How to Boost your International sales on eBay

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Patrick Smarzynski is the co-founder of WebInterpret, a leading e-commerce internationalisation software provider. WebInterpret have helped hundreds of e-sellers boost their international sales during the last few years and Patrick offered to share with you some of the best practices they have learned in a three part series.

Part 1: How to increase international sales effectively on eBay

Part 2: How to list on foreign eBay sites

Part 3: How to maximise results and keep them sustainable

eBay can be a really powerful platform for selling internationally. However, maximising your Cross Border Trade potential on eBay is by no means straight forward. “How to Boost your International sales on eBay” Best Practices Guide aims to help you to get started with selling Internationally

Part 1: How to increase international sales effectively on eBay

In general, there are two different ways to sell internationally on eBay; there is the ‘Passive Way’ and the ‘Active Way’.

Passive way

This is where UK eBay sellers simply offer international shipping options on their UK listing for the countries that they which to sell to and allow foreign buyers to bid.

Advantages: Nothing needs to be done besides setting international shipping options.

Disadvantages: Only a very small percentage of foreign buyers actually find your products.
The reason for this is two fold. Firstly, foreign buyers search for items using keywords in their native language. For instance, if you are selling jackets, french buyer looking for jackets will search using ‘veste’ as a keyword and therefore your item will not appear in the search results.

Secondly, even if a foreign buyer does search on his local eBay site using a keyword which appears in the title of your listing, most of the time your listing will appear at the bottom of search results below the local sellers. Furthermore, if buyers filter their search by category then again, your product is unlikely to appear. (eBay studies show that more than 40% of searches are refined by category.) This is due to the fact that your listing is not using the same category structure as the foreign eBay sites. Category structures vary from eBay site to eBay site.

In summary, most sellers who sell internationally on eBay using the ‘Passive Way’ exploit less than 10% of their international potential.

Active way

Sellers place their localised listings directly on each foreign eBay site. A localised listing is a listing that is modified to contain the correct title keywords in the correct language, with the correct currency, postage information and category structure etc.

Advantages: Foreign buyers find your items on their local eBay site when they search in their native language and even if they filter their results by category. For instance, French people searching for jackets on the French eBay site using the French language will now be able to find you items which have been localised and thus contain the top performing French title keywords, in this case it would be ‘veste’ or ‘blouson’, the french words for jacket. Also, as your items are in the correct currency and appear higher up the search results along side local sellers there is a greater chance of making a sale.

Also, as you would have published this listing in the correct category on, when the buyer refines his search by category, your item will still appear in the search results. Therefore all this adds up to far greater visibility, and far great sales.

Disadvantages: Publishing the same items on multiple foreign eBay sites means that you will incur additional eBay insertion fees. However, this extra cost can be factored into the price of the item and, as eBay selling fees (FVF) differ from eBay site to eBay site, you may even increase your margin.

Another difficulty is the localisation process itself. Having to write titles in various languages using the correct keywords, making the currency conversions, find the right categories and dealing with customers in foreign languages. Also having to manage stock synchronisation between each of your foreign listings. For instance, if your stock level decreases or you change the description or price of an item then these changes need to be made across all of the individual eBay sites where that item appears otherwise you run the risk of receiving negative feedback.
You also have to know the specific policy for each eBay site in order to avoid listing an item that may be forbidden in a certain country.

WebInterpret Insight

After working with hundreds of eBay sellers from sole traders to large retailers we have seen how much more effective the ‘Active Way’ is when compared to the ‘Passive Way’. By switching from the passive to the active approach we have seen many companies International sales figures increase by up to 10 fold with the best results being achieved by sellers who list all their top selling items on the main eBay sites (Germany, France, US, UK, Australia, Spain, Italy and to a smaller extent Canada, Belgium and Austria).

However, it is difficult to manage the localisation process and to control stock levels across multiple foreign eBay sites. Even if you are using a third party tool to publish and synchronise your listings, you would still have to extract your listings, localise them, try to publish them (a lot of errors can be made trying to list on foreign eBay sites), keep them fully updated, and redo the whole process for each new listing and each new eBay site.

It was for this reason that companies such as WebInterpret have emerged in recent years with the expertise and software to be able to manage the whole process from beginning to end and allowing eBay sellers to sell worldwide without the hassle that would otherwise be involved. Look out for “Part 2: How to list effectively on foreign eBay sites” later this week which will explore listing strategies for selling Internationally.


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