Many people just getting started on eBay have reservations when it comes to selling to International buyers. Possibly they've heard a few second-hand horror stories, or they feel it's simply not worth the extra hassle.
eBay provides you with the opportunity to sell to buyers all over the world. This opens a huge new market to the seller. It also allows you to receive more interest in your items and higher closing prices.
In many categories, some of the most active buyers live outside the United States. As an example, at the time I'm writing this, if you were selling collectible Pyrex glass, many of your serious bidders would be from Japan.
I have been selling internationally on eBay for five years and have been selling to International buyers right from the start. It's not difficult, doesn't take much more time and, if you follow a few simple do's and don'ts you shouldn't run into any problems
There are only two methods of payment, which will ensure absolute zero risk regarding sending product overseas:
1. The first is wire transfer directly to your bank.
You can contact your local bank and they will walk you through a wire transfer transaction. It is very similar to the process of having a payroll check deposited in your account. As soon as a payment is deposited electronically into your account it can never be touched by any source other than by you, the account owner. Once the bank notifies you that payment is wired or transferred into your account, you can ship the product.
2. The second is http://www.auctionpayments.com/, which is a division of Western Union. This was originally called BidPay.com and the name has been changed to Western Union (R) Auction Payments.
Payment for this method is completely processed via email. You will then receive a physical check from Western Union. This usually takes three to four days after your email confirmation. Very Important! Do not ship the product when you receive the email confirmation. Wait until you physically receive the check from Western Union.
There are three other methods of payment that you will need to decide if you will, or will not, accept. These do pose a small amount of risk:
1. Paypal payments. You will find that many International buyers have PayPal accounts and will ask to pay through PayPal. While PayPal does provide a seller protection program, it requires that you have proof of delivery. The United States Post Office (my recommend shipping venue for reasons talked about below) doesn't offer this for International Mail.
I've been accepting PayPal from International buyers all along. However, nearly all my International sales are in the antique and collectible categories. Historically, collectors have never been as much of a non-payment risk as people buying consumer products. If I was selling in the electronic or computer categories, for example, I might seriously reconsider my payment policies.
2. International Money Orders. Many sellers accept International money orders in US Dollars. There is a common misconception that these are as good as cash. That's not the case. There are instances of stolen and forged money orders right here in the States. This problem, while minute, exists for International money orders also.
3. Cashier's Checks. Just like money orders, there is a common misconception that they are as good as cash. There have been cases where blank stolen cashier's checks, or even bank checks have been forged.
Additional considerations when shipping products to International buyers.
Shipping products Internationally does involve a little more work, but it's nowhere near as involved as many make it seem.
Unlike products shipped within your own country, the major difference is the need to include a customs form. These forms are free and supplied by the carrier you chose, whether it is the US Postal Service, Fed Ex, UPS, Etc. You will need to state the weight, the item and it's value, the destination, etc.
When shipping Internationally, use only the United States Postal Service. Most, if not all countries charge duty on items coming into their country. These are based upon the value of the item and, for expensive items, can get pretty healthy. With some other carriers, you may find that you end up paying this duty tax and not the buyer. With the USPS, all import duties are collected from the buyer and not you.
Shipping internationally can be profitable and fun. You may even find that you end up becoming good friends with some of your overseas buyers. Just be careful about how you take payment, be aware of the shipping procedures, and send via USPS.
Gary Hendrickson has been making his living selling on eBay for more than six years. He's the author of two eBay related ebooks, has a blog for eBay sellers, and is the owner of ColdItems.Com.
The Auction Rebel Blog