How to set up international shipping on your Shopify store?

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Shopify international shipping

What is international shipping? 

International shipping is a term that has been around since ancient history. It’s the process of exporting & importing goods of all shapes and sizes from the different parts of the globe via air, ocean, or over the road. 

However, the advent of eCommerce has changed a few things over time. Today, business owners and eCommerce vendors are required to align with a number of international shipping processes, including the rates and taxes. Overall, the process can get really complicated with such a set of rules and policies. 

To begin the process of setting up your store for international shipments, you need to do some fieldwork, devise a proper strategy, and engineer the campaigns that you will run across different regions. 

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While the process and its complications might confuse you for once, the advantages of shipping internationally are huge, both in terms of business potential & revenues. Considering the stats that make the eCommerce industry a $4.5 trillion market at the present, international shipping should be your immediate step if you are looking forward to expanding your boundaries of sale.

Looking at the perks it has to offer, what’s stopping you from getting a share of the big pie?

Still, confused about moving internationally? Relax, here’s a walkthrough of the advantages and the entire process of setting up Shopify International shipping.  

Advantages of international shipping

When you decide to expand your boundaries, boosting your potential sales & revenue becomes the immediate step. Listed below are some of the primary reasons why you should consider expanding your boundaries using Shopify International. 

  1. Potential business growth: When you expand your business to uncover new boundaries, improved potential growth becomes the immediate result. Further, your products reach new customers across different regions, aiding you with a new avenue to scale your sales. This way, you are also a step ahead of your customers. 
  2. Enjoy round-the-year sales: This factor comes in handy, especially if you are an online merchant dealing with seasonal items. Certain products that might not be in demand for one region, will undoubtedly come in handy for sales in another part of the globe. For example, if you sell air conditioning units, shifting to international sales allows you to focus your campaign on the areas where summers are still present. With the viable shipping options current in hand, you can easily maintain year-round sales.
  3. Wider variety of products: When you reach new platforms for sales, you can efficiently deal with a wide variety of products in your inventory. This way, you can easily navigate their needs according to the local markets, allowing you to deal with a wide variety of products. Once you have a wide variety of products in your inventory, you are at better sales chances. 
  4. More extensive customer base: Shipping internationally, opens your business to new avenues. With products selling across different regions, your business has improved its customer base and better chances of setting a global footprint in the newly found markets. 

Suggested above were some of the most common features you tap into when deciding to open your business to new geographic boundaries. 

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However, while these are just some benefits, your Shopify International store’s real success depends on the strategy you use in international shipping.

Here’s a guide to help you set up your international shipping on Shopify. 

How to Setup Shopify international shipping? 

Shopify International shipping setup begins with the Shipping settings available in the control panel of your website. 

Once you are inside the Shipping settings, this option allows you to manage your settings and connects your store with different shipping carriers. Further, you need to add all the relevant shipping information, like adding drop shipping services & creating new shipping zones. 

Once you reach out for the product information, several options are available for shipping your product information. This way, you can easily navigate and reach for your customers’ preferred shipping speed and upgrade them to something cost-effective & fast.

Under the Shipping labels section, you need to identify the different international orders and access all the user’s custom information. If you are one of those merchants selling their products in Canada & the United States, you can easily offer discounted rates with carrier providers like DHL Express, USPS, UPS, and Canada Post.

Now that you know the process, let’s check out the charges that will help you get the exact calculation for your shipments.  

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How much to charge for international shipping?

Packaging charges

Once you receive your first international order on your eCommerce store, it’s time to get started with the preparations. The first step, before you begin anything, requires you to gather your packaging supplies in order. 

Depending on the type of product you are shipping, you might need boxes of different shapes & sizes that would accommodate shipments of different sizes. 

The other additionals in your packaging supply might also include cushioning like paper shreds, stuffing, or bubble wrap. You can receive your packaging around different online stores or avail them at your local stationery shop or post office.

While you are gathering different items for your packaging, it’s always advisable that you keep it simple and sturdy. You should always try to strike the perfect balance between robust packaging and securing your products at lower costs. 

Now, the total of all these items required for packaging should be included in your overall cost and be a part of the packing charges. Lastly, depending on their type, size, or quality, you should try to maintain your ideal packaging costs between $0.50 – $4.00 each.

Shipping Costs

Once you have sorted out your packaging charges, the other step involves including the costs incurred for shipping to the overall price approach while shipping internationally. It is obvious that you would want to charge a fair amount to your customers, neither suffer loss by paying extra from your pocket nor charge your customers in surplus. 

To ensure that your approach executes correctly, here are the three steps to calculate the costs involved in shipping your products internationally for your business:

  1. Getting your rates from the rate calculators that you will be using, consider adding the prices of your domestic orders on average.
  2. Now, the second step requires you to find out the rate for the lowest sales (domestic), using the rate calculator.
  3. The last step requires you to calculate the cost for the largest shipment that your store has.

With the suggested estimations and units in the picture, you’ll be having a better idea of the overall estimation of pricing when selling your products internationally. 

Further, these calculations will also help you understand the costly shipments over others.

However, let’s try these calculations using the three major pricing structures for your store if you still have doubts. Let’s check them out: 

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Free shipping

One of the best options for customers that are a major sales magnet, free shipping boosts your sale immensely. If you have high-profit margins over products and you can bear the expenses of shipping international orders for free, go for it! This way, you are at improved chances of selling your products and enticing customers over your store.

Carrier rate shipping

Shopify’s platform has a number of integrations with carriers like DHL Express, USPS, and UPS, present in Canada, Australia, and the US. This way, customers have an idea of real-time pricing and different shipping options available. 

Carrier rate shipping might be a customer-friendly option as it allows visitors to do their own math before purchase.

Flat rate shipping

If you have consistent sales over international geographies (both in terms of size, the weight of shipments, and cost of shipping), you might consider a manual rate or a flat rate of shipping for different products. This way, you offer consistency over shipping & sales with flat rate shipping

Charges for handling

Once you have added the costs involved in materials and packaging, it’s time you understand the calculations around handling charges

When you sell your products internationally, they undergo an n number of additional facilities, when compared to the normal domestic shipment. Therefore, you need to be packaging all your shipments with the utmost care, adding the prices in your handling charges

Confused about how to determine your charges involved while the handling process? Time to ask yourself a few questions like: 

  1. What is the wage required to prepare and package the shipments (on an hourly basis)? 
  2. The average time it takes for you to complete an order for shipping it internationally (beginning from time taken to review to send it out to the shipment hub).

Once you have an idea of these calculations, you can easily calculate your costs involved in handling them. 

Want some maths? Okay, here’s an example to help you: 

The average time taken by you is 20 minutes, to allow you to prepare a shipment order. The cost levied on you is at $12/hour, for preparing the packages for shipment. 

Here, you will be charging $4 {(20 mins/60 min) x $12 = $4} as the handling charge to cover your costs.

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However, including handling costs on your products is your choice (you would definitely want to get the best results for your bread & butter). 

Now, understand that orders placed internationally are always on the costly side and the customers also accept paying something extra to receive quality shipping. A major element of the quality process is how you handle and package your products.

Taxes and Duties

When you decide to sell your products internationally, you are ready to manage several factors like duties, taxes, customs, and several additional taxes. 

Individual companies have their own customs/ or duties that you need to clear to ensure those products’ successful shipment. Therefore, the best chance is to cover all the paperwork & process earlier, to ensure a smooth & reliable delivery. 

To begin the process, you need to reach out to your domestic postal service to understand the different documents that need to be secured to ship your products internationally. 

Further, you should understand that the different taxes & duties levied on international sales are not fixed, but applicable over a percentage basis. 

The percentage rates of taxes are determined using the relevant key information around different custom forms and are different for individual countries. Listed below are some of the primary factors included in duties & taxes:

  • The value & quantity of the item being in shipment.
  • The overall cost of shipping the products. 
  • Associated insurance with the shipment, if any.

Now, moving to the ‘Duties’ aspect of shipping, they can be applied in the following ways: Delivery Duty Unpaid (DDU) & Delivery Duty Paid (DDP).

With DDP, the merchant or the eCommerce vendor is liable to clear all the dues on fees and taxes that are applicable to the shipment. Majorly, the shipping carrier you choose pays these dues for you and presents you with a bill that needs to be cleared.

On the other hand, DDU is a situation where the customer on the receiving end pays for all the associated taxes and fees of the shipment. While this might not be a very customer-friendly approach, international customers understand that they might need to pay the taxes and fees for receiving their products.

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The other different types of taxes involved in the process include Value Added Tax (which is more often called sales tax or goods and services tax, or GST). Remember, for every product that you sell internationally; you need to include VAT in sales. Unlike duties, VAT is fixed and comes at a certain percentage, varying from one country to another.

Now that you have a clear picture of all the factors you need to keep in mind, you are ready to begin Shopify International shipping before you charge your customers

Let’s check out some frequently asked questions around international shipping to clear away any doubts you might have. Let’s get started. 

Frequently Asked Questions about Shopify international shipping

Can Shopify ship internationally?

Yes, Shopify can help you ship your products internationally. However, before you decide to ship your products internationally, it’s important that you understand the strategies, marketing campaigns & challenges faced in the process. 

Shopify provides vendors with the opportunity to sell their products with different shipping providers like USPS, DHL Express, and UPS, for vendors in the United States and Canada. 

This way, you can easily proceed with your shipment at discounted rates and ship your products internationally. 

How do I set up international shipping on Shopify?

Setting up international shipping on your Shopify store is easy. You need to begin the process in the following manner:

Step 1: Understand the product you are shipping. 

Step 2: Determine the location & the region where you are shipping. (Align to their taxes)

Step 3: Specify the recipients of the shipment. (Clear the international taxes before clearing.)

Step 4: Based on the time your customer expects their delivery, select a reliable shipping company. 

Step 5: Conclude the sales. 

While this was just a nutshell of the process, you can easily access the entire guide by having a quick look at the article as we have covered all the points in detail. 

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Is Shopify worldwide?

With over 5,00,000 business merchants present across 175 countries, there are a number of Shopify partners that connect you across the globe. 

With Shopify as your platform, you can easily foster global partnerships, work with new clients and scale your eCommerce business while leaving behind a global footprint. 

What is the cheapest way to ship internationally?

Listed below are some of the cheapest ways you can ship your products internationally:

Tip 1: To make the most of your shipping, ensure that you use multiple carriers. When you work your way around calculations of different carriers and their rates, you can utilize them for your advantage & compare their rates. Now, curate a list of all the rates of different shipping companies offering the lowest rates based on shipment and destination size. 

Tip 2: The other smart way to ship internationally is to cut down on your product packaging as the more you bulk your shipment, the more you pay. You should always focus on sturdy packaging and also try to reduce its weight consequently. 

Tip 3: Another way you could offer a lower rate of shipping is by avoiding express shipping. This way, even while your products might take more time to reach your customers, you can significantly reduce your parcel costs. 

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Which international shipping company is the best?

We can’t really come up with a specific company as the best. There are a number of factors like rates of shipping, customer review, and success of your delivery, that determine the best company. 

Further, what suits your business’s shipping strategy, might not suit some other business as every model is unique. 

However, to save you from the troubles of trial & error, we have listed a few shipping companies that you might consider for your shipment.

  1. DHL.
  2. FedEx.
  3. DTDC.
  4. Blue Dart.
  5. DB Schenker.
  6. UPS.
  7. YRC Freight.
  8. R+ \L Carriers.

Time to ship internationally with Shopify shipping

Now that we have successfully covered all the aspects of shipping, time to move internationally with your products! After all, whether it’s for exploring the business model or considering International Shipping for improved revenues, understanding the crucial aspects of Shopify shipping is important. Here’s wishing you all the best for your Shopify international shipments! 

About the author

Ra Karthik

Ramachandiran Karthik is the Digital Marketing Manager at Adnabu. He loves to help Shopify stores grow their business with Google Shopping & Google Ads, using advanced features like multi-currencies, multi-languages, Metafields. Karthik has a lot of experience in digital marketing and enjoys exploring new ways to make advertising more effective for both advertisers and customers.

By Ra Karthik