If you sell on eBay, chances are you’ve heard of eBay's Global Shipping Program.
Whether you’re new to international selling or are looking for ways to make the overall cross-border selling process work better for your business, eBay's GSP is certainly a route worth exploring.
But do the benefits outweigh the negatives? How much does it cost? And how easy is it to get started?
This article aims to give you both sides of the story, so that you can decide for yourself if eBay’s GSP will either help you reach millions more buyers around the world, or if it’s in fact better left untouched.
In a nutshell, eBay’s GSP aims to help eligible sellers in the UK (and US) sell their items to international buyers, in principle opening sellers up to a whole new worldwide audience.
All you need to do is send your purchased item to the UK GSP shipping center and eBay’s global postage program will take care of the rest – international postage, export/import charges, customs, tax etc. etc.
How does eBay’s Global Shipping Program work?
Intrigued? eBay’s GSP is actually pretty straightforward. Here’s how it works:
Video source: youtube.com
Eligible sellers will be notified when their listings are auto-enrolled into the GSP.
If you’re not auto-enrolled, you can opt yourself in.
Go to My eBay > Selling > Account > Site Preferences, then scroll down to the Shipping Preferences section and click Show on the right hand side.
Click Edit to the right of Offer the Global Shipping Program.
You'll be taken to a new page with 2 checkboxes and also the option to Opt out here as well.
Check the box Use the Global Shipping Program for new eligible listings and if you wish to, the box that allows you to Customize international shipping for some locations.
Then click the Submit button to finish.
Image source: ebay.co.uk
eBay will add all of the international postage charges to your listing for you, to be paid for by your buyer.
Unlike Amazon FBA and other fulfillment services, eBay GSP does require you to ship your parcel to their Global Shipping Center, and they do not store your inventory.
Once purchased, you’ll just need to pay postage costs to the UK shipping center, where your parcel will be processed by the GSP for international delivery.
The UK’s eBay Global Shipping Center address will be automatically provided and include a unique identifier code for your parcel.
Once your parcel arrives at the shipping center, it will be eligible for fully-tracked international postage services, meaning you’ll be able to keep an eye on it right up until it arrives at your buyer’s door.
Sounds pretty good so far, right?
So, what exactly are the problems with it?
eBay’s Global Shipping Program problems: The big three
As simple and easy as the process may be, eBay GSP might not be right for everyone.
In fact, you may be aware of some of the negative press the program has received, with buyers complaining of high charges and slow delivery times.
Here are the main three issues you should take into consideration before using eBay’s GSP:
1. Slower delivery times
As you’re effectively adding in multiple middle men, the overall delivery time of your parcel is going to be extended by a few days longer than if you were to have posted it directly to your buyer.
This is to be expected but may put some potential buyers off.
We live in a world where people want things now, and they don’t want to wait. With Amazon Prime and same-day delivery becoming the norm, can you really expect your buyers to wait days, if not weeks, to receive your item?
You will need to weigh up the demand for your product and how quickly your competitors can delivery it too.
2. Higher international postage (on smaller items)
For smaller, lightweight items, the GSP international postage charges have been known to be excessively high. Royal Mail would work out considerably cheaper in most cases.
This can be a hugely off-putting factor for potential buyers and something to really bear in mind if you sell smaller items (often best suited for internationally selling anyway).
However, heavier and larger items could actually be sent cheaper using eBay’s GSP rather than Royal Mail, and you would have saved yourself all the trouble of everything in between, so it depends really.
3. Import tax on all parcels
eBay pre-charges import tax beforehand, often adding additional costs to your buyer, even on smaller parcels that may have otherwise slipped through if you weren’t using the Global Shipping Program.
This means if you sell low value, smaller items (because let’s face it, they are cheaper to buy in bulk and more likely to sell faster), your buyers may end up paying more on import fees than if you were to have sent it directly.
The advantages and disadvantages of eBay GSP
To help you decide for yourself if the positives outweigh the negatives, and if the eBay Global Shipping Program is really right for your business or not, we’ve summed up all the need-to-know advantages and disadvantages:
Advantages of eBay GSP
As we’ve already learnt, there are plenty of great things about eBay GSP, great things that can really help you expand your business internationally:
To start with, the program is completely free to join and use – there’s no enrollment fee or charge for making use of the GSP.
The biggest advantage however, is that it gives sellers the ability to reach millions more buyers around the world with a lot less hassle and risk.
One of the reasons that the GSP means altogether less hassle and risk, is that once your parcel reaches the GSP shipping center, all responsibility involved with cross-border selling, such as customs, import/export charges and tax, is taken out of your hands.
As well as the GSP taking full responsibility of your parcel as soon as it reaches the shipping center, you’ll also benefit from Global Shipping Program tracking on your parcel from the moment it arrives at their depot to the moment your buyer receives it.
If you choose to cover the buyer’s postage costs to the UK shipping center by providing free domestic postage, eBay will reward you with an automatic 5-star rating for postage and packaging charges.
And providing you meet the necessary requirements and send off the parcel to the GSP shipping center in time, eBay will also provide you with an automatic 5-star rating for postage time.
Thanks to eBay’s seller protection, if you receive any negative or neutral feedback due to the loss or damage of your item in international transit or delayed delivery, eBay will remove these reviews from your account.
And lastly, if your parcel is lost or damaged by a third-party carrier once in international transit, you won’t be liable for this either.
Disadvantages of eBay GSP
However, we also know there’s some disadvantages to be aware of too before deciding if the GSP is going to be worthwhile:
Let’s talk about eBay’s Global Shipping Program fees. Yes, it’s free to join, but you should be aware that on top of your final fee (based on price of your item, postage charges to the GSP shipping center and any additional fees to the buyer), the standard UK eBay shipping fees and PayPal fees will still apply, including PayPal’s international transaction fees.
Not all items will be eligible and not all countries will be eligible either.
Some buyers may be put off by the slower delivery times.
Combined postage with eBay is not available, meaning each of your purchased items must be shipped individually and paid for separately, which can really add up for your buyer.
Your parcel may need to be opened for inspection at the GSP shipping center, meaning there may be other hands in your business that aren’t as careful as repacking as you are.
If you don’t offer free postage to the GSP shipping center, your customers will be faced with two postage charges, 1. to cover costs to reach the depot and 2. the eBay international postage costs and any additional fees.
In order to streamline their processes, eBay international postage costs and eBay import charges work on a flat rate, meaning your buyers may not always be getting the best price if you’re shipping something of low value and lightweight.
In order to be eligible for eBay GSP in the first place, you must have a UK seller rating of standard or higher.
Any returns and refunds are not handled by the eBay GSP and are excluded from the UK Managed Returns process.
And finally, you can only use the Global Shipping Program to sell your items on eBay. Read how this compares to Amazon's fulfillment service, FBA.
How much does eBay GSP cost?
As discussed in the above advantages and disadvantages of the Global Shipping Program, cost comes up on both sides.
The program itself is completely free to join and free to leave too, so if you wanted to try it out and later decide it's not for you, you can easily opt-out at no charge.
Although that does not necessarily mean you're going to be saving money selling internationally using the GSP as opposed to shipping direct.
As we've already learnt there are a number of factors regarding cost to take into consideration:
Flat-rate international postage means some buyers may need to fork out more on postage for smaller parcels
Flat-rate import fees mean pretty much the same story; some buyers may be overcharged on smaller parcels
Unless you cover the postage costs to the UK shipping center, your buyer will need to pay for both legs of the journey (to the depot, and then from the depot to them)
You may be thinking:"who cares? I don't have to pay for any of it".
But the thing is, your buyers might care enough to choose a competitor over you or not buy from you again if they felt like they overpaid.
So, overall, it depends on what you're selling.
Do some research into how much it would cost you to ship internationally yourself first, and then see how this compares.
You may find eBay's GSP will actually work out cheaper for your buyers, so don't rule it out based on this point alone.
eBay GSP countries:Which are included and excluded?
Currently you can use the GSP to post to the following countries:
EU countries: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia Finland, France, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden.
Non-EU countries:Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, Australia, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, Bolivia, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Canada, Cayman Islands, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, French Guiana, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Guernsey, Honduras, Hong Kong, Iceland, Indonesia, Israel, Jamaica, Japan, Jersey, Jordan, Kuwait, Liechtenstein, Macau, Malaysia, Maldives, Martinique, Mexico, Monaco, Montserrat, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, Reunion, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks & Caicos Island, UAE, USA, Ukraine, Uruguay, Vietnam.
Keep in mind that the Global Shipping Programme is not responsible for handling any returns or refunds. Instead, eBay encourages you to deal with the buyer directly, depending on the reason for the return.
But no matter what kind of seller you are, you’re only expected to refund the cost of the item and what you charged for domestic postage to the GSP shipping centre. The international postage charges will be refunded by eBay, if applicable.
The question is, is eBay's GSP worth it?
eBay’s Global Shipping Program can be extremely useful, but it’s not for everyone.
If the items you sell are of low value and lightweight, you might be better off avoiding it, as GSP has been accused of putting some buyers off due to high charges and slower delivery times.
However, if you want to be able to sell internationally and reach a wider audience with less hassle and risk than going it alone, then eBay GSP provides a great opportunity - an opportunity that would not be possible without the help of eBay’s Global Shipping Program.
Of course, as you expand into additional markets, it becomes increasingly challenging to maintain the level of efficiency needed to create a profitable and scalable online store.