Finder is committed to editorial independence. While we receive compensation when you click links to partners, they do not influence our content.
How smart online sellers save on foreign exchange costs
Save on your international transfers with a provider that works with e-commerce sellers.
What are international payments for e-commerce sellers?
International payments for online sellers allow you to transfer and repatriate the money you earn from selling products to overseas buyers. For example, if you’re selling books on an e-commerce website or marketplace and the buyer is in another country, you’ll need to find a way to transfer those funds back to the US, and to do it in a way that gives you the best value for your money.
Types of e-commerce sellers that can benefit from money transfers
You don’t need to be a major corporation or importer/exporter to benefit from money transfer services for online sellers. If you sell commerce overseas, even as a side hustle, you may want to explore flexible international payment options. And setting up an online marketplace to sell internationally can be seamless with the online marketplaces and platforms like:
- Etsy, eBay or Amazon for selling hand-made or used goods.
- Squarespace for selling goods through your own website.
- Amazon for selling books or digital goods.
Should I just use PayPal?
Including only a PayPal Buy Now button depends on the needs of your business. PayPal doesn’t require an ongoing commitment, so it can make planning for growth easy. It also gives buyers the ability to buy multiple items, can issue refunds and can track inventory. However, adding new items require adding new PayPal buttons each time, and the fees can be higher than if you got your own merchant account.
Send money internationally with OFX
OFX has no maximum limit transfers, with competitive exchange rates for 45+ currencies.
- Support for 55+ major and exotic currencies
- Competitive rates and no transfer fees
- Multiple transfer options include forward contracts and limit orders
What are the pros and cons of using an e-commerce payment service?
E-commerce payments have helped businesses grow and be more accessible around the world. However, weigh the pros and cons before deciding if it is right for you.
- Worldwide sales.
Allows you to connect with customers all around the globe.
- Save money.
Finding an affordable international money transfer provider that gives a good rate and charges low fees translates to more profit for your business.
- Get the best exchange rate.
Use transfer options like forward contracts or choose when to repatriate your funds to the US to take advantage of the highest exchange rate.
- Fees apply.
You’ll likely need to contend with transfer fees when repatriating funds to the US.
- Technology fails.
Technological failures can affect the overall process sporadically.
Easy access to global markets comes with complex taxation depending on where you’re doing business.
What fees can I expect?
International transfer providers vary their fees based on competition. You can expect transaction, exchange and receiving fees all based on how much you’re sending and to where. Some providers will waive the transaction fee, but give you a lower exchange rate. Others charge flat fees or base it on a percentage of your transaction.
What can I use an e-commerce payment service for?
Using an e-commerce payment service can help you manage your business by:
- Accepting payments
- Detecting and preventing fraud
- Validating verifying customers
- Protecting your customer’s identity
- Documenting transactions
- Making the payment process simple and easy for your customers
What are the types of international payments for e-commerce sellers?
Depending on your circumstances, there are several international payment options can benefit you and your business, including:
- One-off spot transfers.
When you need to make a fast payment at the best available exchange rate, this is the option you would choose.
- Recurring transfers.
Many transfer providers allow you to set up a recurring payment plan for extra convenience.
- Forward contracts.
You can protect yourself against exchange rate fluctuations by locking in an exchange rate now for a transfer that will be sent up to two or even three years into the future.
- Limit orders.
This option allows you to specify a target exchange rate for your international transfer. Your transfer company can then monitor foreign exchange markets, and when the desired rate becomes available, automatically transfer your funds.
Setting up an effective international payment method allows online sellers to repatriate their earnings back to America. Although some e-commerce sites will send payments to the US, they typically charge high fees for doing so and often don’t provide you with access to the best available exchange rate. The solution to this is to find a specialist money transfer company to help you manage your international payments. These companies, such as TransferWise, specialize in securely and cheaply moving funds around the world.
What is an international online seller account?
Also referred to as a multicurrency account or borderless account, these are receiving accounts in the countries you’re doing business in to easily make and receive payments in the local currency. You can hold the funds in these accounts without transferring them to another currency until you’re ready, which cuts down on fees and potentially poor exchange rates.
Then, when you want to transfer your money to the US, these companies offer lower fees than e-commerce sites. They also provide transfer options such as limit orders and forward contracts, so you can get the exchange rate you want for your transfer, when you want to transfer the funds.
How do I compare international payment methods?
You’ll need to consider the following features when comparing transfer companies and the options they offer:
- Exchange rates.
Getting the right exchange rate is critical to ensure that you’re not paying too much for international payments. Compare the rates offered by money transfer providers to see which one comes out on top.
- Transfer fees.
Check the fees that applies every time you transfer funds to the US. Even minimal fees can add up over time, so shop around for the best deal.
- Foreign account fees.
Be aware of fees that apply to the foreign account receiving your payments.
- Countries and currencies.
Determine which countries you can open an account and the currencies the transfer company accepts. This could be important if you’re looking to grow in the international market.
- Flexible options.
Does the provider only offer one-off transfers, or can you save time by scheduling regular payments? Are limit orders and forward contracts also available to help you get a better exchange rate?
- Processing times.
Time means money in business, so consider how long it will take each company to transfer the funds to your account from overseas.
- Customer support.
If you ever have a question or a problem with a transaction, knowing that prompt and friendly customer support is just a phone call away can provide peace of mind. See how you can get in touch with customer support and during which hours it is available.
Having providers that your customers use can make for a hassle-free and speedy checkout process.
- PCI compliance.
Ensuring PCI DSS standards are met by your provider makes for safe transactions for you and your customers.
A provider’s ability to easily integrate with applications and websites can impact user-experience and your profits.
Compare money transfer companies who service e-commerce sellers
Things to avoid with international payments
- Transferring funds on a set schedule.
While setting a schedule to send your money back to the US is convenient, you could be missing an opportunity to consider the exchange rate fluctuations. Finding an account that allows you to pick and choose when to send money to the US can ultimately get you the best deal.
- Going with the default international payment option.
If you opt for the default international payment option on an international e-commerce site, you’ll likely settle for a lower exchange rate and pay higher fees. Compare your options and shop around.
Fraud in online marketplaces
International online selling can create exposure to online fraud. Knowing about ongoing scams and new fraud rings keeps you one step ahead in protecting your business. is always helpful. The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) and similar organizations fuse and leverage knowledge about fraud networks, often involving federal and international authorities. Below are three of the most common buyer scams:
- Product not delivered.
The buyer contacts the seller or marketplace stating the item was not delivered to receive a replacement or refund.
- Item not as described.
Certain parts of the product are taken upon delivery and then claimed as missing to the marketplace.
- Return abuse.
Buyer files a false claim and the marketplace refunds their money.
There are steps you can take to protect yourself with using apps designed to report inventory, track and review customers’ past sales. Recording serial numbers and taking pictures of products with the shipping labels before sending them off to customers can protect sellers if there ends up being a problem.
How can e-commerce seller accounts help me with fraud?
Online seller accounts like OFX and TransferWise help educate you on how to identify fraud and also have their own systems to prevent and detect fraudulent activity. They can detect malware, fraudulent apps and phishing scams that are commonly targeted at online sellers. If you are worried that you’ve been the victim of fraud, you can call your service’s customer care department.
If you’re vigilant of suspicious transactions by verifying your customer’s identity and information, you’re more likely to stay on top of policies protecting you from fraudulent customers on the marketplace. This allows you to follow steps to report fraudulent transactions and avoid any significant impact on your business by scammers.
What else should I know about selling online internationally?
Customs can be a pain for both sellers and buyers, but it’s there to ensure security and to follow the laws in each country. Buyers are typically subjected to any fees associated with customs, a practice that is widely accepted.
- Countries with transfer or shipping restrictions.
International business is governed by the legalities of each country you do business with. Understand any legal ramifications that might come into play when selling products internationally.
- What information you will need to get or provide.
When establishing an online seller account you will provide your personal and business information. When a customer places an online order, they will need to use their full name and address to finalize the purchasing process.
- Shipping and costs.
Some online marketplaces offer shipping options to simplify the shipment process for sellers, two popular ones are the eBay Global Shipping Program and Fulfilled by Amazon.
- Tools to make your life easier.
Within the complex space of online selling, there are tools that can simplify the selling process for you and your customers. Take advantage of tools like Time Zone Converter, handy when trying to coordinate times to set your listings. The UPS Worldship app can save you time processing shipments. Searching for tools that can aid your process can be time-consuming, but can make a big difference in the long run.
- Fulfillment time.
While fulfillment time can be an educated guess, especially when it comes to international shipping, manage customer expectations and be transparent about how long it takes for packages to be delivered.
- Value-added tax (VAT).
The international equivalent of sales tax in the US, more than 160 charge VAT for consumer goods. The money collected must be remitted to the government to be in compliance, and should be consider when you price your products.
Even in e-commerce, the same rule of thumb applies — a happy customer is a return customer. Always ensure to provide good customer care and value your clientele. Using an easy and simple online payment process for your customers, also enables you to take advantage of competitive exchange rates and much lower fees than a banking institution would charge. With more profitable online market space, international online sellers accounts might just be the right fit for your business.
Frequently asked questions
More guides on Finder
Business loans for Shopify sites
Shopify merchants may be able to get funding without a credit check.
Paysend offers transfers to more than 70 countries through its app and online service.
How to separate your finances during divorce
Ways to protect your assets and what you need to know about marital debt.
Review: Boxypay international money transfers
Pairing international calls with money transfers makes Boxypay a unique choice.
How debt relief works
Five ways to handle your debt and repay what you owe.
How to get health insurance
The best time to buy an affordable policy is during the annual open enrollment period, but you can still apply after a qualifying event.
Debt relief resources in New York
Thin regulations means you’ll need to do the heavy lifting.
Debt relief resources in California
California’s licensing requirements make it easy to find a legit company. Here’s how.
Shopify vs. Amazon
Comparing Shopify and Amazon? Here’s how these platforms measure up.
How to maximize your savings for Black Friday 2020
Black Friday deals will look different this year because of the coronavirus pandemic, but there are still plenty of ways to save. See our top tips for holiday savings.
Ask an Expert