Arguably the biggest reason that online businesses choose to sell internationally is to increase their reach and ultimately their sales. Unfortunately, many eBay sellers hold back on expanding into new markets in fear of the unknown, and if this is you then you’re certainly not alone.
Now while eBay can’t promise to help you build a global empire, they can provide you with the platform to reach 124 million+ worldwide eBay buyers every month, in a way that enables you to understand and test your operational structure (support, logistics etc.), and understand the market demand for your products.
The reality is that for eBay sellers there are huge benefits to selling internationally, and we have compiled the following tips to help you understand the cross border trade opportunities available to you with eBay.
Assess how ready you are to go international
Yes, eBay will provide you with the toolkit to grow your business in new territories, but it won’t do the work for you, and it certainly can’t work miracles. So if your business and products aren’t ready for new markets, then you’ll fail at the first hurdle.
Start by asking yourself whether your product is suited for international markets, are there any foreign laws applicable to your product range, whether you can offer product support in the relevant dialect and finally where realistically you are able to ship to.
Consider basic international selling
One of the most basic cross border trade opportunities with eBay, is basic international selling. This is simply the process of offering international postage on your domestic listings to countries that you want to sell into.
Basic international selling enables full listing visibility for international buyers on eBay UK, as well as providing your product with visibility on international eBay sites in advanced search results. Buyers on the eBay.com site will also see your listing if you offer postage to their country. What’s great about this option is there is no need for translation costs, and you can really test the market on a smaller scale to understand product demand in each market, as well as to test whether you can realistically offer support to these countries and fulfil these orders.
With this option, there are a whole host of tools available to help manage the international selling process including order management and inventory control systems, translation services, 3rd party fulfilment centres, customer service software and listing tools, among many others.
Advanced international selling with eBay
For eBay sellers looking to go beyond basic selling, there is advanced international selling, which is basically the practice of optimising and localising your listing for the international market. eBay has found that sellers that list directly onto international sites typically see up to 8x more revenue per listing, compared with sellers that solely offer international postage from their domestic listings, so it really is something to think about if you’re looking to grow your business outside of your home market.
With this in mind, if advanced international selling is the route you do decide to go down, try and avoid offering international postage on your domestic listings to the same countries that you list directly into, as this may be classified as a duplicate listing.
Additionally, by listing in the local language, you can significantly increase the visibility of your listings. There are a few ways you can translate your listings which include using free online translation tools, outsourcing your translation to a specialist service, or working with a listing creation service that can list and translate your listings for you. Bear in mind, however, that free online translation tools can be unreliable and won’t ‘localise’ your listings, which may limit the performance of your product listings and conversion rates.
It’s also worth noting that by going down the advanced selling route, you do not need to open a new account, and you can sell internationally from your UK account and business address.
Consider eBay’s global shipping program (GSP)
eBay’s Global Shipping Program provides sellers with a safe and easy way to “sell internationally and ship domestically” to over 60 countries worldwide. The Global Shipping Program is being used by many sellers across the globe, supporting them with many of the time-consuming, necessary requirements for selling internationally, including identifying which items can be sold where as well as the completion of customs forms, right through to automatically calculating all international shipping and import charges and providing international shipping with tracking.
Unlike with Amazon’s FBA, seller’s using GSP must send the item to the global shipping centre only once the item has been sold, although after this the shipping will be handled by eBay’s GSP. Another benefit of the programme is that sellers are also protected from negative or neutral feedback if the item is lost or damaged during transit, which is often a huge concern for many eBay sellers, in fact, by using GSP, sellers are more eligible to receive good ratings for shipping and handling charges, as well as shipping times.
Comply with cross-border regulations
When selling internationally, there are certain regulations that must be complied with, and you should therefore be aware of any local taxes, applicable laws and regulations for each marketplace that you are considering selling into. In addition, make sure you’re aware of the policy differences between the US and the UK/EU marketplaces, and remember that as a seller it is your responsibility to check and comply with eBay’s policies.
Sell internationally without translation
If language barriers are a big concern for you, then consider selling into countries such as the US, Canada or Australia where there are around 75 million active eBay visitors. Unfortunately, these countries are geographically further away than our European neighbours, and will subsequently incur heftier fees, but the good news is that these marketplaces do not require translation, and the buyers of these marketplaces do search in English.
It is worth remembering that dependant on your product, it won’t always be possible to cherry-pick which countries you do or do not want to sell into, simply because your product might not be the right fit for the country, either because of legal implications or market demand.
That said, whichever markets you sell into, whether you choose to use basic or advanced selling, eBay is a great marketplace to start with in order to expand your company overseas and ultimately maximise the growth of your business.