I know many Etsy seller’s view the jump from shipping domestically to internationally as a daunting challenge. Dusti is going to share some of her personal experience and tips to make it as painless as possible. Enjoy! Regards, Jason
There are so many benefits to shipping internationally that you and your business are missing out on A LOT if your shop is not already set-up with international shipping capabilities.
Yes, it can be an extremely daunting feeling to ship your hard work, handmade item across the world, into the unknown, but with a few tips and little preparing, you’ll be able to ship worldwide with confidence.
Since August 2013, Props4Play, my Etsy shop, has shipped to 15 countries, NOT including my home, the United States! Etsy even comments how I’ve shipped to the Top 10 Countries for Buyers! That is a HUGE accomplishment for a shop owner and small business!
How Do I Ship Internationally?
It all starts under “Listings” and “Shipping Profiles” from your menu to the left of your screen.
Then, select “Create Shipping Profile“
Here you’ll be able to make your selections and customize all of your shipping details. Most are preselected for you so don’t opt out of broadening your business’ opportunities
Where Do I Ship?
Etsy preselects, “All Countries”. I believe, when you limit where you ship, you limit who sees your shop. As an Etsy seller, you should want the world to see your product because you are confident in what you have to offer and you want to offer it to everyone.
As of 2014, the United States population was nearly 319 million.
But want to know the WORLD’s population in 2011? 7 Billion.
The United States consists of only 4.5% of the entire world’s population.
If you are not shipping and advertising internationally, you are not shipping and advertising to potentially 94% of the world’s population.
However, if you are still not comfortable shipping to “All Countries”, we can use a little tip from Etsy and choose to ship to the top 10 countries for buyers.
- United Kingdom
- The Netherlands
- United States
For more information on what Etsy has to say about Shipping Success, you can see their recommendations in the Etsy Seller Handbook. But basically they recommend the following:
- Set Yourself Up For Success
- Make A Shipping Plan and Define Your Policies
- Communicate as Much as Possible With the Buyer
Establish Your Standard
What do you value? What do you find important? What do you think you and your international customers need to be aware about? I also encourage you to be fair, kind, and respectful. Treat others the way you want to be treated (but do not expect to receive the same treatment).
Any seller that treats their customers with fairness, kindness, and respect, cannot be accused of poor customer service.
Unfortunately, there will be times a package is lost, delayed, or just unsatisfactory to a customer and they are unhappy. The customer may not respond to the situation “ideally,” but you are still responsible, as the shop owner, to maintain a professional conversation.
If you have established your standard, you will be ready to handle any situation that may come your way. You will behave according to your standard and customers and Etsy will respect your standard/Shop Policies.
Research Laws Related to Your Product, Customers, Countries, Business
Does your product consist of small parts? Should infants be left alone with your product? Do your products need to be hand washed in cold water? Try to think of any and all things that “could go wrong” and if things go wrong, you’ll be prepared.
Some countries have restrictions on what they allow through customs and they may have custom fees. As a seller, you need to know in advance what you are legally allowed to ship and your customer should be prepared, or at least aware, of possible custom fees. This is your chance to research countries to prepare yourself and potential customers. Be proactive.
Finally, you are a business owner. What are the laws in your area? What are your obligations as a business owner? What business laws can affect you?
If you are looking for more guidance on business law, consider the Law PDFs in Jason’s Etsy Shop JJMFinance. Please note this information is mostly applicable for US sellers.
Also, don’t be afraid to look at what sellers before you have successfully done. Look for a mentor and see what their shop policies address, see what issues they are prepared to handle. They may think of something you had not thought of yet. Or maybe you can learn from someone’s mistakes? I offer crochet and embroidery gifts. Here’s a photo of my current shop policies. I always say “current” because as shop owner, I reserve the right to adjust policies as I see needed for business and myself. You also reserve this right.
Define Your Standard for Yourself and Customers
This is the actual application of writing your Shop Policies. Take what you learned above and proactively explain them to your customers. Shop Policies allow customers the ability to know what to expect when they purchase from your store. Their purchase indicates knowledge and acceptance of your Terms.
If you have not written your Shop Policies, your store is vulnerable and unprotected. Unfortunately, the world isn’t always filled with nice people and if you don’t have your standards established, someone could easily take advantage of you and your business.
Many Etsy Sellers commit their time, resources, heart and soul into their business. It would be tragic to lose everything you have established based on a small technicality that could have been prevented by proactively communicating with customers by writing your shop policies.
What if my customers don’t read my shop policies? That is not your responsibility. Your responsibility is to have your policies established where designated by Etsy. It is your customers’ responsibility to know what they have purchased and what rules apply.
Stick To Your Policies
It is not unheard of that a customer will threaten a seller with a negative review, social media harassment, or any other method of tainting a business’ reputation. We all know the feeling that comes with one less than perfect review…
If you respect your policies, Etsy and your customers will respect your policies.
PS Etsy is attempting to prevent the extortion of Etsy Sellers. If you feel any of these examples apply to you, please report it to Etsy through this link: https://www.etsy.com/help/article/5616.
Preparing Your Package To Ship Overseas
You will need to package your product so that it safely travels. Consider weather, smells, and indelicate handling of packages. Your package will go through MANY hands before being delivered to your customer.
Megan once recommended the following to help receive 5 Star Reviews, “The last 10 seconds you spend with your product impacts the first 10 seconds your customer experiences your product.” http://bit.ly/GetMore5StarReviews. Keep this is mind, when packaging your product to ship several thousand miles.
Weigh your Package
You can purchase any scale for weighing packages, you don’t need an Etsy, USPS, or PayPal specific scale.
Want to hear (okay, read) a secret? I personally use this little white food scale from Wal-Mart, costs only $8 and I’ve printed over 600 Etsy Shipping Labels! http://bit.ly/ShippingScale
Etsy Shipping Label
At this time, only the US and Canada has access to this, but It’s a key tool to making international shipping easy. When someone places an order, you have the option to “Print Shipping Label” from the main menu. Everything is as simple as enter the weight, measure the package, print your label, and sign, if it’s an international package, and drop if off at a USPS location or your outgoing mailbox… that’s it!
You also receive the added bonus of tracking! Tracking internationally isn’t always reliable, but domestic shipping has its hiccups too.
If you are not in the US or Canada, I recommend getting to know your local mail service employees. Introduce yourself, let them know you are using them for your business, professional services, and you’d like to know the BEST way to ship your product specifically.
I Am Shipping Internationally. What’s Next?
If you are shipping internationally, you can view which countries you have been shipping to by viewing your STATS for all time and choosing the map option.
Use this as a tool to know where you need, or can, promote more. Maybe your products would be great in Norway, Germany, or Australia! I suggest finding some groups on Facebook, Instagram, or another preferred form of social media, and see where your niche is located.
Other countries may refer to an item differently. You know the trademarked term “onesie” by Gerber? Well, Etsy Sellers have resorted to using the term “bodysuit” as a substitute and I recently learned that some, overseas, refer to this same outfit as a “baby suit” or “sleep suit”. Are you using all these words to reach your potential buyers?
Final Thoughts from Jason:
Creating an online business that ships worldwide is a MUST for a serious growing business. Of course, there might be limitations based upon the product’s weight or size that limits your ability to ship internationally, but almost every Etsy seller should be working toward meeting the goal of having shipped to all the top 10 countries on Etsy. Even despite the recent changes Etsy has with regards to SEO for UK and AU sellers, shipping internationally is a huge benefit for the future growth of your business. Regards, Jason
Dusti Prioux- Owner of Props4Play: Crochet and Embroidery gifts and keepsakes for everyone. Also helping Etsy Sellers one step at a time