Selling Internationally on eBay: the Basics

eBay is one of the world’s largest marketplaces, with 149 million buyers around the globe using the site. Though the site may have originally been founded in the US, over 60% of eBay’s net revenue is now earned via the international marketplace. With this in mind, there is undoubtedly money to be made selling to international eBay buyers. This is the first in a series of posts covering everything you need to know about selling internationally on eBay.

Methods to sell internationally

There are three ways to sell items internationally on eBay:

  • Shipping internationally
  • Using the Global Shipping Program
  • Listing on other eBay sites outside your home country

Shipping internationally

The easiest way to sell internationally on eBay is to allow and advertise international shipping options on listings. Sellers then ship items directly to the international buyer after purchase. Preparing the customs information and international shipping label would be the seller’s responsibility.

  • Benefits: Easy to set up – sellers just need to change shipping options
  • Disadvantages: Not a lot of visibility, potential hassle of arranging international shipping and unknown importation charges

If you would prefer not to make international sales at all, it is possible to completely block international buyers from bidding or purchasing items. You can also just select specific regions or countries not to ship to. Blocking options can be found within selling preferences in My eBay.

Global Shipping Program (US and UK sellers only)

The aim of the Global Shipping Program is to simplify the shipping part of international selling. When an international buyer purchases an item, the seller ships the package to a dedicated eBay shipping center. The shipping center handles the customs process and internationally ships the item to the buyer.

  • Benefits: Reduces international shipping responsibility for sellers and buyer knows importation charges up-front
  • Disadvantages: Higher costs and longer wait time for buyers (potential lost sales for sellers)

Though it may seem like a great idea on paper, the Global Shipping Program has attracted a fair amount of criticism. The GSP is currently only available for qualified users on eBay.com and eBay.co.uk.

Listing on other eBay sites

eBay user IDs are universal, meaning that a seller based in the US and primarily using eBay.com could also successfully access eBay.co.uk with the same log-in. Sellers can list and sell items on international eBay sites exactly the same way as they would on their ‘home’ eBay site as long as they meet a few requirements. An International Selling Agreement may need to be signed by the seller.

  • Benefits: direct exposure to international markets
  • Disadvantages: time-consuming, potential language barriers, additional listing fees, potential hassle of arranging international shipping

When listing items in this way, sellers must be aware that the rules and regulations on international eBay sites may be different than the ‘home’ site they are used to. Buyer protection policies, in particular, tend to vary between countries. The timelines for the Money Back Guarantee, for example, are a lot shorter for eBay buyers in the UK compared to the US. The seller would also be responsible for completing the customs information and creating an international shipping label.

International site visibility listing upgrade

Another way to get listings seen on other eBay sites is to use the international site visibility listing upgrade. This is a paid option available for both auction-style and fixed-priced listings. Listings eligible for this upgrade will be posted on international sites exactly as they appear on the ‘home’ site. This program is only currently available for the US, UK, Australia and Canada versions of eBay.

  • Benefits: Quick and easy (automatic), less of a language barrier
  • Disadvantages: Higher listing cost, potential hassle of arranging international shipping

As a side note, eBay.com listings that offer shipping to Canada, North America or worldwide will automatically show up on eBay.ca with no upgrade (or extra charge) needed. This is also true for listings posted on eBay.ca – eligible listings will also automatically appear on eBay.com.

Choosing a method to sell internationally on eBay

Some sellers will use all three of these techniques to attract and sell to international buyers. Other sellers may only use one method or choose not to sell to international sellers at all. As mentioned, each of these techniques has unique advantages and downsides. Future Auction Nudge guides will go further in depth with international selling pitfalls and how to avoid them.