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Saturday, 5 April 2008

International shipping!

After reading a whole 37 pages on this topic in the forums over on etsy, I came up with some simple rules for sellers to follow when shipping outside the USA. These rules apply to anyone selling on etsy really, but it seems to be sellers from the US who have the hardest time dealing with international customers. I was honestly shocked at the amount of people who said that they were upset that they had undercharged on shipping by x amount as they had GUESSED that the shipping was going to be less.

Rule 1;
Do not GUESS how much it will cost, get some scales, or take a selection of your items (+ packaging) to the post office and get them weighed. Then you KNOW how much it will cost, you should not be GUESSING.

Rule 2;
If you KNOW the price something SHOULD cost to ship and you get to the PO or paypal or whatever/wherever and you are told that it will cost a lot more, tell them that you had a quote for x amount, so you KNOW it should not cost 3 times that amount. The PO and UPS, PayPal etc are all companies who need to make money. If they just told you the cheapest most efficient way to ship something first time, they'd never make any money. They usually start off by telling you the most expensive method first, if you accept that, they make more money.

Rule 3;
Don't complain about having to go all the way to the PO which is a good 10 minute walk/drive away, and it's a real pain, and you'd rather not go, or you'd rather your buyer had spent more money to make it worth your while. Either do it and don't complain as every job has some aspects that you don't like or enjoy, right? Or, just do not ship outside your country. If it is really that much of a hassle, please don't bother. Most countries outside the USA have to go to the post office every time we send anything other than a simple letter, so imagine how long their queues are, and are they complaining? No, it is what is expected of them if they want to have a business.

Rule 4;
If you are thinking about starting to offer international shipping, great. Do your homework, find out which countries your buyers are from, and get the shipping rates for those countries, make more than 2 shipping profiles, one for each country that you think you will be shipping to most often. You can always make more shipping profiles to accommodate extra destinations.
Think about what you want your shipping cost to cover. Mine covers postage, a bubble envelope (or box for my largest items), a piece of tissue paper and some string. I am not going to charge my buyer for a thank you note, why would I ask someone to pay for that? I include 2 business cards, one with 'Thank you' hand written on the back, and the other with nothing written on. I also send a 'thank you' email or convo telling them I have shipped their item. This is more informative, the buyer can respond and it's free.

Rule 5;
Do not base your shipping prices on what others charge, or on what you read in the forums. Do your own research. Like many in this thread have said, you have no idea what is included in another sellers postage price, so why base your prices on theirs?

Rule 6;
Set out some shop policies. Inform your buyers of refunds, shipping times (i.e, expected delivery times), exchanges, what is included in your shipping price, i.e, packaging, delivery confirmation, tracking, gold leaf etc.

Basically, if you do some research, you should be fine. Good luck to everyone :) x

p.s, also have a look at this blog The Beading Tree has lots of useful info on shipping, so check it out!

2 comment(s):

Luise Pagett said...

Study first everything before starting a business – shipment is no exemption. It’s not enough that you base your rate on the shipping charges of other businesses. Do research or at least consult a professional for better understanding. Your shipment policy will affect your consumer’s buying experience with you, so it’s only natural that you focus on it.

-Luise Pagett

Jim Dixon said...

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International Shipping