Bananas - your source of eBay packing materials!
This is the most boring stage of the process and subsequently where some eBay sellers let themselves down. If the buyer receives thier purchase poorly packed and broken then they are not going to be happy and will want a refund and more importantly never buy off you again which will have negated all the hard work that you put into the previous stages of your professional auction listing.
Packing is not difficult but if you get carried away then it will impact greatly on your profit, all items fall into two categories :
Envelope Packages - always use padded envelopes as these will protect your items properly
Box Packages - always use a sturdy box and ideally wrap the item in bubble wrap
As I mentioned packaging costs can impact on your profit, however, if you carefully work out what is required when you are calculating the shipping charge then this cost is covered by the customer as they pay the shipping charge.
This doesn't mean use the first supplier of packaging that you can find as the shipping charge will have an effect on the listing and the customers perception of you, the customer assumes that the shipping charge relates only to the postage cost and not to the packaging costs so when they see that they paid more than the actual cost of postage they assume that you are ripping them off and this will ruin anyone's professional image.
There are numerous suppliers of packaging available, with some very good suppliers available on eBay itself. However there are other alternatives, your items do not have to go out in box's that are plain or covered in your logo (if you have one). Customers will not mind as long as thier item arrives in one piece.
My advice would be to become a recycler, when you visit the store keep a look out for boxes that you can use to pack your items and also for packaging materials to secure the item with within the box. The stores are more than willing to let you take these(always ask first) as they only throw them away or recycle them themselves.
I am going to let you in on a big secret, there is a great source of FREE BUBBLE WRAP that anyone can get access to. All it takes is one word :
Banana's are the single biggest selling fruit in superstores and every box of them comes packed with a sheet of bubble wrap within to protect the delicate fruit. All you do is ask your local produce department manager in your local store to save it for you and hey presto instant FREE packaging. Do not worry about the banana smell tainting the bubble wrap as the bananas are removed from the packaging before they are ripe (the stage they start to smell) as the stores like to ensure a customer life of the product and as such sell them just as they are ripening. Trust me, try it and see.
When you are packing the item, always put a thank you note in to ensure that the customer knows you are grateful for thier purchase and this will also raise your image within thier mind. Always use a good strong tape on the box and ensure all flaps are taped down and that no one can gain entry to the box without cutting the tape. When you are putting the customers address on the box I would recommend that you type it out on the PC, firstly it looks more professional and also not everyone can read your writing and this will only cause delays in the mail.
It is also advisable to always get proof of postage from the mail or better still send it recorded, this acts in two ways.. it provides a means of tracking the delivery so that you know the customer received it (helps against fraudulent 'not received' claims) and it also provides a insurance cover against loss and damage. The relative costs are minor compared to the piece of mind it gives you and the customer.
The next stage is to develop after sales one stage further.. please read this article to learn how to develop your customers using a mailing list.