Friday, January 11, 2013

International Shipping for your Etsy Shop

Ooh la la!  I just got my first order from France!  I just love getting international orders.  Since I started the shop, I have shipped to 15 different countries.  (Just for fun, I keep track of them all on a cool shipping map that I created using TravBuddy!)  Last year 25% of my sales were international and so far this year, half my sales have been outside of the United States.  If you're not shipping internationally, you really should consider doing it.

Here were my concerns when I started shipping internationally:

1.  It will be super expensive to ship the packages.

This hasn't been true for me.  My items are small so I am able to ship them first class international mail, which only costs about $2 more than it does to ship domestic (and less than that if it's only going to Canada).  With etsy shipping options, you can charge different shipping rates to customers in different countries, so it is easy to just pass the extra shipping expense on to your international customers.

2.  I have never shipped anything internationally and I don't know how to do it.

Sometimes international addresses look a little funky, but just copy it onto the package exactly as your customer entered in into etsy and you'll be okay.  Then, all you have to do is fill out a customs form, which is super easy.  You can find them at the post office with all the other forms for things like insurance and delivery notification, etc.  It takes less than 2 minutes to fill out.  OR, if you use etsy shipping labels (and you really should!) etsy fills out all the information for you!  Easy-peasy!

3.  I don't want to deal with all sorts of international customs fees and stuff like that.

You don't have to.  From what I've been told by the folks at the post office, anything like that is actually your customer's responsibility, not yours.  If there are any fees to be paid, the customer will get the bill from their own country when they accept delivery of the package.  (And they said in most cases, there wouldn't be any fee unless you are shipping something that is very expensive, but it all varies on a country-by-country basis).  Just to make things super clear, I include a statement in my shop policies that says this: "For international purchases: custom fees, duty fees or import fees and taxes are the responsibility of the buyer and not included in the shipping fees."

4.  I don't know how to attract international customers.

Don't worry, as long as you have it entered into etsy that you ship internationally, they will find you through their country's etsy site.  One thing to consider is that your product might be called something different in other countries, so you want to be sure you include different terminology in your listing keywords.  For example, I sell pinback buttons, which are called "badges" in other English-speaking countries, so I need to be sure to include the word "badges" in my listings if I want to get those sales.

That's just a summary of what I have learned through my own experience shipping internationally.  I think it's a great business strategy to get more customers and it's just really neat to know that people in other countries want your stuff!  If you have any additional insights into this topic, please feel free to share in the comments!


  1. I checked your tracking map and you’re really going global! Congrats, Pepper! I think it really helps that your products are small. As you’ve said, you can ship them first class. That way, your customers will receive the button pins in perfect condition. And that would surely lead to another transaction and recommendations. How long was your business going, by the way? :) -->Luise

    1. Thanks! I opened my etsy shop in 2007, but I was selling offline for about a couple of years before that.

  2. Shipping packages might be costly, but it's worth spending for, especially if it guarantees protection of your parcel. How you take care of your products reflects the value you give to your customers. Be wise in choosing your shipping company for it can either make or break your reputation.

    -Renea Luong @ Legacy TSI