Whether you’re a seasoned veteran or just starting out, shipping internationally is a complex process. Hidden fees and unforeseen costs could leave your business in an uncomfortable position. And even the most experienced shippers are at risk of falling into traps when searching for the most cost-efficient shipping option. Finding the cheapest shipping to France from USA destinations is essential to ensure profitability and growth over time; however, there are many factors that affect the final cost when shipping overseas. This blog will dive into the variables that can affect the shipping cost to France and how to avoid common pitfalls that occur when shipping internationally.
International shipping: Breaking into the French market
When trying to find the cheapest way to send parcels across continents, you may find yourself researching different courier services and shipping methods to achieve the lowest-cost option. But, shipping packages across the globe is challenging and far more costly than shipping within local markets. Factors that affect shipping costs include shipping provider fees, packaging, shipping speed, and customs duties and taxes. Other variables may include additional customs fees, shipping insurance, and the weight and dimensions of your package, but ultimately, the cost of international shipping depends on where you’re shipping to.
Europe’s courier, express, and parcel (CEP) market has seen exponential growth in recent years, as eCommerce business-to-consumer (B2C) sales saw a mass increase in 2020 when online marketplaces took center stage. In 2021, the market was estimated to be worth over 62.6 billion euros. Today, France and the United States are esteemed trading partners, with imports averaging 3244.54 EUR Million from 2014 until 2023. As a lucrative market with tremendous opportunities for eCommerce businesses, it’s crucial to avoid common pitfalls retailers experience when shipping to Europe.
Ship to France from the USA: Pitfalls to avoid
eCommerce businesses take a large risk by expanding their offerings across borders. Not only do business owners need to account for the initial costs of shipping internationally, but they also need to account for unforeseen costs that could arise when going beyond borders. Setting shipping costs too high could turn customers away, and if set too low, your business risks losing out on profitability. This predicament causes businesses to seek affordable shipping options to save on costs. Unfortunately, cheaper is not always better, and low-cost international shipping could end up negatively affecting your business if not addressed properly.
Here are 5 pitfalls to avoid when shipping to France from USA destinations.
Pitfall #1: Choosing the cheapest option
When selecting an international shipping service option for your business, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons. While cheaper shipping quotes may sound appealing, they often lead to longer transit times, where expensive quotes will lead to quicker shipping speeds and potentially more options for your business.
Cheaper carriers may also not account for important details required for overseas shipments, like customs documents, duties, and packaging requirements, leading your team to fend for themselves and navigate the complexities of shipping to France alone.
Before choosing the cheapest shipping option, consider the following:
- Is your provider familiar with shipping to various destinations in France?
- Does your carrier understand the proper French customs regulations?
- Does your partner provide shipping insurance?
- Are shipping services negotiable?
- What delivery speeds do they offer to accommodate your needs?
Asking these questions can help you weed out inexperienced providers that may offer low-cost international economy options, but will end up costing your company more in the long run due to missed details and costly mistakes.
Pitfall #2 Using a shipping calculator to determine costs
When initially exploring shipping costs to France, using an international shipping calculator is common to the process. A shipping calculator can help your business gain an introductory understanding of the initial costs of shipping overseas. While useful tools for initial research, shipping calculators lack the precise accuracy businesses need to budget correctly. International shipping calculators offer estimated shipping charges comparable to average costs on the market, but they cannot provide customized quotes. They also provide information based on what is programmed in, meaning the results may not be accurate to the most current information.
Further, shipping calculators typically only ask broad questions, like the destination country, postal code, and value of products. However, packaging, speed of travel, and weight and dimensions will also contribute to the final cost, making shipping calculators an insufficient online tool when searching for reliable pricing. Working with an experienced shipping provider can help your business determine the actual costs to ship to France and help you get your items there compliantly.
Pitfall #3 Not using proper packaging
While it may seem cost-efficient to try to save costs on packaging, failing to pack a shipment properly could result in damaged items and additional fees. Ensuring proper packaging minimizes dimensional weight (DIM) charges, which refers to the pricing method providers use to determine shipping costs based on the weight and volume of the package. This method focuses on the amount of space your item occupies instead of the overall weight of your packages. Packaging materials efficiently to reduce weight without risking the protection of the products can help businesses avoid unnecessary costs in damages.
Consider Bath and Body Works, a U.S.-based retail chain that sells various fragrances and candles. This popular location is known for selling a variety of scented candles and even offers shipping within local markets. However, since the company mainly sells glass candles and offers promotions multiple times a year, many consumers opt for shipping to receive their items. But despite being in business for many years, Bath and Body Works still struggles to ship their candles successfully. They use eco-friendly packaging, which consists of a cardboard box surrounding their candles; however, the candles lack
additional protection from other packing materials like bubble wrap or packing peanuts. The company has excellent customer service by offering customers new candles should any item arrive damaged, but they essentially must account for the cost of two candles per each candle shipped should they break instead of just investing in additional packaging. While Bath and Body Works currently only ships within the United States and to Puerto Rico and Canada, they must refine their packaging to successfully ship globally.
Working with a professional shipping carrier can help you account for the permitted weight and dimensions and proper shipping label requirements accepted when shipping to France to avoid additional costs. Certain providers may even provide flat-rate shipping options to help your business budget costs in advance despite the weight of your materials.
Pitfall #4 Failing to research customs regulations
If your eCommerce business is looking to fulfill orders quickly and ship to France at the lowest cost possible, it’s essential to ensure you follow the right regulations and procedures to get your package there compliantly, and without additional fees. France is a Member State of the European Union (EU), requiring adherence to specific regulations to ship there. Failure to provide the specific documentation required for travel could result in customs penalties or delays that could raise the cost when shipping to France. Before embarking on your international shipping journey, consult with a shipping expert to determine which documentation is required for travel and to understand French restricted and prohibited items to avoid unnecessary penalties.
Pitfall #5 Not accounting for customs duties, taxes, and tariffs
When shipping to France, businesses must declare goods and pay a value-added tax (VAT) on all items shipped to the EU. This is a new initiative that many U.S. stores are not factoring in when calculating initial costs. Sellers are now required to register with the IOSS to collect applicable VAT from the buyer at point of sale, for all products valued under the threshold of €150.
Consider this scenario: Lisa is a business owner who sells luxury clothing with a market interest in France. Lisa decides to expand her operations across borders and offer international shipping to consumers residing in Paris, Nice, and other surrounding areas. However, when Lisa began shipping her items, she encountered issues with French customs. Lisa failed to register for IOSS, which helps sellers declare and pay VAT on eligible transactions. VAT is collected from the customers at the time of purchase and included in the total order amount.
Completing this process helps sellers meet compliance requirements when shipping to EU member states. As a result, Lisa was unable to expand her products overseas until further notice. Failing to pay applicable customs duties and taxes could delay your items and result in negative customer satisfaction. The ripple effect from lack of research and preparation creates more room for error, leaving your business in an unfavorable position.
Finding cost-efficient shipping to France from the USA
In addition to avoiding the above pitfalls, there are many ways American businesses can save on expenses when shipping to France.
Receive multiple quotes to weigh your options: Exploring your options can help you vet providers and compare pricing models and find saver options before landing on one provider to receive the best rates possible. Establishing a relationship with a provider can also help you negotiate shipping plans and receive discounted rates over time.
Consolidate packages to avoid extra surcharges: If you’re looking to save on costs when shipping miles away from the U.S., consider package consolidation. Consolidation services combine multiple individual packages into a single shipment. This service helps lower the overall shipping costs, and helps clear customs faster by submitting documentation for less packages.
Factor in customs duties and VAT: Familiarizing yourself with French customs duties and accounting for additional costs will help ensure a smooth customs clearance process and avoid any potential complications or delays.
Stay knowledgeable of the latest EU and French regulations to avoid penalties: Regulations are constantly changing. Working with a customs agent or international shipping provider can help you familiarize yourself with the latest requirements to avoid penalties or shipping delays.
Don’t neglect shipping insurance: If you are shipping high-value items, consider adding on shipping insurance to your international delivery plan. Shipping insurance covers the cost for lost, damaged or stolen items, so you don’t have to worry about replacement costs.
Ship to France with ePost Global
At ePost Global, we offer a wide range of flexible shipping solutions to meet your business needs and budget. Low-cost shipping doesn’t have to mean low quality. We offer various shipping options, including a first-class air option for mail, and USPS Priority Mail International option for parcel, which is a cost-effective way to send mail and packages weighing up to 70 pounds to France as well as Priority Mail Express international to get your items to France within 3-5 business days.
We provide enhanced delivery services and door-to-door tracking capabilities, so in addition to low-cost delivery options, you can monitor the progress of your shipment at every touchpoint throughout France in real-time. Our experienced and knowledgeable shipping team allow us to offer services beyond the traditional couriers and postal services like DHL and FedEx, that enable us to consolidate international shipments with the care and attention your packages deserve.
If there’s ever an issue with your shipment, we have an established team of customer support representatives to guide you through any issues. Whether you’re shipping to France, Germany, Ireland or beyond, we have the skills and expertise to ship your items at a competitive price you can agree with.
Finding the cheapest shipping to France from USA locations is easy when you work with ePost Global. Whether you’re a large e-commerce company or small business ready to break into new international markets, we at ePost Global can help you get started shipping to France with cost-efficiency in mind.
Ready to get started? Contact us today!