OK, as most of my readers would already know, I am an American, but I live in the Philippines. That’s not what this site is all about, but living in a different country can also have implications when selling things online, especially on eBay. And these things apply no matter where you are selling from, if you plan to sell to buyers in other countries.
As I pointed out in an early article, I plan to sell merchandise on eBay and other online auctions using a “two pronged approach.” Firstly, I am going to sell items from here in the Philippines on eBay.com, the US site, aiming at US buyers. The second prong is that I intend to purchase some goods from the USA (or other countries) and sell them on eBay.ph, aiming those products toward Philippine based buyers.
As an American living in the Philippines, I have an advantage doing this for two reasons:
- Having lived 38 years in the USA, I know what is available there, and what is not. I know what stuff costs there. Sometimes I see things for sale here which would be a huge bargain in the States, or are not even widely available in the States. So, I can buy things from the States that are needed here, and I can buy things from here that are expensive there.
- Having lived nearly 10 years in the Philippines, I know what things are available and not available here. I know of certain things that I wish I could get from the States. If it is something that I want to get a hold of, there must be others in this country of 90 Million people who also want to get it.
So, using these two advantages, I should be able to do nicely on eBay or other venues on the net.
There are implications, though.
Yes, there are things to keep in mind, if you plan to sell cross-border. Somebody asked me in an earlier comment about customs taxes and such. OK, let’s look at that.
I used to sell extensively on eBay from the Philippines, almost exclusively to American customers, so I have a lot of experience when it comes to customs.
There are basically two things you need to do if you are selling across borders:
- For every package you ship containing merchandise, if you are shipping it across borders, you will need to fill out a customs declaration form. Don’t be scared by this. It is actually very easy to do. For Philippine Customs, we just have a small green piece of paper to fill out. The only thing you have to do is list the contents of the package. Nothing complicated, just one or two words describing what is in the box. Be truthful, don’t try to hide something, it will only lead to trouble for you. If a buyer asks you to under-declare the value of the item, don’t do that.
- When you write up the item description for your listing on eBay (or wherever you are selling) explain that you are shipping from the Philippines (or whatever country you are shipping from), and that the buyer is responsible for all customs fees. Fact is that when you ship the items, you don’t have any idea how much customs will be (that is charged on the buyer’s end, not yours), or even if customs duties will even be charged. Truth is that I have shipped thousands of items to the USA from the Philippines, and I am only aware of two times when customs was charged on the deliveries. So, honestly, it is not a big concern.
If you are shipping big commercial quantities of items, that is when the customs people will start tagging on a percentage. If you are shipping small quantities for personal use, it is rare that any duties are charged at all.
Cross border selling can be rewarding, and also add a new dimension to your business. It is something that I recommend highly.