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eBay puts its stamp on shipping

Online auctioneer makes deal with U.S. Postal Service to co-brand shipping supplies used by eBay aficionados.

Internet auction leader eBay has signed a deal with the U.S. Postal Service to give co-branded shipping materials to shared customers.

Under the deal, announced Friday at eBay's customer conference in New Orleans, the Postal Service will offer free shipping supplies to customers using its Priority Mail service to send eBay items.

The supplies will feature both organizations' logos and will be available starting in July. The boxes will come in three sizes, along with matching tape.

The agreement underscores eBay's importance beyond the Internet. The company is a lucrative source of business for companies that provide logistics to its millions of customers.

In a similar move, AuctionDrop, a company that helps people list, sell and ship items sold via eBay's auctions, signed a deal with delivery giant UPS earlier this month. The deal enables people to drop off items to be sold on eBay at any UPS store in the United States. The items are packed and sent to AuctionDrop free of charge. In turn, AuctionDrop takes a commission on any it successfully sells on eBay.

eBay's latest Postal Service deal expands a pact signed by the two organizations in February that allows the auction site's customers to calculate rates, purchase postage and print shipping labels on their home computers. With the collaboration, eBay buyers and sellers will see their items shipped and delivered more rapidly, the partners said.

"At any given time there are more than 25 million items for sale on eBay, worldwide...(and) shipping is integral to the successful completion of each transaction," Jeff Jordan, senior vice president of eBay North America, said in a statement. "These new co-branded boxes will help make it even faster and more efficient for our community members to ship packages."

In related news, eBay's PayPal online payment subsidiary announced it will offer credit accounts to its customers under an agreement with GE Consumer Finance.