Business is booming these days for online entrepreneur retailers like Julie Godfrey-Cornish of Akron, Ohio who started selling jeans on eBay Inc. about a year ago and now ships 500 to 600 packages a month from her home business. More than 400,000 people now earn their primary income by selling on eBay, and eBay purchases account for $14 of every $100 spent online. Online sales are growing by 23.8% last year alone. With roughly 150 million registered users, eBay ranks among the world's most powerful companies, online or otherwise. A critical component of online selling, for Fortune 500 companies or occasional eBay sellers, is shipping. Now eBay has teamed up with the U.S. Postal Service to make the shipping experience as seamless as possible for buyers and sellers. "The Postal Service is a natural fit for eBay users who frequently work out of their homes and are shipping to and from residential areas," notes Doug Caldwell, an industry analyst and Vice President of the consulting firm AFMS. "USPS shipping services are more economical and easier to access for this type of shipper and Priority Mail is typically delivered in three days or less, which can mean positive seller feedback on eBay."
When Postmaster General Jack Potter appeared to a packed house at this year's National eBay Live! Conference in San Jose, California with eBay President Bill Cobb and CEO Meg Whitman, he received a standing ovation. No wonder. Initiatives such as the integrated USPS/eBay online shipping solution, launched last year, and powered by Pitney Bowes, enables eBay sellers to pack and ship without leaving home. eBay sellers can calculate postage, print a label with paid postage, pay for insurance, request free shipping materials and schedule a carrier pickup, all from their "My eBay" Web page. USPS is overwhelmingly the shipper of choice on eBay. No software download is required, and the application even lets you send a quick note to the buyer telling them the package is on its way. Expedited packaging products and Delivery Confirmation service is offered at no additional cost. Responding to requests from eBay shippers, USPS launched a line of USPS/eBay co-branded packaging that has expanded this year to include two shapes of Flat-Rate boxes. Independent entrepreneurs like the idea of shipping their products in boxes that feature the trusted USPS and eBay brand logos.
This summer, USPS and eBay are going a step further to help make commerce easier and more convenient for small and home-based businesses as well as larger shippers and to support entrepreneurial spirit around the country. In a series of educational forums, small business experts and USPS employees will share their expertise. The eight-city "The Small Business Tour" will include US stops in Washington, DC; Atlanta; Minneapolis; Milwaukee; Kansas City; Phoenix; Denver; and Miami. Experienced eBay sellers as well as those just starting out will have the opportunity to attend classroom sessions in local post offices in each city to learn about posting, selling and shipping on eBay. The tour will stay in each city for three days, offering workshops, one-on-one tutorials and the opportunity to network with other small business entrepreneurs.
Attendees can learn "Tips & Tricks" from USPS representatives and experienced eBay sellers. The classroom sessions will take participants through every phase of selling an item, including using photography to capture the image, how to write a description guaranteed for results and the mechanics of using USPS products for shipping the item when it sells. The Small Business Tour kicked-off on July 20 in Washington, DC and will travel through the cities until the final program in Miami on September 17.
For more information regarding the USPS/eBay roadshow, go to www.usps.com/ebayday. For USPS/eBay shipping supplies go to http://ebaysupplies.usps.com. For more information or to access the new online postage page on eBay, visit http://pages.ebay.com/usps.
Shoshana Grove works with the USPS Package Services. You can contact her by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.usps.com/strategicplanning/2006-2010.htm.