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International parcel shipping done right
written by Jillian Farrington
The global ecommerce market place offers a lot of opportunity for etailers to expand their business. While growing internationally does bring the opportunity for additional revenue, shipping parcels to other countries can be a complex process. Aside from different carrier options, cost, and transit times, the type and value of items play a more important role in international shipments. This places more responsibility on the seller to get the details of shipping right.
The documentation needed for an international shipment is more involved than for domestic shipments. The seller is responsible for understanding and following the specific customs regulations, duties, and taxes that will always vary by country. The forms will differ by country but the most commonly required documents are the commercial invoice, export declaration, certificate of origin, toxic substances control act form, and the US FCC form 740.
The Harmonized System (HS) code product value and trade agreements determine the amount of fees that may need to be paid. The harmonized code ensures the correct duties and taxes have been applied based on the category the product is in. A clear international shipping policy is necessary to designate what the seller and recipient will each be responsible for.
International carrier considerations
It might be tempting to use the carrier with the lowest cost, but that is not always the best fit for your shipments. Choose a shipping carrier that offers the services you need and cost effectiveness. Tracking information, signature on delivery, and insurance against damage or loss are necessary services, but the impact of extra fees that the shipment might incur should be considered.
Choosing the right parcel carrier will go a long way in determining your success and profitability in international markets. Of course, proven reliability in delivery to the specific countries that matter to you is a top priority, as is the ability to provide the transit time your customers are looking for.
Rates vary greatly in international shipping, as do delivery times. It’s important to know the service levels you are paying for. An international carrier should also be able to help you determine what you need to charge the customer in duties and fees, as an estimate of the final cost of each shipment. Having experience in the international market to make sure all the proper documentation is in place is important as well.
Shipping software enables an online retailer to minimize the complexity of the international shipping process and automate a lot of the paperwork. Many software solutions have the capability to print out custom forms and other important documentation. They will also determine the harmonized code for each shipment based on the type of merchandise being sold. Investing in such software will cut down on the amount of time spent as well as errors, particularly if several countries are being exported to.
Like all types of shipping logistics, working with experienced international carriers and leveraging the power of shipping software will make it easier to cost effectively reach customers. Getting the process right is key to ensure your packages are delivered to international customers on time.
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