Shipping is one of the most critical aspects of successful selling on Ebay. One of the most popular questions I have gotten since starting this blog is if I use the GSP (Global Shipping Program) and what my opinion is about it. Before we unpack the whole discussion and subject, I would like to let you know that before GSP I wasn't selling internationally. On 3 separate occasions I had international shipping issues. I have to mention that these situations all happened between 2009-2011, when shipping wasn't accurate if items were heading outside the US. You would see it leave the USA but since USPS tracking only within the the country there would be no updates (with the exception of Canada if I remember correctly).
On 2 different occasions I lost money and the item as well. The first was a woman in Germany who sent me a message saying she changed her mind on the duty, and rejected the package. I told her when the item would arrive back I would refund her. It never came back so she opened a case against me - and since I couldn't prove that it was "delivered", I lost the case, and the package. The second was a woman in France who purchased a beautiful Free People coat from me. It was cozy and warm. It also never arrived, so she filed and I lost. The final straw was a buyer in Canada who said the item was "damaged" due to shipping, so she opened a case and I had to pay international shipping both ways, and did that hurt. I got lucky that I at least got the coat back (perfect condition of course). I stopped shipping internationally because I wasn't Ebaying super often and it wasn't worth the hassle. I didn't ship internationally for years, until the GSP happened. I definitely think its one of the best programs that Ebay has come up with, and without it I wouldn't be selling overseas. Lets break down the process of GSP and how it works.
When a buyer in a foreign country is looking at your item - say Germany for example, they see the cost of your item, the duty, as well as the ship cost all totaled together. If they decide to purchase then the seller is now responsible for making sure that the item arrives to a ship center in Erlanger, Kentucky run by Pitney Bowes. The item is processed through the shipping center, with a NEW international shipping label (which updates on your listing), that tracks the item to the final destination and thats it. What I love MOST about that whole process is the seller is only responsible for getting it to the Kentucky ship center. As soon as your tracking hits arrived there, you the seller are NO LONGER RESPONSIBLE for this item when it comes to shipping, even if it doesn't arrive to the destination after its arrival in KY. This past summer a buyer from Denmark purchased a pair of Helmut Lang shorts from my store. 3 weeks later she attempted to open a case staying that the item never arrived - this happened in the middle of the night, so I woke up to 2 emails, the first was a case had been opened against me, and the second was that it was closed in my favor, since it showed delivered to the Kentucky ship center. For once, I was safe. A lot of sellers do not use the program because it is more expensive for buyers internationally - some say A LOT more expensive, but for me I would rather be secure and lose a few sales, than risk it and lose a few items. The best part about GSP is that it also prevents negative feedback if an item doesn't arrive to its destination, assuming it did arrive to Erlanger. Also- Pitney Bowes does inspect your items. Sometimes they are repackaged, and other times left as is, but they are checked to ensure you are sending an item that is approved for shipment.
There are two “downsides” to using GSP. First- a much higher cost to your buyer. Some sellers have stated they have seen a drop in international sales because of the customs and duty fees, but I would rather have less sales and secure shipments than the latter.
The second downside is you cannot combine shipping. If a buyer bids or purchases more than one item from you, you must ship and they must pay for them separately.
Certain items are restricted, such as fragrances, smart watches, electronics, furs, and certain lot/group shipments. Also, there is weight limitations that range anywhere between 66-150 lbs depending on the country. Certain countries are not eligible for the GSP program as well. Click HERE for more details about the GSP and click HERE for an easy pdf with some helpful tips about the program.
If you have more questions or feel like I missed something, shoot me a message at email@example.com