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eBay to Sellers: Think Globally

eBay is urging its U.S. sellers to think beyond the domestic market and try their hand selling overseas. Aparma Lahiri, marketing lead for eBay’s Global Shipping Program, recently joined with the Commerce Department for an online presentation aimed at encouraging sellers to tap into fast-growing foreign markets.

“Selling internationally isn’t as complex as we think it is,” Lahiri said. “The opportunity there is phenomenal.”

Lahiri observed that a platform like eBay’s Global Shipping Program – and similar offerings from rivals like Amazon and Google – provides sellers with an intermediary that levels many of the barriers to selling overseas, including last-mile delivery, customer support and the administrative hassle of navigating customs and duties.

“The Global Shipping Program was conceived with the sole focus of making cross-border trade as easy as domestic selling for eBay sellers,” she said.

“That has created this extremely inclusive model for international commerce that is not just growing, but is becoming really efficient over time,” Lahiri added. “What it does for the seller is take away the headache and the heartache of having to ship internationally.”

eBay Says Sellers See Big Growth from International Sales 
According to eBay’s own research, sellers who primarily focused on the domestic market saw average sales increases of 58 percent from 2010 to 2014. Sellers with more than half of their sales coming from international buyers enjoyed 91 percent growth over that same period.

So what can sellers do to step up their global presence?

Lahiri stressed the importance of maintaining a store that is optimized for viewing on mobile devices, which have seen explosive growth in booming markets like China, India and South America.

“Mobile is here to stay. Buyers – and international buyers more so – are buying more from their iPhones and iPads than from their PCs,” she said. “Sellers need to be very diligent about having their online stores be mobile-friendly.”

eBay Seller Advises Dynamic Pricing for International Sales
Chris Ko, a veteran eBay seller trading in electronics and computer equipment, urges sellers to research foreign market conditions and develop a dynamic pricing strategy. Because prices are often far higher in other countries than in the United States, merchants who set prices based on what the products would fetch domestically often leave money on the table, Ko explained.

“I definitely encourage you to do your research to determine whether or not you’re going to be competitive,” he said.

Additionally, he emphasized the importance of using high-quality, multi-angle photos in an online store, a tactic that can help “break down the barriers of language and interpretation” when sellers venture into international markets.

“You cannot describe better than telling and showing them what the product is by taking really detailed photos,” Ko said.

eBay Points to Unmet Demand 
Lahiri made the broader point that in many foreign markets there is considerable unmet demand for merchandise in a variety of categories, in part because products may be unavailable through domestic retail channels, or because there are better deals to be had on the Web.

“Believe it or not, they’re finding that it is cheaper for them to go online and buy from a different country,” Lahiri said.

“Given how much online presence these buyers have, the one thing that is really important to highlight here is there is tremendous demand for your inventory,” she said. “There is tremendous demand for everything.”

Kenneth Corbin on Linkedin
Kenneth Corbin
Kenneth Corbin
Kenneth Corbin is a freelance writer based in Washington, D.C. He has written on politics, technology and other subjects since 2007, most recently as the Washington correspondent for InternetNews.com, covering Congress, the White House, the FCC and other regulatory affairs. He can be found on LinkedIn.