etsy series no. 1

today we are going to hear some awesome feedback from kelly over at mint afternoon. she has some great tips to share on international shipping. this is a topic that just seems so daunting and mysterious...! i'm so excited to share her tips and hopefully relieve some worries about the "everywhere else" shipping.

be sure to check out all of kelly's awesome goodies:

how did you decide to grow towards international orders/shipping

I used to read the forums religiously and there were so many posts from international customers telling how they had fallen in love with an item but were unable to order it because the seller only shipped to the US.  There were enough of these posts to make me think that the number of international buyers was substantial enough for me to take on shipping internationally.  And I am so glad I did!  I'll also admit to thinking "How cool would it be to have my products all over the world?" Now that I am based in the UK, international shipping is an absolute must.  The majority of buyers on Etsy are American, so it not be feasible for me to only ship within the UK.  In fact, I've had less orders from inside the UK since I moved here than I did when I was in the US. 

how do you determine shipping costs

Since it is too complicated and time consuming to figure out the exact cost of shipping to each individual country, I look at the approximate weight of the item, how much the packaging costs me, and which international counties I ship to most often.  When I was a seller in the US, most of my international orders came from the UK, Australia, and Germany.  I took the average of those costs and used the "Everywhere else" option to set my price.  This system works pretty well for me.  Sometimes the shipping ends up being more, sometimes less, but I figure it evens out in the end and I am also gaining exposure for my products every time I mail a package.  Some sellers worry that the cost of shipping internationally will be too high for customers to pay and so don't offer it.  My view is that even if the shipping cost is high, if a seller wants the item bad enough, they will pay it. 

is the postal service the best company to work through or is fedex, ups, a better option

I sell paper goods which are all flat, fairly light, and re-creatable.  I use the postal service since I don't need any special handling, packing, or insurance and are the cheapest option.  I can't give any first-hand knowledge of using any other service, but I have heard from sellers that sell one-of-a kind, breakable, or expensive items that the post office often is not the best option, especially if you are insuring your packages.  The post office in the US doesn't offer insurance for international packages unless you are sending them express which is very expensive and not worth the price for me.  Since moving to the UK, I've been using the postal service here and have been very satisfied.  The only obstacle is the extremely expensive rates for international shipping.  I've dropped some of the least expensive products from my shop since they were not selling over here due to the cost and effort of shipping far outweighing the cost of the item.

have you seen an increase in your customer base since you expanded to international shipping

When I first started shipping internationally as a new seller (a few months after opening my shop) I saw an immediate increase in sales.  In 2011, international buyers made up near 20% of my sales.  Now that I am in the UK, international buyers are the vast majority of my sales (most being in the US).  So far in 2012, only 5% of my buyers have been in the UK, so not offering international shipping is just not an option for me.

any suggestions, tips or things to consider with international orders?
is this as daunting as people make it out to be?

International shipping is definitely not as scary as people think.  If you are really looking to expand your shop and increase your sales, adding international shipping is a great way to find new buyers and is a huge opportunity for growth.  Do your homework.  Look at the rates for shipping internationally (in the US, especially look at the UK, Australia, Canada, and if you are in the UK, look at the US, Australia, and EU countries).  Once you've figured out average costs, you can set your prices and don't have to worry about it again unless the shipping rates go up.  I go to the post office anyways to mail domestic packages so it isn't much more effort to mail international packages. 

One thing I would urge sellers to consider is buying in a scale.  I purchased an inexpensive food scale online which allows me to weigh items and packages at home so I don't have to guess on the weight and then find out at the post office that I am either charging way too much or far too little shipping. 

Another tip, don't be nervous to ask the customers questions.  If the address looks like it is missing something or you aren't sure how to write it, ask.  Customers want their packages to reach them as quickly as possible and will be happy that you took a minute to double-check details with them.  It also allows you more interaction with them and you might learn something new.

any last words of wisdom?

Make sure you fill out your shop location accurately and using the drop-down list that appears when you start typing your city on your public profile page.  This allows your shop to show up when buyers use the "shop local" or the "ships to" option while searching for an item.  I've definitely used the "ships to" function while shopping for myself since so many sellers don't ship internationally and I wanted a specific item.  Your shop will stand out as being international-friendly! 

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1 comment:

  1. Thanks for introducing me to another great Etsy store. I love it!


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