Calculating shipping costs is a fundamental necessity for eCommerce businesses looking to offer international delivery options. Understanding the prices involved when expanding operations helps businesses remain competitive while being able to budget accordingly. While shipping overseas presents lucrative opportunities for businesses with a host of benefits, the initial cost can be daunting, as many variables can impact the final shipping price. Packaging materials, shipping fees, and customs duties are all factors in the intricate process. While an international shipping calculator is a useful tool, it lacks the precise accuracy businesses need to budget correctly.
International shipping experts, however, have years of global expertise with extensive knowledge regarding international shipments, potential hidden fees, and know the most efficient way to ship products across borders. This blog will discuss using international shipping calculators vs. working with a qualified shipping expert, ultimately favoring experts as the best choice for eCommerce businesses.
International Shipping Expenses in 2023: What Influences the Final Cost
International shipping rates have peaked, reaching record highs in years. The COVID-19 pandemic made a significant impact on supply chains across the world, slowing processes at major ports across the globe. International shipping costs increased by 73% during this time, as health containment measures led to labor shortages, supply chain disruptions, and factory closures. Supply and demand also play a quintessential role, as the demand for products increased in 2020 as many consumers amplified their online shopping instead of spending their earnings on public outings and entertainment. With fewer ships transporting goods and limited cargo space, international shipments experienced lengthy delays, and prices increased drastically.
Today, shipping industries still face the repercussions of the notable global pandemic, on top of the highest inflation rates in years. Considering these impalements, it’s essential to calculate each facet of the final shipping cost to reflect that pricing in the cost of your goods and determine adequate shipping rates and speed of service to avoid delays.
Here are some factors that influence shipping costs:
Shipping Destination: Each country will have its own shipping fees required, but always remember, the further the destination, the more likely your shipping costs will be higher.
Customs Duties and Tariffs: Each country has specific taxes and rates imposed by the corresponding government. These rates vary from country to country, with restricted or perishable goods requiring special attention.
Shipping Method and Speed: Since many ports are still experiencing shipping delays, air travel may be more enticing, but keep in mind, the price is higher, as air travel is often used for expedited deliveries and comes with additional regulations. It’s also important to factor in shipping speed to determine which options to offer customers and set a reliable goal to package and process orders efficiently.
Quantity and Package Weight: Heavier and larger shipments cost more and require more packaging. The volumetric weight and package type will greatly affect the final costs.
Shipping Provider: The carrier chosen for international shipping will drastically influence the costs, as different carriers offer different options with various pricing structures.
International Shipping Calculator vs. Expert: Which is Best?
According to recent research, the standard dynamic of international shipping costs is constantly fluctuating, rising when the economy is stable and lowering during economic downturns. A perplexing concept, the reality is that shipping costs may never be consistent.
It’s essential to consider common factors that affect international shipping costs, such as the destination country, speed of shipment, and package volume/weight, and then factor in potential inflation costs afterward to provide a rough estimate of the final costs. With this concept in mind, you may question if an international shipping calculator is a reliable option to calculate your expenses accurately.
While a quality international shipping calculator can help you get started with your financial planning, a global shipping expert can help you with everything from the initial planning stages to efficiently safeguarding your packages across borders.
Here are our top 5 reasons why shipping experts are better than an international shipping calculator.
#1 Precise and Accurate Estimates
If you’ve used an international shipping calculator, you may have noticed the limited number of questions included. While each calculator will differ in design and functionality, many ask broad and fundamental questions, such as where you’re shipping to, the postal code or country you’re sending from, and the value. Many online calculators fail to ask for a shipment’s actual weight and dimensions; critical factors that dictate the final cost.
Upon entering your information, your results may include a recommended shipping courier like USPS or FedEx, estimated delivery times, and average shipping costs in USD or another currency. Depending on the programming of a shipping calculator, the results may be more detailed, offering considerations and stipulations that may affect pricing. However, it’s difficult to determine the accuracy of shipping calculators, as they do not account for special requirements, customs fees, or tariffs that could arise in the process. Shipping delays can also affect pricing and on-time deliveries, leaving an online shipping calculator unable to factor in unforeseen costs and events.
Poor design and inadequate updates can also leave any online tool questionable. With the fate of your business in the hands of an insufficient online tool, it’s best to turn to a professional to factor in every detail of your international shipment so no cost is left uncalculated.
#2 Detailed Advice From an Industry Expert
While a shipper may receive an estimated cost when using an online shipping calculator, you only get the answers to the questions you submit. Some shipping carriers provide informative guides to help with the complex process, but if you’re seeking answers fast, international shipping calculators may leave holes in your research. When you speak with a qualified shipping expert, you get detailed answers from an experienced professional with years of industry knowledge.
#3 Knowledge of Country-Specific Regulatory Frameworks and Restricted Goods
Obtaining customs clearance in any country is a complex process requiring precise attention to detail regarding having the correct documentation, proper labeling and packaging, and adhering to regulations and restrictions imposed in your destination country. However, regulatory frameworks are constantly changing, leaving eCommerce businesses in a difficult position to determine the final cost or understand why a shipping charge has accrued.
For example, say your business is looking to ship to Canada from the USA, you have to understand the Canadian taxes imposed, such as the Goods and Services Tax (GST) of 5%, and the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST), ranging from 13-15% based on the province/territory. Restricted items include weapons, tobacco, and alcohol in some regions. Further, food products may require an import permit or certificate of analysis to ship to the great white north.
Unfortunately, a shipping cost calculator would not account for such specific information to determine additional duties or taxes. If a rates calculator were to provide such information, the answers
included may not be up to date with relevant information. As discussed above, shipping rates change rapidly depending on the state of our global economy. Many online calculators are not programmed to receive constant updates.
Shippers could be left with unaccounted inflated costs without a qualified professional there to update you on the relevant international shipping rates and regulatory frameworks.
#4 Personalized Shipping Quotes
International shipping calculators offer estimated shipping charges comparable to average costs on the market. But when you work with an experienced professional, they can cater to your business’s needs, offering customized shipping options and quotes based on your budget and destination so you can determine shipping costs and plan for any additional surcharges. Industry experts also have extensive knowledge and can provide guidance on how to save on international shipping costs by utilizing adequate packaging, improve consolidation efforts by shipping in bulk, and optimize packages to fit on pallets seamlessly to achieve an error-free shipping process.
#5 Quality Customer Support
International shipping is complex, leaving eCommerce businesses with many questions about the process. While shipping calculators can answer some of your questions, you and your customers will likely have many more, including how to track shipments, find lost packages, and navigate customs duties for specific countries.
As much as today’s online advances benefit businesses, not every inquiry can be answered with a Google search and standard shipping calculator. Often, you’re left with holes in your research, leaving many lucrative opportunities to fall through the cracks.
Working with an international shipping expert with a dedicated customer service team will help you address issues head-on to mitigate shipping errors before they happen. International shipping experts know the ins and outs of the global shipping process. Whether you’re shipping to Ireland, Australia, or beyond, shipping experts have extensive knowledge of obtaining customs clearance and know the cost it’ll take your business to get there.
Suppose a shipment is delayed or must be returned. In that case, a shipping calculator may be unable to compute the import fees associated with your delayed package or help with the complex process of returning it to its origin country.
A customer support specialist can expedite this process with ease while ensuring the proper packaging and labeling requirements to get your package through customs and communicate the transit times simultaneously.
Choose ePost Global as Your Shipping Expert
To harness financial success in any international endeavor, businesses must precisely calculate all shipping variables to determine any extra fees or unforeseen costs to ensure they are pricing their products accordingly to secure a profit. However, this process can be complex, as many businesses embark on unfamiliar territory. By turning to an experienced shipping expert, such as ePost Global, businesses can determine corresponding costs in real-life scenarios that no shipping calculator could offer.
At ePost Global, we combine our years of global knowledge with customized shipping services to meet your unique international mailing needs, helping you determine a realistic budget. Navigating the complexities of international shipping is challenging for any eCommerce business. We’ll help you at every step, from determining initial costs to shipping your goods correctly and precisely.
We offer personalized delivery services with real-time tracking capabilities. With our transparent approach, you’ll know the exact costs for each shipment and exactly how many business days it’ll take to get there. If an unforeseen event does occur, we have knowledgeable and trained customer service representatives to help track lost packages, tackle customs duties, or gather necessary documentation to prevent delays with customs authorities.
Working With A Qualified Professional
Using an international shipping calculator is an excellent starting point when expanding your global shipping efforts, but please use it with caution. Understanding that your results are only an estimate and not a precise amount can help you identify a realistic budget while considering a multitude of costs that could accrue when shipping products internationally.
Working with an esteemed professional, such as ePost Global, can help shippers expand internationally while thoroughly helping you understand the final cost so you can ensure financial success for your eCommerce business.
Ready to ditch your international shipping calculator and work with a qualified professional? Contact ePost Global today.