Tracking of packages has always been one of the most important parts to providing customers with the best possible customer service, and it seems to be even more important with the advancement of the “Free Shipping” movement. This is still true when it comes to international shipments. International services range in terms of the amount of tracking they provide. Some international services claim to offer full visibility while only providing a single scan once entering the destination country, which can lead to both the shipper and the recipient being in the dark in regards to the location of the package once it enters the destination country.
The tracking capabilities can impact the price of a service quite significantly, so for companies looking to save some money, the single scan at the point of entry to the destination country might be a fantastic option. For companies that are trying to provide customers with full visibility of their order, make sure to verify how many scans are included with the tracking that is provided with the given service level.
The amount of movement on an international shipment is drastically higher than domestic shipments. Just due to this fact, the likelihood of something happening to the package in transit is increased quite a bit. Because of this, clients should always look at insuring shipments to avoid any issues beyond a damaged package. While this is true for goods of all values, this is especially true for clients that sell high end merchandise.
Transit times vary significantly for international shipments. Just like with the difference in tracking and visibility between services, there are numerous levels of service providing transit times from a matter of days to a couple weeks. Picking the one that is most relevant to your business and customers is a key choice to make.
If customers are in need of delivery within a matter of a couple days, the best bet is to look at some of the larger providers like UPS and FedEx to see if they offer overnight shipping, as not all countries are covered with an overnight service. On the other end of the spectrum, some companies like to make use of package consolidation in which a carrier will pick up on a less frequent basis (typically 1-2 times per week) and ship the group of packages together. Then, most commonly, there are quite a few services in between that ship daily but take anywhere from 5-15 business days to reach their destination. The costs for these services vary greatly from quite expensive for the express/overnight services to quite economical for the package consolidation methods.
Probably the most important part of the whole international shipping equation would be the customs. Every shipment that is going to another country will be processed by the customs department of the receiving country. To facilitate shipments clearing customs efficiently, there are a few pieces of paperwork that need to be filled out. Typically, this can be done with your shipping carrier to make for less manual intervention.
It is also important to take note of the fees and tariffs that can come from clearing customs as well. The fees associated with customs come straight from the value of the product that is being shipped. Some countries have higher customs fees than others, but you can be sure that there will be a customs fee for any shipment going internationally. The higher the value of the product, the higher the fees will be.