It's coming down to the wire for holiday shoppers on ebay. I've had a good sales week and expect that the next few days will be even better. Thank heaven for last-minute shoppers!
Something that I am going to be prepared to do is to offer expedited shipping. In fact, I changed the message on my ebay store today so that, along with the Christmas countdown banner, I let potential customers know that I ship fast, but I'm prepared to ship faster and to contact me with their zip code for a quote on upgraded shipping options. That's not a bad message to include on all of your ebay listings this time of year. (Note that these suggestions apply for other seasons and holidays besides Christmas, particularly if you are selling an item that people might need in a hurry.)
It's a good idea to have on hand supplies to make wrapping items for expedited shipping easier: Priority Mail boxes or stickers and Express Mail boxes, stickers, and forms. Did you know you can order those from the post office online and have them delivered directly to your door? It's too late now to get them for use for this holiday season, so visit your local post office and pick some up to have on hand. For the future, check the USPS Website and place your order. It's not unusual for delivery to take a few weeks for these supplies, so keep that in mind when you do order. If you use other delivery services, such as UPS or FedEx, check to see what supplies they have available as well.
When a customer contacts you for a quote for expedited shipping, go to the USPS website to calculate the shipping costs. Enter the weight of the package in pounds and ounces (you do have a scale, don't you?) as well as your zip code and the ship-to zip code to see the available options. Quote the parcel post (slow) rate and the estimated number of days for delivery, as well as the Priority Mail and Express Mail rates. Obviously Express Mail is much more expensive, maybe three times the cost of Priority Mail, but you may be surprised that people are willing to pay the extra to get a package delivered to a loved one on time.
Consider offering to gift wrap the item either free or for an additional charge. Make sure you have plenty of gift wrap on hand; a last-minute trip to Wal-Mart or the Dollar Store could turn you into a Scrooge for sure.
Whatever you promise the customer, just make sure you follow through and do your very best to help him achieve his goal of getting a great product, in great condition, to his someone special - on time. You can't control the post office, but you can do everything possible from your end to make that happen. Happy shipping!