There's a lot of confusion around global shipping. Unfortunately, this means many merchants end up overpaying as they get into global eCommerce. There are a few basic guidelines to know as you look for the cheapest international shipping rates:
1. International shipping is more complex and costly than domestic
Import-related factors like duty and tax, country restrictions, and customs clearance vary by country and raise your cost to ship.
2. The best international shipping rates are harder to find because of this complexity
Local or regional courier services (you’ve probably never heard of) often have the best rates. Meanwhile, shipment-specific import fees make it hard to lock in a go-to cheapest courier for all shipments.
3. It’s easy to get the best international shipping rates – if you know where to look
This blog shows you the 5 easy steps to getting the best international shipping rates for packages. You’ll learn the tools veteran shippers use to save on shipping while expanding into global eCommerce. For example, you can try our free duty and tax calculator to get the most accurate estimate for your total shipping costs to any country.
Table of Contents
1. Get Rate Estimates By Weight
When you know your package weight, couriers can give you an estimate on your shipping costs. This is because couriers price their services by package weight or size, whichever is larger.
Take the measurements of all your standard box sizes. Do your shipments weigh roughly the same? Or do you ship packages of many different weights and sizes? It’s best to get rate quotes for all shipment weights, as this lets you calculate your average cost of international shipping.
Next, plug your shipment into a shipping rate calculator. Just enter the item weight and destination. The handy tool gives you a list of accurate rate quotes from all available global couriers.
Weight-based rate quotes are very accurate to your actual cost to ship. These rates are sourced in real-time from courier websites.
If you’re shipping items of many weights, you can establish a range of costs for shipping your products, such as:
- Smallest international sale costs $24.70
- Average international sales costs $33.09
- Largest international sales costs $38.87
The first step in getting the cheapest international shipping rates is getting a weight-based rate quote. This estimate gives you a ballpark sense of your costs.
2. Target Your Markets
Delivery destination has a big impact on your shipping costs. For example, it costs more to ship from Texas to Argentina than to Mexico. It’s also rare that one courier is cheapest for all your global markets. This means you’ll want to research the cheapest courier for each delivery destination in order to get the cheapest international shipping rates.
Compare rates from all couriers who ship to your target markets, including express, regional and postal carriers. Local postal carriers (like USPS in the States) often have cheaper rates than foreign express couriers like FedEx or DHL. It can be hard to find these in-country couriers, though, when you don’t know them by name.
To find the cheapest shipping to a certain country, compare couriers by destination.
3. Factor in Duty & Tax
The true cost of any international shipment should include accurate duty and tax information. All cross-border shipments may be subject to duties and taxes based on a range of factors, including:
- Item value
- Item category
- Country of origin
Either you or the customer must pay duty and tax fees before delivery or your shipment will be stuck at customs. As the importer, you are responsible for paying these fees by default.
You can ask buyers to pay for duty and tax, but this may increase your rates of cart abandonment. According to Baymard Institute, nearly 50% of cart abandonment on eCommerce sites in 2020 was due, in part, to additional unforeseen shipping costs.
Look up duty and tax for your products in each international market. Our duty and tax calculator can give you the accurate duty and tax on any item to any country. Alternatively, you can visit the shipping by country page to learn how any destination country handles import duty and tax.
Once you know the import fees per item by destination, you can decide whether you or customers pay. If buyers are paying duty and tax, it’s best to announce this clearly in your shipping policy page and in checkout.
4. Choose a Pricing Model
We’ve talked about how you can compare rates with rate calculators to find the cheapest international couriers. And how you should include duty and tax for fully accurate international shipping costs. Now let’s talk pricing.
When you choose couriers for international shipping, there are four pricing models to pick from:
- Courier rate shipping: This is the most common approach. You compare local, regional and express courier services to find the best rates. Couriers like USPS, DHL and FedEx offer a range of shipping services at various prices and delivery speeds. You can find these rates on individual courier websites or via comparison tools like our handy rate calculator.
- Flat rate services: Flat rate services are a cost-effective option if you need to ship heavy items over great distances. Top couriers like USPS, UPS and FedEx offer flat rate services at a fixed price for all packages under 50-70 pounds, courier depending.
- Free shipping: Customers love free shipping but it’s costly to merchants. Businesses often limit or suspend free shipping for cross-border orders, but it may work in some countries depending on your item weight. Learn more with our full guide to free shipping for eCommerce.
- Hybrid shipping: This approach combines a mix of shipping and logistics services to lower costs. Larger sellers often use third-party logistics providers (3PLs) to help with warehousing, fulfillment and last-mile delivery in global markets. If you know you have customers in Germany, for example, storing and fulfilling orders via a German fulfillment partner helps to cut costs and accelerate deliveries for happier customers.
In eCommerce, it’s important for shipping to be cost-effective but also appealing to prospective buyers. For best results, you can offer a set of delivery options. You may need to use several shipping services to do this. For example: flat rate service to ship heavy items, FedEx for rush deliveries, and USPS International for standard shipping.
5. Pick a Shipping Platform
Shipping platforms are the secret saver when it comes to getting the cheapest international shipping rates. This is because shipping platforms give you direct access to discounted courier rates (plus shipping tools to streamline global shipping).
With Easyship, you instantly save:
- 5% on USPS Priority Mail International
- 6% on USPS Priority Mail Express
- 7% on USPS Flat Rate International
After hundreds of yearly shipments, these savings begin to add up. Easyship also gives you discounted pre-negotiated rates for 250+ local, regional and express courier solutions, including FedEx, UPS and DHL. Our platform makes it easy to browse all the cheapest international shipping rates, then set your default couriers for each global shipment with our customized shipping automation.
Shipping software also contributes to a trustworthy checkout experience that ends in a sale. New buyers are leery of unfamiliar and faraway merchants, finds Shopify research. Transparent pricing and real-time accurate shipping rates are key when it comes to driving optimal revenue.
Easyship specifically created two features to help global sellers win new business:
- Rates at Checkout: Display three real-time shipping options in checkout – the cheapest, the fastest and the best-value. Buyers with choices are more likely to convert because they can pick the delivery option that fits their timeline and their budget.
- Duty and Tax at Checkout: Show every global buyer location-accurate duty and tax for their unique shipment. Conversion increases when buyers have full transparency around shipping costs for their unique order.
The Cheapest International Shipping Rates with Easyship
Getting the best international shipping rates is pretty simple. Here’s a quick recap:
- Compare courier rates by weight
- Select from couriers who serve your target markets
- Factor in duty and tax
- Lock in discounted rates via shipping platforms
To instantly access the cheapest international shipping rates, just create a free Easyship account. Our platform is free for up to 50 shipments per month - no restrictions at all. Save on shipping right away and only upgrade to a paid plan if you want to ship more. There's no obligation, no hidden fees, no minimums - just savings.