Whether you sell on eBay, your own website, or on an alternative marketplace, selling your items internationally can dramatically increase your number of customers. International buyers often spend more than domestic US buyers for the same item. eBay has published some facts that show international buyers tend to pay 16% more than US buyers for the same good. That alone should be enough of a reason for you to target these international buyers. However, before you get started, there are a few things you should know to ensure that your international sales are safe and profitable.
1. Beware of fraudsters
As much as international eCommerce opens you up to some great opportunities, it also exposes you to the risk of being the victim of fraud. Fraud can take place when you are just selling locally, but it’s much more likely to occur when you sell internationally due to the lack of regulations.
But there is plenty that you can do to help prevent being at the receiving end of a scam including getting to know how the scams work, so let’s take a quick look at two kinds of fraud you might be vulnerable to when selling to a global market.
A. The winning bidder asks for the item to be sent out before they actually pay.
It’s easy for sellers to get tied up in this scam because you’re are so eager to please your buyers and really want to make a good impression. If you are selling on eBay, you might also be worried about having negative feedback placed on your account if you don’t comply with the buyer.
During this scam, the fraudsters often come up with stories about their sick siblings or something to really tug at your heartstrings and get you to send out the item ASAP.
But as sincere as the buyer may seem, you should never give in and take the risk of losing your items to these con-artists, it’s just not worth it.
To avoid this scam, trust your instincts and never let them give you a false sense of urgency with their lies.
B. The buyer says that they have paid via PayPal, but that the funds cannot be released to you the seller until you provide the buyer with a tracking number, meaning you would have to send the item before you actually see the money in your account.
This one really ticks me off because so many buyers could potentially fall for it because PayPal does have such buyer-safety orientated policies that sellers could fall for this scam, and unfortunately quite a few have.
You can avoid being a victim of this scam by taking the time to understand PayPal properly. PayPal is very simple: All a buyer needs to make a payment is your email address and the funds are released immediately. If you get any requests that suggest a variation in this process, this is sure to be a scam.
2. Customs - A mutual pain in the neck for buyers and sellers!
Customs is something that you will need to deal with as an international seller, but it’s really not as complicated as you might think. Customs laws can confuse a lot of buyers and sellers so I just want to spend some time talking about this to make sure you are feeling confident about it.
First of all you should know that all international packages need to go through Customs and they may be subject to Customs duties. You should also know that most sellers leave it up to the buyer to pay for any duties owed and this is widely accepted.
Customs or import duties are not charged on all items, but ultimately whether they are charged and how much is charged is up to each individual country so you will need to do a little bit of researching yourself.
Also check: Delivered Duty Paid (DDP)
In my experience, it can be a little tricky to find the exact information that you are looking for, just because some countries websites are in different languages or those websites just don’t have enough comprehensive information of them. One option is to get in touch with a Customs broker who will be able to tell you everything you need to know. Customs brokers are really easy to find too – just do a Google search for “Customs broker” and the name of your local area.
Alternatively, check out the FedEx website which offers some good general information on Customs duty.
3. You should only ship to PayPal verified addresses
Only shipping to addresses that have been verified by PayPal which can eliminate a lot of issues. You’ll know if an address is PayPal verified because it will appear alongside the buyer’s payment information in your PayPal account such as in the screenshot below. I had to blur out some of the buyer’s address but you get the idea!
4. Two free tools that will make selling internationally easier
The UPS WorldShip app which links you to UPS WorldShip and can really save you some time that it normally takes to process your shipments.
This is a very popular app and it has been approved by eBay. Over 450 sellers have given it a 5 star rating which is testiment to it's usefulness.
UPS WorldShip is for everyone who uses the eBay Selling Manager – both the free version and the Pro version – and it eliminates you have to enter in eBay order details for the second time so it’s a big time saver.
Finally, I want to show you the Time Zone converter. This tool is very handy for deciding what time your auctions or listings will finish. This is important when you are selling internationally because you could easily set your listing to end at a good time in your country, but a really lousy time when everyone is asleep in the country you are selling in!
This is really simple to use: just select whether you want to convert the current time, or enter you own time.
Got questions about selling internationally? Ask below!