It is a very large world out there with well over 193 recognized countries. If you add all the dozens of colonies and territories controlled by other countries that number rapidly grows to well over 200 countries in the world. For eBay sellers looking to expand Internationally, many of them fear the customs rules and regulations which are different in every country. How could one eBay seller, become well versed in the customs regulations of every country? The answer simply is you can not. So what does an eBay seller do to avoid issues with this by selecting to offer your product to the worldwide market? Slow methodical International expansion is the way to go and making the customs rules the responsibility of your buyer.
Stage 1 for a US Seller International Expansion
The first step in the process is to change your shipping policy page for your listings. One of the nice features which eBay offers is that you can select specific countries which you would like to start servicing Internationally. But which countries should you select? Currently the USPS offers a service Internationally called 1st Class Package International. The USPS raised the postage rates for this service level category and in some cases doubled the rates. However, it allows a new eBay International customer to ship a 4 oz package Internationally and receive a delivery confirmation scan in selected countries. These are the first countries which you will start with for your new eBay International Business.
Activate the following countries:
Canada Australia United Kingdom
Netherlands Germany Switzerland
Belgium New Zealand Sweden
Spain Ireland Finland
France Portugal Brazil
If you are using an order management system like Shipstation or Shipworks, they will allow you to purchase insurance for these packages. This will alleviate your concerns regarding potential fraud and lost packages.
Make sure that you adjust your shipping policy pages to reflect the fact that you are now servicing the above referenced countries. Make sure that you select the correct shipping service and mention that you do not offer combined shipping on International orders. In addition, please make sure you notate that items that are prohibited from entry to your country is the buyers responsibility. The seller is not responsibility for prohibited, restricted or items prevented from entry by your customs agency. If you have questions regarding entry restrictions please contact your local customs agency. Duties and taxes assessed against shipments are the sole responsibility of the buyer.
Addressing Label System
When expanding into the International market, you want to use an address management system that will grow with your business. I always recommend using Endicia.com. Endicia allows you to take advantage of commercial base pricing for your domestic parcels and will allow you to generate the 1st Class Package International compliant labels. This will become an important feature as your business grows.
Measure Your Success
Keep track of how many packages you are shipping internationally daily. The main statistics you will want to measure are the following:
1) Number of International Orders?
2) Percentage of lost packages in relationship to your International orders?
3) Percentage of Fraudulent orders?
4) How does this compare to your US Business?
5) Which country are you receiving the most orders from?
Stage 2 For an eBay US Seller International Expansion (Shipping more than 20 packages per day Overseas)
So you have been in stage one of your International expansion and you are seeing some real success with the expansion of your business. As a seller, you know that if you can lower your postage rates internationally you will be able to expand your business further. How do you accomplish this? You contact a USPS Postal Qualified Wholesaler. To locate and contact a Postal Qualified Wholesaler you will want to contact your Global Account Manager with The USPS.
OK so you have found a USPS Postal Qualified Wholesaler and want to know which USPS Bulk International Mailing program should you choose? This question is answered differently by each eBay seller. For the most part, you have two options which are listed below:
USPS International Priority Airmail
This is a USPS 1st Class International mailing service offered by Postal Qualified Wholesalers (PQW) to over 200 countries throughout the world. In essence, the USPS has outsourced the USA side sorting, transportation and preparation required for International distribution. The PQW will deliver your mail to the USPS International Sorting Center (ISC) sacked and ready to go out on the next flight. Since the USPS is receiving sacked mail your packages are not scanned at the acceptance facility nor will they receive a delivery confirmation scan in the destination country. The benefits of this service is that your postage rates, in many cases, will be cut in half. You will be able to upload the same tracking numbers to eBay but they will not scan for delivery. Now this is where your statistics come in handy. If you are experiencing a high loss percentage from your stage 1 testing, then this service is not for you. However, if you are experiencing a palletable loss percentage then you may want to test this service to optimize your postal savings and increase your quantity of International Orders received. In the event that you feel you must have tracking on these orders, the you must use the next service. For additional information regarding International Priority Airmail please see my article on EzineArticles.com titled USPS International Priority Airmail for eCommerce Companies.
USPS Commercial ePacket
This is a USPS 1st Class International mailing service offered by Postal Qualified Wholesalers (PQW) to only 15 countries throughout the world. The main difference between Commercial ePacket and International Priority Airmail is that ePacket will have a delivery confirmation number and are scanned delivered by the receiving post office. The trade off here is that this service is more expensive than International Priority Airmail.
Some important considerations you will want to make when determining which direction you're going to take in your International Shipping Method
1) Will your increase in business outweigh any risk of lost packages?
2) How many fraudulent claims are you currently experiencing Internationally?
3) Is your product sale price low in value and easily replaced if your package is lost?
4) Would you be willing to self insure yourself by withholding a small portion of the postage savings to eliminate any risk of loss?