Selling into international markets can make a huge difference to the overall success of your business, for the simple reason that you open your business up to millions of buyers located outside of the UK. Unfortunately, many UK sellers are put off selling overseas due to requirements involved with cross-border trade, i.e. customs duties, taxes and other import charges, as well as the perceived risk of selling into unknown territories.
There are, however, options available to you to help manage these risks and requirements, and even to eliminate them altogether. With over 167 million buyers’ worldwide, eBay is a great marketplace to leverage in order to expand your reach internationally and ultimately grow your business.
If you missed eBay’s recent international expansion webinar, which covered your options for exporting in great depth, we have provided a comprehensive overview below.
Export Opportunities With eBay
With 190 eBay markets worldwide, including eBay.de, eBay.fr, eBay.ca and of course eBay.com and eBay.co.uk, not to mention buyers from over 200 countries using eBay.com, there is a huge opportunity to grow your business internationally with eBay.
If you’re a UK seller, the top five export countries are in fact the US, France, Italy, Germany and Australia, with fashion and tech being the strongest categories for international sales. Ultimately, there are opportunities for you to expand internationally regardless of which vertical you sell into, and based on eBay data, you can expect to see a 16% average increase in sales volume through international trade.
Options For International Selling
When it comes to actually selling internationally on eBay, you have two options; Basic International Selling and Advanced International Selling. While we have covered each of these methods in detail in a previous article, the biggest differentiator between both is that the basic option enables you to offer international postage on your domestic listings, whereas the advanced option enables you to sell directly on eBay’s international sites.
While there are of course advantages and disadvantages to using each, do be aware that there are more international postage options available to you when using the Basic International Selling option.
As you can see, Advanced International Selling only allows you handle international postage yourself, whereas with Basic International Selling you have the option to use eBay’s Global Shipping Programme.
What is eBay’s Global Shipping Programme (GSP)
eBay’s Global Shipping Programme, otherwise referred to as eBay GSP, is an international fulfilment service which enables you to ship your sold items to their shipping centre, where eBay will then take over full responsibility for the international fulfilment of the item.
In other words, as the seller, you are responsible for the domestic leg of the delivery, i.e. getting it to the shipping centre, and eBay are responsible for the international delivery, including customs, taxes etc.
All in all, eBay GSP is a great way to test new markets, due to the ease of selling and the added level of protection you are provided with. As long as you get the parcel to the shipping centre on time, you will be protected against any neutral or negative feedback relating to the delivery of the item, it was also be fully tracked and if you provide free domestic postage to the UK shipping centre, you will also benefit from automatic 5-star rating for postage and packaging charges.
eBay GSP will also handle any required documentation and import charges, and will calculate the costs and ensure international buyers are paying these fees up front. As the seller, you won’t need to worry about clarifying these costs or worrying about taxes, duties, or any other international postage and customs charges. Instead will only be responsible for the domestic delivery costs. Ultimately, you get paid just as you would if you were selling to a UK buyer.
When one of your items sells, you will simply need to post it to the UK Shipping Centre using your usual postage service and include the unique identifier code on the address label, which will be included in the address provided to you.
To give you an idea of the markets available to your through eBay GSP, take a look at the map below.
Again, due to the added level of protection GSP offers, it really is a great option if you would like to sell into a particular country that is covered, but wouldn’t necessarily feel comfortable shipping the item there yourself, due to the perceived risk.
There are a few other considerations to keep in mind, such as the fact that eBay GSP will not handle the returns of any items.
eBay did clarify that in the event of an international return, eBay will refund the international postage price and you will only need to take care of the domestic refund. As a business seller, remember that your UK returns policy will be displayed and applied to EU buyers. Under the EU Consumer Rights Directive (2011), EU buyers can cancel and return transactions within 14 calendary days without penalty and without providing a reason. If a buyer requests a refund, you will only be expected to refund the cost of the item and what you charged for domestic postage, eBay will refund the international postage charges.
In order to be eligible for using eBay GSP, you will need to meet certain requirements. Specifically, the item will need to be located in the UK and listed on eBay.co.uk. PayPal will also need to be accepted as a payment method, the package must not weigh more that 30kg and no single dimension must exceed 120cm.
Deciding Whether To Use The Global Shipping Programme Or Post Internationally Yourself
The below table should serve to provide further clarification as to the responsibilities involved with both options.
In summary, eBay GSP is a relatively pain-free and easy way to sell into overseas markets, as it removes the typical challenges involved with exporting.
There are limitations, however, including the fact that you can’t provide local language listings, which may of course have a lower conversion rate, and you are required to set the same price for an item, regardless of the country it is being sold into. As an example, if a product is in high demand in a particular country, you may want to sell it at a premium price, which is only possible through Advanced International Selling.
Using Advanced International Selling
If you do opt for this option, there are a few things you will need to consider.
- It’s beneficial to offer multiple postage options
- Offer a tracked service, as this can help in seller protection cases
- Offer insurance – check whether your courier offers this
- Decide whether you will pay for customs duties and taxes, or the buyer. This is entirely up to you as the seller, but it may improve conversion rate if you manage this.
If you are selling high quantities of items, you may break through the VAT threshold within certain countries, so it’s worth checking with your accountant or seeking expert advice.
SEE ALSO: How To Deal With VAT For Your Business
There are a number of benefits to using Advanced International Selling, including greater control over how your listings appear on other eBay sites. Specifically, you will be able to:
- Tailor your pricing to suit each market
- Translate titles and descriptions into the local language
- Select tem specifics for each market, for example while shoe size 5 is correct for the UK, it should be 38 for European countries
- Select the category and sub-category where your listings appear, as they can vary by site
- Use promotional tools to help boost your sales
When fulfilling your international orders yourself, you can also set specific postage rates for each country you are selling to. This can be done using the postage international rate table, and you can also specify postage costs by item, weight or surcharge.
If you are an eBay shop subscriber, you may be eligible for discounted fees when selling internationally.
If you're still not sure whether to use Basic or Advanced International Selling, eBay's checklist for selling internationally might help you determine the best fit for your business needs.
Learn more about selling internationally by visiting eBay’s Seller Centre site here.