Customs keeping you up at night? Here’s how to make sure your packages always pass

By Regina Baily
Published in Solutions
November 23, 2022
5 min read
Customs keeping you up at night? Here’s how to make sure your packages always pass

There’s one organization that strikes fear into the hearts of globally-minded ecommerce merchants with the promises of extended delays, extra fees, and angry customers: customs. International delivery necessitates dealing with a lot more pitfalls and difficulties due to these customs costs, exchange rates, and the sheer time and distance involved. Many customers won’t even order something from halfway across the world due to the sheer cost involved. What’s a merchant to do? Here at P2Pseller we believe that information is king. This means that if we can inform you about the basics of shipping, both domestic and international, that will give you the tools you need to succeed in a competitive market. Read on to discover some basics about shipping that can only help you going forward.

How do I prevent a package from getting stuck in customs?

It’s absolutely essential to make sure that all necessary forms are filled out beforehand. Check the requirements of the destination country before shipping. Some countries offer the option to fill out the declaration form and pay any fees electronically, while others insist upon having the form physically attached to the package. What’s more, some countries require the recipient to pay any resulting fees, and some countries make that demand on the sender. While there are a few generalizations you can typically follow, it’s always best to check the specific laws and regulations of the country in question to make sure that everything is totally taken care of ahead of time.

How do I calculate shipping costs?

In this day and age, if you want to know how much it is to send a package, the simplest way to find out is to quickly check the website of your preferred courier partner. These sites will inevitably contain no end of shipping rate tables to help you determine how much you’re likely to spend on an individual package, and some sites even have tables for multiple packages at a time. This means that you don’t have to spend valuable time and energy sitting in front of a computer screen, calculator in hand, doing complicated forms of addition and multiplication.

Not only will most couriers’ sites have tables for domestic delivery, you’ll also typically see an international shipping calculator so you can make sure that you get the best deals possible when it comes to fulfilling for your international customers. Be aware that many delivery companies will provide better rates to business customers who ship packages with them again and again. This means that it may be more cost effective to pick one company and stick with it as opposed to jumping around to whomever has the cheapest rates at the time. These companies may even be able to provide shipping labels and other packing materials for you without too much hassle or extra cost. However, there are arguments for both approaches, so you’re free to run the numbers yourself and see which is best for you.

How much is shipping internationally?

International ecommerce strategy is both somehow more and less difficult than the average merchant might expect. Yes, there are a number of pitfalls, such as dealing with VAT, import fees, and no end of paperwork. There’s a number of troubles that might be discounted by the average seller that can compound into big issues in the blink of an eye. How does one offer consistent two-day shipping, for example, when cross-border shipping and delivery times can be so unpredictable? The Covid-19 pandemic has only made these issues more present and difficult to avoid than ever before. Unfortunately it’s difficult to offer a hard-and-fast answer about how much international shipping costs, as these prices are constantly changing in accordance with exchange rates, oil prices, and other indicators. By shipping all your business through a single carrier, though, you’re likely to be able to nab a considerable discount for your cross-border shipments.

What is a shipping label?

The simple answer is that it’s just instructions on where to send packages. It can be a sticker or slip pasted onto a package in order to make sure it’s routed through to its final destination, but labels can range in sophistication and technological advancement anywhere from custom-made QR codes or barcodes to handwritten shipping labels on box tops. Without fail, though, every example must contain the customer’s name, address, and any barcodes that are necessary to make sure the package isn’t lost in some distribution facility somewhere. This is distinct from a packing slip and the other customs forms needed to make sure your parcel clears international customs without any incident.

There’s a variety of ways to generate a prepaid shipping label meaning that you have no shortage of options regarding how to get it done. The three major US couriers, that is to say USPS, UPS, and FedEx, have the ability to generate and print shipping label sheets directly from the comfort of your own home. This means the ability to create UPS shipping label stickers, or USPS or FedEx stickers depending on your preference, isn’t dependent on your ability to find the time to go down to the shop itself.

Do you need a specialized shipping label maker?

The question of how to print shipping labels is quite a simple one. All that’s required to create a shipping label is an internet connection, a debit card, and a printer. Simply navigate to the website belonging to your courier partner of choice, follow the on-screen instructions, and print. You can then affix the sticker or paper to the box that needs to be shipped and drop it off. Often couriers offer a small discount if you generate your label online, as that saves time and effort for their workers in the stores. For reference, standard sizes range from 4 x 6 inches to 6 x 3 inches to 4 x 4 inches, meaning it’s wise to select a box large enough to accommodate this size of slip and avoid any complications or glitches in scanning resulting from awkwardly twisting a barcode around a sharp corner.  A larger package also allows room for respectable amounts of packing materials, which will shield and protect your goods from bumps and bruises all the way to their final destination.

In conclusion

The cost it requires to get your products onto the doorstep and into the hands of your end customer is highly variable depending on the size, weight, and dimensions of the item in question, as well as the distance you need to send it and any relevant exchange rates. The major three courier companies all offer different prices and flat-rate options, but for sheer efficiency of price it’s difficult to beat marine freight. All of this can be quite confusing to wrap your brain around, especially if you’re new to the world of ecommerce fulfillment. Luckily, P2Pseller has your back. Instead of leaving you to flounder, we offer a number of calculators and even the use of our own business account so you can get better rates than you might be able to get going to these courier companies as an individual. We’re ecstatic to help you smash sales goals and grow your business bigger than ever before. Register a free account with us today to browse the full measure of our offerings without any commitment required on your end. We’ll see you there!


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