Last summer, I received an email from someone in The Netherlands asking if I did international shipping on my signs. At first it sounded terrifying. When I worked corporate just sending documents overseas was always a nightmare. I couldn’t imagine the headache that shipping a wood sign would create.
I answered back that if they gave me a little time I would research it and let them know.
This is where Etsy really becomes an asset. They have this great community of people that answer your questions. I noticed a few shop owners that repeatedly answered questions. It must take a lot of time out of their already busy day and I for one am very appreciative. I read a ton about the ins and outs and everyone really calmed my fears and told me to jump in.
Just like with other shipping I check with the USPS for shipping quotes to put on the shop listing. I also needed to check to see which countries will accept my signs. Each country has a list of things they don’t allow to enter their border. It ranges from things you would expect like flowers (so no invasive bugs come in) to weird things like typewriter ribbon (Italy, who knows why). The list of all the countries is here and it really is worth a read even if you aren’t shipping. Some of the stuff is weird and creepy.
I picked a few countries to start out with that I had researched and knew I should be ok shipping there. So far I have Canada, UK, France, The Netherlands, and Australia. When you add a country to the shipping list, it allows customers in those countries to see you when they do a basic search. I also found out that customers are used to paying for international shipping so don’t let the rates scare you off.
Once I was (semi) confident I had a clue I wrote the customer back and she bought the sign!
Now on to what I think is the best Etsy feature of all – shipping labels! They take the name and address info the customer entered, the dimensions and weight of the package you enter and creates a mailing label. You print it out, stick it on your package and give it to your mailman. That means no post office in 10 degree weather with a tiny baby. When you ship internationally, the customs form for that country is included on the label. You print it out, stick it on your package, sign the customs line and give it to your mailman. That’s it. Really.
What prompts this post today is I have my first repeat international customer! That first customer who asked me to ship to The Netherlands came back and bought another sign today. I love repeat customers because it’s a real gauge that you are doing something right. That someone has noticed your hard work and thought they got great service. And that is priceless after a long hard day.