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Are eBay Sellers Deserting The International Marketplalce?

March 31st, 2009 by Skip McGrath

I asked this question of several sellers and got different answers, but in general the news is not good.

I would love to know what eBay’s stats show, but I suspect that cross border sales between the US and Europe and Japan are down. Why? Because I got a call from eBay last week wanting to know if I knew about the 1¢ International visibility sale that eBay was running.  eBay announced the promotion a couple of weeks ago to run through March 27th. The promotion allowed a seller to list an item on eBay US for a penny that will show up on eBay UK when their buyers search.

International visibility used to be free until eBay started charging for it.  The fees for an auction style listing run between 10¢ – 40¢ and between 25¢ and $1.00 for fixed price listings depending on the starting price. Paying this fee allows your products to show up on eBay UK when one of their buyers performs a search.

That doesn’t sound like a lot of money, but it can add up if you are running dozens or hundreds of listings. When I was actively selling internationally, my international sales (mostly to the UK and Canada) were about 10% of my sales and they were slightly more profitable. But when you factor in the additional listing fees some of those profits disappeared.  The other problem –in fact the major problem was the Detailed Seller Ratings (DSRs).

Whenever I sold internationally, my overall DSR score went down. I was talking to another big seller this morning who had the same experience. In his case although he has a very high overall DSR 4.8 to 4.9, when he sells internationally he gets one and two stars.  Getting low DSRs has two negative effects:

You lose search position and you can lower or lose your PowerSeller fee discounts.  So this tends to negate any advantage of selling overseas.

To be honest I have spoken to other sellers who are not seeing this. They continue to do well internationally, but they seem to be fewer and fewer.  And if eBay is not only running promotions and they are reaching out to sellers by phone to make sure they know about it –that tells me there is a problem.

The solution to increasing international sales is simple: Reduce the international visibility fee to 10¢ across the board and do away with DSRs for cross border sales.

There is one thing sellers can do on their own. In my newsletter last week, I reported on a company called Shipwire. Shipwire is a warehouse dropshipping service.  You store your products with them and they ship for you.  If you want to sell overseas they have a warehouse in the UK and Toronto.  So you would ship your products in bulk, clear and pay customs and Shipwire will store the products for you. When you make a sale, you simply enter the order and customer’s address on a web form and Shipwire ships it to your customer for you.

Now you have a choice. You can pay for international site visibility or you can just open an account on eBay UK and list directly there.

Of course they can also do this in the US.

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