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International Shipping: The 5 Cheapest Methods

Phuc Le
October 31, 2023

International shipping is crucial for ecommerce entrepreneurs, creators, and artists seeking to connect with a worldwide customer base. Nonetheless, the substantial expenses associated with shipping can often serve as a formidable obstacle, rendering the prospect of international expansion seem daunting or nearly unattainable. Moreover, the intricacies of logistics and extended delivery times can compound the challenges, hindering efforts to access new markets and grow the customer roster.

The remedy to this prevalent predicament lies in harnessing the capabilities of local print-on-demand platforms. These platforms enable you to vend products globally while manufacturing them on a local scale, resulting in a significant reduction in shipping costs and delivery durations.

Furthermore, various platforms offer subscription-based services that confer additional advantages, including reduced shipping rates, thereby rendering international commerce more accessible and cost-effective. Consequently, these platforms empower creators and entrepreneurs to transform their aspirations into viable international enterprises. By capitalizing on such a platform, businesses can tap into the worldwide market, connecting with billions of potential customers and converting the aspiration of international ecommerce entrepreneurship into a tangible reality.



Given customers' expectations for swifter and reasonably priced shipping alternatives, selecting the right international shipping approach becomes paramount. By extending affordable shipping rates, businesses can allure customers and enhance their financial performance. Furthermore, offering competitive shipping choices can bestow upon your enterprise a competitive edge within the progressively crowded marketplace.

1. Expanding into New Markets

Affordable international shipping's foremost advantage lies in its capacity to unfurl new business horizons. As the realm of ecommerce gains momentum, geographical boundaries no longer pose a hindrance to businesses. Nevertheless, exorbitant shipping costs can obstruct businesses from branching out into global markets. Through the provision of reasonably priced international shipping, enterprises can tap into a worldwide customer base, broadening their reach. Data from eMarketer shows that cross-border e-commerce sales are growing significantly. In 2020, global cross-border e-commerce sales were estimated at 4.2 trillion U.S. dollars, indicating the vast potential of international markets.

2. Heightened Customer Contentment

In today's fast-paced milieu, patrons anticipate prompt, cost-effective deliveries. By presenting affordable international shipping alternatives, businesses can fulfill these expectations, ensuring a gratifying customer experience. This, in turn, can lead to recurrent transactions and positive word-of-mouth, both indispensable for the enduring success of any ecommerce enterprise. A survey by Accenture found that 63% of consumers are willing to wait for longer delivery times if the shipping is free, while 47% are willing to wait longer for a package if the shipping is cheaper. This highlights the importance of cost-effective shipping in meeting customer expectations.

3. A Boon for Ecommerce Startups

For small businesses grappling with restricted resources and budget constraints, competing with industry giants can be a daunting endeavor. Nevertheless, by extending economical shipping alternatives, these enterprises can level the playing field and gain access to a broader audience. This can translate into enhanced brand visibility and prospects for growth. Small Business Trends reports that small businesses account for 99.9% of all businesses in the United States. Affordable shipping options can help level the playing field for these smaller enterprises, enabling them to compete effectively in the e-commerce space.



The advantages of international shipping are evident, yet businesses often grapple with significant cost-related hurdles in this endeavor. The process of shipping products across borders entails a multitude of expenses that can rapidly accumulate, rendering international shipping a costly undertaking.

1. High Transportation Costs:

The vast distances involved in international shipping necessitate diverse transportation modes, such as trucks, ships, and airplanes. Each mode carries its own financial burdens, encompassing fuel, maintenance, and labor expenses. The intricacies of coordinating these multiple methods can further inflate costs.

2. Customs Fees:

Crossing international borders triggers customs inspections and regulatory requirements, which come with associated fees that businesses must bear to ensure compliance. Non-compliance with these customs regulations can lead to delays, fines, or even the confiscation of goods, amplifying costs.

3. Duties and Tariffs:

Duties, akin to taxes imposed on imported goods, and tariffs, which pertain to fees charged on specific product categories, vary widely from one country to another. Notably, they can be considerably high for certain industries or product types. Businesses must carefully factor in these added expenses when calculating the overall cost of international shipping.



Fortunately, businesses can employ various strategies to mitigate the high costs associated with international shipping.

1. Optimize Packaging:

One effective approach involves optimizing packaging to reduce dimensional weight. Employing compact and lightweight packaging materials for items such as t-shirts, wall art, phone cases, and the like can diminish the overall size and weight of shipments.According to the Sustainable Packaging Coalition, optimizing packaging to reduce weight and size can lead to significant cost savings in shipping. Lighter and more compact packaging can result in lower transportation expenses due to reduced fuel consumption and less space required in shipping containers.

2. Explore Alternative Shipping Methods:

Businesses can explore alternative shipping techniques, including the use of freight consolidation services. This entails consolidating multiple smaller shipments into a single larger one, resulting in lower transportation costs per unit. This method is particularly advantageous for enterprises regularly shipping smaller goods internationally.

3. Leverage Technology:

The implementation of shipping software that seamlessly integrates with customs systems can automate documentation and compliance procedures, decreasing the risk of errors and potential fines. Moreover, real-time tracking and analytics tools offer invaluable insights into shipping operations, enabling businesses to identify areas where cost optimization is feasible. According to a study by DHL, the implementation of shipping software that integrates with customs systems can reduce customs clearance times by up to 60%. This not only enhances efficiency but also minimizes the risk of fines or delays associated with compliance issues.



When it comes to international shipping, cost is undeniably a pivotal factor. Nevertheless, it's essential to acknowledge that several other critical considerations should not be disregarded. By evaluating these factors in tandem with cost, you can make an informed decision that aligns with the requirements of your business and the expectations of your customers.

1. Reliability:

Beyond affordability, the reliability of a shipping method is paramount. The cost-effectiveness shouldn't compromise the safe and timely delivery of your packages. The last thing you want is for customers to receive damaged goods or experience delivery delays. It's prudent to research and opt for a shipping method with a proven track record of reliability.

2. Tracking Capabilities:

In the digital age, customers expect to track their packages seamlessly, from the moment they are shipped to their final destination. This not only instills confidence in your customers but also empowers you to monitor shipments and promptly address any issues that may arise. Therefore, when selecting a cost-effective international shipping method, it's crucial to ensure it provides robust tracking capabilities.

3. Insurance Options:

While one hopes for smooth delivery, international shipping can be susceptible to accidents and mishaps. Thus, choosing a shipping method that offers insurance options is a prudent step. With insurance in place, you can rest assured that in the event of damage or loss, you can be adequately compensated for the value of the goods. It's a proactive measure that's wise in ensuring peace of mind.

4. Delivery Speed:

While affordable shipping methods may present significant cost savings, they might also entail longer delivery times. Depending on the nature of your business and the expectations of your customers, it's imperative to strike a balance between cost and delivery speed. If timely delivery is a critical aspect of your customer service, you may need to consider a slightly more expensive international shipping method that guarantees faster delivery times.


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