Thanks to the internet and the services developed after its emergence, expanding globally and selling internationally is not that big of a deal anymore. Several “offline companies” that quickly embraced e-commerce and many others raised directly in the online environment, now look overseas in order to conquer new markets and grow their businesses.
Buying online has also become a very common practice nowadays and customers do not get surprised by knowing their purchases come from another part of the world.
Notwithstanding, these changes and new market dynamics have brought additional challenges for business owners, such as more competition and the need of constant innovation in all sectors of the company, including shipping and delivery.
Shipping is an essential factor of an ecommerce business process and their ability to be competitive, there are several options companies can choose to send their products, and ePacket shipping & delivery has become very a popular option among shoppers all around the globe.
Initially, this service was responsible for making the shipment of products bought from China and Hong Kong incredibly cheaper, and created a boom for purchases from websites like Aliexpress.
Today ePacket shipping and delivery is a service offered for more than 30 countries and it is definitely an instrument every company in global expansion (or that intend to in the near future) need to be aware of.
How cheaply Chinese merchants are able to sell and ship their products has become a nuisance for many American ecommerce companies and has clearly affected the balance of the world’s economy in many ways. For example, providing Chinese companies a big competitive advantage over national brands.
Here is where our guide to ePacket shipping comes in handy. We have assembled a complete list of information and tips that will help you to understand what ePacket shipping is and how you can use this information in favor of improving your own delivery services.
ePacket: definition and story
The ePacket shipping service was specifically created for ecommerce stores, as the name itself suggests, and it is a quicker and cheaper alternative for people to receive their online purchases from China and Hong Kong.
In the past, the China Express Mail Service (EMS) was the most affordable service to deliver products overseas, however, it used to take months for consumers to get their products. If not China EMS, the fastest alternatives were simply too expensive for small product purchases.
In 2011 though, the United States Postal Service (USPS) decided to subsidized those postal rates and announced an agreement with Hong Kong Post and eBay China, offering this new shipment service that allowed packages (smaller than 36” and below 4.4 pounds) coming from these two Asian countries to use USPS First Class Mail Service with delivery confirmation.
At the beginning, it fulfilled orders from China and Hong Kong to the United States, but ePacket has expanded its services quickly since then, and today ships to over 35 countries. Therefore, it is not uncommon to find this method of shipment on websites like Amazon and eBay.
ePacket shipping requirements and how it works
Dimensions and Weight
The weight of the package cannot be more than 4.4 lbs (2 kg) to be accepted. There is also a maximum length of 24” (60 centimeters), and the total package, adding height, length and width cannot exceed 36” (90 centimeters), according to the USPS.
Additionally, the products cannot cost more than $400.
In order to be considered an ePacket, the product must be shipped from China or Hong Kong to one of the following countries, in alphabetical order: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Gibraltar, Great Britain, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Malta, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Singapore, Spain, South Korea, Switzerland or United States.
Just like almost any other service, delivery time depends on the destination and its relative obstacles: customs, holidays and other reasons for delay. However, there is no doubt that the price and time benefit is the most attractive choice for consumers.
For shipments to the United States or other countries, a package usually takes around 10 days to arrive in the country of destination and then an extra week to 10 days to reach the final location.
The service offers customers end-to-end tracking at no additional cost. They can easily follow and locate their packages online, which gives customers tranquility about when the product will arrival.
The simplest way to track packages is to use the code provided as part of the confirmed order details and search for the package on the shipment companies official websites, but there are other partner shipping websites where you can find this information as well.
Custom, duties and other taxes
An ePacket delivery goes through the same customs clearances as any other traditional shipment method, therefore, it can be also taxed on the arrival. It is important to check which duties or taxes must be paid according to local laws.
AliExpress to dropship your orders
When it is possible, according to your logistics and the products you sell, this can be a very strategic alternative for shipping to your customers with competitive prices and coupled with a short delivery time. The service is usually offered for free or almost, which allows you also to offer free shipping to your customers, getting you some extra satisfaction points.
Read our article on Ecommerce Dropshipping for more information.
The Main Advantages of ePacket Shipping
The first undeniable advantage is ePacket's delivery time, that has considerably decreased from months to 10-20 days as the average time of delivery, depending on the location the product will be sent to. This is a factor that makes small businesses more competitive, even against the biggest marketplaces such as Amazon.
Another advantage is the ability to track packages all along the way in official websites like USPS or China Post, which gives shoppers more reassurance to buy and ensures ecommerce stores that the whole delivery process has been successful. If not, returning items are free, which means online stores do not have issues to refund customers that did not get their products.
The cheaper prices of ePacket has also had a great influence in the success and increase of international shipments. For example, it is very improbable that a consumer would choose to pay more than $20 for the delivery of a product that costs $2. However, a few years ago, $50 was the price for a small, cheap item to be shipped via standard delivery. The costs were simply prohibitive. With ePacket shipping services, delivery fees became much smaller and made these deliveries possible.
Consequently, as customers realize that the services with ePacket are faster and cheaper than competitors that offer standard deliveries, more than positive feedback, consumers will also choose to shop in web stores that offer this service.
The Main Disadvantages of ePacket Shipping
On the other hand, a big disadvantage is the limitations on dimensions, weight and value of the products that can be shipped with ePacket, which leaves some ecommerce merchants without a reasonable alternative for international shipping.
Even though ePacket shipping and deliveries already cover big markets, like the United States, Canada, most countries in Europe, Australia and Brazil, the service still has a long way to go in order to become truly global.
We recognize that ePacket creates a more challenging situation for American ecommerce businesses, both locally and internationally, even if cross-border e-commerce is a rapidly growing economic sector.
For small business owners, this shipping modality means an opportunity to get ahead locally, offering the best services possible and even faster deliveries to convince local customers to buy domestically.
For the companies that want to sell globally or the ones that do it already, it is time to rethink strategies and consider services such as drop shipping in order to compete with Chinese merchants, as the lower your shipping times and costs are, the more you will be able to sell.