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International Shipping 101

Welcome back!.. To week two of ONELIVE SHIPPING SCHOOL. The quick rundown is we’ll be covering a variety of topics like Domestic Shipping last week and INTERNATIONAL SHIPPING this week. Think of them as 101 intro courses before we get started with more advanced topics like consolidating, how to optimize your pick pack, and more industry trends.

Today’s episode is International Shipping 101. We’ll go through an important list of facts that are key to your business decision making - similar to last week - but on the international front; such as the primary international carriers, typical service options, how rates are calculated, the shipping materials you should be using for international and the right tools to improve your international shipping strategy.

To export from the US we see an evolving landscape of carriers come and go but a few who stick true to form and who won’t surprise you by being on this list...and they are… DHL...USPS...FedEx...and UPS…Let’s get started.

DHL aka Dalsey, Hillblom and Lynn International have various services including Express services, Parcel & Ecommerce services, Freight transportation and Supply Chain services. DHL Express offers time definite service from ‘Express 9am’ to ‘Express 1030am’ to ‘Express noon’ to Express worldwide in addition to ‘Day definite’ services for less timely shipments. DHL Express is a flagship service tier for companies who have a strong percentage of international customers who might like to meticulously track their packages. The other of many DHL tiers we’re going to highlight right now is DHL eCommerce; specifically DHL Packet International which takes 4-8 days on average and leverages local postal networks. DHL eCommerce works wonders for one time shipping projects or very small parcel. 

The Postal Service aka USPS has 7 international service options to deliver mail and packages to over 180 countries. If you need 1 to 3 day delivery; you’re more than likely going with Global Express Guaranteed; which is, ironically managed by FedEx Express) and if you’re looking to provide a more ‘standard’ shipping method, you might look to offer your customers the Priority Mail International mail class which delivers in 6-10 business days and offers an economic benefit to both you as the shipper and the customer. 

UPS has a great guide of everything you might need to get shipping internationally so that you don’t get held up trying to move your first few international shipments out the door. A few key reminders if using UPS to ship internationally from the US are to (1) double check shipping regulations (2) decide who pays for what (3) provide customs information. 

FEDEX has 5 international shipping options for delivering envelopes and packages. These include FedEx International Next Flight, which is the next available flight and delivers to more than 220 countries and territories. FedEx International First delivers in 1-3 business days and to select postal codes in 20 countries. FedEx International Priority delivers in 1-3 business days by close of business and to more than 220 countries and territories. FedEx International Economy delivers in 2-5 business days and to more than 215 countries and territories. FedEx International Ground delivers in 2-7 business days and to 100% of the residential areas in Canada.

To recap - all of the major carriers offer excellent and varied shipping services types, with various levels of trackability, speed, guarantees, and more. 

What do YOU need to know, no matter what mix of carriers you select for your online store? Here are some tips and tricks for international shipping:

  1. Delays happen. Keep up with the news and let your international customers know what to expect should there be a natural disaster or other major issues in your customers' country. 
  2. Insurance is recommended. Some merchants selling very low value high order frequency goods might not insure their shipments; however when you get into AOV of $50+ 
  3. Don’t mark it as a gift unless it is! It’s good to be honest and you don’t want to get yourself into any sticky situations. 

That’s all this week for Shipping school - we hope you enjoyed learning about international shipping and if it was a refresher for you; don’t worry … we have a ton of niche topics to cover for you soon. 

This was Haley Muller for Your State of Commerce with ONELIVE. See you next week.


Please feel free to email me directly with any questions or go to


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