eBay serves a worldwide audience of more than 180 million users, with a billion active listings from 25 million sellers. More than half of the sales revenue that’s generated annually comes from 60 million buyers outside of the United States. Savvy eBay sellers are eager to connect with those buyers. Here are some of the reasons doing business internationally is equally attractive to buyers and sellers.
- Common American consumer goods are not available in many other countries. Consumers worldwide come to eBay to find the products they want.
- International customers have an affinity for American products. This includes Americans living abroad that want to order things from home.
- eBay and Paypal handle all the language translations and currency conversions for you. When selling to an international customer, the checkout and shipping procedure is virtually the same as selling to an American customer.
- When doing auctions, adding international customers to the bidding pool exponentially increases the number of bidders, the number of bids, and the final selling price. The presence of international customers will help drive the final selling price higher, even if they don't win the item on auction.
- International customers purchase used items. They recognize quality and understand that high-quality items are durable and hold their value. Supply of consumer goods may be a problem in their home country; therefore, they look to eBay.
- International customers often purchase more than one item at a time from the same seller to take advantage of shipping discounts.
To give sellers an opportunity to tap into the global marketplace, eBay introduced the Global Shipping Program in 2013. The program was an attempt to streamline the international shipping process for sellers who were either unfamiliar with how to ship internationally or were afraid of the risks. GSP simplifies selling an item to an international buyer.
The Advantage of Using the Global Shipping Program
The biggest advantage of the Global Shipping Program is that it's free, straightforward, and simple. All eligible listings for sellers who qualify are automatically included in the Global Shipping Program. The items are listed as usual, and when a buyer makes a purchase, the seller ships the item to a US shipping center.
From there, international shipping experts manage the shipping and customs process and handle the delivery of the item to the buyer. Sounds simple enough, right? For the newer seller, it is. However, the program has several notable flaws. According to eBay, other benefits for sellers include:
If an item is lost or broken during international shipping, eBay Money Back Guarantee cases will be resolved in your favor, and your seller performance standards won’t be affected
When you provide free domestic shipping to the shipping center, you’ll automatically receive 5 stars for shipping costs in your detailed seller rating
If you charge for domestic shipping to the shipping center but receive a rating below 5 stars for shipping costs, it won't count against your seller performance standards
You’ll automatically receive 5 stars for shipping time in your detailed seller rating when you ship with the same business day or 1 business day handling, upload tracking information within 1 business day of receiving payment, and deliver the item to the US shipping center within 4 business days
Any negative or neutral feedback that can be attributed to the Global Shipping Program from item handling during international transit will be removed.
The Drawbacks of Using eBay's Global Shipping Program
Everything shipped within the GSP is sent USPS Priority International Mail. The lowest price for an international package is about $35. Shipping everything the same class streamlines the process for eBay, but it isn't the best price for the international customer.
Consider a 10-ounce sweater shipped to Canada by First Class International Mail costs about $15 before the eBay shipping discount. The same sweater shipped Priority International through GSP costs $35.
eBay is probably using Priority International because it comes with insurance. No package can be tracked outside of the USA through USPS. However, if a package is lost or misdirected, an insurance claim can be filed, and the seller reimbursed so that they can provide a refund to the buyer.
Another disadvantage of eBay's Global Shipping Program is the customs fees. Each country has its own rules for charging customs fees for items coming into the country. Rather than researching every item that is shipped out of the USA and into another country, eBay charges a flat customs fee on all items. Many times, the customs fees are not required.
In eBay's attempt to streamline the process, eBay charges customs fees on all items shipped. International customers have commented on blogs, message boards, and Facebook groups that eBay's GSP makes items about three times more expensive than a seller shipping direct. International customers often seek out sellers who do not use GSP because shipping is so much cheaper.
Another potential drawback is that your package may be opened at the shipping center and inspected. Sometimes the representatives at the GSP center may not repack the item as well as you did. Or, if there are multiple parts or pieces inside a box, they may be lost or misplaced, and the customer won't receive the order as you shipped it.
An Alternative to the Global Shipping Program
To attract more international customers, charge lower shipping fees, and eliminate customs fees, many sellers choose to ship direct. This process is also not complicated, but there are some important things to keep in mind if you select this option.
- Check the USPS restriction list and understand what can and cannot be shipped to different countries. Peru and Brazil cannot accept used clothing, Australia cannot accept used bedding, and Italy has many restrictions, including leather, jewelry, anything made from animal hair, and wooden toys.
- Items weighing less than 4 lbs can be shipped First Class International. This is a huge money saver. GSP does not currently offer this class of mail to save the buyer money.
- When offering First Class International (FCI), you can purchase insurance from a third-party service, such as WorldPost or ShipSurance. This is not tracking but insurance. If shipping direct with FCI and using one of these third-party insurance companies, make sure you only offer to ship to the countries that the insurance covers.
You can put both GSP and direct international shipping on your eBay listings. Let the customer choose! GSP can be justified with more expensive items or large items that would go Priority anyway. Just keep your customer in mind when setting up shipping options.