Easyship is a tech company that empowers online sellers to engage in cross-border eCommerce by helping them to find the optimal courier and offering exclusive shipping rates from their partner network. In this guest post, they share their experience around guidelines and best practices for international shipping, and how you can implement these in your business.
1. Category and address
First, figure out your item’s category. Is it a document? Does it contain any dangerous goods?
There are many ways to categorize a product, and it’s vital to make sure you have chosen the right category as this directly affects the customs regulations, taxes and duties concerning your package.
After that, you need to decide on how quickly you want your items delivered. If you’re having trouble getting and comparing international delivery times for multiple couriers at once, try out Easyship’s shipping rate calculator.
You will also need to come up with a process to confirm your recipients’ details for future shipments – it’s surprising how many packages end up not being delivered because the recipient address was inaccurate. Ensure your courier has plenty of information (like the recipients’ email and phone number) to contact them so that you can avoid acting as the middleman.
2. Regulations and requirements
Investigate the requirements and regulations on your item category depending on the countries you are exporting to. Certain categories, such as food and nutrition products are subject to different international regulations depending on which country you’re shipping to. Sometimes additional forms or permits may be necessary for such items. You may want to look for a shipping platform that automatically shows you the shipping regulations for all countries as you fill in your product specifications.
3. Calculating and comparing rates
When you’re looking for a courier service, try to find one that suits your product and price range, while ensuring quality tracking and prompt delivery time.
For example, if you are a business owner shipping a package to an international customer, your brand reputation should not be at risk due to delivery issues, so choosing a reliable courier who can deliver on time is vital.
When researching, you will discover that all major courier services like DHL, UPS, FedEx and TNT provide online tools that allow you to get a quote for shipping. However, these quote services often include ‘hidden fees’, such as: fuel surcharge, remote areas charge, taxes and duties, and other surcharges for shipping.
Once you’ve chosen your courier service, it’s time to decide if you or your customer pays for the shipping costs, along with any additional taxes and duties. If you intend to charge your customers for the shipping costs, do let them know in advance to avoid any disagreements.
4. Labels and documents
Before you ship your items, ensure that you have filled out the the right documents and labels.
- Air Waybill: This is a receipt issued by airlines for the transport of cargo between airports. These also prove that the shipper has received the goods in good condition and doubles as a receipt for accounting purposes.
- Commercial invoice: This is used as a customs declaration that includes the parties involved in the transaction, the cargo, the country of origin, and the Harmonized System codes.
- Customs declaration form: This form ensures that you acknowledge you’re aware of the regulations around the import/export process.
- MSDS document for dangerous goods (including battery declaration): These involve guidance for handling hazardous materials, along with information on chemical composition and properties.
5. Packing and packaging
Make sure that you choose the right size and type of container/envelope for your product, as couriers will use the dimensions and weight to determine the charge for your shipment. If you use a larger container, you will incur extra shipping costs, especially since express couriers charge by volumetric weight that accounts for the dimensions of your package.
When packing your products for delivery, use packaging tape to tape both the top and bottom sides of the container using the ‘H’ taping method. If you are dealing in fragile items, remember to add some kind of cushioning or request a fragile sticker from the courier.
6. Handover of items to courier
Now that everything is packed, it’s time to hand over your packages to your courier.
Does your chosen courier offer pick-up services? If they do, commit to the arranged time. That means if you request a pick-up at 10:00am, make sure your packages are packed, wrapped, and ready to go with necessary labels and documents by that time. If your courier does not offer pick-up services, head for the nearest drop-off location during their opening hours with all of your packages, labels and documents.
Depending on your shipping option and courier, you may have access to tracking information. When you’re choosing a courier, you want to take the quality of their tracking into account. With better tracking quality, you’ll be able to send the tracking ID to your recipient/customer so they can track their items in real time.
Tip: Express couriers generally offer higher quality tracking information and better customer service!
About the author
Jessica is an expert in the area of international shipping. Jessica heads Partnerships at Easyship and is the host of Easyship Academy workshops.