Shipping properly on ebay is essential. Especially when shipping collectibles. As a seller, you don't want to under-estimate shipping, and if you are a decent person, you will feel horrible if the item does not arrive in tact. While things happen, there are things you can do to help limit the problems.
Correct size boxes is mandatory. If the box bulges, it's too small. The item will get damaged, and your buyers will be upset. Don't hope for the best.
A properly sized box will have at least one inch on every side for packing supplies to surround the item.
Use a digital postal scale. The more weight it can handle, the better. But, buy one that handles your typical packages.
Measure the box. The last thing you want is to sell an item at a loss, pay the ebay and paypal fees to increase your losses, and then be told your package is over sized, and therefore doubles the shipping charges. Yes, even Power Sellers make this mistake.
Some companies use air packets. Don't. Especially if you ship statues and heavy items. Yes, I have had companies such as Amazon, Toys R Us, KB Toys, ship large statues using these air packs, and without fail, the statue arrives in several pieces.
Smarter companies line the box with bubblewrap. The small bubble bubblewrap seems to be the best. Then place at least one layer of packing peanuts on the bottom. If you are shipping fragile items, assume the shippers will jump on the boxes, and play football with your items. Therefore, I strongly suggest wrapping each item in bubblewrap, then placing the item(s) in the center of the box, allowing for packing peanuts to surround all four sides, and then adding sufficient packing peanuts to fill the rest of the box. The package should then be sealed tightly, but, not too tight as to put pressure on the items.
Before sealing the pkg, weigh the package. Why pay the shipping service for a 4 pound package, when the package weighs 3.01 pounds? You can play around some to get the weight to be 3 pounds or less. I typically cut a tip of the flaps. Sometimes a lighter box should be used. But, make sure to use a sturdy double corrugated box; not a flimsy box. Especially on fragile items.
You are now ready to ship. But, who do you use?
A better question is who not to use.
UPS tends to be the absolute highest shipper. Then, when you file a claim, they tend to reject as many claims as they can, making every excuse possible. Why bother?
Fed Ex is cheaper. I had one claim, and it took them 9 months just to send the form. Now that they own the ground service, they claim this is no longer a problem. But, with the increase in fees, they are closing in on UPS rates.
DHL is the cheapest of the shippers. They have also been the fastest. They've delivered items within 3 days, that UPS and Fed ex would have been delivered in 5 business days (ie, 7 calendar days). Also, they tend to pay on claims faster, without the hassles. Investigations, probably. But, from what I have been told by people who have had to file a claim, it's much easier than with UPS. Pick up rates are reasonable when applied to a monthly pick-up.
Post Office. Do the research yourself. As of Jan. 2, 2007, it is now cheaper to ship a 4 pound package priority from the west coast to the east coast than it is to ship a 2 pound package via UPS and Fed Ex. This will undoubtedly change, if the PO changes their rates in April (as I have heard). But, currently, the PO is actually cheaper than UPS or FED Ex ground services. Go figure. Oh; and those who like the pick up service. The PO now picks up packages at no cost. There may be a limit as to how many they will pick up; so, check with them.
If you use the Postal Service, utilize the PayPal shipping services. The Post office does not charge for delivery confirmation, when it is purchased online.