Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Thu June 6 2013 21:57:31

Selling Internationally on Etsy Has Its Challenges

By: Ina Steiner

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It's always interesting to note the parallels between Etsy and eBay, and I sometimes forget that just because one marketplace has a feature doesn't mean other marketplaces offer it.

A seller wrote to me recently and said they sell a lot on both eBay and Etsy. "On eBay, I can block out certain countries I wish to not ship too. But with Etsy, it's all international or nothing. I'm surprised as Etsy continues to grow and provide upgrades, then haven't tackled this yet."

I am familiar with eBay's tools that allow sellers to exclude buyers by country, so I took a look at Etsy help files, but couldn't find any information about how to limit sales by geography. So I reached out to Etsy's PR department to see if I was missing something.

"Does Etsy allow sellers to ship domestic only?" I asked. "Does Etsy allow sellers to ship internationally but exclude certain countries or regions? I've looked around for info on the Etsy site, but I don't see these policies/practices explained."

An Etsy spokesperson replied, "Etsy leaves it up to sellers to determine which countries they will ship to. Please let me know if you need anything else."

I assumed Etsy would know that what I was really asking (and I should have been clearer) was whether Etsy allowed sellers to block buyers from certain countries from purchasing the items. Because as any seller knows, if you simply state in your policy that you don't ship to a certain country doesn't mean a buyer from that country won't order from you anyway! And that can lead to enormous hassles.

The seller who had written to me had explained, "This is really frustrating when I don't want to ship things to the country notoriously bad for getting packages to customers: All South America countries; Russia; Italy - to name a few."

Selling internationally is a major challenge for online sellers, though the opportunities for additional sales also make it irresistible for many merchants.

If you sell on Etsy, how do you deal with international orders, and what would you tell the marketplace management about features you'd like to see them add for your benefit?




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Perminate Link for Selling Internationally on Etsy Has Its Challenges   Selling Internationally on Etsy Has Its Challenges

by: WhoKnewIt This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jun 6 23:08:54 2013

Simple, if you don't list a certain country under "ships to" and assign it a dollar amount people from that country cannot purchase from you.

Perminate Link for Selling Internationally on Etsy Has Its Challenges   Selling Internationally on Etsy Has Its Challenges

by: cayenna This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jun 6 23:41:11 2013

Exactly. If you do not offer shipping for the country you do not wish to sell too in each listing; then they cannot make a purchase.
I always say in my listings: Welcome International Buyers! Please contact me for a shipping quote. This way if an Intl buyer would like to make a purchase I can calculate the correct shipping for their 'custom listing' I would put up for them to make sure the shipping is accurate. I do however, like the idea of being able to block someone as someone could be blocked from my eBay shop but still come to my etsy shop and burn me that way...

Perminate Link for Selling Internationally on Etsy Has Its Challenges   Selling Internationally on Etsy Has Its Challenges

by: Sierra This user has validated their user name.

Fri Jun 7 00:23:47 2013

I've sold on Etsy for nearly 7 years (and eBay for 16 years). Definitely more problems with buyers on eBay,  though that also seems related to what is being sold. I've sold odds & ends on eBay for several friends and acquaintances,  and have had numerous issues with buyers of those items. Conversely, I've had few (actually, I think none!) problems with buyers of my handmade items on Etsy.

I'd REALLY like to see Etsy add a shipping calculator, so I don't have to look up (or guess) at shipping cost when I'm listing items.

Perminate Link for Selling Internationally on Etsy Has Its Challenges   Selling Internationally on Etsy Has Its Challenges

by: out-of-the-attic-2u This user has validated their user name.
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Fri Jun 7 05:41:10 2013

I would charge a much higher price in my shipping for countries I do not ship to. We can make profiles for our shipping so why not have a shipping profile for the country you don't ship to with the higher cost for shipping?

Perminate Link for Selling Internationally on Etsy Has Its Challenges   Selling Internationally on Etsy Has Its Challenges

by: Daisy909 This user has validated their user name.

Fri Jun 7 06:42:31 2013

What international sales? Now that the post office has raised the rates so high to ship internationally (what happened to ground shipping?), my international sales have dried up.

Perminate Link for Selling Internationally on Etsy Has Its Challenges   Selling Internationally on Etsy Has Its Challenges

by: RAOTFLMAO This user has validated their user name.

Fri Jun 7 08:08:06 2013

On my etsy listings I put "International buyers welcome however please email so I can check the shipping rate for you before committing to buy".  If it is a "risky" country I will only ship by Fedex. Fedex doesn't screw around, loose packages, or just hand over to dicey postal services so your package can disappear.  

Perminate Link for Selling Internationally on Etsy Has Its Challenges   Selling Internationally on Etsy Has Its Challenges

by: Watching the Wheels This user has validated their user name.

Fri Jun 7 08:24:06 2013

You can list each country separately on Etsy, so this shouldn't be an issue.

I personally stopped any international, when the US postage rates went up this year.

I find that international is essentially too risky for a small seller. It would be nice IF the U.S. did more to offer some level of protection and price competitiveness to their own citizens.

I found NO WAYS to keep myself risk free and competitively priced.

:) AND before anyone tells me about alternative insurance companies, THEY make you wait for 45 days prior to filing a claim, which is the Paypal cut off point for a buyer to file one.

NO WIN SCENARIO.

Perminate Link for Selling Internationally on Etsy Has Its Challenges   Selling Internationally on Etsy Has Its Challenges

by: mysongsdesigns This user has validated their user name.
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Fri Jun 7 08:34:48 2013

I have and am still currently selling on both Etsy & Ebay. This write up was a blessing to me & I appreciate everyone's input. Many of you have given me information to think about and place into action. Such as, USE FEDEX instead of regular Post for international orders. Thanks

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This user has validated their user name. by: Ina

Fri Jun 7 09:47:58 2013

Excellent advice!!

Perminate Link for Selling Internationally on Etsy Has Its Challenges   Selling Internationally on Etsy Has Its Challenges

by: Susan Averello This user has validated their user name.

Fri Jun 7 14:33:09 2013

It's just that isn't more inconvient - you can list EU or non-Europe, any country, or everywhere else. The issue happens when someone wants to ship everywhere but this or that country - then you need to list out countries seperately

Perminate Link for Selling Internationally on Etsy Has Its Challenges   Selling Internationally on Etsy Has Its Challenges

by: summer in the city This user has validated their user name.

Fri Jun 7 18:05:07 2013


I agree with Daisy909 that international sales have dried up since the USPS rate increase. About 20% of my sales were outside the USA, and it's been zero since the rate hike, even though I discount international shipping rates.

In addition, country-specific Etsy groups have grown rapidly, and have their own front pages, so shoppers can easily buy from their own countries. Yet Etsy still keeps trying to resuscitate international sales while at the same time encouraging international sellers to balkanize.

Some sellers have suspected that shops which sell to the USA only are penalized in USA search results so Etsy can build its overseas presence with american dollars.

Ina, I'm not surprised you got the brush-off :-) They really do live in their own little world.

Perminate Link for Selling Internationally on Etsy Has Its Challenges   Selling Internationally on Etsy Has Its Challenges

by: bellafabric This user has validated their user name.
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Fri Jun 7 21:40:11 2013

I sell on both, ebay (2006) and etsy (2008). As everyone else as said, pick the countries you wish to ship to and enter a shipping fee. There's also a box to list the cost for each additional item.

An additional point for chiming in: 35% overall sales were once international and it's all but gone since the postal increase.

I even found a way to offer a better postage discount to Canada. But, very few Canadians shopping now.

Perminate Link for Selling Internationally on Etsy Has Its Challenges   Selling Internationally on Etsy Has Its Challenges

by: ConsumerAtLarge This user has validated their user name.

Fri Jun 7 21:58:07 2013

This has been an interesting thread to read....especially since I have a garage full of mid century and antique collectibles that are otherwise heading to traditional auctions.  

I agree with many that ebay are just so much trouble these days it just isn't worth worrying about. By comparison when I first opened my ebay account in 2001, it was a great marketplace for collectors.  

These days you'd be literally giving things away to compete, especially when the search engine locks you out of the race. So much for competition eh?  free market?  hardly.

So, now, after fobbing off collectors and casual sellers, they're giving away free listings to entice us all back?  to what?

Just doing a listing these days is so time consuming for a casual lister, I'd liken it to having your finger nails ripped off.  I'm over it...

So is etsy worth considering?

Perminate Link for Selling Internationally on Etsy Has Its Challenges   Selling Internationally on Etsy Has Its Challenges

This user has validated their user name. by: The End

Sat Jun 8 03:36:19 2013

I don't know where you got your information , but clearly, a seller can choose where they ship to. Most choose just to ship to the United States. What we need is a way to filter out Alaska and Hawaii. We get killed on shipping there. Most of us refuse to sell outside the continental 48. Because most of Alaska and Hawaii residents refuse to pay the actual cost of shipping to them. I once sold a $170.00 item and got slaughtered on the shipping to Alaska. I lost all profit and the cost of the item. That was an unnecessary learning curve.

Perminate Link for Selling Internationally on Etsy Has Its Challenges   Selling Internationally on Etsy Has Its Challenges

by: PowerSeller2007 This user has validated their user name.

Sun Jun 9 01:59:53 2013

It doesn't make a difference anymore. USPS broke the camel's back on all international prospects. G

reedy ebay still want 12% from shipping charges and Paypal another 4%.  

Etsy or Ebay, just a couple of thieving buyers, you will not only loss the item but also the HUGE shipping cost.  

I advise all NOT to sell international.  For newbie seller, don't let JD fool you... JD would chew you up like a gum and spit you out when he is don't chewing you.



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by: Toledo Maude This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jun 10 11:10:34 2013

Diasy909 hits the nail squarely on the head.  What international sales?  

No need to block any country.  The US Post Office has done that.

Boy, my little cottage industry of selling vintage glass to Australia is down to zero.  That is a loss of 20% in sales, easy.  

The cost of mailing a pair of cufflinks to Europe vaulted from $4 to $11.  That on top of customs duties ($25 on $50 cufflinks) makes buying in-country much more attractive.

And FedEx is not a cost effective option either.

Everyone, everyone, everyone write your Congress elected officials and bring back ''sea mail''  in a hurry!  

Perminate Link for Selling Internationally on Etsy Has Its Challenges   Selling Internationally on Etsy Has Its Challenges

by: Watching the Wheels This user has validated their user name.

Wed Jun 12 06:01:43 2013

@ Toledo Maude,

Even IF the Post Office brought back semi reasonable international rates, Paypal would also need to drop PROOF OF DELIVERY, as one of their requirements for seller protection.



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