by Corey Ferreira
More businesses from all over the world are moving online, and more and more customers are making purchases from stores outside their country.
As business owners, we need to be aware of the changing competitive landscape. And one aspect of business that is constantly changing is shipping.
ePacket shipping has made buying products from China a lot easier. To maintain a competitive advantage over merchants in China, it’s important to understand what ePacket shipping is and why it has become a popular shipping method from China and Hong Kong.
If you’re using Oberlo or AliExpress to source and dropship products to customers, this article will be even more beneficial to you. I will be explaining how ePacket shipping works, as well as answering the common questions regarding ePacket delivery.
What is ePacket shipping and tracking?
ePacket is a shipping option offered by merchants in China and Hong Kong. It allows these merchants to provide a fast and affordable shipping option for light packages.
In 2011, the United States Postal Service formally announced the new shipping service and agreement with Hongkong Post and eBay China, allowing packages from China and Hong Kong to receive USPS First Class Mail Service along with a delivery confirmation service.
As the name (“e”Packet) implies, the shipping service was designed for ecommerce, to make it more affordable and quicker for consumers to receive their purchases from online stores and marketplaces that shipped out from China and Hong Kong.
In the past, China EMS was the only affordable and reasonable option to ship consumer products overseas to customers. However, it would often take over a month or longer for customers to receive their purchase. Other quicker options were too expensive, especially for small inexpensive products.
ePacket delivery began as a quick and affordable shipping solution from China and Hong Kong to the United States. Over the years, ePacket has expanded into 35 other countries such as Canada and Australia.
How ePacket tracking works
ePacket delivery gives customers end-to-end tracking at no additional cost, allowing them to easily monitor and locate their package on official websites such as EMS and USPS. Any undeliverable mail is returned for free as well, which means merchants will have no issues refunding customers that never receive their purchase.
You will often see ePacket offered as a shipping option by merchants from China on websites such as eBay, AliExpress, and Oberlo. However, any merchant in China and Hong Kong can offer ePacket shipping if the package meets the requirements for an ePacket delivery.
What are the requirements to use ePacket delivery?
According to the United States Postal Service, there are some requirements when it comes to the package or parcel being sent with ePacket. The maximum length of the package can only be 24” (60cm) and the total length, height and thickness of the package cannot be more than 36” (90cm).
Example of an International ePacket from Japan Post
Additionally, the package cannot weigh more than 4.4 lbs (2kg) to qualify for ePacket delivery and the merchandise being shipped cannot exceed $400 in value.
The package also must be shipped from either China or Hong Kong to one of the 35 eligible countries.
Which countries have ePacket shipping available?
As of February 2018, 35 countries support ePacket deliveries:
How long does it take for ePacket shipping to arrive in X?
Depending on the destination of the package, customs, holidays, and other delays, shipping times can vary. However, ePacket shipping seems to be a much more consistent option in terms of average shipping times, compared to other economical shipping options out of China and Hong Kong.
On average to the United States, a package can take 10-20 days to arrive from the date of shipment. Other countries may see similar or slightly longer average shipping time. Around half the time is spent reaching the destination, while the other half is spent being routed to the proper facilities before making it to the customer in the destination country.
It’s important to consider that this is pretty fast considering the amount of packages that are processed in bulk every day along the way to the destination, as well as the amount of stops one package goes through.
Fortunately, all of this can be easily monitored thanks to the tracking service included with ePacket deliveries, giving customers peace of mind while their package is trying to reach them.
How do I track an ePacket delivery?
There are a few ways to track your ePacket delivery.
The first is to use one of the official websites, depending on where your shipment is in transit. While the package is still in China, use EMS. When your package is in the USA, use USPS.
Alternatively, you can use third party tracking services if you’re having a difficult time using the official websites:
If you purchased your product on a website such as AliExpress, viewing the Order Details will usually show you the status of the package.
How do I know if my shipment is an ePacket delivery?
If you’re ordering through AliExpress, look under Orders and click View Detail. When looking under Logistics Information, the shipping method used will be under International Shipping Company. It should have “ePacket” along with the tracking number if the package was indeed shipped using ePacket.
AliExpress order details If you’re not purchasing on AliExpress, you can also determine how the package was shipped by looking at the tracking number. ePacket tracking numbers usually start with “L”. If there is no tracking number, it’s likely the package was not shipped using ePacket.
Will the customer have to pay customs/duties/taxes with ePacket shipping?
ePacket deliveries go through traditional customs clearances which may require customers to pay any applicable duties and taxes on arrival. It’s also best to check with your local laws to see when you would have to pay duties/taxes on imported purchases and for what kinds of items.
You should also ask the merchant shipping the item if there may be any duties or taxes owed on arrival. They might have a lot of experience shipping to your country already and have a better idea of whether or not duties/taxes will be owed on arrival.
What does this ultimately mean for me if I use AliExpress to dropship?
ePacket shipping should be one of the main factors, if not the most important factor when deciding which products to dropship from AliExpress. ePacket shipping allows your customers to receive their purchase in a reasonable timeframe while allowing them to track their order while they wait.
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It’s also the most consistent option for merchants and customers. Other shipping options may not be as reliable, unless you consider more expensive shipping options from China and Hong Kong.
Lastly, ePacket is generally offered as a free or inexpensive shipping option, this allows you as a store owner dropshipping with AliExpress or Oberlo to offer free shipping.
What does this ultimately mean for me as a small business owner?
If you ship locally, your competitive advantage will always be speed of delivery. There are customers who are not willing to wait a few weeks for their delivery to arrive. These are your customers.
Remember that competition is always changing. It’s important to maintain perspective on why customers choose you and figure out what your customers really want. Once you know that, you will be better equipped to serve your customers better than competitors can.