If you’re not already selling internationally on eBay, you’ve undoubtedly thought about it. Whether it was the daunting thought of language, unknown costs, or customs, you probably got a knot in your stomach, threw up your hands and said, “no way”. I get that. The decision to start selling globally is one that shouldn’t be taken lightly, but I’m here to say that maybe you should take a second look.
According to eBay, 58% of their revenue comes from international business. Yup, over half of their revenue is coming from people who are buying products not just from their home country, but from people like you.
So, while Americans spend the most online, there’s literally a whole world of shoppers out there for the taking. Many sellers, maybe like you, are resistant to taking that step across the pond. But this means that others are seizing the opportunity and soaking up the market share while they have the chance.
In most countries, eCommerce is on the rise and projected to grow even more over the coming years. Many sellers that have taken the plunge into the Atlantic ocean have seen an increase in sales-- with as much as 60% of their customers shopping overseas.
Get Ready: The International Markets
So who are these international shoppers? Where are they coming from? Why are they even buying products abroad?
America is a buyer’s market. When Americans travel abroad, they're surprised to discover German clothes are expensive and UK's markup of electronics are insane. American products are cheap. Sometimes it’s less expensive for consumers to buy products from international marketplaces, like America's, than it is to buy within their own country.
To make it easier for some of those shoppers, eBay boasts a whopping 26 international websites where internationals can browse and shop in their own native language.
So what does it really take to sell internationally? Is it worth all the stomachaches and worry? Let’s take a look at it and you can decide for yourself.
Get Set: The Basics
Growing your business internationally doesn’t have to be complicated. Like most things, if you take a deep breath and go into it knowing the basics and equip yourself with some insider tips, you’ll kick butt.
First off, I'd recommend reading up on the rules and regulations for on selling internationally on eBay here. Basically, they’re trying to make sure inexperienced sellers aren’t getting themselves in over their heads, crossing the Atlantic Ocean on an inflatable whale. Pretty much everyone that’s ready to consider international eCommerce probably meets all of their requirements. For your convenience, some of these rules include:
- Having an eBay account in good standing.
- Have a PayPal account and be PayPal Verified.
- At least 10 Feedback points earned as a seller.
- Minimum 90 days selling experience.
- Meet the selling requirements of the sites where you want your listings to appear.
If you meet these requirements, the next thing to consider is what and where will you sell internationally. I’d recommend starting small in both cases. Choose products that are small, light, and sturdy, to avoid expensive and broken merchandise in the shipping process. Also look for products that have a low return rate. Start small when it comes to your first few countries. Open up international shipping to sellers that speak languages you’re comfortable with, like Australia, the UK, and Canada (or Mexico and Spain if you didn’t sleep through all your foreign language classes).
Try to remain up-to-date on political and social barriers that may make international shipping difficult.
For instance, some sellers limit shipping to Brazil or Italy because of the frequent shipping mishaps, and others won’t ship to countries where their packages can’t be insured. Additionally, every country has their own regulations on imports, so be sure to check out USPS’ tool here before sending an item. For instance, Italy has one of the longest lists of restricted items and France doesn’t want your “measuring instruments marked in units not complying with French law” getting into the hands of its people.
Go: Time to Start Your Engine
Ready to get in your motorboat and sell across the pond? The first and easiest, way to start selling internationally on eBay is by simply opening up your shipping options to allow it.
You can pick which countries you’d like to sell to and eBay will basically take care of the rest. However, to reach the widest range of audience, you should consider listing directly onto the country’s eBay site. To do this, you must register individually with countries you’d like to sell in. Keep in mind you'll have to conduct all business in those native languages. You can likely get by with Google translate, but I recommend getting a translating service to avoid mistakes and confusion.
If you’re a little anxious about the actual shipping process, you can enroll in the Global Shipping Program and Ebay will take care of shipping and customs for you. There’s also multiple softwares to alleviate the guesswork of doing it yourself, like ShipWorks and ShipStation. But, if you do plan on performing your own shipping, be conservative with your shipping estimates. For instance, if it says shipping takes 7-10 days, tell the customer it will arrive in 10-14. Also be sure your listings reflect any policy changes. If you've offered free shipping in the past, consider offering instead, “Free Shipping in the US” and be clear about whether you will pay customs and fees.
If you’re already selling on multiple channels, and now considering multiple countries, you should look into a warehouse management system that updates your inventory in real-time. Softwares like SkuVault reduce costly mistakes like out-of-stocks and oversells by setting buffers, which come in handy as you’re going global.
The last thing to consider is how to accept payments. The industry standard is PayPal. Personally, I wouldn’t stray too far from the beaten path when it comes to payment. With PayPal, you have a certain degree of protection and an acceptable exchange rate. But do be upfront and transparent about costs. Don’t try and surprise customers with currency exchange costs and other fees if it’s not listed on your product.
So what’s stopping you from selling internationally on eBay? The eCommerce industry grows every year, and so does its reach to international consumers. If 58% of eBay’s business is international, shouldn’t your business be reaping some of that benefit?