What is Shopify international shipping? 

Shopify 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 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 must align with several international shipping processes, including rates and taxes. Overall, the process can get really complicated with such a set of rules and policies. 

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

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

Looking at the perks it offers, 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 expand your boundaries, boosting your potential sales & revenue becomes the immediate step. Listed below are some primary reasons 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 is handy, especially if you are an online merchant dealing with seasonal items. Certain products that might not be in demand in 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 currently available shipping options, 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 various products. Once you have a wide variety of products in your inventory, you have 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 opening your business to new geographic boundaries. 

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

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 your website’s control panel. 

Once inside the Shipping settings, this option allows you to manage your settings and connect 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 must 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 calculate your shipments.  

How much to charge for international shipping?

Packaging charges

Once you receive your first international order on your eCommerce store, it’s time to start the preparations. Before you begin anything, the first step 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 might include cushioning like paper shreds, stuffing, or bubble wrap. You can receive your packaging at different online stores or at your local stationery shop or post office.

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

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. 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. By getting your rates from the rate calculators you will be using, consider adding the prices of your domestic orders on average.
  2. The second step requires you to find 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 better understand the overall pricing estimation when selling your products internationally. 

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

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

Free shipping

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

Carrier rate shipping

Shopify platform has several integrations with carriers like DHL Express, USPS, and UPS, present in Canada, Australia, and the US. This way, customers know 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 purchasing.

Flat rate shipping

If you have consistent sales over international geographies (in terms of size, the weight of shipments, and the shipping cost), you might consider a manual or flat shipping rate 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 compared to the standard domestic shipping. Therefore, you must pack all your shipments with the utmost care, adding the prices to your handling charges

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

  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 the time taken to review to send it out to the shipment hub).

Once you know these calculations, you can easily calculate the 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 $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.

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 pricey side and the customers also accept paying something extra to receive quality shipping. A significant element of the quality process is how you handle and package your products.

Taxes and Duties

When you sell your products internationally, you are ready to manage several factors like duties, taxes, customs, and 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 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 on a percentage basis. 

The percentage rates of taxes are determined using the relevant essential 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 apply 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 an immensely customer-friendly approach, international customers understand that they might need to pay taxes and fees for receiving their products.

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

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 about international shipping to clarify any doubts. 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 ship your products internationally, it’s essential that you understand the strategies, marketing campaigns & challenges faced in the process. 

Shopify allows vendors 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 quickly 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: Select a reliable shipping company based on the time your customer expects their delivery. 

Step 5: Conclude the sales. 

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

Is Shopify worldwide?

With over 5,00,000 business merchants present across 175 countries, several Shopify partners 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: Ensure that you use multiple carriers to make the most of your shipping. When you work your way around calculating different carriers and their rates, you can utilize them to 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 clever way to ship internationally is to cut down on 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 to offer a lower shipping rate is by avoiding express shipping. This way, you can significantly reduce your parcel costs even while your products might take more time to reach your customers. 

Which international shipping company is the best?

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

Further, what suits your business shipping strategy, might not suit some other businesses 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, understanding the crucial aspects of Shopify shipping is essential, whether it’s for exploring the business model or considering Shopify International Shipping for improved revenues. Here’s wishing you all the best for your Shopify international shipments! 


CEO and co founder of AdNabu. Exploring the intersection of data and marketing