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eBay’s Global Shipping Programme rolls its sleeves up

By David Brackin November 26, 2014 - 7:47 pm

David-BrackinDavid Brackin is the co-founder of Stuff U Sell and has sold over 150,000 different items on eBay. He is also a regular contributor to Tamebay.

eBay’s international structure, with a hotchpotch of independent country-based silos looks increasingly anachronistic in today’s world of international ecommerce. Furthermore, with some of these country-sites successfully attracting buyers but desperate for more sellers and with stock looking cheap as result of recent foreign exchange movements, it is no surprise that eBay has decided to focus on cross-border trade to drive sales.

At its heart this is a search problem – getting the right products in front of a buyer when he looks no matter where he is. However, fixing search (and fixing the ingrained country structures which make it so hard) will prove tricky and so eBay has had to look for easier ways to approach this problem.

The Global Shipping Programme is one of the solutions they’ve come up with. Simply put, the GSP allows sellers who do not offer international shipping to send their items to an eBay team in Derbyshire using standard couriers, and then eBay does the rest: shipping and tracking the package to the overseas buyer. It even guarantees protection for delivery DSRs and claims for items lost or damaged in transit.

Stuart Davies, who has been managing the programme, presented at the recent Linnworks Workshop, and gave more details. Sellers have to opt into the programme (and can do so on an item-by-item basis) and then where no international postage option is shown, eBay will automatically offer one to the buyer.

There are already over 8 million listings signed-up, even though the scope is still limited: only certain categories are covered and shipping destinations are currently just in Europe: Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain & Sweden. There are, however, plans to expand this further afield to Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Japan, New Zealand, Russia and USA.

He described how they have had to really roll their sleeves up and get involved with the nitty-gritty of handling international shipping. Car parts too big or too heavy to ship, oversize boxes of fluffy toys too cute to condemn and long sets of golf clubs have all given him headaches as he’s tried to wrestle with the complexities of international shipping that face sellers on the site on a daily basis.

I was frankly impressed both with the GSP and this change in eBay’s attitude towards getting stuck-in. GSP provides a solution which requires nearly no effort for sellers to gain incremental sales. The other delegates at the Linnworks Workshop clearly were impressed as well. Regular industry attendees often see sellers react badly to the eBay speakers at such events, venting their frustrations with the site, but there was real respect for Stuart as he described the challenges everyone faces on a daily basis, and more than a few eyes lit up when they got the idea that this might be the solution to those awkward packages to Italy and Spain which are all-too-often “lost in the post”.

So what does it cost? Well, the first thing to note is that the buyer pays, not the seller. In fact the seller never sees the shipping cost. As an example, a buyer in Italy would pay £9.83 for a tracked package weighing 500g. That compares favourably with Royal Mail International Tracked Small Packets at £10.15. Stuart was clear that this is an incremental option for sellers with no other arrangements and isn’t designed to be the lowest cost and eBay is doing this to increase volume, not to make money on shipping.

I think this is an excellent development and eBay are to be praised for it. We’re going to give it a go – will you?

  • Martin
    3 years ago

    Interesting, but more than basic ebay sellers already ship abroad directly, and their products should come up on ebay searches at a lower price. It probably only works for sellers feeling their way into international or for sellers of large and heavy items where the seller is just transferring the packing and shipping headache to ebay. I’d be interested to hear views that say this is a wrong interpretation.

    Royal Mail don’t offer a straight forward tracked service to Italy. They only offer Tracked and Signed which is more expensive still, even with OBA rates.

    • james
      3 years ago

      we specialise in furniture and mainly big items, we’re steering well clear of the GSP for now, as much as we’d love to hand the large-item shipping over to someone else, past experience from ebay has taught us never to trust them at their word. and reading through their GSP policies, we’ll be protected from negative feedback, but if (when) they damage our item they’ll refund the guy in peru (or wherever) and tell us “go collect it yourself”. dont think so.

    • David Brackin
      3 years ago

      Based on what I heard at the Linnworks Academy, GSP will only apply to certain categories because and they have a size limit on the shipping. If the category mostly falls into this category then it will be included. eBay will then undertake to ship everything in the category. That which can’t be shipped, they will ensure that neither buyer nor seller is out of pocket.

      Furniture will not be included as a category, is my understanding so even if you opt in your listings, they won’t appear as part of the programme — so no benefit there. Equally, there’s no downside to opting in.

  • Jon
    3 years ago

    I called eBay about the Global Shipping Programme yesterday. I asked them if the buyer would see the lowest priced shipping option (Standard Air Mail) or would they see the price for GSP signed for. They could not give me a difinitive answer. In fact I was told to ask another seller if I could find one. I will call again today & ask someone else. Going by my past experiences with eBay support I predict I’ll get a completely different answer today.

    • JD
      3 years ago

      If you have already quoted shipping prices to a given country then buyers in that country will see those prices (only).

      GSP simply does not show where the seller has quoted a shipping price. And CS really should know that.

    • Jon
      3 years ago

      When I spoke to another eBay TRS rep half an hour ago he explained that if I were to opt into the GSP I could not offer any other shipping options for my overseas listings. (What!!?) Basically I would be doubling my overseas shipping cost & not offering a standard shipping price which would be commercial suicde for our overseas sales.

      What the hell are they thinking!?

      Just for the record can someone else please call eBay & see what they say. It seems the reps are all giving out conflicting information….as per usual!

    • David Brackin
      3 years ago

      As above — if you ship to the country then GSP will not show. It simply fills in holes.

      If you have found that Italian, Spanish, Russian and South American parcels have a habit of going missing and causing disproportionate feedback problems and claims, then with GSP you could simply switch off shipping options to those countries and let eBay take the pain.

      If you want to prevent buyers from buying in those countries — even through GSP — then you would need to add them to the blocked country list.

    • Jon
      3 years ago

      Well thats good news if its true David.
      I dont want to ship to Spain or Italy so I have blocked them. How do I use the GSP for Italy & Spain? How does one switch off shipping options to Italy & Spain without blocking them?

      Did an eBay rep give you this information or did you read it somewhere? I’d like to read it myself if there is a URL about

      I would definitely use GSP for Spain & Italy if what you say is correct.

    • northumbrian
      3 years ago

      by switching the shipping options off to allow ebay to deal with italy etc surely your allowing ebays gsp to be applied to all countries not just specific areas

    • northumbrian
      3 years ago

      do ebay GSP have magic shipping wand that alters the situation in italy and spain ,dollars to donuts it will be the seller who takes the hit if a parcel goes missing whatever ebay promise

    • David Brackin
      3 years ago

      My clear understanding is that while they are not in possession of a magic wand, they will take all responsibility for the package once it gets to them.

      Given no-one can stop bad stuff happening, having eBay step-up and say they will make it their problem rather than ours is to be applauded.

      They were absolutely clear: no refund by the seller, no feedback implications (negs / DSRs) if the package gets lost on their watch.

    • northumbrian
      3 years ago

      best part of 2 decades a full time seller on ebay &millions in turnover
      does not fill us with confidence that ebay would support us if a problem arised

  • northumbrian
    3 years ago

    if we cant control the amount charged,to the buyer
    we wont use this unless there in no other alternative,
    we ship at least 50% of our ebay sales outside the EU
    achieved by offering reduced or competitive international shipping,

  • James
    3 years ago

    I don’t trust eBay to get things right.

    I will sit on the sidelines until I see how it works for others. Not worth the risk while they beta their service.

    Other issue for me is that international buyers tend to leave negs/neutrals and low DSR’s more regularly even when the item has been received in time.

    Imagine that one of the strong considerations I have when choosing which countries to sell internationally is the fear of feedback and DSR’s. This is the world eBay have created. Crazy

    • David Brackin
      3 years ago

      Provided the item arrives in the warehouse in the UK then you are protected from negative feedback, low DSRs and claims for lost or damaged in the post.

    • James
      3 years ago

      But presumably not protected on negative/neutral feedback or low dsr on SNAD where I find certain countries have buyers who dish out more often than UK sellers (far more).

  • 3 years ago

    I signed up for the Global Shipping Program in Sep on reading the Tamebay notification. I’ve not had any orders sent in this manner although I selected the opt-in checkbox in my site settings.

    I decided to google the program in case there was a waiting period or queue (like click n collect), something else to be done (such as more field settings or listing field data required). I avoided eBay pages having read them previously. All I found was negative comments and feedback. Now I respect the saying that a good customer experience is passed on to 1 or 2 people and a negative customer experience is passed onto 10 or more so I’ve not drawn any conclusions yet.

    However, what did concern me was that one of the complaints was about the cost of shipping charged to the customer. My expectation was that eBay would pass on volume rates to the customer so everyone wins – more sales for eBay + seller and cheaper shipping for the buyer. However, the complainants were saying the eBay cost of shipping was higher than the seller’s shipping. One said that other seller shipping methods disappear when opting in.

    It seems like a black box to me so I’m choosing to opt out until I can see rates buyers pay for shipping, can test this on my own listings, and hear more favourable feedback in general.

    • 3 years ago

      Bernard, our experience with GSP has caused us to opt back out and go back to offering and shipping ourselves.

      The only time you see what eBay has charged the seller is when you print out the packing slip.

      We only had two orders via GSP but the postage the seller paid was daylight robbery!

      The 2nd item comes to mind as an example:

      Toddlers Soft Toolbox £12.97 inc free 2nd class shipping. This still applied as we only had to dispatch it to the UK hub.

      When we looked further at the packing slip eBay had charged just over £10 for the postage! What made it more unbelievable was the fact it was only going to Ireland, not exactly the other side of the world.

      Now for us to ship the same item via what was Airmail would cost £3.70 and even sending it Tracked would only have been £8.70!

      Even though it wasn’t us dealing with the shipping I felt really bad and it left me with a nasty taste in my mouth, I also felt like I was being dishonest and no giving our customers the best service.

      As mentioned earlier we have now opted out and will contunie being responsible for our own P&P.

    • 3 years ago

      Does anyone know where you can see a table of rates charged by the GSP to each country by weight breakdown for example?

      I already ship worldwide so rang Ebay and spoke to a service agent and they couldn’t tell me… How are we supposed to opt in if we have no idea if we can already do cheaper postage or not?!

    • David Brackin
      3 years ago

      I don’t think there’s a published table as it is presented on a category by category basis for each country. As Stuart said, it’s not about being the cheapest provider but about providing a shipping service to countries where sellers are unable or unwilling to ship and so providing incremental sales to sellers and incremental buying opportunities to buyers.

      It strikes me as a no-brainer to sign-up. It’s a tough decision to decide to stop shipping somewhere, but not one you need take.

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