Selling Internationally on eBay

In: International|Selling Tips

30 Jul 2009

Should you sell internationally? The answer to this isn’t a simple one. It depends a lot on your tolerance for differences (in money, in language, in routine), and your ability to deal with unusual post-auction activity especially in regard to payment and shipping.

The pros of opening your auctions to non-U.S. bidders include the following:

  • You might be able to attract additional bidders and thus sell more items at (presumably) higher prices.
  • You can offset some of the seasonality of the U.S. market; when it’s winter here, you can still be selling swim suits to the summer market in Australia.
  • You establish a reputation as a hard-working global trader.
  • It’s fun (sometimes) to interact with people from different countries and cultures.

The cons of selling outside the Unites States include the following:

  • You might run into difficulties communicating with bidders from outside the United States.
  • You might have to deal with payment in non-U.S. funds, on non-U.S. banks.
  • You’ll have to put extra effort into the packing of an item to be shipped over great distances.
  • You probably won’t be able to use your standard shipping services which means investigating new shipping services and options.
  • Shipping costs will be higher than what you’re used toand will need to be passed on to the buyer.
  • You’ll need to deal with the appropriate paperwork for shipping outside the United States including those pesky customs forms.
  • If there are any problems or disputes with the item shipped, you have an international-sized incident on your hands.

Just looking at this list, it may appear that the cons outweigh the pros. That might not always be the case, however especially if you’re a real “people person.” Many eBay sellers get great joy from interacting with people from different cultures, sometimes turning foreign buyers into lasting friends. I can vouch from my limited personal experience that most non-U.S. buyers I’ve dealt with are exceedingly polite and tolerant of the extra effort required to complete an international transaction.

If you decide to sell outside the United States, you’ll want to state this in your auctions, along with a line indicating that “shipping and handling outside the United States is higher,” “listed shipping charge is for United States only,” or something to that effect. If, on the other hand, you decide not to sell internationally, state that in your ad also with a “U.S. bidders only” type of notice.

My personal opinions on international sales are sure to invite argument. No offense to non-U.S. users, but I don’t ship internationally, period. I’ve done it in the past, and the hassle factor simply isn’t worth it. Even if the transaction goes smoothly (and it often doesn’t, all things considered), the big issue is that the procedures involved are just too different from what I have set up for my normal day-to-day auction activities. In other words, international auctions are unusual transactions that mess up my normal domestic auction production line. My apologies to buyers outside the United Statesmost of whom I’ve found to be wonderful people to deal withbut I can’t let my normal activity be jeopardized by these high-maintenance shipments. (I do, however, make the occasional exceptionprimarily with small items shipping into Canada that can be handled without much additional paperwork or hassle.)

Comments are closed.

About eBayweb

eBayweb provides you with free eBay tips, tools, information and resources for beginning and professional eBay sellers and buyers.

  • bud: I know that people want to make a profit. But most of the people on ebay are asking outragous prices [...]
  • rich: i have early 1940's 50's photos of country musicians i have had some authenticated and have got som [...]
  • Con Heagney: I purchased an excaator for £11000 through ebay and transfered the funds to ebays bank account, pro [...]
  • V S Agarwal: Ebay and paypal helping scammers to cheat buyers. Seller get registration on ebay with only user id [...]
  • Mike Online Auctions: Good points about shipping internationally. I usually just ship domestically but I have been lookin [...]