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Surprising Truths about Selling Internationally on eBay

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Verified Blogger

Sellers often ask us for tips on growing their business on eBay. And while there’s a whole litany of things you can do to take your business to the next level, one of the most immediate and impactful is to participate in the world of cross-border commerce.

However, there are some past misconceptions about selling globally that need to be ironed out. So we brought in eBay’s Global Shipping Program Manager, Aparna Lahiri, to set the record straight.

Aparna. There was a time when selling internationally on eBay was kind of complicated. That was before the Global Shipping Program (GSP).

In the past it was definitely more complex because you had to know which products could be sold where, how to fill out complicated customs and duties forms, and which carriers to use. That model didn’t work for the average eBay seller. But, that changed with GSP.

Can you give us a quick overview of GSP—the Cliff Notes version?

Sure, with GSP the seller is totally removed from the hassle of managing forms, calculating import charges, and arranging global logistics. As long as the seller is eligible, all they have to do is check the “Use the Global Shipping Program” box when they list their item. If it sells to someone in one of the eligible countries, the seller just sends it to the Global Shipping Center in Kentucky. From there we send it to the international buyer, complete with end-to-end tracking.

It’s been that easy for me. I just sold some French tarot cards to someone in Canada. Felt like I was working with a buyer in the US.

That’s the goal: To make being an international exporter as easy as marking a checkbox. It’s seamless for the seller, but it’s also easy for the buyer. For a GSP listing, the price they see is “fully landed” before they checkout. This means that all import charges, duties, and taxes are included. No surprises. And, we’ve found that if the demand is high enough, the extra cost of shipping internationally isn’t even a factor for the buyer.

Right, I sold a pair of Rollerblades to a woman in Brazil recently. She didn’t care what she had to pay to get them. She was just happy to find them.

Yes. Sellers sometimes think there’s not enough demand for their items in the international marketplace. But we did a survey not too long ago that revealed 79% of those polled were shopping internationally for more variety that they couldn’t find locally. So sellers can grow their business just by using GSP. Because that action alone exposes them to more than 70 million potential buyers. There’s really no other way to get that kind of additional sales exposure—overnight.

I’ve definitely found that certain things sell better internationally. I’m personally willing to pay extra to get my Finnish Moomin mugs, so I get it.

That’s a great example. Those mugs might not be as covetable in Finland. But, for international collectors, the demand is high. Sellers can even get really strategic about what they sell internationally. I recommend that they check out an infographic we put togegther that shows the top selling items by country. It really puts things in perspective.

Do you know how much more the average business can sell on eBay using GSP vs. just selling domestically?

Yes, according to our 2015 US Small Business Global Growth Report, export-oriented small and medium sized businesses on eBay grew their businesses by 91% from 2010-2014. While those who focused on the US-only grew by just 58%.

That says it all. If you want to grow, you have to sell to a bigger pool of buyers. And, if you do it through GSP, it’s pretty seamless.

Right, global demand is strong. Buyers are hungry for more variety. And, GSP removes many of the complications that hindered people from selling internationally in the past. Plus, if eligible sellers have any questions, or are unsure about how to get started, they can schedule an appointment with a GSP specialist.

This is great, Aparna. Thanks for dispelling some of the common misconceptions about selling internationally.

Are you using the Global Shipping Program to sell internationally? Tell us which countries you’re selling to in the comments below.

1 Comment

Are there some countries that it might be better to ship directly to? And to not sell GSP?  Like it might be less expensive to ship to Canada maybe?