Offering your products to buyers overseas is a great way to increase the number of potential buyers. However, there are a few things to keep in mind when you want to sell products internationally.

Shipping

If you are going to sell internationally, you need to think about product shipping and how you will incorporate this into your prices.  The price is part of your contract with your customer.  Shipping from Australia can be expensive. You need to make it clear to buyers how much they are paying for the product, and how much they are paying for shipping. It is useful to have shipping costs or a shipping calculator on the website to assist buyers in determining shipping costs. Some sites have different shipping options available. Some are cheaper but take longer, and others are more expensive but offer tracking services.  It is prudent to use a postal service with tracking services, so that you can provide that a product was shipped and delivered.  This is a crucial part of your contract with the customer.

Payment

Selling internationally raises questions in regards to currency and payment methods. One popular method for online payment is PayPal ® as it allows you to be paid from credit cards, debit cards and bank accounts in a variety of different currencies.

Fraud

When you are selling online, there is a risk of fraud, regardless of whether you are selling domestically or internationally. However, dealing with international fraud is usually more difficult due to either a lack of or overlap of rules and regulations. The risk of fraud can be lowered by requiring buyers to provide full payment upfront and stating clearly that no products will be dispatched until full payment has been received.

Pick your countries

There is no requirement for you to ship to any country of the purchaser’s choice. Learn about the consumer laws of the countries that you plan to sell to. If you are selling on marketplaces such as eBay, you are usually given a choice of which countries you will and will not ship to.

Customs

Products sent from another country go through customs, and customs duties may need to be paid. Whether duty is charged on a certain product or how much is charged is dependent on each country. You can research the customs practices of the countries you plan to ship to, however, it is standard for sellers to leave the responsibility of paying duties with the buyer. Your sale terms need to set out that  should make it clear to your buyers that any import/customs duties, taxes or other charges are not included in the product price or shipping costs.

Conclusion

Whilst selling to the global market can be a good way of increasing your revenue and customer base, you need to give careful consideration to the matters we have raised above.  You need comprehensive sale terms to help protect your business.  If you have any questions or concerns, discuss them with a business attorney with importing and exporting experience.

Ursula Hogben
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