The holiday season can be quite hectic, and especially so if you’re an ecommerce business shipping to both domestic AND international customers. Whether it’s your first time around or you’ve been doing the international ecommerce thing for a while, we hope the following quick-and-dirty pointers serve as a refresher for streamlining your international shipping strategy this holiday season and beyond.
- Understand regulations and rules
Just because you can ship a particular item to Canada via the United States Postal Service doesn’t mean it’ll fly if shipping to France via FedEx. You’ll want to know what products you can ship and what types of forms you need to include before you start promising international shipping to your customers. Regulations vary by country and by shipping carrier, so you’ll want to bookmark these webpages for quick reference:
- Mark your calendar
Before you start promising customers outside of the U.S. that you can get products to them in time for the holidays, you need to know about modified service and cutoff dates for holiday shipping. As with general international shipping regulations, these cutoffs vary by country and carrier:
- You can find FedEx cutoffs for U.S. shipments to Canada, Mexico and Puerto Rico here, but if you’re shipping to other international deadlines you’ll want to check out the Get Rates & Transit Times page.
- UPS lists its 2016 year-end holiday schedule here (PDF here)
- USPS details its international shipping deadlines, in addition to domestic and military mail deadlines, here
- Communicate with customers
While on the subject of shipping cutoffs, it’s also important to make it clear on your website the international holiday shipping cutoffs so customers know when they need to buy in order to receive their holiday purchases on time. Be sure to keep order processing in mind when setting these deadlines – you might want to set cutoffs for your customers a few days before the carrier cutoffs. Another way you can make the holiday shopping experience a good one for customers outside the U.S. is to review and revise any web content pertaining to shipping prices and timeframes – make sure it’s crystal clear what you can do for your domestic customers and what you can do for your international customers.
- Don’t forget about shipping supplies!
If you haven’t done so already, be sure to stock up now on shipping supplies so you’re ready to send those holiday items out quickly and efficiently. Check out this recent ShipStation blog post to learn about five must-have shipping supplies for this holiday season.
ShipStation provides all the tools and documentation you need to complete customs documentation and process international shipments, and all our carrier integrations are set up to ship internationally – you don’t need to add extra accounts to do so. Want to know how to automatically configure customs settings like “Contents Type” and “Signature?” We’ve got you covered. Learn more about using ShipStation to automatically populate customs information for your products based on product description and marketplace value here.