E-commerce is a trillion-dollar business and growing. Europe is the second largest e-commerce market in the world – second only to China.
If you are a United States e-commerce business, of course, you want to take advantage of the European market. In today’s world of global shipping and online shopping, the sky is the limit for small business owners who are willing to learn a little about the best shipping strategy for their business.
Read on for some quick tips on e-commerce business shipping to Europe.
The Basics of International Shipping for E-Commerce Business Shipping to Europe
Expanding your e-commerce store into Europe means you must understand the basics of international shipping. There are two major shipping solutions for a small business selling to Europe: The United States Postal Service (USPS) or a private shipper such as UPS or DHL.
If you select USPS, they will deliver your package to customs. Once it clears customs, a local or host shipper in Europe handles the package delivery to your customer.
If you use a private shipper such as FedEx, they handle getting your package to customs and delivering it to your customer after it has cleared customs.
In short, a private carrier like FedEx handles the package delivery all the way to the recipient. If you select USPS, they manage the shipping process from you to customs.
As a small business owner, consider your options and shipping costs carefully when selecting a shipper.
Time and money are among the top considerations when selecting a shipper.
1.Watch Your Fees and Surcharges on E-Commerce Shipping
Some carriers will add on fees for international shipping. These may include things like fuel surcharges. If you plan on doing a lot of shipping to Europe, these fees and surcharges can quickly swell your bottom line, so make sure you understand your actual costs and charge your consumers appropriate shipping prices.
2.Using the Lowest Cost Option for Small Products
Part of successful e-commerce shipping involves knowing the best shipping options for your products. If you are shipping light, inexpensive products such as books, accessories or health and beauty products, consider First Class International Shipping. All commercial carriers offer a version of this type of shipping, but details vary.
As always, be sure to enter the correct size and weight on your shipping label to avoid extra costs or delays in shipping.
3.Handle Customs with Ease
No matter the what you ship, every package you send to Europe for your online business must pass customs. To successfully deal with European customs, complete and thorough shipping documentation is a must. You will need to include the following information on your customs form:
- A detailed description of the products.
- The exact quantity of each item.
- What materials the pieces are made of.
Different carriers have different required customs documents, so make sure you know what your chosen carrier needs. After that, the most critical task is to complete the documents wholly and carefully to avoid delays.
Passing through customs with ease is a must for delivering excellent customer experience.
4.Customs Fees, Duties and Taxes
As discussed, shipping fees can affect your bottom line, so it’s important to know for what costs you are responsible. Mostly, customs fees, tariffs, and taxes are assumed by the customer or recipient of the package, but there are times you could become liable for these costs.
- Customs Fees: The customs fee is what the host country charges to manage the customs process.
- Duties and Tariffs: Duties and tariffs are like a tax placed on the item by the host country.
- Taxes: Taxes are placed on the item by a local country, city or province.
5. Third Party Insurance Protects Your E-Commerce Business Shipping Operations
All e-commerce business shipping contains risk that must be insured against. Third party insurance carriers offer the most benefit to e-commerce businesses shipping to Europe as the insurance will protect your packages no matter what shipping tool you select.
A few other benefits of third-party shipping insurance include:
- Higher or customized limits to insure your shipping packages properly.
- Better response time to claims.
- Cost effective when shipping a large number of packages.
- Ability to track your claim in real time.
Keep detailed records of your shipments, including descriptions and tracking numbers. This information helps to resolve your claim quickly if something goes wrong.
6.Product Restrictions Affect Your E-Commerce Business Shipping
Most every European country has product restrictions in place that ban the import of certain types of products. The limits are meant to protect a local industry or stem from a cultural norm.
Before you launch your e-commerce store to Europe, check on product restrictions.
Best Practices for E-Commerce Business Shipping to Europe
The most cost-effective eCommerce shipping solutions will vary from business to business. If you get good third-party insurance for your shipments, are mindful of your costs and select the best shipping method for your products, your international launch should be smooth sailing.