With 23 global sites and a wider presence across 190 markets, there has never been a better time to start selling on eBay internationally.
What’s more, the number of active eBay buyers across the globe is rising year on year. From 100 million buyers just over five years ago, to an impressive 183 million in 2019, there is plenty of opportunity for businesses to capitalise on the marketplace's international reach.
But, how exactly do you sell overseas on eBay? What are the best practices for international growth? And how can you increase your global sales on the marketplace?
Throughout this article, we will discuss the three options eBay UK sellers have for global expansion, as well as the requirements you need to meet and best practices for success.
Three options for selling on eBay internationally
As all eBay user IDs are universal, you can visit all 23 sites and list items for sale just as you would on your “home” site.
In fact, there are no additional membership fees to sell on multiple sites, which can make expanding overseas a profitable prospect for many.
So, what are your options?
- Basic international selling
- Advanced international selling
- eBay global shipping programme
Basic international selling
Basic international selling on eBay allows you to sell on eBay.co.uk and offer international shipping and delivery options for buyers based in foreign countries. The product is listed on the UK marketplace and is also shown across multiple international sites in English.
While this makes international growth on eBay appear to be simple and easy, keep in mind that you may not see the big boost in global sales that you anticipate.
Because not only will your listings not be translated, they will also be clearly shown to be from an international seller, something that shoppers may not be looking for on their domestic eBay site.
When you opt for Basic International Selling, the price of your products will be converted to each local currency, based on currency exchange rates. As these exchange rates change daily, you may find that your converted global prices also vary.
Although basic international listings on eBay appear as normal in search results, buyers can still filter out international items if they want to. This can decrease your visibility on the marketplace, which may impact your global sales.
When a buyer based in a foreign country purchases a product, you will pay the appropriate eBay.co.uk selling fees for that product listing. In other words, international selling fees do not play a part in the transaction.
One of the benefits for choosing this option is that it can be a good way to test demand in different countries, before deciding to invest your time and resources into actively expanding there.
Need some tips to grow your eBay business before taking it across the water? Give our article on how to grow a successful eBay business a read.
Advanced international selling
In comparison, advanced international selling on eBay enables you to sell directly on all 23 sites across the globe.
With this option, you can create individual listings for each site that you choose to sell on, allowing you to create listings in local languages to increase the likelihood of international sales.
Advanced international sellers can also tailor prices to each market, allowing you to establish and maintain competitive rates across multiple countries. Product listings also appear in the default search results for a particular country’s eBay site.
In contrast to basic international selling, advanced sellers pay the appropriate selling fees for the country the item is bought in, not eBay.co.uk.
That's not all though.
If you have a featured or anchor shop subscription, then you may pay discounted insertion fees for your equivalent shop subscription in the foreign country you’re selling in. In many cases, this can mean zero insertion fees.
As you don’t need a new user ID to sell across multiple international eBay sites, global buyers are able to see your feedback scores and know that you are an experienced seller. A good track record means you may not encounter the same selling limits as new local sellers.
If you are an eBay UK seller with a featured or anchor shop subscription, then you will benefit from the same allowances as sellers based in the following countries at no extra cost:
- Belgium (Dutch)
- Belgium (French)
- Canada (English)
- Canada (French)
- United States
*Only applicable to products with fixed priced listings with a 30-day or “Good ‘til Cancelled” selling duration. Keep in mind some options and features (such as item specifics or product category structure) may differ across international eBay sites.
On top of this, eBay offers a buying-only version of the marketplace for approximately 190 countries that advanced and basic sellers can sell to by offering worldwide postage.
You’ll also need to think about your payment options when selling on eBay's worldwide sites.
PayPal accepts payments from 190 countries in 25 currencies. For some international eBay sites, using or offering PayPal as a payment method is a marketplace requirement.
eBay Global Shipping Programme
For eBay sellers based in the UK, the marketplace offers a simple method to reach a global audience called eBay Global Shipping Programme (GSP).
With this option, all UK sellers need to do to sell overseas is post the item to a UK shipping centre and eBay takes care of everything else for you.
To use the global shipping programme, sellers must be based in the UK and listing products through eBay.co.uk. The only cost incurred is the cost of posting the items to the UK shipping centre – you don’t need to worry about international postage fees.
If you select GSP when listing your products and it is bought by an international customer, eBay will send the buyer’s address to the UK shipping. You’ll also receive a unique reference code which you’ll need to include on your shipping label.
Be aware that there are restrictions when it comes to using the shipping programme:
- Items cannot weigh more than 30kg
- Packages should be no bigger than 125,000cm3 or longer than 120cm
- All items must have a net value of below £2,000
While you can post to a number of European and non-European countries, there are certain categories* that the eBay global shipping programme does not support. These include:
- Business & Industrial > Websites & Businesses for Sale
- Cars, Motorcycles & Vehicles
- Coins & Paper Money
- Virtual currency
- Event tickets
- Health & Beauty > Fragrances
- Holidays & Travel
- Videos, Games & Consoles > Gaming & Time Cards
*Note: This list is not exhaustive – if GSP is not an option, eBay will tell you when you are listing your items.
Find out more about eBay's Global Shipping Programme, including the advantages, disadvantages and costs.
Requirements for international eBay sellers
In order to become a successful international seller on the marketplace, it’s imperative that you understand and implement all that the marketplace requires of you. These factors can be broken down into the following categories:
- eBay’s international selling policy
- International payment requirements
- Compliance with international selling laws
- Compliance with international tax laws
- International communication and customer service
eBay’s international selling policy
In order to sell in multiple countries on the marketplace, you need to ensure you follow the requirements set out in eBay’s international selling policy.
This policy is in place to protect the buyer and applies in two circumstances:
- When listing an item for sale on an eBay site with a buyer protection policy (other than eBay.com) in place
- Offering international shipping (i.e. selling on eBay worldwide) which may mean the item is purchased by a buyer on an international site with a buyer protection policy
If a transaction dispute arises and eBay favours the buyer, then the international selling policy authorises eBay (or an eBay affiliate) to reverse the funds in your PayPal account and pay back the buyer.
That said, if you don’t have the necessary funds in your account, then eBay will reimburse the buyer on your behalf. Keep in mind that you will still need to reimburse the marketplace through a reimbursement charge or an automatic payment method at a later date.
It is possible to opt out from allowing eBay to remove funds from your PayPal account for future product listings by sending an email to PayPalReimbursementOpt-Out@eBay.com, along with your user ID and your written intent for opting out.
Doing this may have disadvantages for you as an international seller on eBay though.
In fact, as a result of opting out, the marketplace may prevent you from listing items on eBay sites with buyer protection policies and/or offering international shipping on your listings.
There are eBay buyer protection policies active on the following international eBay sites:
eBay money-back guarantee policies
- United Kingdom (eBay.co.uk)
- United States (eBay.com)
- Australia (eBay.com.au)
- Canada (eBay.ca)
eBay buyer protection policy
- Germany (eBay.de)
eBay customer guarantee policy
- France (eBay.fr)
- Italy (eBay.it)
- Spain (eBay.es)
International payment requirements
In order to sell on eBay worldwide, you will need to accept PayPal.
On top of this, you'll need to be PayPal verified in the majority of countries. For marketplace sellers based in the United States this is known as ID Verification and in Germany and Switzerland it’s PostIdent.
If you are only selling on eBay internationally across a small number of markets, then you may not be required to use or offer PayPal as a payment method, but this will depend on the exact countries you are selling in.
Keep in mind that eBay may need you to sign an International Selling Agreement to acknowledge that items sold to buyers through international eBay sites are subject to the policies on those sites (e.g. eBay’s money-back guarantee policy).
Compliance with international selling laws
As a global online marketplace seller, you are not only bound by eBay’s internal policies, but also by the international selling laws of the country that you are based in and selling to.
These laws differ from country to country, so staying informed is key.
For instance, various agencies in the United States have restrictions in place that regulate or ban all trade with certain countries.
The marketplace doesn’t permit the sale of banned items to or from some countries, organisations, businesses or individuals. If you sell internationally on eBay, then there may be restrictions on where and what you can sell.
For eBay sellers based in the UK, you can check out what online selling requirements you need to fulfil by checking out the UK’s rules for online and distance selling.
Seeking more information about selling on eBay worldwide? Check out our complete list of international eBay sites.
Compliance with international tax laws
You’ll also need to make sure that you meet and comply with international tax laws for exporting and importing items. Again, these are different for each country, so it’s important to understand the tax laws for all markets that you sell in.
For example, let’s say you sell in Australia.
To ensure the Australian customs offices know the Goods and Services Tax (equivalent to UK VAT) has been paid, eBay asks all sellers to manually add in their Australian Business Number and a customs code to packages where GST has been collected.
Although this is likely to be for a temporary time period (eBay is looking to automate this process to help sellers), it is one of many illustrations as to why you need to pay close attention to international tax laws and what updates eBay is making.
Are you an eBay UK seller? View the UK tax laws for online sellers using marketplaces here.
International communication and customer service
To become a successful international seller on eBay, you’ll need effective customer service in place. The marketplace wants you to respond to customer questions promptly and states that this may mean you’ll be answering emails at odd times of the day due to time zones.
Although eBay lists this under its international selling requirements, the marketplace does not state any ideal response time frames, so this may not be set in stone. However, offering responsive customer service in localised language is key to successful global expansion.
We recommend using a time zone calculator see local times across international markets that you plan to expand your marketplace business to.
If you’re not familiar with the local language of the countries you want to sell in, then look at translation software or using native translation. Keep reading to find out more about how to translate your listings.
As an online seller on the marketplace, keep in mind that it is your responsibility to ensure that your international product listings and information are factually accurate. Therefore, if you do use a translation service, make sure your translations are correct.
Tips to increase your global success on eBay
When it comes to selling on eBay, there are several things you can do to increase your chances of international success on the marketplace. Below, we have outlined some of our best tips to help you expand your marketplace business overseas.
1. Assess how ready you are to go global
While eBay provides you with the necessary toolkit to grow your business in new markets, it won't do the work for you. If your business and products aren't ready for international expansion, then you will struggle to succeed on the marketplace.
Start by asking yourself whether each product you sell is suitable for the countries you plan to expand and sell to. Are there any foreign laws that may be applicable to your product range? Can you offer customer support in the relevant dialect?
You should also consider your options for shipping and delivery too.
Where are you realistically able to ship to? What are the average expected delivery times for customers in the countries you’re selling in? Do you have an international returns policy in place?
It’s worth keeping in mind that not every product will be an international success. What’s more, there are items are legally prohibited or restricted, or that violate eBay’s policies.
2. Invest in the right tools to support your international growth on eBay
If you're seeking a profitable eBay business that sells across multiple international eBay sites, then it goes without saying you're going to need robust tools to support your goals.
For example, eBay inventory management software enables you to:
- Streamline your eBay business processes from one centralised location
- Reduce costs related to your eBay business
- Make data-driven business decisions for your eBay store
On top of this, most modern inventory and order management systems have a multitude of additional features to drive business growth, improve your efficiency and boost profitability.
3. Translate and localise your international listings for more success
If you choose to go beyond basic international selling, then you’ll have the opportunity to translate your listings into the local language of the market you are selling in.
This expands your potential customer reach on each international eBay site to include those who are searching in their native country. No longer do you need to rely on international customers searching for products only in English.
What are your options for translating your product listings?
- Free translation tools
- Native human translation
- Third-party service providers
Free translation tools (such as Google Translate or Bing Translator) can offer a simple and affordable way to translate your listings; however, while these tools are growing in accuracy, they do not necessarily deliver high quality translation just yet.
Native human translation is a powerful way to translate your listings while ensuring accuracy. Using people to translate product descriptions also means that your tone of voice flows in the native language of the international eBay site, which can help to boost sales.
Look at using professional interpreters from voluntary regulatory bodies such as the National Register of Public Service Interpreters, the Association of Translation Companies or the Institute of Translation & Interpreting.
Another option to translate listings effectively is to use third-party service providers, such as WebInterpret or InterCultural Elements. Not only do these companies provide accurate and human translation, but also offer foreign language customer service to grow your business.
4. Save time and money: Sell internationally without translating your listings
If you don’t have the resources or time to translate your eBay product listings and information, then consider expanding overseas to English-speaking international sites.
For example, look at the product and market fit for your items on international eBay sites such as Canada, Australia or the United States.
5. Showcase your international postage policies to optimise your conversions
If you want to sell on eBay worldwide, then you’ll need to include international postage rates on your listings. If you want to attract more international buyers, then think about including even more information about the delivery service you use, and the costs involved.
For example, most online sellers expect international buyers to pay for a product to be shipped over. If you want to maximise your pool of potential customers, it’s good practice to show all the different postage fees for each of the countries you ship to.
If you sell items of a high value, you should consider purchasing insurance.
Check with your courier service for all insurance options and make sure to read the fine print to understand if your items are covered or use a third-party postal insurance provider.
You may also find that offering parcel tracking can increase the likelihood of international sales, although it may be too expensive for low-cost products. You can upload the tracking information directly to eBay so that eBay can confirm an item has been sent.
Finally, all international packages must clear customers in the destination company so make sure to include the relevant customs documentation and appropriate forms. Keep in mind that as packages can be stopped at any point, your delivery times may also be impacted.
6. Expand slowly and carefully for profitable business growth
Although it can be tempting to list all your products on all international eBay sites from the word go, if you’re serious about getting global expansion right from the get-go, then we recommend expanding into one international site at a time.
Look at which of your products are performing well.
Do any have international selling potential? Is there a particular country that lends itself well to your product lines?
In doing this, you will be able to identify the best countries that match your business and products and increase your chances of international sales and success from the very start.
Entering one international eBay site at a time can also free up the amount of time you’ll need to spend translating your listings in multiple languages.
This also helps to ensure absolute accuracy in one new language and identify a tone of voice that represents your business and the country you’re selling in to optimise your listings for that new market.
7. Increase your chances of being seen: eBay’s international site visibility upgrade
For some global eBay sites, you can purchase the marketplace’s international site visibility upgrade to maximise the visibility of your items in the search results of those sites.
If you’re eligible for this listing upgrade, then you will have the option to add it to your listing on the “review your listing” page before you submit your final item listing. Keep in mind that there is a separate upgrade fee for each country that you choose.
However, some eBay sellers believe that this may not be necessary as international sales can still be made without it. The best thing to do is see if your listing shows on an international site before investing in the site visibility upgrade.
If it doesn’t, then assess your opportunities with eBay’s international site visibility upgrade and make sure to monitor its effectiveness regularly so that you don’t waste money.
8. Build trust and attract more buyers: Consider your international returns policy
An international returns policy is crucial to grow your marketplace business globally. Buyer-friendly returns policies can increase the likelihood of global sales as it can attract more buyers, build trust into your eBay business and boost your overall sales.
An internal Customer Connection study by eBay found that buyers consider a minimum of 30 days to be the retail standard.
What’s more, eBay also found that sellers who changed their returns policies from 14-day to 30-day returns experienced an average increase of 13%* in their conversion rates.
While it may not always be cost-effective to offer free returns for items bought by international customers, it may still be worth considering your options.
To put it simply, eBay favours international sellers with buyer-friendly policies.
For example, the marketplace gives sellers offering free returns permission to offer a less than full refund, enabling them to deduct up to 50% of the item’s price if it is sent back damaged.
As a result of adopting and implementing more buyer-friendly returns (e.g. 30-day or 60-day returns) policies, you may find that your product listings benefit from improved visibility.
By adjusting the length of your returns policy, you will help international buyers feel more confident about their purchase decisions and benefit from increased seller protection.
*This data was extracted internally from October 2017 to December 2017 and only used eBay.co.uk marketplace information.
Extra reading: How to make your international returns easy and profitable
9. Aspire for global top seller status
eBay uses seller performance standards to highlight marketplace sellers who offer excellent service. If you sell on international eBay sites, you can become a top rated seller based on your transactions with buyers located in the specific countries you sell to.
Why should you become a top rated seller?
Not only do eBay top rated sellers offer an excellent and consistent service, they are rewarded with exclusive benefits, such as a higher ranking in search results or eligibility for discounts.
And that’s not all.
You’ll also get the option to add the eBay Premium Service badge for even more benefits:
- Maximum search visibility
- 10% discount on final value fees on eBay.co.uk or eBay.ie
- eBay Top-rated seller displayed on your feedback profile
- Add the eBay Premium Service badge on the listing*
*If you want to add your badge to a listing, it needs to include the following: a 30-day returns option or better, 1-day or same-day dispatch, an express delivery option and a free domestic delivery option.
As an international eBay seller, there are four global seller standard programmes to determine your seller status in certain countries. These include the following:
| United Kingdom
eBay seller standards programme
| eBay.co.uk (United Kingdom)
| United States
eBay seller standards programme
| eBay.com (United States)
eBay seller standards programme
| eBay.de (Germany)
| Global (all other countries)
eBay seller standards programme
|Determines your seller status if you sell in any other international markets outside of the above eBay sites|
If you qualify for the US, German or global programmes, you'll enjoy improved visibility and benefit from the eBay Top-rated Seller badge on those sites.
How do you become a top rated seller on eBay?
All you need to do is sustain an excellent level of customer service for a period of time; there aren’t any hidden fees or extra costs involved.
However, there are different expectations for top rated sellers when comparing the minimum required standard for all eBay sellers. For example, the maximum percentage for orders with defects for all eBay sellers is 2% but for eBay top rated sellers it’s 0.5%.
10. Explore your opportunities with inventory management software
As you expand across multiple eBay sites, managing your business and maintaining control of your processes gets more and more complicated.
For instance, creating, updating and monitoring your listings, keeping track of stock and inventory levels levels and managing orders from multiple marketplaces takes up countless hours of time. Time that could be better spent on growing your business.
On top of this, with only manual processes or basic software to help you, you're very likely to oversell. As a result, you risk being penalised, having seller privileges taken away and even account suspension.
In order to scale effectively across eBay's worldwide sites (and many additional sales channels), you'll need to invest in inventory management software.
Not only will automated inventory management software for eBay sellers save you valuable hours of time, but it will also synchronise your stock and inventory levels - updating in real-time as new sales roll in - ensuring that you never oversell nor risk stock outs.
In fact, eBay inventory management software enables you to manage your stock from one centralised location, fulfil your eBay orders faster than ever before and build a more profitable eBay business.
Take your eBay business to the next level
When it comes to selling on eBay worldwide, the key to success is to localise your product listings and to offer excellent and consistent customer service.