Since 2014, eBay has been rolling out a new approach to international shipping, namely the Global Shipping Programme. They are automatically enrolling their members in the programme, which has an impact on how you use the online auction site as a buyer or a seller.
The aim of the Global Shipping Programme is to encourage more users to make their items available for purchase worldwide. Currently many sellers prefer to offer their items online to buyers in the same country or continent, as postage is cheaper and the costs are easier to estimate. However, by choosing not to sell to international users, they are limiting the earnings they could make through eBay.
eBay want their marketplace to be truly global, so they’ve worked out a way to make selling to international buyers as easy as selling to those who live more locally. Now, when an item is purchased by an international buyer, the seller will be provided with an address in their home country to post the item to. eBay then posts the package on to the buyer. This means it makes no difference to the seller where the buyer is located. It improves the chance of making a sale or selling the item for a higher price, as the pool of eBay users who can make a bid or purchase becomes larger.
The introduction of the Global Shipping Programme also means buyers aren’t faced with location-based restrictions on what they can purchase through the site. This vastly increases the number of items available, and particularly improves access to products traditionally sold and manufactured abroad, which will appeal to those with specialist interests.
Although a great idea in theory, the Global Shipping Programme has received a mixed response, which suggests tweaks may be needed before the roll-out continues. Buyers have complained that the new standardised postage charges for international purchases make them more expensive, and this in turn could have a negative effect on sellers if buyers are put off by the changes.
It is also no longer possible to get a discount on postage when buying multiple items, which again is a problem for buyers that will affect sellers as a consequence, particularly eBay PowerSellers who use this offer as a marketing technique. However, the Global Shipping Programme is optional, and sellers can opt out simply by unticking a box when listing an item for sale, instead choosing their own postage charges and restrictions.
eBay have always been leaders in eCommerce trends, and this programme is their response to a changing market for online retail. Giving the process a more professional feel for sellers and buyers could help to distinguish eBay from a wealth of new, fast-rising competitors.