eBay Shipping Tips: International Shipping, Part 2
By Phil Dunn
The original article on international eBay shipping (http://www.auctionbytes.com/cab/abu/y205/m12/abu0157/s03) stirred up a lot of additional information. Lots of folks have different approaches and tips, and eBay itself is very interested in promoting international trade, because it generally translates to higher sales and prices for sellers (and more fees for eBay).
First, I need to clarify something. The eBay shipping calculator now supports international calculations. It didn't in the past, but now sellers can include the calculator for sales to all international countries that are currently served by USPS and UPS. Indicate your shipping options for carrier, size of package, weight and handling fee and you're done. The shipping and handling costs are automatically calculated, and you don't have to deal with emails about international shipping. More importantly, customers don't have to wait for your reply to make decisions. There's more information here:(http://pages.ebay.com/services/buyandsell/shippingcenter7.html).
If you don't want to deal with the shipping calculator, there are other approaches. One reader recommended nailing down costs for specific items based on shipping inquiries from your most frequent buyers. You can then build a list of shipping prices for 90 percent of the countries you ship to.
For example, if many of your customers hail from Canada, you can include Canadian shipping rates for packages that weigh 1 pound, 2 pounds, 3 pounds, etc., in your Terms. As with the calculator, you avoid spending unnecessary time answering emails from customers about shipping rates. You simply include it in the description and forget about it. Providing as much information as you can up front automates processes, improves customer service and ultimately speeds sales.
There's another new international shipping feature that was rolled out by eBay recently - international label printing that's integrated with eBay and PayPal. Buyer and seller addresses are automatically filled in when you go to print labels. Customs forms are also pre-filled when you use USPS shipping services. This new label printing feature is free, so you only pay for the cost of shipping. There's more information here: (http://digbig.com/4gayd).
Finally, one reader suggested that high-volume shippers include a graphic of their signature for customs forms. This helps speed forms generation in programs like Endicia. Use a graphics program like Paint or Photoshop to write your signature with the mouse. Save that as a bitmap or jpeg file. Make sure it's small enough to fit onto the customs line of the Endicia form without covering up the other fields. In Endicia, you click "insert" then choose graphic. Pick your file and then position it on the signature field.
You can also include a rubber stamp of the shipping date for that field. Click on the rubber stamp icon, put in the date, then position it on the date field. You'll have to change the rubber stamp date for each day, but it saves lots of time for the day's batch. This can be done for Air Mail Letter Post, Air Mail Parcel Post, and Global Express EMS.
Stay tuned - we'll cover more shipping topics in upcoming articles.
About the author:
Phil Dunn is a marketing and advertising writer and consultant for Fortune 500 companies, including Microsoft, Hewlett Packard, Pitney Bowes and IKON. Phil co-authored "The 7 Essential Steps to Successful eBay Marketing" (McGraw-Hill, July 2005) with Amy Balsbaugh and Janelle Elms. See their book at http://digbig.com/4dhwf, and see Phil's blog at http://ebay-marketing.blogspot.com.
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