From the September 2006 issue of Entrepreneur

How would you like to increase the final prices of your online eBay items by as much as 16 percent with the click of one button? You can: Simply by offering PayPal as a payment option and adding international shipping to your listings, you will connect to a global marketplace of more than 150 countries. eBay's extensive international reach has provided PowerSeller Birgit Conlen with 80 percent of the sales at Afternoon Daydreams, her food, body and health products, and toys and collectibles business in Taylors, South Carolina. "eBay brings people together, enabling buyers to go on a shopping spree around the globe and allowing sellers to advertise their products to a worldwide audience," explains Conlen, 49.

Half of all eBay buyers live outside the U.S., and eBay's international business is growing twice as fast as its U.S. business. Gold Power-Seller Jeff Nipert quickly realized how that fact could financially affect his Bonney Lake, Washington-based business, CarAlarmsEtc. "I felt if eBay was exposing my listings worldwide, and it wasn't costing me a dime extra for the exposure, I would be a fool not to take advantage of it," Nipert says.

Here are some things to consider when catering to this fast-growing international marketplace.

  • Language: If you're consistently selling certain items to non-English- speaking countries, include the description twice-once in English and once in your buyer's native language. Use Google's language tools to quickly translate this information.
  • Payments: By accepting PayPal payments from your buyer, you can easily take Canadian dollars, euros, pounds sterling, yen and other currencies. PayPal will convert your international payments instantly into U.S. dollars. Plus, PayPal has expanded its seller protection policy to include Canada and the United Kingdom.
  • Shipping: Use eBay's International Shipping Calculator to ensure your buyers have a clear understanding of the total shipping costs. Always try to offer three speeds of shipping. Also, make sure you note the international destinations you're willing to ship to when you list your items.

PayPal will assist you in this part of your international business as well, says Nipert, 38. "PayPal has integrated the customs forms in [its] shipping options, so it couldn't be easier," he explains. "There is even a link to order the customs envelopes on the PayPal website."

  • Selling toolkit: Download the International Selling Toolkit. This free 10-page booklet includes helpful tips to increase your success of selling internationally on eBay.
  • Partners: The U.S. government wants to help you. It has created a very informative website at www.export.gov that includes numerous free resources-100,000 category-specific marketing reports, regulations and licenses, webinars on exporting internationally and even an 800 number for your questions. eBay also provides many guidelines and outside agency links at http://pages.ebay.com/help/policies/international-trading.html.

Casey Rovinelli, senior manager of eBay's international marketplace development, recommends using the tools at www.ebay.com/globaltradeto assist you in expanding your business channel to include international buyers. From this website, you can get to the International Trading discussion boards, translation services, information about shipping internationally, and tips on successfully increasing your current selling channels with more than 100 million international buyers.



Janelle Elms, eBay University instructor and online business consultant, specializes in coaching individuals and companies to build successful eBay businesses and maximize their profits.