If you are a new eBay seller in the US or UK, you have probably already noticed something called the Global Shipping Program (GSP). To put it simply, the GSP is eBay’s international delivery program and it claims to simplify the process of selling items to international buyers.
Here’s how the process works. The seller sends the purchased item to a US/UK shipping center where the contents are verified, customs forms are completed and then the item is sent on to the buyer. The US/UK shipping center takes all responsibility for the item once it has arrived at their depot.
On the face of it, the GSP seems to offer a great alternative for sellers looking to expand or utilise their eBay business. Or does it? Read on to find out the good, the bad and the important details of the Global Shipping Program.
The Global Shipping Program: Need to Know
Participation in the GSP is free and is currently available for eligible sellers in the UK and US to deliver items to over 100 participating countries. Sellers who want to sell items through the Global Shipping Program have to meet specific criteria. For example, US sellers must have a seller rating of Above Standard or higher and accept PayPal as a payment method. To be sold through the program, a US seller’s items have to be:
- physically located in the US
- not prohibited by eBay or the Global Shipping Program
- not subject to export restrictions
- sold to a delivery address that is a residential or street address (PO Box is allowed for specified countries such as Canada)
- packaged within the weight and dimensions outlined by eBay
- sold for less than the maximum sale price
The Global Shipping Program automatically generates the cost of international shipping based on the item’s size, weight, category and destination. International returns are not supported by the GSP at this time and so the returns policy specified in the listing description applies to any GSP sales.
How tracking works in the Global Shipping Program
When sending an item via the Global Shipping Program, sellers should add tracking as normal. The order reference number should be clearly noted on the label for identification when the item arrives at the domestic shipping center. When the tracking number is uploaded, it will automatically be converted to a Global Tracking number (beginning with ‘UPAAA00000’) that both the seller and buyer can use to track the item until it reaches its final destination.
Why use eBay’s Global Shipping Program?
Some sellers are reluctant to sell to international buyers due to:
- the perceived hassle and complexity of customs and international postage
- the potential for scams and fraud
It is an unfortunate reality that a small number of countries have a reputation for being ‘hot spots’ for eBay scams. Due to this, some sellers prefer to avoid selling to individuals from certain countries.
Advantages of the Global Shipping Program
The main positives mirror the GSP’s unique selling point. International customs, taxes and additional charges are all calculated and organised by the US/UK shipping centre. Not only does the GSP take care of the practicalities, but it also protects sellers by taking responsibility for the item as soon as it reaches the US/UK depot. This protection means sellers do not have to refund buyers if the item is lost or damaged after leaving the country, taking away a huge source of concern for many eBayer sellers nervous about selling internationally.
On the rating side of things, negative/neutral feedback from buyers relating to item handling during international transit is removed if a seller uses the Global Shipping Program to ship an international item. Low ratings for delivery speed and/or shipping and handling costs also do not count towards performance standards as long as the seller sends the package to the GSP within a reasonably fast time-frame.
In addition to the removal of negative/neutral feedback, eBay sellers also automatically receive special rewards:
- If an item is shipped with same day or 1 business day handling with the tracking uploaded within 1 business day of receiving payment and the item is delivered to the shipping center within 4 business days (eBay.com), the seller will receive a 5-star detailed seller rating for shipping time
- If a seller provides free domestic shipping to the shipping center, the seller will receive a 5-star detailed seller rating for shipping costs.
For those concerned about selling items to countries that have a reputation for scams, the GSP does allow sellers to retain some control, by allowing sellers to pick and choose which countries to ship to.
The drawbacks of eBay’s Global Shipping Program
All sounding a bit too good to be true? Well, you’d be partly right. There are some catches to the Global Shipping Program, some for sellers and some for buyers. Firstly, if you didn’t already guess, the GSP is limited to US and UK sellers at this time. In addition, not all items are eligible to be sent via the GSP (continue reading for more details).
The next disadvantage is far more significant, despite it not directly affecting sellers. The GSP charges buyers with two delivery fees:
- one to cover the cost of the seller sending the item to the shipping depot (unless the seller offers free shipping)
- another for the international postage and related fees
These two delivery fees increase the cost of the item for the buyer and can also slow down the overall process.
Something else that can be off-putting to buyers is the inability for the GSP to combine orders at this time. International shipping costs are only ‘estimated’ before the buyer purchases the item, which also doesn’t inspire confidence to buy. Thinking about shipping costs, the GSP has been accused of quoting higher taxes and customs fees than necessary, especially when sending items to neighbouring Canada from the US.
There is no doubt that the GSP can help sellers avoid the consequences of the most common eBay scams, but it should be considered that scammers will always find a way around new obstacles. So using the GSP does not necessarily mean you have 0% chance of being a victim of a scam.
The GSP: Useful, but not flawless
The Global Shipping Program offers both new and experienced eBay sellers the opportunity to sell to an international market with less hassle and risk.
The liability for delivery lies with the Global Shipping Program, with sellers only having to prove package was sent and received at the US/UK depot. International shipping for many eBay sellers would not be a consideration without the help and assistance of the GSP. However, the GSP has also been accused of causing lower sales due to buyers being put off by the higher charges and slower delivery time.
Although the Global Shipping Program may offer a higher standard of seller protection, some eBayers prefer not to rely on a third party to deliver items to purchasers and continue using their own tried and trusted methods.
Have you used eBay’s Global Shipping Program yet? We’d love to hear about your experience – get in contact via the comment form below.