However, all of the suppliers on this platform are from China and Hong Kong, so shipping can take weeks and even months (you can use this tool to compare the shipping cost & delivery dates from leading shipping carriers), even with DHL global mail and parcel express options. Not good for customer satisfaction and seller reputation, that’s for sure.
However, that all changed when ePacket shipping became an option. ePacket delivery takes less than 30 days, usually more like 7 to 10 days, and is usually free, or costs only a few dollars.
There are a few things to think about before you use it as part of your dropshipping business model, though. You should consider ePacket regulations, the location of your customer base, and how to track ePacket deliveries.
In this post, we’ll cover all that and more in this guide such as:
By now, you’re probably wondering...
What is ePacket Shipping?
The ePacket service is basically an agreement between the U.S. and Hong Kong/China postal services to boost trade between nations. It allows you to send something between the United States and its Asian counterparts fairly quickly.
The United States Postal Service first partnered up with the Hong Kong Post in 2011 to bring more options to postal qualified wholesalers in Hong Kong, particularly those who want to reach consumer markets in the United States.
Aside from giving merchants a competitive advantage, the ePacket shipping solution also brings peace of mind by providing tracking for packages ordered by U.S.-based consumers from eBay China sellers.
Once the packages arrive in the United States, they receive USPS First-Class Mail service along with Delivery Confirmation.
It became so successful that the service expanded to numerous countries across the world, and that list is continuously growing.
The EMS ePacket service is one to take advantage of, especially if you're just getting started with your shipping business and are testing the waters in terms of low-cost global mailing, China post tracking, priority mail, and other international mailing services.
Getting acquainted with post register and post office regulations through the ePacket service is a good way to get your feet wet, and it will be easier for you as an ecommerce business owner or eBay seller to have a better profit margin and grow your business even further.
However, the ePacket service does have a few restrictions, but these shouldn't be a problem if you're shipping lightweight.
- Products must weigh no more than 2 kilograms, or 4.4 pounds.
- There are limitations on the maximum length of packages. Packaging can be no larger than 24 inches by 36 inches.
- Order value must be less than $400.
How ePacket Shipping Works
Benefits of using ePacket Delivery
Apart from cost and time efficiency, ePacket offers a wide range of benefits to buyers including (but not limited to):
- Free returns on any undeliverable items. Customers will have a sense of security knowing that any undeliverable item can be returned, without any additional expense. This factor alone can improve the customer/merchant relationship.
- Door-to-door ePacket tracking. ePacket delivery provides customers the option of end-to-end tracking, without paying any additional costs. They’re able to track their ePacket delivery on websites such as EMS and USPS.
Bear in mind that customers may have to pay for customs (or additional taxes) on the products they order.
Average ePacket Shipping times
When shipping into the United States, however, the usual timeframe for a package to arrive lies within the 10-20 day mark.
Like all shipping methods, the delivery time for ePacket shipping may vary based on the destination of the package, customs, holidays, and other unforeseen delays.
Other countries may have to deal with a slightly longer shipping time due to the fact that the package is being routed to the proper facilities before making it to the customer.
While the shipping time may vary, customers who use the ePacket delivery option can have peace and mind when waiting for their package because they’re able to monitor the tracking number.
According to the USPS, the maximum length of a package can only be 24”, while the total height and thickness of the package cannot be more than 36”.
Additionally, in order for the package to qualify for ePacket delivery cannot weigh more than 4.4 lbs. Finally, the merchandise being shipped cannot exceed any more than $400 in value.
Customs and Taxes for ePacket Shipping
All ePacket deliveries go through traditional customs and clearances (which may require customers to pay any additional taxes upon arrival).
You could always ask the merchant who’s shipping the item if there will be any additional taxes owed upon arrival to give your customers a heads-up.
These merchants have experience shipping to multiple countries and will have a better idea of whether or not there will be any additional expenses.
Which Countries Allow ePacket Delivery?
Specifically, here is the list of countries that allow shipping as of June 2017:
- Hong Kong
- Kazakhstan (currently in a trial run)
- New Zealand
- Saudi Arabia
- Thailand (currently in a trial run)
- United Kingdom
- United States
- Vietnam (currently in a trial run)
Again, this list is constantly growing, so check to see if it’s available in the country you’re purchasing from.
How to Track Your ePacket Delivery from China
One of the best parts of ePacket is that, unlike many other foreign shipping choices, it comes with a post tracking number.
The tracking information is especially important for your customers because they can see where their package is at whenever they want. This will help them see that you’re not a scam website if their package doesn’t show up within the 7- to 10-day window. (Since most people expect faster shipping these days.)
To get your ePacket tracking code/package tracking, you have to ask your supplier directly. However, you can’t track your shipment on AliExpress -- you have to use USPS, ePacket China Post, or sites like 17track.net when selecting from shipping options.
To find your ePacket tracking code, go to AliExpress, then My Orders > Track ePacket.
Keep in mind that ePacket shipments still usually take 7 to 30 days for delivery. While sometimes it can be much faster - people have seen 4-day shipping times - it’s safer to err on the longer side.
Be sure to let your customers know about tracking China packages and how long shipping could take to reduce the number of cancellations and inquiries.
It’s not unheard of to find free ePacket shipping on products in AliExpress. To find if a supplier offers this shipment method, click the drop-down menu in the “Ships From” column.
Word of Warning: Some suppliers claim to have free ePacket shipping from China, but are actually using a different shipping method that takes longer. You can manually check on AliExpress’ Orders page under the “View Details” section to ensure that the correct option was applied to your order.
Recommended Reading: AliExpress Alternatives: SaleHoo vs. Aliexpress
Yes, this is technically fraud, but that’s one of the annoyances that comes from working with foreign suppliers.
That’s why you need to put a lot of time upfront to find trustworthy suppliers. The process may be time-consuming, but it’s well worth it so you don’t have to worry about getting secretly screwed like that.
Pro Tip: If you find that the supplier you're using doesn’t offer free ePacket shipping, look for a competitor selling the same product who does.
What We Learned
ePacket shipping has quickly become a go-to for dropshippers using AliExpress to buy and sell products. It’s cheap and fast, which is a no-brainer.
Remember: The lower your shipping times and costs, the more you’ll be able to sell.
We live in a world where Amazon offers free 2-day shipping, and everyone has grown accustomed to getting that treatment when they buy anything online.
Even if you have to pay for ePacket shipments, it’s still probably worth eating the cost and taking a slightly lower profit margin in order to offer free, faster shipping.
One last thing you should know:
Customers may still have to pay for customs or taxes on their products upon arrival. This is the case for all international shipping, China EMS (ePacket) or not.
We recommend you ask your suppliers whether or not a customer may incur additional fees for receiving products before you work with them.
And that’s about all there is to ePacket shipping! If you want to learn more about selling products without holding inventory, take a look at our complete guide to dropshipping.