There’s no question that reaching new markets is an outstanding growth opportunity. Luckily, online retailers are uniquely positioned to expand into international markets.
But... It may be hard to figure out where to start.
Just like planning an international vacation, beginning to ship internationally takes some planning. In this article, we’ll overview some of the most important questions to answer as you begin forming your international shipping plan.
What carriers should I use for international shipping?
All major shipping carriers have international shipping options, but each has different associated costs and shipping experiences differ. Let’s take a closer look.
DHL is well known for international shipping, especially between the U.S. and Europe. They continue to live up to this impression and provide great transparency in their services (they also have an easy-to-use Duty and Tax calculator). Check out their listed international rates below:
While the U.S. Postal Service is most associated with shipments within the U.S., the USPS offers several international shipping options. See the below USPS table overviewing their published service options:
The “big two” in U.S. shipping are UPS and FedEx. Both companies have built up their international shipping programs in the last several years. See the below UPS table for an overview and complete details on the 2023 UPS Rates and Service Guide.
The other of the “big two”, FedEx also has international shipping options. See their website for full information and the table below for an overview of their published rates.
What customs should I be aware of for international shipping?
Customs are duties and taxes levied by governments for imported goods. All countries have different customs and fees depending on origin country, type of shipment, and the shipment’s value.
The best way to ensure these costs are covered is to research the individual countries where the shipments are going. For example, when shipping to the U.S., a great place to start research is the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website. In addition to researching the individual countries, UPS offers an online and free tool to research country-specific rules and regulations. Check it out here.
What tools should I use for international shipping?
Between complicated fee structures, different shipping zones from carrier to carrier, and navigating customs fees, international shipping can be complicated. There are, however, several tools that can help businesses navigate this process.
First, always check out your shipping carrier’s website or service guide. Service guides are put together by the carrier to outline their services, rates, and additional options, like insurance and return services. These guides are often published online. Just ensure that it is the current year’s guide.
Another great tool is to have comprehensive and functional WMS, ERP, or TMS software. On many platforms, shippers can purchase international shipping labels directly through the platform. On our ShipCaddie TWMS platform, users can view and purchase shipping labels from multiple carriers, purchase shipping insurance, and even automatically submit the international electronic forms to the carrier. These features save shippers time and headaches.
If you are interested in a complementary demo, reach out today!