International Shipping On Shopify

Let’s say you are a women’s apparel online store in New York specializing in ballroom gowns. In the past few years, you have been pocketing huge profits by selling gowns to young women in New York as well as cities across the USA. Now you believe that you can make a killing even in the European market and hence want to expand business to various European countries.

However, one major challenge that you may encounter when expanding your business beyond the US borders is the Shipping cost as international shipping can become very expensive depending on the type of products you’re selling. Besides the shipping cost, other significant challenges that you may encounter when shipping overseas include following various standards and policies and relying on international warehouses for delivering order packages.

Therefore, as an online retailer, you need advanced integrations to sync with your Inventory Management System (IMS), Order Management System, and Warehouse Management System (WMS) so that you can provide seamless international shipping to your customers.

If you run a Shopify store, you must know that Shopify itself is not a shipping provider. However, it offers services through Shopify Shipping and Shopify Fulfillment Network (SFN) that help you with international shipping, provided you meet the eligibility criteria. For instance, Shopify Shipping is a tool that lets you get international shipping rates and shipping labels directly from your Shopify admin. Whereas Shopify Fulfillment Network is a warehousing solution that can send products to your customers on your behalf. All you need to do is send your products to SFN. Thus, when a customer places an order on your Shopify store, the warehouse ships it for you.

In case you do not meet the eligibility criteria for Shopify Shipping and SFN, you can use third-party integrations for your Shopify store that can help you with your shipping and fulfillment needs.

If you run a Shopify store and wish to expand your online business beyond national borders and want to know how to set up international shipping, then you have hit the right place.

In this article, we are not only going to answer the query ‘Does Shopify Provide International Shipping’, but we will also walk you through the step-by-step process of how to set up international shipping on Shopify.

Apart from this, we will even discuss the Shopify international shipping rates and international shipping strategy that you must adopt when shipping orders internationally.

Does Shopify Provide International Shipping?

As stated earlier, Shopify itself is not a shipping provider. However, it offers various features and integrations that help you set up international shipping options for your online store.

For instance, Shopify provides services like Shopify Shipping and Shopify Fulfillment Network (SFN) that help you with your international shipping needs.

Besides these services, Shopify also integrates with a variety of third-party shipping carriers and services, such as USPS, FedEx, UPS, DHL, and many more. These shipping carriers help you streamline shipping processes such as scheduling pickups from your location and delivering order packages to your international customers seamlessly.

Also, Shopify offers third-party shipping apps in its App Store. These apps help you enhance shipping options and automate various shipping-related tasks through international shipping features like calculating international shipping rates and generating customs documentation.

In addition to providing third-party shipping carriers and shipping apps, Shopify allows you to set your shipping rates and shipping zones. This means you can customize shipping rates and options for different regions, including international destinations, within the Shopify admin itself.

But before you set up international shipping in Shopify, you should plan your shipping strategy and go through different shipping carriers, shipping rates, and fulfillment services that Shopify offers to you as an online merchant.

Once you have a shipping strategy in place and have a clear understanding of how these shipping features work in Shopify, you can then configure your international shipping settings like shipping rates, shipping zones, and shipping profiles.

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International Shipping Strategy

Shipping orders to customers involves money. Furthermore, determining who pays for the shipping cost impacts both your profits and a customer’s likelihood to place an order on your online store.

Thus, you must adjust the shipping rates in your Shopify admin to suit your needs as well as the needs of your customers.

But before you adjust the shipping rates in Shopify admin, you must develop an effective international shipping strategy if you want to successfully expand your reach and serve customers around the world.

The following are the key steps and considerations for creating a successful international shipping strategy.

1. Market Research

Market research is a critical component of developing a successful international shipping strategy.

Conducting thorough research allows you to make informed decisions about which international markets to target, understand customer preferences, assess competition, and adapt your shipping strategy to meet the unique needs of each market.

Accordingly, the first step in undertaking market research is to identify the countries or regions you want to target. When identifying your target markets, consider factors such as language, and culture.

Next, determine the demand for your products or services in the target markets that you have zeroed down in the first step. Analyze consumer trends, buying habits, and purchasing power of the consumers residing in your target markets. Also, look for opportunities or gaps in the market that your products can fill.

Once you determine demand, the next step is to do a competitor analysis by identifying local and international competitors in your chosen markets. Analyze their pricing, shipping strategies, and customer service to find opportunities for differentiation.

In addition to studying your competition, understand the customs and import regulations in each of the chosen target markets. Determine if there are any trade barriers, restrictions, or specific requirements for shipping certain products in each of these markets. Also, understand how consumers in each of the chosen target markets prefer to shop online, including device usage, preferred payment methods, and popular e-commerce platforms.

Then, determine the shipping costs, transit times, and the reliability of shipping carriers for each market. Evaluate the availability of shipping methods like express, standard, and economy services. Also, become aware of the customer expectations regarding shipping, such as delivery times, packaging, tracking, and returns in each of the target markets, and customize your shipping strategy to align with local preferences.

2. Shipping Carriers

Selecting the right shipping carriers is a crucial component of your international shipping strategy. The choice of carriers can significantly impact the cost, reliability, and overall success of your international shipping operations.

While selecting the shipping carriers, you must consider a host of factors to ensure that the chosen shipping carrier meets your shipping requirements.

  • Assess the geographic reach and service coverage of shipping carriers to ensure that they can deliver to your target international markets.
  • Choose carriers known for their reliability in terms of on-time delivery and minimal package loss or damage.
  • Consider the speed of delivery, especially if you plan to offer expedited shipping options for international customers.
  • Compare shipping rates and fees, including any additional charges like fuel surcharges and customs fees.
  • Determine whether the carrier offers robust tracking and visibility options for international shipments.
  • Evaluate the quality of customer support and assistance available from the carrier in case issues or questions arise.
  • Consider carriers that have experience in international shipping and are proficient in handling customs documentation and regulations.
  • Assess the range of shipping services offered by the carrier, including express, standard, economy, freight, and special services.

The commonly used international shipping carriers include FedEx, DHL, UPS, and USPS.

If you run a Shopify store, then you must know that Shopify partners with a variety of shipping carriers and has integrations with many of the major carriers.

The shipping carrier that is appropriate for you would depend upon the location of your business and whether your Shopify subscription plan has the carrier-calculated shipping feature.

The following table showcases the shipping carriers with whom Shopify has partnered.

Location Carrier-Calculated Shipping Available Carriers And Rate Types
Canada Activated
  • Canada Post (Shopify Shipping rates or your negotiated rates)
  • FedEx (your negotiated rates)
  • UPS (your negotiated rates)
  • Canada Post (Shopify Shipping rates)
United States Activated
  • USPS (Shopify Shipping or USPS commercial/retail rates)
  • UPS (Shopify Shipping rates or your negotiated rates)
  • DHL Express (Shopify Shipping rates)
  • FedEx (your negotiated rates)
  • USPS (Shopify Shipping rates)
  • UPS (Shopify Shipping rates)
  • DHL Express (Shopify Shipping rates)
Australia Activated
  • UPS (your negotiated rates)
  • FedEx (your negotiated rates)
  • Sendle (Shopify Shipping rates)
Rest of the world Activated
  • UPS (your negotiated rates)
  • FedEx (your negotiated rates)
Deactivated N/A

Besides partnering with the above shipping carriers, Shopify also provides you with the option to connect your third-party carrier account to your Shopify admin. The carrier accounts that you can connect to your Shopify admin include UPS, USPS, Canada Post, and FedEx.

3. Shipping Costs And Pricing

After you finish with Market Research, you must determine the shipping costs and pricing for international shipping. Note that determining shipping costs and pricing for international shipping is a crucial aspect of your international shipping strategy.

As a result, it requires you to carefully consider a host of factors to ensure you remain competitive, cover your expenses, and provide value to your customers.

When determining the shipping costs, you first need to work with your chosen shipping carriers to determine the rates for international shipping as different carriers may offer different pricing structures and options.

Once you work out the shipping rates, you must determine the shipping method (e.g., standard, express, economy), weight/volume of the package, packaging appropriate to the size and weight of the products, and the customs duties, taxes, and import fees that may apply to your international shipments.

Remember that when calculating the shipping costs, you can adopt any one of the three shipping pricing strategies: flat rate shipping, free shipping, and carrier-calculated shipping.

a. Flat Rate Shipping

A Flat rate shipping strategy refers to the one wherein you can offer a fixed shipping rate for all international orders, regardless of the destination. You can use this strategy to calculate the shipping costs to make the purchasing process simple for your customers.

b. Free Shipping

Then, the free shipping strategy is the one that involves offering free international shipping to your customers. Though this strategy may require you to mention the words Free Shipping on the products displayed on your eCommerce store, this does not mean that you do not charge any shipping costs to your customers. It simply means that you include the shipping cost in the product price or require a minimum order amount for free shipping, but mention the words ‘Free Shipping’ on the products displayed on your online store. You can use this strategy if you are new to the market as it will help you in bringing the first few customers.

c. Carrier-Calculated Shipping

Finally, the last strategy is carrier-calculated shipping wherein you set shipping rates based on factors like order value, destination, or product weight. This allows you to charge more for distant or heavier shipments.

Thus, choose the shipping pricing strategy that is most appropriate for you. Also, don’t forget to negotiate volume discounts with your shipping carriers, especially if you anticipate a high volume of international orders. Besides this, implement a currency conversion system on your website to allow customers to view product prices in their local currency. This can improve the overall shopping experience of your customers and reduce confusion.

4. Shipping Options

Once you undertake market research, the next step is to determine the shipping options that you intend to give your customers in international shipping. When it comes to international shipping, there are a host of shipping options that you can offer to your customers depending on your business needs and the services offered by shipping carriers.

Some of the common shipping options that you can offer include standard shipping, express shipping, and economy shipping.

a. Standard Shipping

Standard shipping is one of the most common and widely used shipping options in e-commerce. It’s typically the default or base shipping method that online retailers offer to their customers.

This method of shipping provides a balanced delivery time, neither too fast nor too slow. Accordingly, the delivery times can vary depending on the location of the sender, the destination, and the shipping carrier used. Thus, customers can expect their orders to arrive within a few business days to a few weeks, depending on the distance.

You can offer this shipping option to those customers who are price-sensitive and who don’t require expedited delivery. These are the customers who are not time-sensitive and are looking to save on shipping costs.

Also Read: How To Set Up Local Delivery Shopify?

b. Express Shipping

Express shipping is a faster and expedited shipping option that you can offer to customers who require quick delivery of their orders. This shipping method is known for its rapid delivery times. Thus, customers who choose this option can expect to receive their orders in a much shorter timeframe compared to standard shipping.

The exact delivery time for express shipping can vary based on factors such as the destination, the specific carrier, and the shipping method chosen. Typically, the express shipping method provides next-day or 2-3-day delivery, thereby making it suitable for time-sensitive orders.

Since this shipping method delivers orders in a much shorter timeframe compared to standard shipping, it is more expensive compared to standard shipping. Furthermore, most express shipping options come with advanced tracking capabilities that allow customers to monitor their orders in real-time.

Also, the Express Shipping method is generally highly reliable, with a strong focus on meeting delivery deadlines. Thus, Express Shipping is ideal for customers who need their orders quickly, such as for special occasions, emergencies, or when working with tight deadlines.

c. Economy Shipping

Economy shipping is a cost-effective and budget-friendly shipping option. It’s designed for customers who are more concerned with saving money on shipping costs than receiving their orders quickly.

Thus, this shipping method is suitable for customers who are price-sensitive and are willing to wait for their orders. Customers who choose this option understand that their orders may take more time to arrive, often ranging from several days to a few weeks, depending on the location.

While economy shipping can be reliable, it’s generally not as time-sensitive or guaranteed as express shipping.

5. Shipping Zones

A shipping zone in Shopify includes a group of countries or regions that have the same shipping rates. You can create Shipping Zones to target specific locations including countries, states, provinces, or even specific zip codes for shipping. Note that you can create shipping zones for any country or region in the world.

Now shipping zones are important in Shopify because Shopify calculates shipping rates at the checkout based on the shipping zones.

Say, for instance, your business has a warehouse in France and you ship your products all over Europe at the same flat shipping rate. In such a case, you can create a shipping zone that includes all the European countries and charge the same shipping fee to all your European customers.

One thing to remember as a Shopify store owner is that your customers can purchase products from your store only when the country or region where they want the products to be shipped is included in one of your shipping zones. Further, such a country or region should also be a part of an active market.

For instance, if the country or region where your customers want their orders to be shipped is an inactive market, then they cannot place orders on your Shopify store even if such a country or region is in a shipping zone with available shipping rates.

Also Read: How To Set Up Shopify Markets?

7. Shipping Profiles

To calculate accurate shipping rates for your products, you must define shipping rules for the specific products or the locations where you want to ship orders.

Thus, a Shipping Profile is a set of shipping rules that you define for specific products or locations.

Based on the product type and the location where you want to ship your products, you can create custom shipping profiles that help you charge different shipping rates for specific products and locations. Accordingly, you can use these shipping profiles to calculate accurate shipping rates based on the specific products that you sell and the location where you deliver your products.

Depending upon product type and location, you can either use a default general shipping profile for all of your products or use custom shipping profiles for each of your products.

Also, you can include all the products having the same shipping rates in one Shipping Profile and then set up shipping zones and rates for each location that fulfills those products.

8. Import Duties And Taxes

Import duties and taxes are charges that a country’s customs authorities levy on the goods that are imported from another country. Such charges are typically collected from the recipient (the customer) and are used to generate revenue for the importing country. Therefore, it’s important to understand how import duties and taxes work, especially in the context of international shipping, to ensure compliance and to provide a seamless experience to your customers.

There are a host of factors that help in determining the amount of import duties and taxes for a package that’s shipped internationally. One of the factors is the value of shipment which is determined by analyzing information like the cost of goods sold, shipping costs, and the cost of shipping insurance.

Value of shipment is the declared value of the goods to be shipped to the destination country. This is also called the customs value or the invoice value. Such a value plays a crucial role in calculating the import duties and taxes that may apply to the shipment.

Apart from the value of shipment, another factor that contributes to the cost of import duties and taxes is the de minimis value threshold. This term refers to the minimum value of a shipment before it can be charged import duties and taxes. Such a value threshold is set by the destination country or region of a shipment.

In addition to the above factors, you must also consider the following details as these may have an impact on the amount of import duties:

  • Country of Origin (COO) – the country or region where a product is made
  • Category of goods
  • Product materials
  • Gender (applicable to apparel)
  • Shipping carrier and service

Thus, it’s important that the customs value declared in your documentation be accurate and should reflect the actual transaction value of the goods. Declaring an incorrect or undervalued amount could result in legal issues, customs delays, or even seizure of the shipment.

To ensure that you’re correctly setting the customs value for your international shipments, you may want to consult with a customs expert or customs broker who can provide guidance based on the destination country’s regulations and requirements. This is especially important if you’re dealing with high-value or regulated products in your international e-commerce business.

Also Read: How To Handle Shopify Tax On Shipping?

9. Shipping Labels

Shipping labels are essential documents used to identify and track packages during the shipping process. These labels contain crucial information for both you (eCommerce seller) and the recipient, as well as for the shipping carrier.

As an eCommerce seller, you typically generate shipping labels when a package is ready for shipping. Once generated, you attach these labels securely to the package, ensuring that the barcode, tracking number, and other important information are clear and visible. This allows for easy scanning and tracking of the package throughout its journey, from pickup to delivery.

Accurate and complete shipping labels are essential for a smooth shipping process and efficient package tracking. Therefore, when creating shipping labels for international shipping, you must pay attention to detail, use accurate information, and comply with international shipping regulations.

To create shipping labels that are accurate and compliant, you may either choose a reputable shipping carrier like FedEx, UPS, USPS, or DHL; reliable shipping software like Shippo, ShipStation, Easyship, and Ordoro; or an integrated e-commerce platform like Shopify.

Many shipping carriers, for instance, provide online platforms where you can create shipping labels by entering the shipment details and paying for the label. Likewise, shipping software or an integrated e-commerce platform provides you with the feature of creating accurate and compliant shipping labels.

These carriers or platforms understand the specific requirements of the destination country and ensure a smooth shipping process for your international customers.

Furthermore, these tools often streamline the process and may allow you to create labels in bulk. All you need to do is provide accurate information including the recipient’s address, package weight, dimensions, declared value of the items, and any other required information.

Besides creating shipping labels, a shipping carrier, shipping software, or an integrated e-commerce platform properly pack the items you’re shipping to ensure they are secure and protected during transit.

Also, you need to weigh the package to determine its weight in kilograms or pounds and measure its dimensions in inches or centimeters. That’s because accurate weight and dimensions are crucial for calculating shipping rates.

If you’re shipping an item such as trial size products, then you should label the package as Promotional products on all import and export documentation to comply with domestic and international shipping regulations. Even if these items have zero monetary value, you need to assign them a price greater than 0 USD, otherwise the shipment might violate international custom laws.

In accordance with compliance regulations, SFN doesn’t label packages as Gifts and is therefore unable to guarantee that a shipment is exempt from import duties and taxes. If you want to send an item that is 0 USD to an international destination, such as a promotional or gift item, then you can assign a value greater than 0 USD and then discount that amount for the customer.

10. Shipping Rates

To find your shipping rates, from your Shopify admin, go to Settings > Shipping and Delivery. For international orders, you can set up free shipping or a custom rate. Orders that are shipping internationally should be delivered within 15 days from the time the fulfillment request is sent to SFN.

How Can I Add International Shipping on Shopify?

To add international shipping on Shopify, you need to follow the steps below.

1. Go to your ‘Shopify Admin’.

2. Then, go to Settings. Under ‘Settings’, select ‘Shipping and Delivery’.

How To Set up Shipping On Shopify?

3. On the ‘Shipping and Delivery’ page, you will see various sections including ‘Shipping’, ‘Expected Delivery Dates’, ‘Local Delivery’, ‘Local Pickup’, ‘Delivery Customizations’, ‘Saved Packages’, ‘Shopify Shipping’, ‘Carrier Accounts’, ‘Packing Slip Template’, and ‘Custom Order Fulfillment’.

How To Set up Shipping On Shopify?

4. On the ‘Shipping’ section, click ‘Manage’ where you can add a shipping rate.

5. Once you click on ‘Manage’, it will take you to the Shipping page where you can see various sections. These include Products, Shipping Origins, Shipping Zones, Not Covered By Your Shipping Zones, and Start Shipping To More Places.

How To Set up Shipping On Shopify?

6. Then go to the Shipping Zone section and click ‘Add Rate’. Note that you must add the Shipping Zone as well where you want to deliver your products. To know how to set Shipping Zone read the next section.

How To Set up Shipping On Shopify?

7. Once you click the “Add Rate” button, you will see a pop-up that will show you three options. One is the ‘Add Rate’ option, the second is the ‘Transit Time’, and the third option is the ‘Price’. Under the ‘Add Rate’ option, you can either select “Set up your rates” or “Use carrier or app to calculate rates” option.

How To Set up Shipping On Shopify?

8. Then under ‘Transit Time’ you must select the time it takes for the package to get delivered. From the drop-down menu that includes options like Standard, Economy, Express, and Custom Flat Rate, choose the option that is most appropriate for you.

How To Set up Shipping On Shopify?

9. Then under the ‘Price’ option, you can either add a flat rate or you can also add conditions by clicking on the ‘Add Conditions’ button.

How To Set up Shipping On Shopify?

10. Once you click on the ‘Add Conditions’ button, you can either enter the price based on the order weight or based on the order price.

How To Set up Shipping On Shopify?


How To Set up Shipping On Shopify?

11. Once you fill in all the required details, click on ‘Done’ and then click ‘Save’.

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