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How Can eBay Offer USPS Tracking for Under a Buck?

eBay
How Can eBay Offer USPS Tracking for Under a Buck?

eBay is offering a way for its sellers to send lightweight items to buyers WITH TRACKING for under a dollar. The service will become available next month for trading cards priced at $20 or less and weighing up to 3 oz.

We had reported on the new “eBay standard envelope” option last month when eBay inadvertently published a page describing the service earlier than it had intended and quickly removed the page. The company made the announcement official this week through a press release, though it has not re-published the landing page describing the new service.

In this week’s announcement, eBay stated, “Beginning January 2021, the new shipping service, eBay standard envelope, allows sellers in the U.S. 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 new shipping option fills a big gap for sellers of certain goods. As Sports Collectors Daily wrote, “It’s welcome news for those who offer lower cost cards but who have been faced with a dilemma: charge $3 or more for shipping in a padded envelope so their first class shipment is trackable or offer free or low cost shipping in a plain, white envelope and run the risk that a buyer won’t claim the card wasn’t received.”

However, it’s unclear how eBay is able to offer such a low rate. In its announcement, it said eBay standard envelope offered savings up to 70% over USPS First Class Package Service shipping costs, plus includes shipping protection.

We asked the US Postal service for help in understanding how eBay was able to offer sellers such an attractive postal rate. A spokesperson replied, “It is an eBay envelope, not a USPS envelope. It is handed off to the USPS for shipping, just like any other envelope would be. It is not a USPS branded product; it is simply an eBay product. The Postal Service and eBay are two separate organizations.”

We followed up by asking if the USPS was offering eBay the ability to sell trackable First Class Mail at $1 or less (perhaps through a Negotiated Service Agreement), or if the USPS allowed companies like eBay to resell postage below cost. A spokesperson checked and said she had no additional information.

In the Terms and Conditions page that eBay had inadvertently published last month, eBay referenced its service providers’ terms of service – naming USPS and Easyship.

The beta launch for the new shipping service will be available January 2021 for eBay sellers in the US with plans to expand to new categories in the future.

eBay Standard Envelope
Graphic shows eBay Standard Envelope dimension limitations published last month but subsequently removed.
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Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com. See disclosure at EcommerceBytes.com/disclosure/.

5 thoughts on “How Can eBay Offer USPS Tracking for Under a Buck?”

  1. Envelope must be “not too rigid.” This for items that must not be bent? I think I’ll keep sending items in a rigid mailer for 70¢, which is probably less than eBay’s special rate. Low-priced cards, stamps, and postcards are not scam magnets so I see no reason to change anything about how I ship them.

  2. Id have to imagine that eBay is simply taking the loss – as they do in the sneaker authentication situation.

    eBay has enough “free cash” (aka stolen seller funds) to be able to fund these kinds of projects – they question is – how big is the upside (how many more sales will be made because of it) …AND when the funding for this program runs out – then what?

    I dont think that eBay has the clout to have USPS create a new item just for them … but eBay at times is desperate to hoodwink Wall Street that all is well in “marketplace land” and so taking a small loss on the postage is worth keeping the facade alive.

    Another day in eBayland!

  3. will be fun when someone takes those to the post office.
    the clerks will not know anything about this and will want more money.

  4. Why would USPS charge more if eBay already handled it? I just wonder if it’s limited to the category.

    1. because the clerks will know nothing about it. they will probably try to charge for 1st class package.

      ebay does not deliver mail, so no, ebay does not handle it.

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