January 16, 2017 by Andrew Minalto - 41 Comments

HOW To LOSE International Customers with eBay’s Global Shipping Program!

One thing I always advice to my Easy Auction Business and 60 Day Blueprint customers, after they’re up and running in the UK and making good sales, is to expand internationally!

Most people seem to be unaware of this fact, but after America, the UK is in general one of the cheapest and best places for shopping and this provides a big opportunity for us sellers to offer products abroad and make good money. The margins are often even better than when selling locally due to higher prices and less competition and this makes international orders very lucrative.

I’ve had a few clients who have started selling internationally just to bolster their sales and make some extra money, and eventually their exports eclipsed their sales to the UK! A customer of mine actually discovered such an amazing market for used/retro video games in Australia that he stopped selling in the UK entirely and instead solely sells his products in Australia, using a fulfilment company to process orders.

So don’t underestimate the potential opportunity of international sales, as they can actually contribute a large percentage of your overall sales.

Now I have always said that the best way to sell internationally on eBay is to list directly on the regional eBay site of the country you want to sell to.

That means if you want to sell to Spain, list on eBay.es, if you want to sell to Australia, list directly on eBay.com.au, etc.

This, combined with shipping yourself using the best/cheapest method possible, is the best way to do things in terms of search ranking, views, and therefore SALES.

And that’s why I’m so confused by the growing popularity of eBay’s Global Shipping Programme!

For those of you who don’t know, eBay’s Global Shipping Programme is basically a service run by eBay that allows us sellers to offer our products for sale internationally BUT they take care of all the work!

They show your listings to international customers, then if an order comes in, you simply post your item to a UK address and eBay takes care of everything from there – including international postage, export/import charges, customs, tax etc.!

I know what you’re now thinking – “that sounds perfect! No wonder it’s becoming so popular…”

Well not quite. While it does sound great on paper, there are some significant flaws with the system:

Slow Delivery Timeframes

As rather than posting the item directly to your buyer, you instead have to post it to eBay’s UK Shipping Centre, where it is processed and posted internationally, the overall delivery time is extended by a few days.

According to eBay, “items generally arrive within 3-5 days in the EU and 7-10 days for non-EU destinations”, which is not too bad – but there’s still an unnecessary delay when using this process.

Import Tax for All Orders

This depends on whether or not you’re shipping within the EU, for which there are no import taxes (for now at least!) or if you’re shipping to somewhere else, like Asia, Australia or the US.

Now I know I shouldn’t really be saying this, as technically import tax should be paid on all applicable orders – however we all know that for small, one-off items, the majority of the time they’ll slip through and your customers won’t have to pay anything extra.

However this is never the case when you using the Global Shipping Programme, as eBay pre-charge these beforehand, adding additional cost to your buyers.

And lastly, and most importantly:

Excessive Postage Charges

This is really the main reason for me disliking the Global Shipping Programme and always suggesting against using it – the postage charges can be ridiculously high! In particular for small and lightweight items (which are best suited to selling internationally in the first place) which can be posted very cheaply using Royal Mail.

Now before you tell me that this really doesn’t matter, as you’re not the one paying the postage charges, your buyer is… that’s of course still a huge negative! It puts the cost of your product up significantly which will result in less sales and less profit for you. Even if buyers are willing to pay, I would still much rather charge more for the product (more money for me) and pay less on postage.

That’s just plain common sense really.

But how bad are the postage charges? Are we talking 10-15% more expensive, which while not ideal, is maybe worthwhile when taking into account the benefits and ease of using the Global Shipping Programme…

Well let’s find out for sure!

That’s right, it’s time for one of our trademark pricing “experiments”!

I will search on eBay for certain items and check the shipping cost using the Global Shipping Programme and then compare that to Royal Mail to see how big of a difference there is.

In total I’m going to test 4 different items and 3 different countries for each one (just to make it as fair as possible).

Those countries will be: Italy, Finland and Australia.

I’ll do my search on eBay UK, searching for buy it now listings only, and setting shipping to the different country:

Alright, let’s get to it!

Item No.1 – Protective Silicone Sleeve Case for Smok Tech Alien Kit

GSP Postage Costs:

To Italy: £9.64

To Finland: £13.18

To Australia: £10.68

Royal Mail Postage Costs:

To Italy: £2.45

To Finland: £2.45

To Australia: £3.30

WINNER – ROYAL MAIL

So a huge win for posting yourself, with shipping prices being 4-5 times LESS than when using eBay’s Global Shipping Programme.

Let’s move on to the next item:

Item No.2 – iPhone 7 Tempered Glass Screen Protector

GSP Postage Costs:

To Italy: £9.66

To Finland: £13.20

To Australia: £10.70

Royal Mail Postage Costs:

To Italy: £1.52

To Finland: £1.52

To Australia: £2.25

WINNER – ROYAL MAIL

Round 2 was even more one-sided! For some strange reason, eBay’s shipping fees were exactly 2p more than for our first item, even though this can easily be posted as a letter! You could post this item to Finland directly with Royal Mail 9 times for the cost of posting it once using the Global Shipping Programme. That’s just crazy!

So far it’s not even close, so I want to try testing a larger item that will have to be sent as a parcel, rather than a large letter or letter.

Item No. 3 – Lego Simpsons House

Now this is going to be a tough one for Royal Mail, as we all know how bad their postage options get with heavier and larger items. And this particular Lego set is 58 x 48 x 12cm and weighs over 3.5kg boxed! Plus as it costs nearly £200, I’m only going to used tracked shipping methods… so let’s see the results:

GSP Postage Costs:

To Italy: £27.23

To Finland: £30.82

To Australia: £30.09

Royal Mail Postage Costs:

To Italy: £54

To Finland: £62.10

To Australia: £88.30

WINNER – EBAY’S GLOBAL SHIPPING PROGRAMME

As I expected, a complete reversal here, with the Global Shipping Programme being a much better option for such a heavy item. In fact Royal Mail don’t even send it via their Airmail service, and you’d have to use Parcelforce instead.

Last but not least, let’s test an item that falls in the middle – something that can be sent as a small parcel.

Item No.4 – Nintendo 3DS XL Console

But once again I’m only going to be looking at tracked options, as it’s an expensive item.

GSP Postage Costs:

To Italy: £12.49

To Finland: £15.74

To Australia: £34.67

Royal Mail Postage Costs:

To Italy: £12.50

To Finland: £12.50

To Australia: £18.15

WINNER – ROYAL MAIL

And there you go. While the 4th and final round was closer, it was still a win for Royal Mail and overall the results sum up the point I was making perfectly.

As convenient as it is for sellers, eBay’s Global Shipping Programme has a fatal flaw – it’s just far too expensive, in particular for small and lightweight options, which are the ones best suited to selling internationally in the first place.

So my conclusion and final advice is this – if you’re just starting out and want to keep things as simple as possible, then by all means use the Global Shipping Programme, so that you’re at least getting some international orders in, without having any extra hassle.

BUT don’t be lazy – as soon as you’re able to, start listing directly on regional eBay sites such as eBay.de, eBay.fr, eBay.com.au, etc. and start posting internationally yourself.

You’ll sell a lot more this way, which after all, is the whole point!

As always, if you have any questions or comments then I’d love to hear from you.

Otherwise, happy Monday everyone and have a great week. I’ll be back on Wednesday with our next blog post.

All the best,
Andrew

41 Comments
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  1. Richard Seddon

    Hello Andrew,
    I’m expecting to be making my first international sale on eBay in the next few weeks. As such, I’ve been reading up on eBay’s GSP. The big thing that worries me are the many reports of misdeliveries.

    From what I’ve read, the seller sends his parcel to eBay’s UK GSP address. They then take care of onwards delivery. This raises the question of whether my parcel will have the customer’s delivery adress printed on the outside of the parcel, or just the UK GSP centre’s address?

    Having the intended final recipient’s delivery address on the outside would help in the event it gets delivered to the wrong person (and I’d also include such information — an Invoice — inside the package). But my question is about what delivery information is printed on the outside of GSP packages?

    Thanks, Rick

    1. Andrew Minalto

      I don’t know Rick as I haven’t used the service personally – if you read the post you’ll realise that you DON’T want to use this service in most cases.

      1. Richard Seddon

        Hi Andrew,
        It’s actually a relatively heavy and largish item, so your calculations suggest that eBay’s GSP might be appropriate in my case. That said, all the other reports are a bit worrying.

        Think I’ll have to do the legwork and use Royal Mail.

        Anyhow, thank you, Andrew, for the excellent clarity of your article and for making it available on the Internet. Much appreciated.

        Rick

        1. Andrew Minalto

          If it’s under 2kg, Royal Mail will be best for EU orders.

          If it’s above 2kg, you’ll probably get better prices from couriers, if you do shop around.

          Andrew

  2. glenn surgey

    Yes it has killed off most people buying from the states from the uk now import is always way over same as postage it’s just a big money spinner they even add import to things which are under the tax limit.

  3. Some disadvantages are missing:
    – Import duties by Pitney Bowes are FAKE. They are a service fee, NOT duties. So there is NO WAY to redeem them. If your country customs add fees, you can deduct them when you are a business, or have a customs code that does not charge you at all in the first place. The money you pay to PB is going 10% to the Irish government to cover their TAX LOOPHOLE, and 90% to PB and EBay
    – Your Paypal order gets split up in 2 orders: one at the seller, one at Pitney Bowes. The second is a service, and you will never get a refund for that.
    – They repackage EVERY item. I’ve seen packages being charged 10 bucks, to see them arrive in a flat envelope that would have costed 2 bucks if the seller shipped like that directly. Not to talk about the extra risk of damage when PB just tosses away excess packaging.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Thanks for your comment Bert, 100% spot on!

  4. This is so truth.

    I stopped using ebay (and an international buyer outside US) and buy all my items at Amazon because of the GSP. And I am not talking about an small item, just this year I bought expensive laptop and mirrorless camera on Amazon and not on ebay, all beacuse of GSP.

    For the same item and address, GSP ask for much more. for an $1800 laptop (xps15) I payed $320 at Amazon (shipping and import fees) where ebay, by GSP, asked for $640. You tell me where you’ll buy, not to mention that Amazon has much (much, much much) better customer service if anything went wrong.

    And that’s not the whole story. GSP is known that when the item arrive to the country, they start to ask for more fees.

    Sellers should really stop using GSP, it’s just feels like a scam.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi James,

      Yes, I totally agree!

      And I see majority of sellers are using GSP now on eBay.co.uk, probably without even realising that they’re making a massive mistake!!!

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  5. Mark Huitson

    I wish I’d read this article before. I only read it now as I used the GPS and it’s so shit I wondered if it was just me. It’s not. Never again will I use this programme. I feel sick I’ve wasted £ in the first place. I guess that’s how you learn.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      It’ never too late Mark! 🙂

  6. Really it is 4 out of 4 for mailing yourself as you would not use Royal Mail for a large parcel you would use a parcel service via a comparison site and therefore the costs would be dramatically lower. Therefore another win for mailing yourself.

  7. Hi Andrew,

    Having used GSP for several months now i’ve become aware of the high prices they use and would like to switch to posting internationally myself. How do i go about setting this up on my ebay as i usually offer free pp? do you have somewhere on your website that covers this?. Also where you say you should list on the relevant countries eBay, does that mean you have to have a separate account for that region. Many thanks

    1. Just to add, 90% of my items are small parcels with an average value of £15-£20. Would that change what you and i previously wrote? Thanks again.

      1. Andrew Minalto

        No, even more – items like these especially SHOULD NOT be sold via GSP!

        It costs your international customers £10 – £20 to receive these small, low value items when you can send them much cheaper via RM.

        Andrew

    2. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Alex,

      Yes, of course – you can opt-out of GSP any time you want and start sending packages to international customers directly.

      You should be able to opt-out on this page:

      http://www.ebay.co.uk/prf/GspOptIn

      No, you don’t need separate eBay accounts to list on other eBay sites – your eBay login details work on ALL region al eBay sites.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

      1. Thanks for the reply Andrew. I’m pleased i found this post as i’ve noticed especially in the last few months less and less or my items are being sold through the GSP. Do you happen to know how i can work out and establishing how much to charge for international postage for individual weight and country, and assign it on my eBay. One last question about regional eBay listings, say if i put the same item on each of France, Germany and Spain’s eBay will i be charged 3 times or can you create duplicate listings for free?, sorry if the second question is silly but i’ve never heard of that method before this post.

        Thanks in advance,

        Alex

  8. I am very confused by this – I have just sold an item to NZ and iti has gone by GSP – did the buyer choose this service? I wasn’t aware I offered it – I just offer international Royal Mail everywhere with a price quoted. This is the first time I ahve had a GSP and it was a very light,l arge letter item.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      No, you most likely enabled it in your settings on eBay.

      As buyers can’t select it.

      Please double check your settings.

      Andrew

  9. Hi Andrew,

    Your post, combined with a random call from my Royal Mail account manager the other day has made me re-evaluate this.

    I had not realised how cheap it can be to post to EU/ROW on account prices, especially at low weight. For example, one small parcel product I sell is only 220g, which means I can send to:

    UK for £2.10
    EU for £2.21
    RoW for £2.72

    Wow, only 11p more to send to EU?! Why didn’t I do this before, and to think of all those people I told I wouldn’t ship to their country when they asked!

    Large Letter just as good – a 50g LL product I sell:

    UK for 63p
    EU for 95p
    RoW for £1.06

    Now, I’ve got loads of questions…so I’m off to read the rest of your international posts.

    Here are a few I hope to find out :

    – do you uplift your international postage much to cover problems/hassle (e.g. costs extra 20p, but charge £1 on Ebay).
    – do you restrict certain countries with history of problems (e.g. Italy, Spain, etc)

    And one for a longer topic – which is best on Amazon – fulfilling yourself to EU or enabling EFN (not pan, as I don’t want to get into VAT issues yet) and using FBA.

    All the best, Paul

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Paul,

      Great to hear that! 🙂

      Yes, prices are very cheap indeed for small/light-weight items sent via Airmail, non-tracked method.

      You can charge a bit more for international postage, that’s fine.

      Yes, I do not ship to Italy for said reasons and I also don’t ship to ROW – only EU because ROW packages often take long time to arrive and more problems with lost packages compared to EU countries.

      For Amazon FBA is much better because prices Amazon now offers to EU customers are very good, especially when a customer makes multiple item order.

      Andrew

      1. Hi Andrew,

        Thanks, very helpful. One more if I may – do you set up postage by weight tables on Ebay or have a set business policy price?

        I’m tempted to go by weight, as that’s how the international postage is worked out, it would be that or several business postage policies for different weight bands, or a set price and hope it all averages out (which I don’t like).

        Paul

  10. Does ebay’s print postage label system work with international mail or just domestic and if so do you get any discount?

    Most of the stuff I sell is large letter size and less than 100g so everything I sell just gets a stamp and into a letterbox. I try to avoid going to the post office as much as possible, so whats the best way to buy international postage online without having to visit a post office?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Craig,

      Prices are same as RM online prices (so there’s a small discount versus “offline” prices).

      You can’t purchase RM international shipping through eBay but you can do it via PayPal.

      You will still have to drop off packages at local post office though.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  11. Thank you. I notice that ny deliveries to US were very slow. And i was wondering whats happen here. Ok now was helpful. And prices as well.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      You’re welcome Eva! 🙂

  12. I use GSP, as at the moment I don’t really want any hassle with listing on other sites, nor the problems with INR in foreign countries (I keep reading countless problems in Italy and Spain for example on the Amazon forums).

    However, here is an oddity. On a variation listing I have that has items sold by weight, from 100g upto 10kg, a buyer in Australia has been able to purchase a 10kg 60x40x60cm box for only £10.60 shipping. Due to volumetrics I can only just about get that sent for about £9 to a UK customer!

    I am not sure whether it’s because I haven’t filled in any of the default data, and I should probably check, but Ebay haven’t rejected any of these sales.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Paul,

      That’s a very good price indeed. Too good to be true probably but if it works, keep doing it!

      Andrew

  13. For the lighter weight items, how is Finland more expensive than Australia for GSP? Logistically it doesn’t make sense.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Yeah, exactly what I was thinking! 😉

  14. Hi Andrew,

    “BUT don’t be lazy – as soon as you’re able to, start listing directly on regional eBay sites such as eBay.de, eBay.fr, eBay.com.au, etc. and start posting internationally yourself.”

    Surely this wont be necessary if offering international shipping through listings done on eBay.co.uk as they should appear in the search results of the international eBay sites, right?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Nick,

      Yes, your listings will show up BUT locally listed items will get priority. More on this here:

      https://andrewminalto.com/international-ebay/
      https://andrewminalto.com/international-visibility-for-your-ebay-listings/

      But don’t forget that many EU customers shop directly on eBay UK – so it’s important to offer international shipping with good prices for EU customers at least on eBay UK.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  15. Your comparison of shipping charges isn’t very accurate. All GSP shipping is tracked, the Royal Mail prices you listed arn’t tracked. Also benefits of GSP is a buyer cannot leave negative feedback or mark your item as late delivery. Plus if the order goes missing Ebay reimburses both buyer and seller for full value of goods. Royal Mail will only reimburse shipping charges unless you send the item Tracked then they reimburse the product value too.

    I normally like what you blog but can’t help but feel this time you are being a little unfair towards a system which helps sellers leave the comfort zone of domestic delivery and open up to the big world. BTW I’m not saying you way isn’t better, just saying GSP isn’t all that bad.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Craig,

      Thanks for your comment and I’m sorry of my opinion seems biased…

      I used non-tracked delivery because no seller would use racked RM for such cheap items. It just doesn’t make sense – no one would buy a £3 item and pay £10+ for shipping. I used tracked delivery for more valuable items in this experiment.

      Also, RM is actually pretty good with deliveries to EU countries and I personally don’t get that many lost packages. Definitely not enough to pay tracked for each shipment.

      I actually like the GSP concept and all the benefits it brings – I just don’t like their pricing structure for cheap/small items.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

      1. Hi Andrew

        I sold a £4.99 item on GSP and buyer paid £10 shipping so I think you are wrong about what people are willing to pay, It shocks me sometimes what people are willing to paying in regards to shipping for such cheap items.

        The GSP program was never intended to be a International Economy service, in fact it could never function as such. The network would be flooded and grind to a halt, then the claims for item’s not received would shut the GSP down for good. But it does offer a easy way for people with more money than sense to make purchases on items they really want but can’t get domestically and are will to pay whatever the shipping costs without blinking an eye.

        1. Andrew Minalto

          Hi Craig,

          And how many people did not buy from you because of that high shipping cost? They just went with the competitor who offered reasonable shipping via Royal Mail.

          That’s the main point I’m making here – if your shipping prices are that high, you’re leaving lots of money on table. Money that goes to your competitors.

          Andrew

          1. Craig Moulds

            Yes Andrew, like I said in the first post your way is best for maximising sales. Just wanted to point out GSP isn’t all that bad. I’ve had my sales increase by 15% by just opting in for GSP, just putting a little tick in a box and it’s requires no extra effort. That’s not a bad increase for a click of a button.

            I’m sure when I’m ready to sell directly on other Ebay domains I will see far better increases in sales but it will come at a considerable increase in work load and administration.

            The way I see it GSP is good if you want a small increase in sales with little extra work and you just want to dip your toes in the international Market.

            But if you want to expand and increase sales in the fastest possible time then selling on the other Ebay domains is the way to go.

          2. Andrew Minalto

            You don’t even have to list directly on regional eBay sites – many, MANY EU customers shop on eBay UK directly. And if you use RM for domestic deliveries, adding international destinations does not actually increase work load.

            Of course, as I said in the article – using GSP is better than not offering international shipping at all! 🙂

            Thanks,
            Andrew

    2. True but international parcel services from the likes of parcel2go and parcel monkey prices are usually cheaper than RoyalMail for tracked services.

    3. I’m sorry but I completely disagree with the above. Bear with the long details.
      I had been a loyal user of ebay GSP because it saved me a lot of hassle. I’m a private seller. I had used the programme to send some items internationally without any hassle. I’d even once sent a Chanel watch that sold over £1500 with no problems, and some jewellery and clothing. All seemed well until January this year when I sold a (fortunately and blessedly for me) cheap bracelet to someone in Italy. I packaged this item as always and then used tracked postage to send to the GSP centre as usual…where I’ve always assumed the items undergo some sort of control to know what was in it! Since they’re liable for items they sent internationally I can only expect that they look to see what’s in it.
      Buyer was a scammer and very wise (had only positive feedback btw) and raised a claim saying the bracelet box had been sent empty! Had they claimed it didn’t arrive that would have been proved wrong: had they claimed it wasn’t as described or defective, they’d have had to prove it or return it. No, she claimed the bracelet box was empty. Ebay let her raise the claim and didn’t do A THING to help despite my flagging up the issue. She was refunded (and even wanted me to pay the extra ebay GSP shipping fees and I drew the line at that because none of that came to me.

      I was only glad this hadn’t happened with any of the expensive items I’d sent previously. Needless to say, that ended my use of the GSP and now I will only post abroad using DHL AND I give the items to the agent to package up. It doesn’t save shipping costs and I know I have lost potential customers due to the high costs but I have learned a costly lesson.
      The day it happens for an item worth thousands is the day someone will learn the lesson like I did.

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