ePacket: What Is It and Should It Be Part of Your Shipping Strategy?
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If there’s one thing that every ecommerce customer loves, it’s speedy delivery. But we live on a pretty big planet, and packets from the other side of the world can take a long time to arrive.
As an online business owner, your delivery times can be the difference between a customer buying from you or one of your competitors. Shipping products is a key part of ecommerce. So what can you do, especially if you’re sourcing your products from faraway places like China and Hong Kong?
The good news is, there’s a solution – ePacket delivery! Stay tuned and find out what it is, how it works, and whether it’s meant for you.
What Is ePacket Delivery?
ePacket delivery is an air shipping method available across over 40 countries (and counting!) for shipping small, light packages of up to 4.4lbs quickly from Hong Kong and China.
It revolutionized shipping times for selling internationally, which 10 years ago used to take 1-2 months, if not more. Over the years, it has become an extremely popular service used on dropshipping websites like Ali Express, Alibaba, and eBay.
Advice from the Experts
Top Tip: Ask the company who is sending the packet whether there are any additional taxes or fees your customers need to be aware of.
How Does ePacket Work?
If the suppliers of your products are based in China or Hong Kong, they can send out your products using the service on your behalf.
Local post carriers will move your packet through to customs. Once it clears customs, it will be sent using international post to the in-bound customs of the destination country. After that, it is in the hands of the destination country’s post office which will deliver it to the customer’s address.
Who Can Use ePacket Delivery?
ePacket delivery is currently available in these countries (in alphabetical order):
Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Malta, Mexico, Netherland, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Spain, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom, USA, Vietnam.
This list may continue growing as time goes on, so if one of your customers can’t access ePacket delivery, check back in six months or a year. Things might have changed.
Advice from the Experts
Top Tip: Double and triple check that your suppliers are using official ePacket delivery and not a sub-par service.
ePacket Delivery: How To
First, talk to your supplier and confirm they can offer ePacket for your products. If they don’t, it might be worth asking if they’d be willing to do it, and what that would take.
Then, check the price of ePacket delivery. Over the last few years, because of volatile supply chain problems, border closings and instability, some of the prices have increased. It’s best to err on the side of caution with this.
Find out how much customs charges, fees, and taxes will be so that you can inform your customer, because they are responsible for all of those payments. And ensure that your supplier knows they must put the additional charges (for the customer to eventually pay) on the package so that it will clear customs without problems. Otherwise it will get held up in customs or get sent back to the supplier.
Be sure your website offers the ePacket option and it is clearly marked, otherwise your customer could choose or be stuck with a slower option.
Once your customer has placed an order and the product is sold, the supplying company will ship and provide a tracking number so that you can make sure your customer has it.
There are tracking websites like EMS (if the package is in China) USPS (if the package is in the US). Some dropshippers like AliExpress have their own tracking system too.
Your customers will be able to check up on your package as many times as they want. Your customer’s happier and – bonus – they’re not sending you a million emails asking where their package is.
There are product package requirements for shipping that you must bear in mind. This requires measuring your boxes for shipping as accurately as possible – never allow guesstimates! So, when packaging your products, consider:
- Does it weigh less than 4.4 lbs?
- Can it fit in a packet no longer than 24 inches with the total dimensions (including thickness) at 36 inches max?
- Can it fit in a packet no smaller in length than 5.5 inches width of 4.3 inches?
- Is it worth no more than $400?
Also, like with any international shipping, be careful about the type of products you’re selling. Certain foods/drinks and hazardous materials like chemicals, lithium batteries, certain liquids such as glue or flammable paint are restricted from shipping. Always check the countries involved as rules change from place to place!
Advice from the Experts
Top Tip: If you can offer the ePacket service and it’s cost effective, be sure to promote it! Your customers will love to know they can get their trackable product faster.
Is ePacket Delivery For Me?
ePacket delivery is not the best service for a large ecommerce business that does a lot of bulk selling and shipping. But if you do individual little packets, it can be a great option.
ePacket certainly does bring some benefits:
- Shipping averages are only 7-10 days (though they can go to 20) and they vary depending on destination country
- Door-to-door tracking through a multi-level chain of detailed statuses
- The customer pays the duties and taxes
- Undelivered packets are returned for free, which is important because 79% of customers want free return shipping. Before ePacket, that was pretty much an impossibility. Not anymore.
But there are some drawbacks to consider:
- Very recently, ePacket has been either unavailable or less available on big websites like AliExpress (it varies so always check!).
- Since the pandemic began, there have been some inconsistencies in delivery times for dropshippers, so it’s really important to be up on current delivery times. Check out recent complaints from customers in your target area – they’ll give you a good idea of the current landscape too.
- The size and weight limits of the packets can discourage customers from buying all the things they want.
This is the thing about shipping worldwide – it’s rarely straightforward and will require you to keep an eagle eye on your product origins and destinations.
Advice from the Experts
Top Tip: Despite shipping time windows, always check on holidays and celebrations or that might impact outgoing shipping in China/Hong Kong.
It’s exciting when an online store owner can reach as many international customers as possible. But it’s important to make sure your customers’ shopping and shipping experience is positive so they will come back for more.
ePacket has been an important service that has made the delivery of products from China and Hong Kong much easier and faster. If you stay on top of the current challenges, you’ll be able to maximize the experience for yourself and your audience by using ePacket delivery too.
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