10 Tips for Successful International Selling on eBay

Selling to international buyers on eBay is a great way to increase sales for your business. After all, eBay is one of the world’s largest marketplaces. It can be understandably overwhelming however, to begin the process of selling to international buyers. In continuation of our international selling series, this ten point blueprint is essential reading for sellers looking to successfully sell internationally on eBay.

Establish a sales plan

Before starting to sell internationally on eBay, take a step back and think about what type of items may sell particularly well overseas. A little bit of research can go a long way! Some items may be in higher demand internationally and hence a higher price tag may be appropriate. Keep in mind that light, sturdy and small items will be cheaper and safer to ship long distances.

Consider potential regional issues

Do not assume that international buyers are aware of regional differences that may cause compatibility issues. DVDs, for example, are usually locked to a specific region. Clothing and shoe sizes vary widely between countries as do electrical plugs. Cellphones can be limited to a specific region or network. When creating a listing, it is good practice to confirm these differences. This way, the buyer understands exactly what they are buying.

Write listings with international buyers in mind

Not everyone is fluent in English. Attract international buyers with straightforward descriptions featuring simple and easy to understand language. Keep to the facts and try to avoid describing items with subjective phrases such as “beautiful” and “outstanding.” Clearly state your return policy.

Acknowledge different measurements

Live in a country using the imperial measurement system? Take a little extra time and include metric measurements in item listings. Yes, it is easy enough for a buyer to make the conversion themselves but having all of the information in one place is both thoughtful and convenient. It may lead to a faster sale.

Be proactive with returns

International buyers tend to be careful; they know how hard it is to return items and will try their best to avoid it. Having said this, it is always smart to anticipate issues before they happen to proactively prevent returns. The easiest way to do this is to follow good eBay listing practices like uploading plenty of images and including a detailed description with accurate measurements of the item.

Don’t forget about insurance

With shipping insurance, sellers can claim their money back for an item that goes missing or is damaged in transit. With items generally travelling further to international buyers, shipping insurance can really come in handy when selling overseas. Mail carriers (such as USPS or Royal Mail) sell insurance as well as third party companies.

Read up on international regulations

It is the seller’s responsibility to ensure that the export and import of an item is allowed by local law. Prohibited and restricted items vary widely between countries and it is important to carefully check regulations before sending an item. There may also be additional import charges that the buyer must pay. One way to avoid this is to use eBay’s Global Shipping Program which shows the buyer the import charges before they purchase the item.

Choose your destination

Some sellers choose to block buyers from specific international locations from bidding on their items. This is usually due to certain worldwide locations having a bad reputation for scams and unscrupulous buyers. Another reason for blocking would be if a seller is unable to purchase shipping insurance for a particular country. Luckily, it is easy to change buyer requirements via account preferences.

Personalise the sale

Create a positive lasting impression by including a personalised note to the international buyer with their item. It doesn’t have to say much more than “thank you” in their first language, but the thought will go a long way.

Use eBay’s international selling tools

Keen to help sellers make more money by selling to international buyers, eBay hosts some useful tools to ease the process.

  • eBay has a currency converter (powered by xe.com) available to use directly on the site. The currency rates featured here are updated live.
  • Another convenient feature provided by eBay is a time zone calculator. While eBay Time may be officially PST (the time zone where the San Jose headquarters is located), knowing the local time where your international buyers live is still important.
  • For eBay.com users, USPS’s Postage Price Calculator is a quick way to work out the approximate costs of sending an item internationally. It is possible to add this calculator to your item’s listing as well.
Gemma is our all things eBay expert. Originally from the UK, she now lives in Canada and travels extensively. You can read about her travels at her blog Off Track Travel.