The Essential Guide to International Shipping for Shopify Stores

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Malomo Staff


With the rise of eCommerce, buying products from other countries has never been easier. Shopify stores have especially benefited as they can sell their products to a global audience with ease.

While expanding your customer base is ultimately what every business owner wants, there are certain challenges that arise as you go international. International shipping and order fulfillment are some of the challenges that Shopify store owners have to tackle due to customs, local laws, shipping costs, and more.

So, how do you become an expert on international shipping? We’ve got you covered.

Does Shopify ship globally?

Shopify itself doesn’t offer shipping services (at least, not until the Deliverr acquisition is done).

When it comes to international shipping, most Shopify stores partner with 3PLs. 3PLs provide Shopify stores with unmatched shipping services and rates, so both you and your customers get the best experience. 3PLs handle all the paperwork and miscellaneous tasks associated with international shipping. So all you have to do is focus on getting the sale and a 3PL handles everything after.

With ties and connections all over the world, Shopify’s 3PL partners team up with courier companies across the globe to provide international shipping. If you are a Shopify store owner looking to expand your company, then 3PLs are the easiest way to expand internationally.

Different shipping carriers partner up with Shopify and 3PLs to give different shipping options to customers. Shipping carriers also differ by country.

In the USA, Shopify works with USPS, UPS, and DHL. In Canada, Shopify works with Canada Post. In Australia, Shopify is partnered up with Sendle.

Each of these shipping carriers offers multiple international shipping services, so you can choose the best option for your business according to your budget and needs.

With Shopify shipping, customers can enjoy attractive features like package pick-ups, overnight delivery, shipping insurance, shipment tracking, as well as international shipping. Among these carrier options, certain carrier partners provide the option for:Priority Mail International (6-10 business days) and Priority Mail Express International (3-5 business days) that cut down on international shipping times significantly.

COVID-19 had an impact on shipping policies

Since the end of 2019, the world has been faced with some major abrupt changes and challenges. Many industries have been deeply impacted by lockdowns and new Standard Operation Procedures (SOPs).

Because of the strain on the ecommerce industry during this time, both merchants and carriers saw unprecedented spikes in orders and transactions. Many carriers were unable to guarantee exact delivery times.

Specific changes in the shipping policies of DHL, UPS, and FedEx, etc. can be found on their respective sites. It's important to be open with your customers about the changing conditions and set customer expectations accordingly.

Factors to Consider About International Shipping

For Shopify stores, domestic shipping is usually easier to handle. It can even be done through your local post office, by checking what mail class the package requires.

For international shipping, there are a few things you need to consider. From the shipping packaging to the shipping strategy, everything needs to be accounted for beforehand to avoid any disruption during transit.

Shopify provides you with international shipping services, so you don’t have to worry too much about the process. Shopify Shipping works with multiple shipping carriers where multiple mail classes are offered, so you have a variety of options to choose from.

Language & translations

Communication is key for building up customer relations. If you are looking to expand your business to a new country, your shipping policy and details on your website must be clear-cut so that they are not lost in translation. If your business is based in countries with only a certain language, like English, it is wise to target countries where English is the major language.

This way you ensure that your customer base understands you and can comprehend the shipping labels. Shopify, with its international relations and partners, provides the option for international shipping so whatever territorial demographic you choose to target, you won’t need to worry about shipping.

Multiple currencies

With international shipping, it is advisable to be mindful of the local rules and regulations of the destination country so that your business’s international shipping rates cover the taxes and tariffs that will be incurred on your whole shipment. How much you choose to sell an item for should be specified in different currencies on your website so that any miscommunication during the package delivery can be avoided.

Whether you choose to have flat-rate shipping or real-time shipping, you should consider offering a way to display pricing in different currencies so that your customers know exactly how much they need to pay for their purchases.

Product packaging

Among the different aspects of logistics, product packaging and shipping are an important part of the supply chain. With Shopify and its carrier partners, business owners have a choice on the type of packaging and shipping method they prefer. These options come with varying prices and features, so you can find what works best for you and your customers.

Additionally, some carriers offer the option for label printing, so you can choose to brand the packaging and customize it. For international shipments, opt for sturdier and durable packaging to minimize damage during transit. Fragile products might need extra cushioning during shipment. Be mindful!

Product weight and dimensions

For international shipment, you should ensure that the product weight and dimensions are specified in the details to avoid any hassle at customs. Larger parcels translate to heftier international shipping rates because shipping rates are usually based on the weight and dimensions of the product. Generally, lightweight and smaller parcels are easier to package and deliver internationally.

Border restrictions

International shipments often come across barriers in the form of customs forms and import taxes and tariffs. Based on the country your product is being shipped to, you might need to pay extra import fees. Additionally, customs forms and details might need to be attached with the package to avoid any delay or hold-up while the package is being checked at customs. With Shopify, you can generate the customs and detail form with the shipping label.

Depending on what country the products are being shipped to, some products might be outright banned. Always familiarize yourself with local laws.

International shipping carriers for Shopify stores

Once you have decided on your shipping fulfillment partner, you will need to choose from among the shipping carrier options that the company provides. Some shipping companies might provide you with a warehousing option while others might pick up your orders for shipment.

Shopify is partnered up with DHL in the United States, Canada Post in Canada, and Sendle in Australia. These shipping carriers offer different shipping rates. Depending on available options, you can even choose faster international shipping options through Priority Mail Express International and Priority Mail International services.

Shipping insurance

Depending on the value of your shipment products, you might need insurance for coverage of your courier during accidents. What shipping company you choose determines your insurance options. If you are a business owner that deals with pricier items, it might be wise for you to invest in insurance. Some fulfillment companies offer insurance as part of their shipment deal, so you do not need to go through any extra process to get your packages insured.

Setting Up International Fulfillment

Once you have decided on the country and products that you want to ship, the next step is finding the right fulfillment company in the correct country. Shopify takes care of this for you to provide easy international fulfillment services.

What is fulfillment?

Fulfillment is the process of transporting a product from the inventory warehouse to the customer. It usually involves warehousing and storing the products, picking and packing them, and then shipping the order to the customer.

An order fulfillment company takes care of your order fulfillment for you so that you do not have to deal with any shipment paperwork. If you have your Shopify store integrated with a 3PL, this process is further streamlined.

It is wiser to work with fulfillment companies that offer international fulfillment centers, as they significantly cut down on shipping costs. Shopify provides you with this option thanks to its robust shipping carrier network. It works with local carrier companies and fulfillment service providers to optimal international shipping for your company.

How to find international fulfillment partners

You can easily find different fulfillment partners through online research. Most international shipping service providers have shipping apps for easy access and tracking. But, Shopify store owners may find using Shopify partners easier.

3PLs like ShipBob, Whiplash, ShippingTree, and others are all reliable 3PLs you can work with to make international fulfillment easier for your Shopify store.

In Summary

Order fulfillment is among the most important arms of your Shopify store. International order fulfillment and shipping can be a daunting task for you to handle on your own, especially if you are new to the industry. If you have an online store and want to provide your shoppers with a reliable experience, using Shopify services may be the right choice for you.

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Supported Carriers

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