One way I have provided some funds for my travels here in Israel is to sell some unwanted old computer parts on ebay. Normally its a lot of effort to package up things, especially as bubblewrap is expensive and finding the right sized boxes for things can be tricky.
Anyway I wrapped a selection of things I wanted to sell, and took some photos of the items before hand so I could list them later. What I discovered is ebay now have a feature where you can buy postage online with the UK’s Royal Mail. It works like this, just put in the weight in kilos (slightly confusingly it asks you in Kilos, so remember to write 200gms as 0.2Kgs) then a neatly printed label with a bar code showing postage is paid for is done ready to put on the package. The cost is simply deducted from your Paypal account for exact cost of delivery with no extra fee. You also have to bear in mind if you item is a ‘large letter’ or ‘small packet’ (<2Kgs) or regular parcel. This is usually done with the plastic letterbox thing on Post Office counters to ensure you pay the correct tariff for the items physical shape as well as weight. The software is designed by Pitney Bowes, a company that have made weighing and postage systems for decades now.
I think this service has been around for maybe a couple of years now, but have only starting using it at the beginning of this year, as its often a pain to have to spend your whole lunch break at the post office waiting around.
Take buying car tax. Buying car tax can now only be done at a main post office, and you have to have your MOT certificate and insurance papers to get an expensive circular ticket that says you can drive on Her Majesty’s highways. Because your car tax runs out at the end of the month, you go to the main city post office and about one twelfth of the motoring population are there as well having to renew their car tax. Its a bit like astrology (which I think is wrong as a Christian, but thats another story) that there are 12 different types of people. Which is why its better to simply buy it online now.
But anyways its really handy being about to send small packages without waiting in the post office. Print label, stick it on and shove it through the letter box.
Also this service can be made even more easier for me, here in Israel by using a simple PDF creation app. I like DoPDF, its free and makes a printer driver, so you print from any app to this as if it was a printer and instead it makes a PDF file. So where as the Royal Mail insists you print the label out there and then, you can simply print to PDF, and I email it as an attachment to family at home to print out and stick on.
Where as I haven’t checked with the Royal Mail’s terms and conditions online to see if this is totally ok with them (the label should be fixed on the package and sent off in about 24-48 hours) – This nice set up surely has the potential for businesses to do ‘drop shipping‘ – buying goods and reselling them to someone else without have the goods on your premises. Would be interesting to see who is already using this.