The long version
When dropshipping, you will encounter many different shipping options. In this article, we will break down some of the most popular shipping options available to dropshippers and let you know which one you should choose to keep your customers happy.
Although Oberlo and oberlo alternatives can deal with many shipping problems with you, you have to make a decision before importing a product into your store about which shipping companies you'll use.
ePacket: Also known as China EMS, it is one of the most popular shipping options for dropshipping, and certainly one that we would recommend. ePacket makes buying and receiving products from China much easier, thanks to end-to-end tracking, cheap to free costs (depending on supplier) and widespread availability.
ePacket can arrive from China to the USA in as little as 7 days, and a maximum of about 20 days. ePacket also supports 50 countries around the globe at the present moment, and due to all these factors is our recommended shipping option.
Finding ePacket Products
SaleSource can help you find ePacket products that can ship quickly to the USA and tier 1 countries. You can also filter by ePacket only products on Aliexpress.
The best ways to track ePacket, while not directly showing your customers they are receiving a product from China, is to send them to either the USPS Website if they're in the USA, or a third party shipping aggregator like Aftership.
We would recommend adding an Order Tracker directly on your store, where customers can use a Shopify App like Tracktor to check the status of their orders in real time.
ePacket has expanded to over 50 countries at the time of writing. This list, while also serving as a good guide to marketing targeting, provides you with a definitive idea of which countries you can dropship successfully to. Use your browsers search feature (CTRL + F on Windows or Command + F on Mac) to see if a country you are targeting is eligible for ePacket.
Taiwan, Hong Kong, Russia, Australia, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, United Kingdom, France, Brazil, Spain, Netherlands, Canada, Ukraine, Belarus, New Zealand, Argentina, Indonesia, Philippines, Pakistan, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Mexico, Oman, United Arab Emirates, Italy, Germany, Belgium, Ireland, Denmark, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Poland, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland, Norway and Croatia.
If your supplier does not support shipping to your country with ePacket, you can use SaleSource to find a supplier that does.
How do I know my supplier has sent my package by ePacket?
An ePacket/EMS tracking number will typically look like Lx000000000CN, Ex000000000CN.
Finding your tracking number manually is easy, although we recommend using an app like Aftership that automatically updates product tracking numbers for customers. When you are logged into your Aliexpress account, you can visit your Order List Page.
Then, once you find the applicable order, you can click the "View Detail" link next to the Order ID.
Here you will be able to view which company is shipping your package.
USA Shipping v.s. ePacket
Winning products that exclusively ship from the USA can be found more easily than ever in 2020. With that being said, can ePacket compare to USA shipping in terms of speed and cost? We will compare ePacket and USA shipping in 4 dimensions to give you an answer - it is possible to use both USA shipping and ePacket at the same time for a product, but as a beginner you may want to stick to one or the other.
For products shipped to customers within the United States, USA shipping from a USA warehouse is hands down faster than ePacket. Most USA warehouse products arrive at the customers doorstep by USPS within 3-7 days, whereas the minimum days for ePacke to arrive in the USA is 7 days.
Pro Tip: If you want to fully avoid shipping delays, consider starting an eBay dropshipping business, check out our in-depth article on this topic.
Winner: USA Shipping
ePacket is almost always cheaper than USA shipping. Since there are no trade agreements to subsidise national shipping by USPS within country, you will have to pay a fee of around $3-$6 per product shipped. This can easily end up being non-viable, unless you also charge customers an extra fee to cover the shipping cost - which can lower conversion rate.
In contrast, the cost of ePacket is usually free, with some companies charging as little as $1-$2 for use of the shipping method.
USA shipping, by design, only is supposed to ship within the USA. The cost of USA shipping increases greatly when requiring worldwide shipping, a task which ePacket handles with ease. ePacket offers fast worldwide shipping at an affordable price.
Customers being able to see that their product ships from the USA undoubtedly boosts customer trust and helps with increasing customer lifetime value. Versus ePacket, where it is generally clear that the package has arrived from China, USA shipping will clearly show up as being shipped from the United States to your customer by USPS tracking.
Winner: USA Shipping
- 7-20 Day Shipping To Over 50 Top Tier Territories
- Typically Free / Very Affordable
- Wide adoption
- End-to-End tracking
- Designed for Ecommerce
- Not Available For Packages Over 2kg
- Not Available On Very Low Ticket Items - If It Is Costs More Than The Product
As a dropshipper, if ePacket is available, we recommend you choose this option. ePacket is by far the most versatile & quickest option for shipping out of China & Hong Kong. If your supplier doesn't provide ePacket shipping, you can use SaleSource to find another supplier that is selling the same product with ePacket shipping. Below are some other shipping methods you might want to consider when ePacket is not available.
Other Shipping Options
In the case that the product is not eligible for ePacket, you will likely encounter shipping methods such as China Post Registered Air Mail (20-40 days), Aliexpress Standard Shipping (19-39 days), or in the case where you're selling a high ticket dropshipping product , you may be offered DHL Shipping (6-13 days) for free.
Cheap / Free Shipping Options
If you do opt for China Post Registered Air Mail or Aliexpress Standard Shipping, you might notice that these are often low cost or free. In this scenario, the trade off is long shipping times for the customer. This can be worth it, for example, when buying a low cost product. The above earrings cost $0.44 to buy, and the cheapest shipping option is $0.29. The estimated shipping time is almost 4 weeks. However, this is the best shipping option available in terms of cost - as ePacket shipping is $3.05, over 6 times the price of the actual product. One solution to this is to use SaleSource to find the exact same product with a better supplier that will provide free ePacket shipping despite the low cost of the product.
DHL and Premium Shipping Options
DHL and EMS are a great way for your customer to receive their product in a timely manner, however we would not recommend using them in most dropshipping scenarios.
Why? For most items, the cost is too prohibitive, even if the customer covers the fee. EMS and DHL shipping can range from $40 - $100 for an average product, and can be even more expensive for larger items. It is possible, when buying a higher ticket item ($500 +), that this shipping cost might be worth the customer satisfaction.
In conclusion, we've learnt that shipping is probably the most prohibitive aspect of dropshipping, a problem that can be solved by being smart and picking the right supplier, and indeed using the correct shipping method. Using the latest software and technology in 2020, logistics and shipping can become an easily solved part of the dropship business model.