What you need to know in order for international shipment

What you need to know in order for international shipment

What you need to know in order for international shipment

One way to grow your e-commerce business is to make it international and think beyond the borders. There should be a complete business strategy if you want to ship your products internationally. You need to come up with an approach that makes shipping your product easy internationally.
Many reasons restrict you from shipping your products abroad. There is a chance that you might not know how to do that. Maybe you tried it but want to keep doing business with your local market for now.

  • As compare to 2016, the no. of shoppers who shifted to internationally shopping has become 6% more in 2017. As Pitney Bowes say it grown up to 70% in 2017
  • Retailers grown their business 60% more when they offer premium international shipping
  • According to the Pitney Bowes, by 2019 more than 93% retailers would have provided or will be providing international shipping
  • Order value of international sale is 17% higher than average domestic sale.

According to these figures the international shipping and e-commerce business is expanding. International shipping has the advantage that shops can have a larger audience to sell their products to.

Make an international strategy

There are few tips to get you started on international shipping and help you develop your international shipping strategy
What to ship and where to ship it
It is very important to understand your audience and for that purpose you have to realize where in the world to ship and what particular product will sell the most there.
Let us show which market would suit your product the most and which market you should expand your product first.

  • Start near and start smart. It’s always start to start small and taking baby steps before jumping to something big. By starting close to your business you can provide sensible and practical expectations for your customers in terms of price and delivery times.
  • Keep track of demand. Check out your online audience using shop’s traffic analytics. If they are visiting your store repeatedly it’s a good sign
  • Remember the language of the international market. While dealing with customers communication is an essential part of it. Expand your product in countries you know the language of. If there is only one language you know of expand your product in countries where that language is understood.
  • Find markets that suit your business. You need to research for other non-domestic market which suits with your business. Go and check e-commerce penetration and find the interest and taste of customers in that particular market. Again it will require researching on the market.

Remember! You might want to sell all of your products to a certain business but considering what to ship is very important.

Get familiar with country rules and regulations

After deciding on the product you will decide and the place you will ship it to the second step is considering the rules and regulations of that country. There might be countries that might not allow your product to be sold there at all and some might let to sell in limited amounts.
Now how to get the required information? Here are few tips for you

  • Make sure to check the country’s government website to see of any of the product your sell or part of it is said to be “dangerous good” during shipping
  • There is a great tool in UPS that let you see country-specific rules and regulations.

Shipping internationally using Shopify
Discounted rates are offered to merchants in the US and Canada with DHL Express, UPS, USPS, Canada Post by Shopify.
While shipping internationally through Shopify, it generate custom document for you which you can print off in any standard printer available. In DHL Express your documentation is sent to customs-no additional paperwork necessary.
You can also schedule a pickup when you are ready to ship your product using UPS OR DHL Express.
There are four things to consider before deciding which shipping carrier to use.


You can save your shipping cost using more than one carrier.
If you consider postal carriers remember that are slow and don’t have many options for package types and speeds. If you choose Express carriers they are fast and have more options however, they can be expensive. So, it always better to do a good research on these carriers.

Different delivery options

Its best to serve a mix delivery options because some customers might want their purchase right away and other have no problem waiting for it. It is always best to provide range of option as it creates a balance.

Tracking and insurance

You can track your shipment which is an option provident by many shipment carriers. Insuring your shipment is the best thing if you are worried about your shipment getting lost.
Insurance in the price of shipment is one option that is provided by postal carriers like USPS and Canada Post. USPS has specific classes like Priority Mail or Priority Mail Express in their option and similarly Canada Post also provides classes of shipments like Priority and Xpresspost. There is also an option of paying for coverage using shipping service.
Add insurance to packages over 200$ as it will add some peace of mind to both you and your customer.

Be transparent about fees

Be honest and as transparent as possible with you customer regarding the shipment fee. Communicate with them and tell them about shipping cost do not surprise them with extra cost as it can cost you to lose customers.
“Policy pages” is one place where you can talk about this kind of cost to be transparent. Be very clear about how and where you ship and what are the costs associated with that.
Free Shipping and Hello Bar can help you communicate your shipping rates and other policies to the world.
Use all the option available to let your customer know about the potential shipping cost and don’t keep them in the dark. You can communicate this with them in your homepage or policy page.
Charges for international shipping
Here is a chart to help you realize the cost of a shipment in our Beginner’s Guide to Shipping and Fulfillment.
You can determine the full cost of a product suing this chart, which includes everything from total cost of product, shipping cost, taxes and duties and any other fee that might be associated with the product.
Let’s walk through the four highlighted cells above. All four contribute to how effectively you’ll ship around the world.

Packaging of product

Packaging supplies is something you’ll need before shipping your product. You will need boxed with different sized and you might want cushioning for delicate products, bubble wrapping of stuffing. You can get your hands of them both online or offline supply store offices.
You might have to do some research to make sure that the cost of packaging is low. One way is to look for different deals and discounts. USPS provides free boxes if you use that service.

Shipping Cost

In order to set your price correctly building a cost of shipping is very important. Overcharging your customer or losing money in shipping is something you want to avoid.
Here are few steps to make sure it works properly:
Think and compare
The difference between the sizes of products affects how you price a shipment. Some ways to find the international shipping costs are:

  1. Take the price of your average domestic order and using a rate calculator for the carriers and price it for international orders
  2. After that find out the smallest domestic sale using the rate calculator
  3. Now run that for largest domestic sale

For reference, here’s a list of shipping calculators for some major carriers.
Given below is the list of shipping calculator for some carriers.

An example of this approach is:
A Merchant

  • Smallest domestic sale cost $5.33 to ship internationally
  • Average domestic sale cost $15.47 to ship internationally
  • Largest domestic sale cost $124.55 to ship internationally

Make a pricing structure
Three international pricing structures are; carrier rate shipping, shipping free and flat rate shipping.

  1. Free shipping:  if you have profit margins than you can ship your product for free and it is always the best for customers.
  2.  Carrier rate shipping: it is very easy for the customers. Shopify connects with some carriers like DHL Express, UPS in the US etc to provide this option.
  3. Flat rate shipping:  it is worthy to use this option when you know that you have a consistency in international shipping in both packaging and shipping cost.

Handling charges

Adding a handling charge along with other cost is a great idea,
In order to make sure your product is not damaged since it passes through many facilities as compared to domestic order handling charge should be added.  Keep these things in mind while determining your handling charge

  • The minimum hourly wage for getting the shipment ready.
  •  How much time it takes you to prepare an order

It totally depends on you if you want to add the handling cost and you have to determine what best for your business.
Duties and Taxes
Custom duties, taxes are part of international shipping. In order to ensure smooth delivery of products, it’s best to determine which country you are shipping to and to get to know about their policies regarding custom taxes and duties.
Remember to check with local postal services to find out the documents you need to have before shipping.
Shopify provide you with necessary customs documentation for shipping internationally.


Taxes of tariffs by a government on imported goods are called customs.
The custom paperwork required for shipping internationally may be different for different countries. However, there are two documents that every country typically needs which are

  • A commercial invoice
  • An export packing list

Commercial invoice
A commercial invoice is a bill of the product shipped which is send from seller to the buyer which shows ownership and payment of the product. Some information included in the invoice is:

  • The name and address of the merchant
  • Description of product including price and amount
  • The method of shipping
  •  Term of payment and sale

Export packing list
Information like buyer, seller, shipment date and invoice no is on this form. However, it also includes information like:

  • Transportation mode
  • Packages type and amount
  • Package mark
  • Size and weight of the package
  • Information of the carrier

Taxes and Duties
The important things included in duties and taxes are:

  • Shipping cost
  • Insurance if associated
  •  Value and quantity of item

Duties can apply in two ways: delivery duty paid (DDP) and delivery duty unpaid (DDU).
You can enter an HF tariff code for your shipping product if you label your product through Shopify.
There are two ways you can apply duties:

  • Delivery duty paid (DDP): through this you pay the taxes as a merchant for the shipment
  • Delivery Duty unpaid (DDU): here the customer paid the fee and taxes of the shipment.

Another tax that you should know about is the Value Added Tax. It is something every shipment is subject to while shipping internationally. It is fixed unlike taxes and duties and differs in different countries.
Now you are ready to ship internationally
Your first step should be to have a strategy to ship your product internationally. From the cost to the “what” and “how” of the shipment. You can grow your business internationally by doing some research.
Always try new approaches and techniques to make your international shipping experience more effective.