A few weeks back, we discussed how you can start selling internationally. Charlene Anderson, the Jackson Hole, Wyoming-based owner of Purveyor of All Things Creative, says it’s an important part of her business–and should be for yours, too.
Charlene has been selling on eBay since 1998, and Amazon since 2002. “When I began selling, you didn’t need photos on eBay to make listings sell,” Charlene says with a chuckle. “I started my business when I lived in Hawaii, which has its own shipping challenges, but I immediately started selling internationally, because I knew the world was a big place and I didn’t want to miss out on global sales.”
eBay international sales and selling internationally on Amazon quickly became a large part of her business. “My international sales went big very quickly because so many people don’t do it,” notes Charlene. “They are uncomfortable selling internationally and think it’s too much of a hassle and too risky. Which is totally wrong!”
Today, international sales make up 40% of her eBay revenues. The top countries she sells to are Australia, U.K., and Canada. When asked why she thinks Australia is her top international market, Charlene offers, “Australia always has a hard time getting things from the U.S. Many U.S.-based companies will ship to Canada but not the rest of the world.” This can potentially make selling internationally very profitable for those who decide to take a jump.
The Shipping Process for eBay International Sales
“Some sellers might want to consider the eBay Global Shipping Program, but for me, it was easy enough to use and send the shipments myself.” Using USPS through Endicia, integrated Customs Forms are printed out on the postage and shipping label, making international shipping as easy as domestic shipping.
Payment is easy, too. “All of my eBay sales go through PayPal, and eBay and PayPal keep the buyer’s address on file for shipments,” says Charlene. Also, eBay says “Generally, buyers pay additional costs such as duties, taxes, and customs clearance fees. To avoid problems, make sure that your listing clearly states this.” Charlene has inserted wording in her listings that clearly outlines this information for her international buyers.
The Shipping Process for Amazon International Sales
The majority of Charlene’s sales come from Amazon, and she uses their Fulfilled by Amazon. “It’s a dream because they take care of all the warehousing and shipping.” Amazon determines which products it can sell internationally.
“If you are already selling through FBA, you’d be crazy not to sell internationally through FBA. You check one box, upload an image file of your signature for customs forms, and you are selling internationally through FBA. It’s ridiculously easy!”
What Types of Items to Ship Internationally
“I’ve been very intentional in determining the products I sell,” notes Charlene. “Over the years I’ve loved products that were great sellers, but I had to stop carrying them due to breakage and other shipping issues. Today I focus on items that are small, lightweight and sturdy, to keep shipping costs low, make storage easy, and to keep damages to a minimum.”
Although Charlene focuses on small and lightweight packages to sell internationally, your business does not have to restrict itself to those parameters. USPS can send international shipments of varying sizes ranging from postcards to 70lb packages. Check the USPS size & weight requirements to make sure you are sending packages internationally correctly.
Places Where Charlene Doesn’t Ship
“I will ship anywhere I can insure my package,” says Charlene. “Right now, I don’t ship to Brazil, as there are too many issues with customs delays, and I can’t get insurance for Croatia and a few other countries, so I don’t ship there. I’m also lucky that few countries have restrictions on arts and crafts imports, so I can sell pretty much anywhere. Other types of products, such as leather, shoes and clocks, you can’t sell to Italy, for example.” To find out restrictions by country, you can use the USPS tool.
“I have never had an international return, and I ship 300 international packages a month! International buyers are careful. They know it’s expensive to return items.”
Charlene has not had to deal with pesky returns when sending packages internationally, but you still might have to. USPS offers international shipping insurance and extra services to help protect you from merchandise difficulties and returns.
Charlene, who is an eBay Top Rated Plus Seller and a Power Seller, shared her tips on sending packages internationally. From great ways to make listings more attractive to international buyers, her Ebay radio segment gave the perfect tips to sell internationally. You can listen to it here.
We also suggested that Charlene try out ShipStation, especially since our free trial allows her to see if it meets her needs. Through ShipStation, she can do batch ordering and labels, as well as automatic seller feedback, making sending packages internationally a breeze.
Still on the fence about selling internationally on Amazon or eBay? Consider Charlene’s final comment. “Yesterday I sent to Israel, Singapore, U.K., Australia, New Zealand, and Saudi Arabia. Why would anyone give up all that revenue?”