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ePacket is free shipping from China and Hong Kong. It is the most popular shipping method for dropshippers, especially so for those who source their items from these two countries.
But what is ePacket, really, and how can your dropshipping business from it? Today, you will learn the following things:
- What is ePacket: History of ePacket
- Countries Where ePacket is Used
- Delivery Period for ePackets
- ePacket Requirements
- Benefits of ePacket
- How to Track ePacket Parcels
- How ePacket is Handled at Customs
- Will US Exit the ePacket Deal?
Let us get started!
Dropship from US/EU Suppliers!
What is ePacket: History of ePacket
ePacket is a shipping method that started as an agreement between the US Postal Service (USPS) and merchants in China and Hong Kong.
For a long time, many products that came from China were shipped literally in a ship. Because of that, the delivery took more than eight weeks or 60 days. With ePacket, planes were used and this reduced the shipping time to only 30 days.
With ePacket, Chinese merchants use what is called 3PL, or third-party logistics providers. These are shipping companies that work with USPS to help Chinese merchants to ship the items faster and for free. The shipping cost is not actually free, but the costs are too low that Chinese merchants do not lose money even if they do not charge for shipping.
It was back in 2011 when the USPS announced its new service. It partnered with the Hong Kong Post, and also with eBay China. With this agreement, packages from both China and Hong Kong received USPS First Class Mail Service, making the shipment faster.
ePacket was designed primarily for e-commerce, and this is what the letter “e” stands for. USPS recognized that it can earn more money if it added focus on merchandise bought online.
Years ago, China EMS, a delivery and logistics company, was the only option that allowed Chinese merchants to ship at affordable prices. This method, however, took at least 60 days for the packages to arrive.
With ePacket, merchants now have a quick delivery system from China or Hong Kong to the United States. As the years went by, the ePacket deal expanded to 35 more countries, which made it possible for Chinese merchants to sell their products globally.
And this is why a lot of dropshippers prefer to get their products on AliExpress. Most merchants and suppliers on AliExpress use ePacket.
Countries Where ePacket is Used
Here is a list of countries where ePacket is used by Chinese merchants to ship.
- Australia and Austria
- Belgium and Brazil
- Canada, US, and UK, and Mexico
- Croatia, Denmark, and Estonia
- Finland, France, and Germany
- Hong Kong (from China shipments)
- Hungary and Ireland
- Japan, Malaysia, Vietnam, Singapore, Thailand, and South Korea
- Latvia, Lithuania, and Malta
- Luxembourg and Netherlands
- New Zealand and Norway
- Poland and Portugal
- Russia, Spaind, and Saudi Arabia
- Sweden and Switzerland
- Turkey andUkraine
For deliveries to France, the ePacket service is available to Zip codes starting with 01 to 95. ePacket is not currently used in other French territories, especially those outside the mainland. For example, territories like Corsica, Guadeloupe, and Martinique cannot enjoy ePacket services.
The same goes to UK. ePacket is only used to deliver items to the mainland but not for others. ePacket is also used in the Channel Islands and the isle of Man. In the US, ePacket is used on all its territories.
Delivery Period for ePackets
How long does it take to get the products from China with ePacket?
It depends. There are so many factors at play that can affect the shipping and the delivery period.
These factors are:
- Customs delay
On average, an ePacket delivery takes between 10 and 20 business days from China to the US. Half of that time is spent on the actual shipping period, and the other half is spent on clearing the packages in the customs department.
10 days is pretty fast for shipping, if you think about it, especially so because it is free. If you cannot wait, or if you want to know where you package is, you can use tracking numbers to determine where the item currently is.
Not all types of products qualify for the free ePacket shipping. There is a maximum weight and size. If you are a dropshipper, it means that you should not expect all types of products from China to be shipped for free. This is critical to know, because you cannot offer free shipping and then only realize later on that you have to pay for it.
The product weight must not be heavier than two kilograms or 4.4 pounds. This weight condition already includes the packaging or the box. One exception to the rule is shipment to Israel where the whole package has a maximum weight of three kilograms or 6.6 pounds.
Products that meet the weight condition must not exceed a declared value of $400. If you are dropshipping expensive jewelries, these things will not qualify if they exceed $400 in value. Also, the products must be shipped from either China or Hong Kong only.
Minimum and Maximum Package Sizes
The minimum package size is 14 cm by 11 cm. If the product is rolled, like a shirt, the length must be at least 11 cm, and should be more than 17 cm. This is why many products shipped via ePacket use large boxes even if the item is small.
The maximum size must not exceed 60 cm in length. The width and height must not be more than 90 cm. If the product is rolled, the length must not be more than 104 cm, and the diameter must plus the length must not be more than 104 cm.
Why is this important? This will help you determine if the product you want to dropship qualifies for ePacket. If not, then you can still sell that but you cannot expect fee shipping.
What are the benefits of ePacket
Apart from being free, what else is there to ePacket that dropshippers can take advantage of? Read below to find out.
Here are the advantages and benefits of ePacket:
- Coverage – the ePacket system covers more than 35 countries, which means you can sell your dropshipped products from China and Hong Kong to more people.
- Faster Shipping – the delivery can take only up to three weeks. While this is too long compared to Amazon, you still have a great fighting chance if are transparent to your customer. All you have to do is to make the customer see the value of waiting longer, but paying smaller on the product cost.
- Low-cost – not all products can be shipped with ePacket for free. While most are free, so they have to be paid because they do not fit the conditions we mentioned earlier. It is not unusual to get charged $1 or $2 for shipping, so it is still highly competitive against others like FedEx or DHL.
- Trackable – for US deliveries, the ePacket offers an option for door-to-door services at no extra cost. The ePacket service also gives you, the dropshipper, a tracking number, which you can pass on to your customer. The package can be tracked via EMS and USPS.
- Free Returns – if the packet cannot be delivered, return to the merchant is free. You do not have to pay extra to get the product back to your merchant.
- Customs Duties – the recipient of the shipment is covered by the recipient. They can either pay this to the delivery person, or pay it in their local post office. You need to make this clear on your product page if you are a dropshipper to set proper expectations.
If you are dropshipping products from China, you are in good hands if you use ePacket. Almost all Chinese merchants use this. While the shipment can take a long while, as long as three weeks, it makes financial sense to both you and your customers.
The only thing you should be transparent about is the customs duties. You have no control over it, and you must stipulate that on your product page so he customer does not get surprised.
How to Track ePacket Parcels
Are the parcels trackable? Yes, they are!
There is a thing called ePacket Tracking Facility. Once you order the product in AliExpress, or from your dropship supplier tool, you will receive a tracking number.
You can give your customer this tracking number as proof that the item has already left the origin country, or that it is being processed now. The customer can use the tracking code in various websites, such as USPS, ePacket China Post, or 17track.Net.
If you are using dropship supplier tools like Dropified, Spocket, and SaleHoo, you can get the tracking number from your dashboard.
How ePacket is Handled at Customs
Since ePacket is an international courier service, every country has to implement its own customs laws. To my knowledge, all countries charge customs duties for every product that was imported.
Because of this, customer who get their items shipped from another country have to pay taxes and custom duties.
It would help if you ask the supplier or the merchant if he has knowledge about the cost of duties and cost. Some merchants who have been in business for a long while may be able to give you a ballpark figure how much the tax and customs duties cost, which you can also tell your customers.
Will US Exit the ePacket Deal?
Because of the trade war between the US and China, there is a threat that the US will now exit the ePacket deal, also known as the UPU. Or Universal Postal Union. We are not 100% sure if this will happen. But if it does, then we can say goodbye to free shipping.
This does not mean that we can no longer dropship from China. All it means is that dropshippers will now have to charge for shipping. It is also likely that the US will not exit the union, but simply negotiate better deals.
ePacket is the boon of dropshippers because the system allows for free and faster shipping times. With ePacket, it is easier now to market products that come from China even if you have no inventory.
To be able to use ePacket effectively, you should not go to AliExpress on your own to look for products. Instead, you have to use dropship supplier tools like Spocket, SaleHoo, and Dropified.
All these three are the best among their competitors, and they have a list of the best dropship suppliers from AliExpress, with and without ePacket as an option.
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