For eCommerce businesses that ship internationally as well as domestically, shipping factors and variables are a bit different. However, modern technology and improvements have created a situation where numerous companies have the resources to ship internationally with ease, not only major corporations – this used to be the case in past generations. At Essential Hub, we’re happy to help with a wide range of international shipping needs and challenges, from helping you choose the ideal carrier to filling out the correct paperwork, managing international returns and many other areas. That first area, choosing a carrier, is often a bit more complex for international shipping than for domestic – this two-part blog series will go over several factors that you should be considering, which our team will be happy to help you with during any international shipping process.
Generally speaking, there are four major companies, or carriers, who ship internationally:
USPS: You may not have thought of the US Postal Service as an international shipper due to the fact that it’s an agency of the US government, but it is actually an independent government organization that offers four international shipping options. These range from Global Express Guarantee, which allows packages to arrive in one to three business days, down to First-Class International, where the number of days will vary by destination. USPS offers robust tracking and flat rate shipping.
UPS: UPS also offers international shipping, and with higher packaging limits than USPS – packages can be up to 150 pounds compared to just 70 for USPS. Of course, larger items will come with higher charges. UPS also offers several shipping options and prices.
FedEx: FedEx ships to over 200 countries, with packages arriving in between one and seven days depending on service. Their max weight is similar to UPS.
DHL: Finally, DHL is more unique here. Its max parcel is just 44 pounds, much lower than the other options, and the service covers fewer countries. However, there are situations where going this route is the right move.
One important tip for companies who perform both domestic and international shipping: When finding a new carrier, ask about international shipping variables first. As we noted in detail above, the major carriers vary widely in their international shipping guidelines, pricing and more – there simply isn’t as much difference between them when you get to domestic shipping areas, which is why your primary focus should be on the area with more variability.
Certain carriers might limit regions or countries they will ship to, which could be a big issue for your business. If you’re unsure about a given carrier, you may consider only shipping internationally to a couple countries first to see if the program works for you.