Finally, eBay has done something close to right. The above new Global Shipping Program will result in the availability of both safe and reliable international shipping over the next months. In my opinion, it will eventually (after a few bugs are worked out) be a game changer.
I currently do not offer international shipping for a variety of reasons. I refer here to USPS with no reference to other shippers. First, the cost has risen tremendously since ground shipping was discontinued a few years ago (while the seller has no control over this - and some buyers are willing to pay it - it still leaves the seller open to poor feedback due to cost); second, tracking is only available on Priority International or better with, again, subsequently higher (nearly unreasonable) costs (without tracking a small seller may find himself losing a couple weeks profit on refunding one item supposedly not received - without getting the product back); and third, the growing nuisance of filling out various Customs Forms and waiting in ever-increasing lines at the Post Office.
I could make more money, even as a small seller, if I could safely offer international shipping without the current requisite peril and hassles.
That may now - or soon be - practical. EBay has entered into an agreement with Pitney Bowes (the current provider of their shipping labels) which has resulted in the establishment of, essentially, a clearing house for international shipping.
In essence, a US seller ships an item to a facility in the US and that facility handles all other aspects of continuing the shipment to an overseas location. No longer the risk of an item being 'lost' or not received by the international buyer nor the risk of low feedback ratings due to shipping time or shipping costs.
It should be understood the seller must still print a shipping label to the US facility and fill out a few forms, but eBay and the 'clearing house' handle about everything else. One aspect I really appreciate is that the seller need charge only his/her domestic shipping rate; eBay will calculate further costs and make it available in appropriate international markets - the buyer may decide whether to accept or not - then payments will be separated by PayPal (mandatory payment provider for this service at this time) and sent to the seller (product cost plus domestic shipping) and Pitney Bowes (international shipping charges). Seller is also not charged an eBay fee on the international shipping charge - unusual for eBay.
There may still be a few bugs to work out, as is the case with most new endeavors, but I'm certainly going to give it a try. I'm aware there are a few small distributors (primarily European and Asian) already doing something similar, but certainly nothing near this scale. I can actually see this as having a tremendous, widespread, long-term concept impact on international sales.
As a side note, I'm well aware this is an additional, and large, source of income for eBay and PayPal (and Pitney Bowes), but I'm more interested in the concept and how it can increase my revenues by opening up various international markets. That's good for both buyers and sellers. As I said, this is something I'm going to try.