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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

International Shipping Tutorial

It is so hard to get enough people together at 10pm EST for a live class. Here is what was going to be the International Shipping Class, in blog form. It is long, and it is dry. But it is important. Learn it and use it. You really should be offering international shipping, because that opens up a whole new world (literally) of possibilities! I will be hanging around the boards until around 10 tonight (Wednesday) and all day tomorrow (Thursday) to answer any questions that come up. If you've got a question, feel free to post to the boards and I can answer you there or I would be glad to meet you in chat if you'd prefer.

How to Add Calculated International Shipping to Your Listings

Once you are in the Sell Your Item Form, fill in your categories, title, item specifics, photos, description, price, and payment information just like you always do. When you get to the section titled “Give Buyers Shipping Details” click on “Add or Remove Options”
On the screen that pops up, check off “Show International Services and Options”. Then scroll down and check off “Set Up a List of Locations I Don’t Want to Ship To”.  Then Click Save.
Now, fill in your US Shipping information just like you always do. If you use Calculated Shipping, then your international shipping calculator will be pretty much finished. If you use Flat Rate Shipping, you’ll just have one more step for international. Still very easy. If you use Calculated Shipping, go ahead and put in your Item Weight, dimensions, handling time and fee, and US Shipping Options in the US Shipping section. If you use Flat Rate Shipping, go ahead and put in your Shipping Charges, handling time, and shipping options in the US Shipping section.
Now, if you did Calculated US Shipping, all you’ll need to do is make sure Calculated is showing in your International Drop Down menu. If it is, then eBay will have already carried over your item weight from your US Shipping section. If you did Flat Rate US Shipping, you’ll need to choose “Calculated: Cost varies by item location” in the International Drop Down Menu.
Next, I make 95% of my listings available worldwide, so I choose “Worldwide” from the left drop-down Ship To menu. If you want to start small and only offer Canadian shipping, then you can choose only Canada as an option here.
Next, you’ll choose your Shipping Services. If the package is 4 pounds or less (and a total of 36” or less, I like to offer both First Class International and Priority Mail International.  The vast majority of my buyers choose First Class because of the huge cost savings. You’ll definitely want to offer that as an option whenever possible. Without that option, you will lose a lot of international buyers. If your package is more than 4 pounds, or greater than 36”, you won’t be able to offer First Class International.
If you didn’t put in your package dimensions in the US Shipping section, now is the time to do that in the International Shipping section.  Then add a handling fee, exclude any specific countries if you want (more on that next), finish your listing, and you’re DONE!
How to Exclude Specific Countries from Buying Your Items
In your listing, right under the International Shipping section you just completed, you’ll find “Exclude Shipping Locations.” Click on “Edit Exclusion List”.
Yours won’t have those countries listed yet. Once you click on that, a box will pop up with a list of continents.
If you’re looking to exclude a specific country, find the continent that country is one and click on “Show all countries” next to it. For example, if you’d like to exclude Brazil, click on “Show All Countries” next to South America. This will give you a list of all the countries in South America. Just put a check box next to the ones you don’t want to ship to. Then click Apply.
How to Use the International Mail Manual
Bookmark this. You’ll need it often!
Near the bottom of the blue menu on the left, you’ll see “Individual Country Listings.”  Hover your mouse over that and a list of countries will pop up. Find yours and click on it. This will tell you what items are prohibited and restricted. It will also tell you if you need to include duplicate packing slips or any other special instructions (Certificate of Disinfection, for example). This is my International Shipping Bible! I use it all the time. If I get an offer for an item and it is from a foreign country, I check here before accepting the offer, just to make sure the item is allowed. For example, Brazil doesn’t allow used consumer goods. I had an offer from Brazil for a used dress. I checked the International Mail Manual, discovered that, and was able to stop a problem before it happened. I just declined with a note explaining that their country prohibits used consumer goods, but thanks for their interest!
How to Deal with a Customer that Wants You To Mark Their Item as a Gift
International buyers usually have to pay customs or import taxes on international packages they receive. Occasionally, they’ll try to get out of paying those taxes by asking YOU to make their package as a gift on the customs form. This is an easy one:  It is against the law to mark an item as a gift on a customs form if it’s not a gift. I’ve only ever had 2 buyers ask me to do this. I just wrote them a note saying, “I’m sorry. Because this is merchandise, I cannot mark your package as a gift. I understand if you wish to cancel your order. Please let me know as soon as possible.” I’ve never had any problems with that. They know better, or they wouldn’t even be asking. Be nice about it. They’re just trying to save a few bucks and they probably figure it can’t hurt to ask. But it IS against the law, so don’t do it.
How to Fill Out Customs Forms
If you print your shipping labels from home, the customs form will be filled out for you! I don’t have any international packages that need shipped right now, so I can’t get any screen shots for this one.  When you use eBay Shipping (and I hope you are!), after you’ve filled in your Package Weight, Dimensions, etc…, click on “Continue to Customs Form”.   Here you’ll see a screen where you put the item description, weight, and cost. Be vague in your item description. There is no need to broadcast exactly what is in that package. Instead of putting “Authentic Coach Bag” just put “purse”. The weight and cost will be filled in for you. Toward the bottom, you’ll need to put a checkmark in the box by “I have read and agree with ….“ whatever the rest of that sentence says. It just means you’ve checked the International Mail Manual and you aren’t shipping something you aren’t supposed to. Then when you print your label, the customs form will be integrated into the label, so you don’t need any other paperwork.
Problem Countries
I only exclude 3 countries right now: Brazil (prohibits all used consumer goods), Russian Federation (their customs employees are shady), and Italy (prohibits footwear and non-wooden toys). Other sellers have a much more extensive list, but until I have a problem with a country, I’m not going to block them, unless it’s a really expensive item. If you use ShipSaver Insurance (again – I hope you are!), they have their own list of countries that they will NOT insure to. You’ll need to decide for yourself if you want to block those countries. You can find that list here:
If you want guaranteed tracking, you’ll need to spring for Express International (or better yet – have your customer spring for it if they insist on accurate tracking). If you are shipping Priority Mail International, I believe it tracks just like domestic packages do most of the time. It is not easy to track a First Class international package.  You can try to track it at this website, but it will only work occasionally.
Customs Paragraph
I believe there was a new eBay rule recently that said the only way we can be covered against buyer complaints about customs and duty taxes, is if we include a paragraph in our listing about it. I don’t remember the exact rules, but I know it has to be written near the top of our terms, and it has to be in the same size font as everything else. Here is mine. Nothing fancy.
Shipping: I ship worldwide within 1 business day of receipt of cleared payment. **International Buyers: You are responsible for any customs or import fees. These charges are not covered in your shipping costs.** I am always happy to combine shipping.

That’s pretty much all you need to know in order to ship internationally. PLEASE don’t hesitate to stop by the boards and ask as many questions as you need to. I’m there quite often and I (or someone else, if they beat me to it) will answer as quickly as possible.

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