Thursday, May 29, 2014

International Shipping Rates from Top-Rated Plus Sellers

The biggest drawback to selling internationally is the high cost of shipping.  The United States Postal Service no longer offers surface mail for international packages, so international buyers are forced to pay for either first class or priority mail, both of which are quite expensive.  Most people who ask me for a quote on international shipping costs decide not to make a purchase.

On eBay, top-rated plus sellers are given commercial shipping rates, so the cost of printing shipping labels for domestic and international first class and priority mail is less than the retail rate.  Unfortunately, eBay charges international buyers the retail rate even when the seller qualifies for the reduced rate and uses eBay's shipping interface to create shipping labels.  This frustrates me to no end.

Even worse, I don't know of a postage table that lists the rates that eBay top-rated plus sellers are charged.  This means I have to guess when buyers ask for an international shipping quote.  Other times, the buyer goes ahead and pays what eBay charges, and I send a refund for the extra.  I've had a few international buyers question what I end up charging, thinking the rate is too low.

I found the commercial shipping rates for first class international packages on the USPS website.  The published rates are not the eBay rates, since eBay apparently negotiated a lower price.  However, I made a screen cap of the commercial rates, since they are closer to what I will be charged than the retail rates.  I then found a few international shipments from eBay and checked what I was charged.  I went through the initial step of creating another shipping label for those transactions at various weights, making note of each amount that I would have been charged.  I put those rates on the commercial rate table next to the published rates.  This gives me a point of reference for what the international shipping will cost on eBay.

Below, please find the rates table with the eBay rates added by me.  By seeing the difference between the eBay rate and the commercial rate, we can make educated guesses on what eBay would likely charge for the other amounts.  If you purchase books from me on eBay, then this will give you an idea of what the actual cost to mail the books will be.  A single book goes at the 16-ounce rate.

The prices are noticeably lower than the retail prices.  Next, please find the commercial plus table next to the table of the retail rates.  Remember that you can always click on an image to see a larger version.

eBay charges international buyers the rates seen on the left, while top-rated plus sellers get the reduced rates that I placed in the table on the right.  It can be quite a difference, which is why I have had to send refunds to international buyers who pay when they complete a Buy It Now.

I realized that I could reduce the need for a refund for single-book orders by charging a flat rate postage cost for international orders.  I would also need to consider that I have the shipping set as free to U.S. buyers.  For most books, the shipping really is free to U.S. buyers because I have not raised the price to cover the shipping.  Even though the shipping is free, I feel that international buyers also deserve a reduced rate, so I try to reduce the international postage at least a little bit so that they benefit as well.

Factoring in the free shipping discount, I can offer shipping to Canada for $5.25 for lighter books and for $8.44 for heavier books.  I can offer shipping to all other countries for $10.10 for lighter books and for $14.99 for heavier books.  I have used the bulk editor to make those changes.  This should eliminate the need to refund extra postage charged for single-book orders.  For multiple book orders, buyers should complete the Buy It Now for each listing and then wait until I send a combined shipping invoice.  

I do not get the commercial rate for my Bonanza transactions, so keep in mind that international buyers will be charged the retail rate when purchases are made on Bonanza.  This means that if you are an international buyer, then you will get a better deal when you purchase from me on eBay.

Jennifer's Series Books on eBay
Jennifer's Series Books on Bonanza

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