How To Ship Internationally: The Complete Guide

Henna Khurana
Henna Khurana May 31, 2021 • 5 min read
International Shipping Companies

7 Actionable Steps To Help You Ship Internationally Today

International Shipping Companies

I think you'll agree with me when I say International shipping can be a massive headache. Let me be the bearer of good news- it doesn't have to be, if you approach it without a solid strategy in place- there is no worry to be had.

Note: Even if you don't ship internationally that often, this guide will provide you with the appropriate mindset to tackle the logistical nightmares of shipping internationally.

There could be many reasons that hold you back from shipping internationally. I will walk you through how simple it really is, what you need to do, and the best practices to get your packages beyond your borders.

The global ecommerce market is expected to total $4.89 trillion in 2021. That figure is estimated to grow over the next few years, showing that borderless ecommerce is becoming a profitable option for online retailers.

Step #1: Nail Your Local Market, Before Going Global

Dominate your local area.

Don’t be afraid to first dominate your local area. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and your empire is no exception.

Set realistic expectations for your customers and stick to them, a few notable ones are:

  • Shipping Costs
  • Delivery Times
  • Product Quality
  • Customer Service

That right there is your formula for local success, and the best starting point for you to scale internationally!

Step #2: Track Trends

There is no telling where the world will go tomorrow, but what you can measure is the direction it's being pulled in.

A few great resources for doing so are:

  1. Know your Audience- Use services like google trends and google analytics to see where your customers are.
  2. Social Media- Feel the wave and get on it right at the start!
  3. Ask your Account Reps for the industry insights.

Use publicly available data to conduct your research to figure out where your consumers are shopping and which markets are booming.

Our partners at Export Development Canada are the international risk experts. They take on risk, so you can grow your business with confidence. Let them share their market knowledge with you today.

Step #3: Consider Your Language Barrier

Language connects us but can also create a massive barrier between what your business wants to communicate to your customers and what your customers actually interpret. Consider expanding to countries that speak your native tongue first, then scale accordingly.

Bonus TIP- Understand payment preferences of the region

Without a doubt, this is critical and ties back to how well you do your market research.

Example: Most North American and European consumers are accustomed to shopping with their credit cards, but Chinese consumers almost exclusively use AliPay or UnionPay. Knowing how your consumers will be purchasing your product within the region will save you many orders that otherwise would have been lost in translation (lost in financial translation, that is).

Step #4: Be Product-Market Ready

Your product might not be for everyone, and that’s okay. Do your research to ensure that the market you are looking to sell to is ready for your business. Be sure to be at the right place, at the right time, not by chance, but by design. Market research is your friend.

BONUS TIP- Hyper communicate your brand and localize it

Here are some ways for you to help localize:

  • Tailor your website to the local language and choices
  • Display prices in local currency
  • Provide clear shipping guidelines on your policy pages
  • Be clear about shipping and fulfillment timelines

Step #5: Figure Out Your Dimensions

Who said all those years of high-school math went to waste?

Your package weight and dimension will directly affect where and how you will be managing your international shipments. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Is your package durable?
  • How heavy is it?
  • Does it require special handling?
  • What sort of packaging material does it require?

Figuring out these dimensions will be critical in the success of your overall international shipping strategy. It can determine your shipping costs, which courier services to use, which shipping companies to go with and which warehouses to staff.

Step #6: Country Rules are the ONLY rules that matter

After figuring out where you want to ship, it’s time to look at the laws governing the region(s). Some countries might prohibit your product(s), others might impose tariffs, others may limit supply; knowing your country's regulations will ensure smooth delivery with limited complications.

NOTE: UPS has a great tool on how you can find country-specific rules and regulations.

Step #7: Be Honest With Your Shipping Costs

Don’t EVER try to scam your customers into paying more than they have to. Be as transparent and communicative as possible with your customers about shipping costs/fees.

Don’t surprise them with an insane shipping charge at checkout.

Here are 5 factors to keep in mind when determining your shipping costs:

  1. Package dimensions and weight
  2. Distance
  3. Tracking & Insurance
  4. Customs & Duties
  5. Handling

In fact, 50% of cart abandonment happens due to overly high shipping fees, don’t contribute further to this statistic.

Example: If you want to communicate how your international shipping strategy is laid out effectively, dedicate an entire section within your ‘policy pages’ where you can clearly outline where and how you ship your products, which shipping companies you work with, and the costs associated with doing so.

Or create your own eShipper account (for free) to get access to a more extensive calculator where you'll be able to see a list of competitive rates from trusted carriers like FedEx, UPS and others, see a breakdown of prices and compare them by carrier, service, estimated transit time, etc.

How to position your rates for international shipping?

To properly assess what to charge for international shipping, here are the four factors that need to be considered:

  • Packaging
  • Cost of shipping
  • Handling charges
  • Duties and taxes

This part right here is the logistical nightmare that gets most people ripping their hair out; don’t Stress. I know it’s tedious to have to figure out these nuanced details. Still, they matter, and they will help with your long-term success in figuring out the appropriate documents to carry, as well as help determine the appropriate shipping rates you should be charging.

If your business is looking to ship from Canada to the US, we’re here for you with our PBX program); which can save you up to 70% on shipping costs versus traditional national carriers.

BONUS TIP- Duties and taxes

Without getting too deep into it (because this would require an entire article on it’s own), international shipments are subject to duties and taxes depending on the region you’re shipping to, the origin of manufacturing of your product, and its value.

For most of these factors, your customer will be paying for through what is called Delivered At Place (DAP). However, if you choose to pay for these yourself, then you would still need to collect the payment from the customer, but this time upfront; this is called Delivered Duty Paid (DDP).

IMPORTANT: All international shipments require customs paperwork (which varies based on country). For the majority of cases, you need to provide a commercial invoice and an exporting packing list.

How to ship internationally with eShipper?

  1. Click
  2. Ship
  3. Save

Additionally, we offer:

  1. Best insurance rates
  2. Exceptional tracking
  3. 24/7 customer support
  4. Simplified border clearance (thanks to our friends at the FDA)
  5. Free eCommerce integrations (such as Shopify Shipping app)

We care about your business’ success and want to make shipping, especially international shipping to the US, a hassle-free and affordable experience.

You can learn more about how eShipper can save your business money here.

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