Growth and challenges are two sides of the same coin.

With international shipping comes growth – shipping worldwide is, in other words, putting your eCommerce business on an enormous stage of retail, serving customers from all around the globe.

With international shipping also comes challenges (and hassles) – a lot of planning has to be done before you become fully capable of shipping worldwide.

From things to be aware of to things to be considered, here are 8 things to evaluate and plan before you ship worldwide.

1. Duties & Taxes

It’s universally acknowledged that almost all cross-border shipments are subject to duties and taxes collected by customs or government entities to raise funds and protect local industries. Paying the duties and taxes correctly ensures that your shipments are allowed to enter the country of destination and be delivered to your customers.

The fees can vary depending on various factors, which include but are not limited to the value of the goods, and country-specific regulations. Give our blog a quick read for the top FAQs answered about duties and taxes for eCommerce:

2. Shipment Weight

International shipping costs can eat into your profit drastically. While shipments come in varying weight and dimensions, the shipping fee of a shipment is calculated based on its actual weight or volumetric weight - whichever is of greater value.

Before you ship, you must weigh and measure your shipments properly to get an accurate quote and avoid unexpected charges.

Tips on how to calculate chargeable weight:

3. Transit Times

International shipments are prone to getting delays under different circumstances – e.g. some items may require a longer custom clearance process. It’s critical to check the transit times, determine how much time is required for the transits, and make buffer planning.

4. Freight Solution

Every smart buyer compares prices, wink-wink, if you know what I mean.

Compare shipping rates and solutions among couriers: Have the dimensions and weight of your shipments in hand to get estimated quotes from various freight companies!

5. Medium of Transportation

Ship by air or sea or road - This can be a difficult decision despite the 3 simple options. Consider the cost, time, and shipment content when you choose between the medium of transportation!

Regarding Cost & Time:

  • In most cases, air freight is the fastest yet most expensive shipping method. On a contrary, sea freight and land freight are more budget-friendly but may require more time for transit.

Regarding Shipment Content:

  • Delicate and perishable goods should be handled with extra precaution. Shipping these fragile items via sea or land freight can increase the chance of them being damaged in close containers during long-haul transit.

6. Documentation

Dealing with the paperwork can be troublesome when it comes to international shipping.

As required for all international commodity shipments, Commercial Invoice is among the most common shipping documents - that is, a detailed list that covers the entire export transaction with key information such as sender’s and receiver’s information, the commercial value of the goods, and the country of origin.

Other common documents include Certificate of Origin (CoO), Packing List, Bill of Lading (BoL), and Electronic Export Information (EEI), etc. – do check the documents required to accompany your shipment and ensure smooth shipping without delays!

7. Shipping Restrictions & Prohibited Items

Before you ship your items, make sure that the items are not on the restricted and prohibited list of the country of origin and destination. Otherwise, it may end up in a complex customs situation – your shipments are being held or seized by the Customs authority, causing severe disruption to your eCommerce order fulfillment process that leads to poor shopper experience, damaged reputation, and loss in revenue.

Common items with shipping restrictions due to safety concern:

  • Hazardous Liquids & Powders
  • Ammunition
  • Live Animals & Remains
  • Explosives
  • Marijuana & Controlled Substances

8. Shipping Insurance

Sometimes accidents just happen, and there isn’t much we can do.

Risk management is thereby critical. You should protect yourself against financial loss caused by lost, stolen, or damaged goods in transit. By insuring your shipment, you get reimbursed for the declared value of goods, which is particularly crucial for expensive items.

Once you go global, you never go back-o. Be considerate and ship effortlessly!