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Some Sellers See ‘Catastrophic’ Rise in International Shipping

Online sellers who rely on the USPS to ship packages to international customers saw a big rate increase overall with Sunday’s postal rate changes. Joseph Amalfitano of global shipping provider Globegistics said the latest rate increase could be catastrophic to the global sales of many merchants selling on Amazon and eBay if they are in a highly contested category.

For example, companies selling lightweight items like cell phone cases, cosmetics, and costume jewelry, will find their postage rates increase by 39.7% to the UK and 21.5% to Canada when using First Class Package International, he said.

Gordon Glazer of Shipware said the phasing out of Commercial Plus pricing (CPP) for international services will hit the smaller shipper very hard. Shippers who were only getting Commercial Base pricing will see about a 13% increase for Priority Mail International (PMI), Glazer said, while those who had access to CPP are seeing a much bigger increase of 24%.

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To break it down, Stamps.com spokesperson Eric Nash said Priority Mail Express International is seeing a big price increase across the board, all weights, all zones. Priority Mail International to Canada is also seeing a price increase across the board, with increases ranging from $3-$4 in 5-lb and under weights. All other countries are also seeing a sizable price increase ranging from $4-$6 in 5-lb and under weights.

And as with domestic First Class Package Service rate changes, ounces matter when it comes to First Class Package International Service. The accompanying chart supplied by Stamps.com shows that a 2-pound package will be cheaper to mail to all countries – but in most other cases, sellers are looking at increases – in some cases, sizable increases.

The chart shows that a 1-pound package to Canada sent via First Class Package International Service will cost $4.15 more than 2015 rates. A 52-ounce package will cost $12.36 more to send to Canada than before this week’s postal rate change.

Shipware’s Glazer said it’s important to choose the right service level for the time in transit and degree of tracking required, and reducing the size and weight of packaging is even more important for international shipping due to costs and less favorable dim divisors.

The USPS offers the advantage of eliminating the need for brokerage and duties – they become the responsibility of the receiving party. “While this is a benefit for most, some ecommerce shippers like the private carrier’s method of collected duties up front to minimize chance of refusal and return costs,” he pointed out.

In addition to UPS and FedEx, there are services including DHL, RR Donnelley and others offering discounted rates and services. “Parcel Consolidators and Purolator also offer attractive pricing into Canada, which is the largest International destination we see.”

Glazer pointed out that the USPS will also negotiate directly with larger shippers. “Using a 3rd party expert can pay big dividends for shippers that wish to lower their transportation costs.”

Globegistics’ Amalfitano said merchants who are serious about competing on the global stage should be looking at Commercial ePacket (which provides tracking to 28 destinations) and International Priority Airmail (which does not). Those two programs are offered through Postal Qualified Wholesalers.

Some sellers who are seeing international rates go up by big amounts are bringing up the issue of USPS’ ePacket deals with China Post and other countries that make it cheaper for Chinese merchants to reach US customers than it costs US sellers. More on that in the EcommerceBytes Blog.

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Ina Steiner

Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. Send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com.


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