item.
“We’ve created this service to support transactions from our marketplace only so tracking from partner sites is not currently something that is supported,” Kha said.
She said sellers are offered a PDF label in either a 4-inch-by-6-inch or an 8.5-inch-by-11-inch format.
Sellers can use a standard home or office printer or a thermal label printer to print the labels and apply them to their envelopes or to print them directly on the envelopes.
Currently the labels can be printed for 1-, 2- and 3-ounce shipments for 51¢, 71¢ or 91¢, respectively, she said. The prices reflect postage discounts offered to mailers using postage meters.
Stamps should not be used on the envelopes for additional postage, Kha said, adding that shippers should choose one of the three cited rates to be printed on the envelope and have those printed as part of the labels.
Kha also stated that the service is “only supporting machinable envelopes at this time.”
She also told of another benefit of the service: “eBay standard envelope is not only a great, trackable solution for lightweight, low-cost inventory, it also offers sellers protection against lost or damaged items.
“Our new service not only offers sellers a way to meet modern e-commerce buyer expectations, it also allows them to meet top seller standards on our site and be protected against anything that might go wrong along the way.
“We believe this is a great solution for buyers, sellers on the eBay marketplace and plan to expand this to stamps and other categories that meet the size/weight/value requirements in the near future.”
A Postal Service spokeswoman declined to discuss the eBay program and referred all questions to eBay.
Pictured nearby is an example of this service used on a baseball card purchase made by a Linn’s editor. The purchase was shipped from Texas in early February.
The card, in a plastic holder, was placed along with an invoice inside a No. 10 envelope. The seller printed one of the eBay standard envelope labels on a sheet of paper and taped it to the envelope.
The postage meter part of the label states that it is powered by Pitney Bowes. The tracking number appears above the seller’s return address. It seems that the tracking is based on the Intelligent Mail barcode system that appears above the recipient’s address.
Also shown nearby is the tracking log for this item. Under the heading “Tracking details,” the log indicates when the label was created, and also shows the dates the item was placed in transit, processed at the origin location, processed at the destination location, “out for delivery,” and delivered at the post office in the recipient’s town.
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