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Making the most of a retail business means getting your products to the customers who want them. If you’re not offering international shipping, you’re ignoring a potentially massive percentage of your customer base.
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Forbes recently reported that 76% of online shoppers have purchased from a site outside their home country. The same report found that 46% of shoppers who don’t cross-border shop list high shipping prices as the number one barrier preventing them from doing so.
International shipping is moving goods across borders to other countries by air, land, or sea. International shipping includes several additional requirements that often scare away e-commerce retailers, including:
Customs – International shipments require a customs form. Shipments must also clear customs when arriving in a foreign country. All shipments must have the appropriate paperwork to navigate customs successfully.
Taxes, Duties or Tariffs International shipments are subject to taxes, duties, or tariffs depending on the laws and regulations of the destination country. Retailers must typically pay these fees upon a package's arrival in a foreign country before a package can be delivered.
Product Consideration – Every country has different rules regarding which types of products are allowed to be imported, and it’s the retailer’s job to educate themselves before shipping products across borders.
When you add these factors to the cost and time involved with international shipping, many eCommerce retailers may feel the hassle is not worth the payoff. But there are ways to make it easier for both you and your international customers.
As more and more online shoppers become comfortable with the idea of shopping across borders, eCommerce stores need to expand their shipping capabilities if they want to keep up. This article will explain how to find the cheapest way to ship internationally, so you don’t alienate foreign customers with astronomical shipping costs.
ShipPING Internationally with USPS
The United States Postal Service, or USPS, is well known for being a reliable domestic shipping method. But many people don’t realize that the USPS is also one of the cost-effective and reliable ways to ship internationally. The USPS can ship to over 190 countries worldwide.
When handling international shipments, USPS partners with shipping companies located in the destination country to complete the last leg of package delivery. These partnerships allow the USPS to offer international shipping despite only having a presence inside the United States.
The USPS has several international shipping options depending on how fast you need a package to arrive at its destination.
Global Express Guaranteed – This is the fastest way to ship internationally with USPS, and the service is provided with a money-back guarantee. Global Express Guaranteed delivery takes between 1-3 business days and can usually accommodate overnight delivery to many locations worldwide. This service uses FedEx as a partner for last-mile delivery.
Priority Mail Express International – This option provides international shipping at a lower price than Global Express but with a delivery window of 3-5 business days. Businesses who choose this option get access to free flat-rate shipping supplies for items up to 4 lbs. and are charged a by-weight price for items up to 70 lbs. Some destination countries are eligible for date-certain delivery with a money-back guarantee.
Priority Mail International – Although delivery times for Priority Mail International range from 6-10 business days, it is one of the most inexpensive options for overseas shipping. Most shipments are eligible for tracking and insurance up to a specific dollar amount, and customers can choose from free flat-rate envelopes or flat-rate boxes for shipments up to 4 lbs., or larger boxes for shipments up to 20 lbs.
First-Class Package International – Here is another reliable international shipping option; however, this option is only offered for small items that weigh less than 4 lbs. and are less than $400 in value. certain product types are prohibited. The time required to deliver a First-Class Package varies depending on the destination country.
The USPS also offers cheap international mail services for minimal items with their First-Class Mail International service. However, this option is only feasible if you’re shipping mailable communications or duty-free items that weigh less than 4 lbs.
Much like choosing any shipping option, when shipping internationally with USPS, you must the dimension and weight of the item you are shipping. Here are some more reasons why companies consider USPS for international shipping:
Reasons to Choose USPS for International ShippinG
DHL International Shipping
If you’re looking for a reliable and cost-effective way to ship internationally, you may have already heard about DHL as an option. DHL is one of the most well-known and affordable carriers for international shipping and a popular choice for businesses.
DHL offers Parcel Service, Document and International Mail Shipping, and Freight Shipping for businesses. For most eCommerce businesses, Parcel Service is the most likely choice. DHL offers three delivery options for both Parcel and Document and International Mail customers.
Express – With DHL Express, customers can ship packages up to 150 pounds to over 220 countries.
Parcel – Parcel customers are limited to smaller, lighter packages. This service is also slower than Express, with delivery expected between 2-14 days, depending on the destination country.
International Mail – For packages that weigh 4.4 pounds or less, International Mail through DHL is a good choice. Expect a similar delivery window to DHL’s Parcel Service.
HOW LONG WILL MY PACKAGE TAKE TO ARRIVE ABROAD WITH DHL?
The delivery time depends on the destination. In most European countries, we deliver within a week. In the United States, their courier will typically arrive at your door after about two weeks. If the destination is closer to home, they deliver:
Belgium within 2 working days.
Germany within 3 working days.
France within 5 working days.
Italy within 5 working days.
Spain within 6 to 7 working days.
Other destinations? Check the delivery times
SHIPPING InternationalLY with FedEx
Another key player in the international shipping industry is FedEx. When considering shipping options, it's important to remember that price is dictated by destination, delivery speed, and package size.
FedEx offers a range of delivery options for international shipments, including:
FedEx International Next Flight – Get delivery within 24 hours for most countries and territories with this option. This option allows delivery seven days a week and 365 days a year, including holidays. You can ship up to 2,200 lbs. per individual piece with an unlimited total shipment weight.
Fed Ex International First – Delivery is available by 10 a.m. within 1-3 business days in select postal codes in 26 countries. Packages can weigh up to 150 lbs. each with an unlimited total shipment weight.
FedEx International Priority – Delivery is available to more than 220 countries and territories in between 1-3 business days. Customers who choose this option can access flat-rate shipping using FedEx's double-walled boxes.
FedEx International Economy – FedEx’s International Economy service is a cheaper shipping option. This option allows for delivery in 2-3 business days in select countries or between 2-5 days to 215 countries and territories.
FedEx International Ground – FedEx can deliver to most business and residential addresses within 2-7 business days.
What Are the Easiest Countries to Ship To?
Every country has different rules and regulations regarding cross-border shipping and imports. These rules and regulations can make shipping to certain countries or territories more expensive and complicated. Finding the cheapest way to ship internationally might mean focusing on those countries that are the easiest to ship to.
The easiest countries to ship to from an origin point in the United States are Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia. It's also convenient that these three countries make up a large portion of all international orders. Canada pulls in the highest percentage at 36.7%, followed by the United Kingdom and Australia at 17.8% and 13.2%, respectively.
The reason these countries are the easiest to ship to relates significantly to their willingness to accommodate cross-border business. For instance, they have fewer restrictions on which products are acceptable for import. They also have lower customs duties, taxes, and shipping fees.
In addition, online shoppers from these three countries are well accustomed to shopping online. They are comfortable paying with credit cards or digital currency, and anti-fraud laws protect them. These three countries also have a uniformly English-speaking population and a lack of a language barrier.
The Cheapest Countries to Ship To
The cost of shipping to a foreign country includes a combination of factors related to taxes, duties, and the laws and regulations of that specific country. The United States tops the list of the cheapest countries to ship to, while Canada is number 12. Making up the rest of the list is:
Which Shipping Option is Best for Shipping to Canada?
If you’re looking to expand your e-commerce business to include international customers, the first place you should look is across the northern border. The percentage of Canadians who shop online has skyrocketed over the past few years. And the good news for U.S. eCommerce retailers is that over 45% of that shopping occurs on websites from outside Canada.
However, even with a country with a border with the U.S., specific considerations should be made to find the cheapest way to ship internationally to Canada. The speed of delivery and size of the package will make a tremendous difference in the final cost.
Factors to Consider When Shipping to Canada
Canada charges a 5% tax on shipments with a cost over a threshold of 20 Canadian Dollars, although certain product types are exempt, including computers, cameras, supplements, and more.
Items that are prohibited from import to Canada include drugs, hate propaganda, cultural property, objectionable publications, alcohol, used mattresses, and more. In addition, counterfeit goods, currency, explosives, firearms, and vehicles are subject to certain restrictions.
When using USPS to handle your shipments to Canada, there may be some restrictions due to the USPS partners with Canada Post to take last-mile delivery. The Canada Post will not deliver tobacco items, live animals (unless special permitting is acquired in advance), lottery tickets or gambling items, or wet or foul-smelling packages. A complete list of prohibited or restricted items is available here.
BUKU has great carrier relationships that can help your business save on International Shipments.
Lowest Rate You Can Get When Shipping to Australia
The average distance between the United States and Australia is 9,400 miles, meaning the average delivery time ranges from 5-10 business days. This distance makes international shipping to the land down under a challenge for many businesses, especially if you are trying to find the cheapest way to ship internationally.
However, the rapid growth of the country's eCommerce sector and its inhabitants' willingness to shop online make Australia a valuable market for retailers. We’ve broken down the major carrier companies to help pinpoint the cheapest way to ship to Australia.
USPS – The USPS remains a fantastic option for smaller packages weighing less than 70 lbs. USPS offers multiple options, depending on the speed of delivery.
FedEx – FedEx is a good choice for businesses that need faster delivery or deal in products that tend to be heavier or larger. However, pricing for FedEx international shipping also depends on the speed of delivery.
UPS – UPS is a well-known carrier capable of delivery to Australia. Another benefit of UPS is that it can handle packages weighing up to 150 lbs.
DHL – DHL requires businesses to sign up for an account before accessing shipping prices. However, this carrier remains one of the most cost-efficient and reliable services for international shipping.
All are great options! Speak with BUKU to find the best rates for your brand and see which one is best fit for your company.
Factors to Consider When Shipping to Australia
Australia has numerous rules and regulations on imported items and a long list of prohibited items. Australia imposes a duty tax of up to 5% of the cost of each shipment and a service tax of roughly 10% of the item's value. Remote areas may be subject to additional fees.
Australia restricts the import of certain items, including alcohol, certain foods and drinks, cosmetics, currency, and more. Items outright prohibited include weapons, live plants and animals, fireworks, and more.
In addition, specific categories may consist of some items that are permitted and some that are not. For a complete list, check out the Australian Border Force website.
ShipPING OPTIONs from USA to the United Kingdom
Finding the cheapest way to ship internationally means weighing the pros and cons of each carrier service and factoring in things like speed of delivery and package size. These factors include shipping to one of the biggest and most profitable international markets in the eCommerce industry – the United Kingdom.
While not as far of a journey as Australia, shipping to the United Kingdom still requires overseas travel. This travel makes choosing the right carrier service even more critical. Below are the pros and cons of the primary carrier companies when shipping to the United Kingdom.
USPS – USPS is a great shipping solution for smaller-sized packages, with a flat-rate option available for items under 20 lbs.
UPS – UPS offers fast international delivery to the UK. However, the ease of drop-off and pick-up and the ability to ship larger, heavier items makes this a viable option for many eCommerce businesses.
FedEx – FedEx offers options that are comparable to UPS, including a significant presence inside the United Kingdom. Pricing and delivery windows are also similar, with FedEx efficiently managing larger deliveries at a fair price.
DHL – As an efficient international shipping carrier, DHL is an excellent choice for businesses looking for customers inside the United Kingdom, especially since they have a large international presence.
Factors to Consider When Shipping to the United Kingdom
Shipping from the U.S. to the United Kingdom can be expensive because of the distance involved and the high tariffs that non-European Union countries face. The Value Added Tax (VAT) for certain items can be as high as 20%. These items include alcohol, chocolate, bottled water, certain foods and drinks, clothing, and more.
Other items are subject to a VAT of up to 5%, including fruits and vegetables, meat and poultry, fish, clothing for children under 14, and others. You can find a complete list here.
More Tips for Saving Money When Shipping Internationally
Finding the cheapest way to ship internationally takes a lot of forethought and planning. Because shipping costs are based on a combination of distance, speed, package size, and your choice of carrier, the final price of international shipping might seem hard to determine. Companies often steer clear of international customers because they feel the process needs to be more involved and the cost too high to manage.
But there are ways to reduce your shipping costs, whether domestic or international. Below are our best tips to save money on international shipping costs.
Finding the most cost-effective and efficient way to do anything in business means looking at the situation from all angles and researching beforehand. Consider the risk versus benefit of international sales, the needs and capabilities of your business, and the end goal before deciding.
Do Your Research
Research the different carrier companies and look at pricing for shipping to each country before initiating any strategy. Make sure you understand the requirements for importing goods to each country, including necessary documentation, to avoid shipments getting stuck in customs.
Minimize Package Footprint
Unless you choose a flat-rate shipping option, the cost will be determined by each package's dimensional size, shape, or weight. This variable cost means you can save a substantial amount of money by choosing packaging that best suits your products and finding ways to minimize the overall footprint of a package. Avoid mailing small items in oversized boxes and split extremely heavy deliveries into separate containers to help reduce the weight.
Provide an Accurate Cost Estimate
When you set up shipment through a carrier, you will be asked to estimate the value of the goods included. Ensure you provide an accurate estimate for every item you ship to avoid fines and penalties imposed by the shipping carrier. You will also want to ensure you disclose any items that are potentially hazardous or potentially prohibited by certain countries.
Take Advantage of Business Services
Most carriers offer special pricing or discounts for business customers, especially those who deal in large quantities or bulk deliveries. You can often access free shipping supplies through carriers, leading to huge savings towards the final cost. Don’t forget to include items like tracking and insurance to save money on lost, damaged, or stolen goods.
BUKU's Wholesale Shipping Rates
Finding cheap rates can be difficult for an eCommerce brand. Luckily at BUKU we have already created great relationships with carriers and can provide extremely competitive rates! To get in contact with one of our shipping experts to gain access top these amazing wholesale rates, click here.
Setting up any shipping strategy means planning and comparing prices for the best possible outcomes for you and your customers. However, finding a cost-effective and reliable way to ship internationally includes unique considerations for every business.
Shipping costs are a combination of distance, speed of delivery, and package size. You must compare carriers to find the best price while considering these factors. The good news is that several major carrier companies provide cost-efficient options for international shipping within various timeframes.
All of the carriers mentioned above are experts in what they do and are the best of the best. Use BUKU to help you gain access to extremely competitive rates and carrier relationships!
To make the best choice for your business, consider all the options available and weigh the factors involved with your needs.
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