As an eBay seller I have always felt the best chance of selling an item is offering it not only in the USA but internationally as well. I have sold online on and off and on different selling venues since 1997. I have ALWAYS shipped internationally. YES shipping costs can be very high. YES sometimes there are packages that go missing and YES sometimes buyers will complain about extra fees they get charged at customs when they pick up the package or the time it took to arrive. Over the years I have had very few issues overall, and even less international ones.
Most international customers I have found are very honest and just want to save a few dollars or be able to buy an item that is either hard, or impossible to find in their area. Most understand that shipping costs will be higher when they order from a seller in the USA. Most also are patient and understand that in some cases it can take up to 6 weeks before their package arrives. In my honest opinion I believe if you cut out the international market you really are losing a very big percentage of possible sales.
I do however have issues with eBays shipping calculator and flat cost also for international buyers. I personally do not like to do the system of adding a certain dollar amount per item for combined shipping because in many cases it will come out much higher than shipping actually is. There seems to be no simple way to offer a real nice savings with combined shipping for my international buyers unless they contact me and let me know what items they are wishing to purchase and combine the shipping for. I am always more than happy to use flat rate boxes and stuff them as full as possible to save money, whether it be inside the USA or Internationally. IF IT ALL FITS. Also whenever eBay somehow winds up overcharging my customer for shipping I ALWAYS do a partial shipping refund. I believe my buyers are happy to see that they are dealing with a seller who DOES NOT profit from shipping charge mistakes, I know I would be if I were in their shoes.
Communication is really the key to successful international sales especially when you combine your shipping. I actually think I am going to start putting a statement in each of my listings letting international buyers know that I am more than willing to work with them to get them the best shipping rate possible for one purchase or combined but they MUST contact me for the BEST rates. I will see if adding the statement increases international sales even more.I know whether your from the USA or somewhere else EVERYONE loves to save $$.
The language barrier - I have run into this a few times, and I will admut I was extremely frustrated. A couple of the sales fell through even though I did everything I could think of to help the customers. When you cannot understand each other in messages it just makes it next to impossible no matter how hard you try. This is rare though and I have noticed now there are some free translators online, back when it happened I was not aware of these. If I run into it again I believe I am going to give those a shot and see how it works out.Really though all you can ever do is your best and if it doesn't work out at least you know you did everything you possibly could to help your buyer.
I believe if you keep it honest, don't overcharge on shipping, combine for your customers, clearly state answers to frequently asked questions in your auctions, and let your buyers know that they are responsible for duties, and other charges from the delivering company or customs (this is not shipping cost), also let them know before making a purchase to check with their customs regulations so they do not wind up with refused or confiscated packages. Then overall your experience offering your items internationally should be 99% of the time pleasant and profitable. I have found this to be true & honestly I would not cancel my international shipping. My Items will ALWAYS be available to the world........