A good business reputation is earned through exceptional service experiences, from first contact with a customer to the delivery of the product. One of the best ways to grow your customer base is to offer prompt, affordable shipping to customers worldwide.
An exceptional delivery experience from check out to the front door is important if you’re looking to increase your sales and customer base.
Shipping and delivery of a product may be your last chance to make a good impression on a customer–and a good impression can lead to repeat customers. As the last service that a customer receives from you, a customer’s experience with the shipping and delivery of a product is the key to having happy, repeat customers–and repeat customers mean more sales.
Large e-commerce sites with low cost and speedy shipping services, such as eBay or Amazon, have raised customers’ expectations when it comes to the delivery of products. There’s an expectation of low-cost, fast, or overnight delivery, no matter where a business is located
Offering international shipping services has been proven to grow a small business customer base by 15%. But as a beginner, you may have many questions, including “How does international shipping work”, “What do you need to know to get started shipping internationally” and “What are the best companies for international shipping?”, and with this guide, we’ll answer all of your questions so you can get deliver your products and expand your business to customers all over the globe.
International Shipping: Meaning and How it Works
What Does International Shipping Mean?
Shipping internationally means sending goods to foreign countries through, air, road, or ocean transport. If you own a small business and are looking to greatly increase your customer base, branching out and offering international shipping may be one of the easiest ways to do it.
You can easily ship goods from your store worldwide, which will help grow your customer base in other countries. The best thing about it all is that it’s a pretty easy process to do once you know where to start.
You can also use the same shipping services for personal use, like moving furniture or other household items while moving. If you are planning to move to a different country, you don’t have to sell all of your belongings. You can have your items shipped almost anywhere in the world, once you know which international shipping company will best fit your needs.
How The International Shipping Process Works
Before you dive into choosing a shipping company to do international business with, you should first understand the basic process of how international shipping works. Here, we’ve explained the basics, from start to finish.
- First, an international customer places an order for your product, via your website or e-commerce webpage.
- Next, you or your third-party logistics (3PL) team will fulfill and pack the order. This will include an international shipping label, which we’ll talk about in more detail later.
- Once your order is packed, it will be taken to your local post office or 3PL’s shipping center. Packages will then be sorted into domestic and international orders.
- After being separated, international orders are further sorted by country and are loaded up to be shipped in one of 3 ways: land, sea, or air. The shipping method depends on shipping costs and the distance a package will travel.
- Once your packages arrive in their destination country, they will be scanned by Customs on arrival. Any taxes, duties, and other fees will be calculated before being shipped to the customer.
- The package will then be shipped to the customer’s address or local post office. Your customer will be notified when their order is ready to be picked up or when it has been delivered, and any other fees will be paid upon delivery.
What You Need To Know Before Choosing an International Shipping Company
There are many reputable companies that ship packages internationally, so choosing the right one for you is not an easy task. If you’re a beginner and you’re considering offering international shipping to spread your business globally, figuring out where to start can be a little daunting.
Here, we’ve compiled a list of things to think about that will help you choose the international shipping company that is best for you.
Know Your Products, Customers, and Competition
Understanding your specific needs and requirements before choosing a delivery company will help you choose the best courier for you. To do this, you need to fully examine your product, understand the needs of your customers, and take a look at your competition.
To help determine the type of delivery or shipping service that is best for your business, you should take into account the dimensions of the products you plan to ship. Are they large or heavy? You’ll need to know the weight and dimensions of your products, as well as their price range.
You also need to take into consideration things like the number of items you expect to ship per week and the number of items that may go into an order (if case your customers regularly purchase multiple items) before choosing an international shipping company.
You also want to be sure that you know all about the product you’re selling. To be sure it meets international shipping regulations, you’ll want to know what it’s made of, what’s in it, weight and size, and be sure that you are knowledgeable about your products.
Remember that the rules and regulations on shipping can vary by country. A few regulations can include the shipping of hazardous materials, and rules on hazardous materials can change by country.
Before you choose a company to deliver your products internationally, you need to know a little information about your customer base. Consider where they’re located and research the typical delivery rates in the area. This will give you an idea of the amount your customers are used to paying for deliveries so that you can choose a company with similar rates. Remember that customers usually shop for convenience and a lower cost, especially when it comes to delivery options.
Another thing to consider is how urgently your customers may need your products. Are you selling items that customers are used to receiving in overnight deliveries, or are you selling products that customers are willing to wait for? Urgency is key in choosing the right international shipping company to fit your business’s needs.
Another thing you’ll need to know a little about is the delivery options that your competitors provide. You can look into the different shipping options that competitor companies offer, such as overnight or extra-fast delivery.
A good way to get firsthand experience from competitors is to place an order to learn more about their shipping options.
One of the most important things to research about a shipping company before choosing to do business with them is their delivery speed.
Speed is a key selling point–consumers want to receive the goods that they’ve ordered quickly and efficiently–with many people willing to pay extra fees for faster shipping. Long gone are the 12 to 14-business-day waiting periods.
As technology quickly advances the amount of time it can take to receive almost anything, people are used to an on-demand approach to shipping. If the wait is deemed too long for customers, they are likely to order a similar product from someone who has a better delivery time.
According to Forbes Magazine, about 15% of people say they bought a product from Amazon simply because it had faster delivery times, despite it being more expensive. Keep in mind that faster delivery services usually come with higher costs and fees.
Though you may not be able to offer free, overnight shipping, you can look into companies that let you pay a monthly premium to offer faster shipping to customers at a lower cost.
Another very important aspect of choosing the right shipping company is the company’s rates. As a beginner, you’re likely to be looking for the most affordable option but be sure you choose one that also offers the value that you need.
Remember that the cheapest international shipping company may not always be the best. Shipping rates can differ greatly depending on the company and any extras, such as overnight or speedy delivery.
It’s always a good idea to research and compare the rates of different international shipping companies before choosing the one with the best prices for you.
Offering free shipping is a great incentive that can prompt customers to buy products from you. If you want to offer free shipping to your customers, you can do so by working the shipping cost into the price of the product.
This way, shipping costs are still covered when you offer free shipping to customers. You also want to be sure you know how all rates and fees are charged.
There is nothing worse than receiving an angry email from an unsatisfied customer because they had to pay extra shipping fees or costs that they weren’t aware of.
Shipping internationally comes with its own set of rules and regulations. Weight limits, size restrictions, and handling of hazardous or unregulated materials are regulations that vary by shipping company and country.
You’ll want to thoroughly research any restrictions regarding the products you plan to ship, and also research other countries’ regulations as well.
Customs are taxes imposed on goods that are shipped internationally. Customs forms need to be filled out for anything that you are shipping internationally. Forms can vary depending on the country you’re shipping to.
Most international shipping companies can inform you of what needs to be done and can help you handle any customs forms that need to be filled out.
Though some international shipping companies may offer insurance coverage as part of their costs when shipping packages internationally., most don’t come with built-in insurance. Always purchase shipping insurance when shipping internationally to protect your packages.
Before you choose an international shipping company, it’s best to research any available insurance policies that they offer. You want to ensure that your packages are fully covered in case of damage, theft, or loss during transit.
If the international shipping company of your choice doesn’t offer insurance, you can take out your own insurance policy. To keep your business safe, it’s always a good idea to keep your products protected through insurance.
While shipping products domestically can be done quickly, products that are shipped internationally can take much longer to arrive to customers. Long waiting periods with no confirmation of the location of the package can make customers worry that they may not receive their package on time.
This is why choosing an international shipping company that offers some way to track packages throughout the delivery process is so important.
Many of the best shipping companies offer tracking services for their packages, providing customers with a tracking number that can be used to check the location of the package while it is in transit.
Shipping companies scan packages as they change hands through air, land, and ocean travel to let customers know where their package is on its journey. This can help give your customers peace of mind knowing that their package is, in fact, on its way to them.
Customer Support Services
While it may not be the first thing you think about when considering the best international shipping company for your business, the customer support services offered by a company are very important.
An international shipping company’s customer support team will do business with your customers as well as yourself. If a customer has questions or concerns about their package while in delivery, they are more likely to deal with your shipping service’s customer support team than you or your team.
You want to be sure the customer support is friendly, knowledgeable, and willing to help your customers. Even though they aren’t your employees, they can still leave an impression on your customer’s experience.
You can check out online review websites and forums for honest feedback about a shipping company’s customer service team. You can also check reviews on the shipping company’s website to help get an idea of customers’ experiences with them.
Calling the customer service helpline with questions about insurance options or common delivery questions can help you gain firsthand knowledge of how the customer service team handles customers.
Remote / Rural Deliveries
When searching for the best international shipping company, you also want to be aware of their shipping policies. Some services don’t deliver to remote areas and will leave packages at designated access points, where the customer will pick up the package.
You want to be aware of this to let your clients know ahead that if they live in a remote location, they may have to travel to an access point to get their package.
This makes it convenient for the courier, but many customers would prefer their package to be delivered to their home, no matter how remote.
Many international shipping companies today do offer delivery to even the most remote areas, you’ll just need to do your research before choosing a company.
Top International Shipping Companies
Now that you know what to look for in an international shipping company, we’ll give you a little information on some of the most popular international shipping companies in the industry.
This information will help you choose the best company to ship internationally with.
FedEx ships to over 220 countries worldwide and are considered the industry’s global leader. Based in the United States, FedEx Express invented express transportation, and they continue to provide rapid, reliable, time-definite delivery on a global scale.
They offer many international shipping services, with their quickest being FedEx International Next Flight. This service will get your shipment on the next available flight for delivery within 24 hours–to most international countries and territories.
Their FedEx International First and FedEx International Priority services will deliver your package in 1 to 3 business days. Their most cost-effective service is FedEx International Economy, which delivers your packages in 2 to 3 days to select countries, or 2 to 5 days to 215+ territories and countries.
FedEx also offers a variety of other plans for shipping freight to closer countries, such as Canada and Mexico. They offer climate-controlled shipping services for perishable or sensitive packages.
FedEx does not provide insurance coverage, so you’ll need to purchase your own policy when it comes to international shipping with FedEx.
Based in the United States, UPS is an American shipping and receiving supply chain management company. It is a Fortune 500 company and is one of the world’s largest shipping couriers–delivering to more than 220 countries and territories.
Their website offers numerous free tools and support to help keep you on track, such as downloadable customs forms, printable shipping labels, and plenty of other information.
They offer a variety of international shipping options, such as UPS Express Critical, which sends packages out on the next available flight. Their Worldwide Express/Express Plus option can have a package delivered in 1 to 3 business days.
The Worldwide Express plan promises packages will be delivered before noon, while the Express Plus plan will have your package delivered before 9 am.
Their Worldwide Saver also offers delivery in 1 to 3 business days, but by the end of the day. With the Worldwide Expedited plan, packages are delivered in 2 to 5 business days by the of the day.
Their Standard or basic international plan is the cheapest option, arriving in 3 or more business days, but the time may vary by country.
One of the world’s leading postal and logistics companies, DHL is headquartered in Germany. DHL delivers to over 220 countries globally and boasts that they employ over 380,000 shipping professionals.
They offer business accounts for people who ship regularly, and they even have freight services. They also deliver to remote areas, but they don’t deliver domestically within the US. They deliver via land, air, and ocean, and also offer warehouse solutions for small businesses.
They offer a Same-Day Jetline service, which places your package on the next flight out, giving you the shortest delivery time, as well as a variety of other options including Time-Definite Shipping, which gives you an exact time the delivery will occur.
They don’t offer built-in insurance, so you’ll need to purchase an insurance policy to help protect your packages from being lost or damaged.
USPS is based in the United States and offers international shipping services for letters, cards, and packages. They offer international delivery to about 180 countries, and they have a few different service packages to choose from.
USPS’s Priority Mail International service includes tracking and insurance on many documents and merchandise, but you’ll need to see the guidelines. Their website says that postage prices start at $30.35 for this package.
They offer a First-Class Package International Service (FCPIS) for lightweight packages (4 lbs and under) starting at $15.75. They offer a fast, reliable, and affordable package that can deliver to around 180 countries in just 3 to 5 business days with their Priority Mail Express International Package.
USPS offers insurance and tracking through their Global Express Guaranteed, Priority Mail Express International, and Priority Mail International services.
You can also print customs forms and shipping labels directly from the website, which also has a plethora of tips, tricks, and help with shipping packages internationally.
Desk to Desk Courier & Cargo is a courier delivery service company headquartered in Bangalore. It delivers to more than 240 countries worldwide. They offer a tracking system that lets customers locate their parcels or mail regardless of the destination.
They handle over 12 million shipments every month and are great for prompt mail and package delivery services across India. DTDC’s website offers a plethora of information regarding rates, rules, and regulations regarding their global shipping.
As with many international shipping couriers, DTDC doesn’t offer insurance on packages, so you would need to purchase your own policy.
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Choosing an international shipping service that fits the needs of your business can seem like a daunting task at first, but with the right information, it can be an easy task.
Once you know what your specific international shipping needs are, choosing the right courier for you doesn’t have to be complicated at all.
The path becomes clear when you know where to start, and we hope we’ve helped answer all of your questions.