Following the previous episode of this guide, Part 4: eBay - How to Sell
, let's go straight into the core of this new episode.
This is a point I think will help EVERYONE, regardless of their location and the type of seller they are, to understand how to better handle shipment and lot composition.
Each country has its on shipping prices, it's a fact, another fact is that people want to spend the less possible on shipment.
You should always set up your lots to be within the best price tier.
Let me make an example to better explain what I mean:
This is the table of shipping prices from Italy, my country, for both International Priority Mail and Registered Mail.
International Priority Mail - Zona 1: EMEA, Zona 2: Americas and Asia, Zona 3: Oceania
Registered Mail - Zona 1: EMEA, Zona 2: Americas and Asia, Zona 3: Oceania
Specially when selling lot you want to stay in the lower Weight/Pricing Tier possible.
Let's say I have 234 spare cards in a lot.
100 Cards on average weight 180g ( 6,34 Ounce) this means that 234 cards would be more than the 250-350g tier.
Unless it can't be helped (Sealed Product, Full Sets, etc) I do suggest to never go past that limit (or whatever it is the limit in your country)
In this case the best option will be to make 2 different lots out of the 234 cards, each one of 117 cards, or whatever else work best.
This way you can stay, hopefully, in the 100-250g tier making shipment way cheaper. Then if a buyer wants to purchase both lots, great, you can combine the shipment for him, but the perceived shipment cost is lower and you'll attract more people and your lots will have a higher visibility given the lower shipment cost.
Unless you have no other options, I would suggest to never sell HUGE lots (like 5k+ cards) through eBay. Even in case of complete collection with valuables, you still want to sell them separately here. If you want/need to sell all in a batch, I gladly recommend to try any other of the option mentioned in the previous article before doing so on eBay.
Tracking or not?
On a rule of thumb you should always offer both options for either local or international shipment.
List always the option without tracking first, since that's the one every customers will see when looking at your items, and will also be the cheaper one.
I , and many other sellers, apply the rule by which shipment with a value / weight over a chosen amount , will always be shipped with Registered Mail courier.
Make sure you always note everywhere possible, that if the user doesn't receive the item on shipment without tracking, you can't be held responsible, since you have no way to help or track the parcel.
But... get ready... sometime shit happen (luckily I experiences that 1 time only so far and not on eBay) and you'll have to choose what to do... it won't be an easy choice, specially if you are a small seller, but keep in mind that a negative feedback on eBay isn't worth the hassle in 90% of the case... it will hunt you for 12 months (everyone can see your last year feedback) and affect your overall ratings forever...
This is a really sensitive argument, especially for US and UK people.
Being from Europe, I have come down to the fact that, to either be a collector or a seller, I cannot rely on national market... Add to that Italy especially sucks when it comes down to out-of-print CCGs and you pretty much have no choice than to look elsewhere to either buy or sell.
I think this is a common situation for pretty much anyone outside of UK and US, which represent the majority of the consumers.
That said I heard many sellers, and buyers, from these 2 countries being doubtful if not totally against buying/selling from outside of their local market.
I have really to understand the reasons... I know that, when buy, shipment costs may be a factor, but many of the time it really isn't if you really want an item, the deal is good enough or the item is rare enough to be found... Shipment from US to Europe is WAY more expensive than the opposite and yet we buy all the time from US.
I recently had an argument with an eBay seller, which I won't mention, that after a huge mistake on his side (setting up eBay Global Shipping Program) made me pay 36£ of shipment for 16 Boosters with 2 weeks delivery, that with Royal mail would have taken 3-5 days and 15£ ca, and did not wanted to refund me these extra expense. I had to ask him multiple time and in the end I called him out and noticed him I would have left a negative feedback for this behavior... regardless, his answer was, I quote: "Thanks for proving why dealing with some international buyers is a putt off. I don't HAVE to offer ANY postage discount and have done so out of good will."
Now, aside the fact that this is NOT the way to talk to any customer, EVER, if you make a mistake and I ask you to correct that, I have all the right to do so and the error has not happened because I am an international buyer, and unluckily for him one with quite a few experience, but because he wasn't able to do his job.
While I do love both US and UK, I feel there's an attitude from some of the people, that think offering international shipment is a mess and you'll have to deal with bad people.
It is not, it's just a bit more expensive for the buyer.
You want to open the door to your shop to as many customers as possible, even if you are located in the mighty US/UK... because even if it's true you are inside one of the countries with the biggest market share, you are just limiting your opportunities.
You know what's the real differences between shipping internally or internationally a bunch of cards ?
If you can ship the cards in an envelope, the differences are only the cost and delivery time.
If you have to ship a bigger parcel, you'll be asked to fill in a one pager for customs, requesting your info, the buyer info, and content and value of the package... maybe a copy of your document.
Is this 2 minutes exercise that complicated to lose a sale?
I don't think so...
I will also give a VERY IMPORTANT tip, that works well in both direction:
When you fill Customs documentation, unless you ship as a company, ALWAYS declare content value of 1-10$ and reason for the exportation Gift to a friend / Card Trade.
You might be doubtful, but here are the reasons:
• Each country has its own import taxes, that usually trigger when a parcel has a value of 20-40$ (for some shipping is also included in the cost, or so I have been told). For Italy, I can tell you the Import Taxes + Customs costs adds up to a whopping 30% of the content value... % might differ but not by much... So you want to be able to reassure your customer you know about this and can grant him a delivery free of import taxes this will increase by 1000% the chance to sell around the globe.
• If you are concerned about insurance in case of valuable sale, I can tell you, either locally or internationally, you'll have to cry tears of blood to get any money back, and most of the time you'll have to provide exact proof of the content , receipt and whatever the insurance company might think of to avoid paying you what's due. So your best bet, is to just ship with tracking code so you can work to have the courier or postal service get down and find out where the parcel is and to move it faster. There's anyway a contract by which, if the company recognize they have lost a parcel, they'll have to refund you a minimum amount , based on the weight.
And now let's get down to the master of all evil, one of the best tool to make shipment internationally from a simple formality to an infinite source of pain for both the involved parties...
eBay Global Shipment Program
Really NO, you should NEVER use this, full stop.
What's on the surface might look like a simple and nice way for you to ship things internationally without much of an hassle, is instead the machination of the devil to drag you into a black hole of pain and despair, where you won't be able to manage anything and will offer a terrible service to your customers.
Let's see how it, should, work...
At the moment of listing, you elect the item to be shipped internationally through their program.
Based on the declared weight and size, the base cost will be calculated for you.
Then, if applicable, Import taxes will be automatically charged by eBay to the seller, at the moment of the buyout, based on the final price of the item.
You will then have to ship the item to the eBay center (a location in either US or UK since these are the only 2 marketplaces offering this service) and they will manage everything from there once they receive the item.
So there's already one alarm bell for any international buyer... you are forced to pay import taxes... nothing can be done about it... Immediate loss of sale from 90% of the international buyer unless it's a HUGE deal even with this added cost...
What actually happen is...
You'll have the buyer pay 2 shipping, the one from you to the eBay center, and then the one that will be handled entirely by eBay.
This means you still have to check shipping cost, even if only for internal shipment.
Note that, as the seller, you will never be able to see what will be charged to the buyer.
If like in the argument I mentioned above you make any mistake in setting up the shipment info (he made 2 separate shipment of 16 boosters, while I bought only 16) you will have NO WAY to fix this and, even if you wish to refund the buyer for the error, you'll have to do it out of your own pockets, since the seller isn't involved at all in the transaction for the eBay GSP, that happen between eBay and and the buyer, but you are indeed to be held responsible for any error you commit in using the service.
Furthermore, eBay GSP only offer tracking service so the shipment costs will always be high, even for items that could have been easily shipped without tracking.
If this is not enough for you, Combine shipping will be a mess, I am not even sure it is possible at all, at least for the part that is handled by eBay.
So please it take really few minutes to figure out shipping to some countries/area, and it's a work you only have to do once. You can set up a sale template for each "weight/price tier" and you won't have to think about it ever again.
You have all to gain and nothing to lose.
One last note for US citizens.
There's a HUGE misinformation driven by USPS that you should be aware of:
Many people told me they have been told that, with tracking code, you'll be able to track the parcel only within the US, and once it leaves the country, there's no way to track it. This is an example of people not knowing their work at all and giving out wrong information on the assumption they do know what they are saying.
The reality of what happen is that you'll be able to track the parcel until it is in the US through the USPS website, and once it leaves the country, when the Customs are done with it and pass it to the Postal Service of the destination Country, you'll be able to track the package again from the website of such Postal Service.
That's the truth about International tracking!
Is this something that even need to be discussed ?
Hopefully no, but at least a mention is needed, given how important is to offer this service.
eBay do a good job here and you can find how to enable the buyer to request it, and how to send Invoices all summed.
It might change a bit from marketplace to marketplace, but if you should be able to do everything referring to the above link.
A few last tips regarding shipment:
• If you plan to sell for the long term, invest in a 10$ Digital Pocket Scale
. It will save you the trouble to estimate the wrong weight, and provide always the right shipment costs.
• Make it clear in your listing your shipment costs, whatever approach you choose to.
• If you have multiple items available in one of your listing, you'll have to put an added shipment cost for each additional item. You'll have to do your math, but be sure that with the weight addition, you have your costs always covered. You can also have a slightly higher per-item extra cost but you should ALWAYS refund your customers any unneeded cost.
Please bear in mind these are guidelines I made based on my experience, but are in no way set in stone. Experiment and see what work for you, hands on approach is the best learning experience.
You can check my eBay store
and reach out to me via email over the website or through the Facebook page
Stay tuned for the next article : CCG Market Guide – Part 6: eBay - Pricing.
Our CCG Market Series
Part 1: Intro
Part 2 : Where are the cards ?
Part 3: eBay - Introduction
Part 4: eBay - How to Sell
Part 5: Shipment - Intricacies of the Global Market
Part 6: eBay - Pricing