Monday, October 18, 2010

Is international shipping really a hassle?

I recently came across a blog post where some poor overseas buyer was lamenting the fact that few sellers seemed to be shipping internationally. 90% of the comments were sellers backing up their choice to exclude international buyers, mostly citing the same reasoning: "It's too much of a hassle."

Maybe I've been shipping internationally for too long - at least 20% of all my online sales are shipped overseas, and I love my international customers - but I have no idea what these people are talking about. Instead, like with many things, I think it's more like the perception of shipping internationally is a hassle - but that's not truly the reality of it.

-Fill out forms before you go to the post office. Most post offices will happily give you a stack of customs forms to help ease up lines. Even if you spend just as much time at the window as you would at your desk, it will at least make it seems like less of a hassle.
-Tracking and insurance are a must! It is true that some countries have poor postal systems, and that's a legitimate reason for not wanting to take a risk by shipping there. Of course, you should use tracking even if you're shipping domestically - if a buyer files a dispute and you have no tracking information, Paypal will favor the buyer in almost every case.
-Beware of Italy. I don't know why, but the only things I have ever lost in the mail have come from or went to Italy, and I've heard a lot of the same from other frequent sellers.
-Keep in mind that international buyers can raise your profits even if they don't win. I've often sold items for 20-50% more than what I would have - and what the average price was - simply because international buyers were bidding. They didn't even have to actually win; thus, no "hassle," just extra money - an extra $50-$200, in many cases.
-Language can be a barrier, but it's usually not that bad. I get a lot of customers that are obviously using online translation services, but in several years, I've only seen one or two messages where I honestly had no idea what the person was trying to say. Translation services won't make you look fluent, but they generally get the point across.

Hopefully, these tips will make international shipping seem easier. Trust me, the profits are worth it!


  1. The only times I've found I buy from people internationally is when it's from China or Japan. The only exception to that has been Russia. I don't generally buy anything from a country that uses Euro either, because I have found that they pad prices even before shipping.

  2. I don't purposely avoid any countries but I definitely buy most stuff from China and Japan (after America). I guess it's mostly because there are a lot of Chinese sellers on eBay.. but European sellers don't seem to show up as much.

  3. I ship internationally regularly, but the troublesome part is the people that keep trying to haggle the shipping costs down to the point I'd be having to go out of pocket to cover the costs.

  4. I ordered from China once, turns out the product was really a Korean knockoff. I cried rivers.

  5. It makes me sad when I find out someone wont ship internationally ):

  6. I like trying alot of beauty products not available in the united states (it has alot to do with me reading Australian blogs and wanting to try the products they recommend)

  7. Shipping internationally is definitely better than not selling your item at all. :]

  8. I never understood why people had complain about international shipping =\ Doesn't seem that hard to me