There was a time when shipping from overseas took a long while. And it was expensive, too. Dropshipping at that time was not a popular option. Instead, retailers bought products from China by the bulk, as in by cargo.
By the time the shipment arrives, the retailer can now display his merchandise online and then ship locally. Thanks to ePacket, shipping from China is now either free or affordable. Also, the shipment now takes less than 30 days compared to more than 60 days before.
But what is ePacket and how does it work? Why should someone in the dropshipping business use it?
Today, you will learn more about this shipping method and find out why dropshippers prefer to use this in their businesses.
What is ePacket?
Back in the days when there were no planes, a packet referred to letters and small parcels of high-value that were sent to a ship that has a schedule. Because the shipment had to wait, the cost was lesser than “rushed” cargo. The ships that carried passengers and cargos on schedule were called packet ships.
Fast forward today when we have airplanes, shipments from China were still made through the sea. Because of this, delivery took at least eight weeks.
With longer delivery dates, the movement of economy and distribution of goods between China and other countries were too slow. There has to be a solution to this.
In 2011, the ePacket was born. It is a shipping system that involves third-party logistics suppliers. The original ePacket was an agreement between Hong Kong Post and the USPS. It is called ePacket because the main target of this move is e-commerce.
The first ePacket agreement was between Hong Kong Post and eBay China along with the USPS. Basically, packages from Hong Kong will get First Class Mail Service from USPS, which means they will be shipped faster than the usual.
The ePacket was first implemented in the United States, but China has managed to broker deals with at least 35 countries.
Because of the faster delivery times—less than 30 days than the normal eight weeks—it is now easier to sell items online if the items will come from China, and then shipped to other parts of the world.
How does ePacket work?
ePacket works by plane, train, or ship. It really depends on the third-party logistics provider (3PL) how the items will be shipped. The manufacturer or supplier in China will work with a 3PL company, and it is the 3PL company who is going to choose the ePacket method.
No matter what the shipment method is, the best thing that can happen with the delivery is that once it reaches the U.S. soil, the USPS will consider it as a first class mail. Because it is classified as first class mail, it will be sorted out faster in Customs, cleared faster, and delivered faster.
Mails or parcels that are not first class will stay longer in the Custom’s warehouses, to be sorted later on. Because the ePacket is mow classified as special mail, the package will be treated as urgent right at the start of the shipping process.
Why should you use ePacket?
The ePacket was specifically designed to boost trade between countries. Because of this, the shipping logistic companies can ship the products to the United States and other countries and pay less than the usual rate.
Here are the benefits of using ePacket:
- Trackable – you can track the parcels of ePacket. As a dropshipper, you will receive a tacking number from your supplier. The supplier will also tell you where to track the parcel.
- Global coverage – ePacket has now expanded to more than 35 countries. This is great if you are an international seller, as you can ship products from China to these countries for a lesser cost.
- Duties – the Customs duties is covered by the recipient of the package, not the sender. The tax and other duties are paid once the items are picked up from the local post office. If you are the seller, you must tell this to your consumer so he does not get surprised.
- Free or low cost – ePacket is not always free. It is mostly free but sometimes, the shipment costs between $1 and $2. Still, this is way much better than the standard rates of between $20 and $40 per parcel from China. If you research about it, FedEx and DHL would charge a shipping fee of up to $60 if you want the items delivered fast.
- Free Returns – it has been an old practice that if a shipment was not received, it will be sent back to China free of charge.
- Faster shipping time – the rule is that the ePacket must arrive within 7 to 21 days. However, experience tells us that it is more like 12 to 30 days. This is fine, as it is much faster than the average of two months without ePacket.
Dropshipping goods from China has never been easier and hassle-free. The only thing you have to think of is how you would tell your customer that Customs duties are their responsibility.
How long does it take to ship with ePacket?
While the goal of ePacket is to ship the items as fast as possible, one should not expect that it can be done as fast as what Amazon is doing. One-day shipping is not possible.
The expectation is for the parcel to arrive and be received by the customer within 7 and 21 days. The thing is, China has holidays, too. The shipping window of 7 to 21 days almost never happen, considering that all kinds of shipping systems can go through some delays.
Because of the delay, the actual average shipping time can be between 12 and 30 days or more. If the shipping was fast, a customer can may receive the product within 10 and 20 days.
As a dropshipper, your best bet is to give your consumers a fair expectation. Most dropshippers offer five weeks to ship, and some will even say that due to “heavy demand, shipping can take up to eight weeks”. Any consumer who buys knowing this will wait and not ask you too much questions about the packing times.
Are there weight limits to ePacket?
Yes, it was called ePacket because it has to be small and because it is intended for e-commerce. As you know, e-commerce purchases are normally for small items like phones and chargers. Because of this, you can only enjoy the benefits of ePacket if the items you are shipping would fit the dimensions and weight required.
The size of the parcel has a maximum of 24 inches in length. The total height of the package must not be more than 36 inches. The same applies with the width.
If you think about it, you can fit a pair of shoes in that box. That dimension is big enough to fit a lot of small items that you can sell online, even smartphone cases and small figurines or dolls.
As for the price, the item that you are shipping must not be more than $400. If you exceed that, then the item must be expensive enough that both the seller and customer can actually afford better shipping options. The weight must not exceed 4.4 pounds.
Given all these conditions, we can say for sure that you cannot use ePacket with high-ticket dropshipping. You cannot use this shipping method for furniture and expensive drones or electronics that cost more than $400.
List of countries with ePacket
Here is a list of countries where ePacket delivery is offered:
- Hong Kong
- New Zealand
- Saudi Arabia
- United Kingdom
- United States
How do you track your ePacket delivery?
One of the biggest challenges for dropshippers is the tracking of the parcel. This is a huge problem with international shipping, as items can get lost. If you are shipping locally, tracking the product is easy because the shipping company uses its own systems.
With international shipment, several companies are involved. The good thing is that this has been remedied already. If you ship your item from China to other countries, the merchant will give you a tracking number.
Use this tracking number on the following company websites:
- ePacket China Post
You need to log in to these websites to check the item’s location. If you are using dropship supplier tools like Spocket or Oberlo, you can view the shipping status from your dashboard
Depending on the country you are shipping to, the language may not be English. If you ship the product to Brazil, do not be surprised if the language on the website for tracking is Portuguese. Do not worry, you can always use Google translate to find out what the status of the shipment is.
ePacket is one of the best things to happen in the e-commerce trade. Without it, only rich people with huge capitals to invest can do business. They have the money to order in bulk, ship the items from China, wait for the products, pay Customs, and then sell locally.
With ePacket, thousands of people around the world can start dropshipping. You can put up a business with little capital, and then offer the items to more consumers because the shipping cost is either free or affordable.
With ePacket, manufacturers in China are happy, you are happy, and the customers are happy. All the customer has to do is to wait less than a month.