Taking your business global for the holiday season

global shipping for small business, mee a bee, small business holiday tips

Have you ever stumbled upon a truly amazing online shop, oohed and ahhed over something wonderful, decided on the spur of the moment to buy it … only to find it’s not shipped to your country? This happens to me all the time. It’s so frustrating!

If you are not offering international shipping, may I ask why not? I’m sure you have your reasons but with the holiday season fast approaching I encourage you to review your shipping policy.

I’ve been told it’s tiresome to go to the post office and face the long queues. Have you checked out the amazing resources available on the USPS website? You can print postage labels at home, pay by credit card and even order free packaging supplies! It really couldn’t be easier. As far as I can tell the Postal Service is really trying hard to support small businesses like ours. Maybe they deserve another look.

Glancing over the prices for shipping internationally you might cringe at $26.95 or $12.95. I might too BUT why not let me, your potential international customer, be the judge of how desperately I want your wonderful product? Last night I ordered a really cool notebook for my son’s upcoming birthday. It was $9.95. Postage was $14.00. Yes, more than the item itself. I really wanted it … so I ordered two notebooks for the same postage. I’ll give one to a friend. That made it seem more worthwhile in my mind (whether you agree with my logic or not it wouldn’t matter if I was one of your customers).

How do you know if there is or isn’t a demand for international shipping in your store? Hopefully you have signed up for some kind of statistical tracking for your store traffic. I like Google Analytics which is supported by many shopping carts including Etsy, Big Cartel and Shopify. Take a look at the map and graph below.

location of visitors to my website

Over the given period I had 651 visitors to my site. I’m located in Japan but just 7% of visitors to my site came from Japan (it’s my seven friends clicking links on my blog!). The other 93% of potential customers are scattered around the world so you can see how essential it is for me to ship globally.

We’re well into the biggest selling period of the year with just under two months until Christmas and other end of year celebrations. Wouldn’t you like to tap into the biggest market possible?

One last point. Check the cut-off dates for delivery for Christmas. Display this information prominently on your website. For my shop, Mee a Bee,  I have modified my main logo to include the vital information. It will display on every page of my site. Changing the banner or logo is also a good option if you cannot edit your website layout such as for Etsy shops. Have a go at making your own banner or get someone to help you. (Etsy has numerous tutorials about this topic).

Have a great and prosperous holiday season! We’d love to hear if you do make a change to your shipping policy – tweet us @ohmyhandmade with the news: “now shipping globally” and let us know how it works out for you!

8 comments

  1. Amy says:

    I go back and forth on shipping globally. Right now I use PayPal to ship my orders within the US. I can print my shipping labels and drop off at my local post office 24/7 and not have to wait in line. I do ship to Canada and with those orders I have to take to the actual post office to get processed. At my post office I can easily wait in line 15-20 minutes and I feel it’s really not that profitable for me to wait in line that long for an item that is around $10-$15. Does anyone know (in the US) if there is an online shipping service you can print & pay international labels from and avoid having to actually take my package to the counter to get stamped. I’m told by the post office that I need to have packages actually stamped by them to ship out of the US but I feel that there must be another way. Does Endicia have this capability? If anyone has some knowledge of shipping outside of the US and not have to actual stand in line at the post office to do it I would really appreciate it. Thanks.

  2. I ship worldwide from my Etsy shop. I live in Belgium (although I’m British) and pretty much all my sales are from abroad, mainly the US & Australia. Yes I have to take a bit more time at the post office but I am happy to do this for my customers as part of the service. Then getting feedback from customers about how happy they are with my items, makes all my efforts worthwhile. I want to grow my business and shipping internationally is just a part of that. On Etsy I list prices to the main countries I sell to and then you can put a postal price for “Everywhere else” so anyone from anywhere can purchase from your shop. I find if people really want your item they are willing to pay the postage. Thanks for another great article here on Oh My. Catherine x

  3. Heather says:

    It was scary at first shipping globally but it is fairly simple if you are from the US using the USPS international shipping calculator ( I list the various shipping charges on each item in my shop) http://ircalc.usps.gov/ Sure you have to stand in line and watch for holiday cut off dates but a lot of my customers are from the UK and that’s kind of cool!

  4. TinaRawatta says:

    I´m in progress setting up my own little shop and it was never a question for me to not sell worldwide, cause as an online customer I´m always sad about not shipping items that I want to my country. And like Jacqui, if the postage is a little bit high for a single item I want, I have a look around in the shop and order two or more items so that the shipping is related to the price payed!

  5. Rose says:

    I have had consistent sales on Etsy that are from international buyers. Most of my items are light so it’s relatively easy to ship for $8 or under to most locations. I have not shipped internationally as much through Amazon or eBay for heavier items like books. I encourage people to ship internationally but only as it makes sense to do so.

  6. I ship globally from the US using USPS. I normally First Class International unless someone requests faster service. By shipping First Class International, I am able to ship a package (in the 5 – 6 oz range for under $6.00.

    Now, I charge $9.00 to ship outside of US. That pays for the shipping, waiting in line to drop of the package (International USPS mail must be physically handed to a postal worker at a post office so they can verify you have the proper customs form), and the remainder goes to insurance.

    Insurance you may ask, USPS does not offer tracking or insurance on First Class International. However for about $1.00 per hundred dollars I use a service called http://www.shipsaver.com. It is worth the extra piece of mind, especially after a $150 fountain pen was lost on it’s way to Italy and Ship Saver took care of it!

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