With the ever-growing popularity of eCommerce a.k.a. online shopping, its become more important to stay apprised of the current shipping methods for sending and receiving products purchased online.
With the USPS’s implementation of ePacket delivery agreements with China, it has become easier, faster and less expensive for buyers to purchase goods from overseas vendors.
What is ePacket Delivery?
Started in 2011 by the United States Postal Service, ePacket is a shipping option originally set up to be offered by merchants in China that allows them to offer a quick and affordable way to ship smaller and lighter packages at a lower rate than traditional international shipping.
The agreement allows packages from China to receive USPS First Class Mail Service with delivery confirmation and tracking.
The service was designed to make eCommerce (hence the “e” in ePacket) more affordable and allowed buyers to receive their purchased items much faster.
While it started as a solution for shipping from China to the U.S., it has progressed further to include over 35 countries.
Why was ePacket Delivery Created?
The main purpose of ePacket was to let merchants and consumers have a quicker and less expensive way to ship inexpensive goods from China to the U.S.
How is ePacket Delivery an Advantage Over Traditional Shipping?
Most of the shipping handled in China is through the China EMS.
China EMS is the largest unified express and logistics, provider. It has the longest history of business operation and the widest coverage in China. They provide service in the domestic and international express, plus contract logistics.
Before ePacket delivery, the China EMS was the only practical option to ship products at an affordable cost. The problem? Most of the shipping took place via sea freight. This meant it could take months to receive your products, and there was rarely a way to track your individual shipments.
With ePacket shipping, you are now able to track the progress of your order and at no extra charge.
It has streamlined the shipping process for factories and made it more affordable and quicker for consumers to receive their items. Buying from an online store that ships its goods from China? No problem. EPackets make it possible to receive your items quickly.
What are the Requirements for ePacket Delivery?
The USPS Take Your Business Global page explains that to qualify for ePacket shipping rates, the following requirements must apply.
Package or Parcel Requirements
- Maximum length is 24”
- Minimum size should be large enough to accommodate required elements:
- Customs form
- The total of length + height + thickness cannot exceed 36”
- Maximum weight is 4.4 lbs. (2 kg)
- Maximum length is 36”
- Maximum length plus twice the diameter combined is 42”
- Minimum length is 4”
- Minimum length plus twice the diameter combined is 6 3/4”
- Maximum weight is 4.4 lbs. (2 kg)
How Do You Track ePackets?
Besides lower shipping costs, the other highly desirable benefit of ePacket delivery is that it allows packages to be tracked completely from origin to destination at no additional cost.
Traditional sea freight shipping usually didn’t provide accurate information about the progress of a shipment.
EPacket lets the consumer and merchant monitor their packages location on official websites. The system lets you see where your package is based on what part of the journey it’s in. So, if your package hasn’t left China yet, you can go to the EMS website. The, once your package is in the U.S. tracking switches to the USPS site.
Additionally, you can make use of third-party tracking services. These can be helpful if you find the other sites more difficult to use. Third party tracking sites include:
- Package Mapping
Depending on what website you made the original purchase, you may also be able to track your items via your account page on the eCommerce site.
Is ePacket Delivery a Trustworthy Method?
The ePacket delivery method has been set up by the United State Postal Service. The agreement with China included the development of special shipping labels that integrate both USPS and China EMS shipping data to ensure each package can be tracked completely from origin to destination.
What Countries Can Receive ePackets?
According to the China Postal Express and Logistics website, at the time of this article, there were 36 countries that could receive ePacket deliveries. Besides the U.S. they include Australia, Canada, England (UK), Israel, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Russia, Spain, Turkey and more.
For a complete list, you can visit the regulation page of the China Postal Express and Logistics website at http://shipping.ems.com.cn/product/findDetail?sid=9844.
Note, this website is in Chinese but can be translated well enough by Google Chrome.
How Long Does ePacket Delivery Take?
As with any other shipping method, arrival times can be varied due to holidays, customs delays, and more. Overall, ePacket delivery appears to be fairly consistent compared to more traditional methods. The following is taken directly from the China Postal Express and Logistics website reference above.
Approximate Shipment Time for ePacket Deliver to the U.S. and other countries is 7-10 business days, except:
- Mexico: 20 business days
- Russia and the Ukraine 7-15 business days
- Saudi Arabia: 7-15 business days
- Vietnam: 5-7 business days
Is ePacket Shipping Only Available to China Merchants?
Once upon a time, the answer to the question, “Do only China Merchants get to benefit from ePacket shipping?” The answer would have been “yes.”
However, according to the USPS Take Your Business Global web page, it is now possible for U.S. merchants to ship “lightweight purchases to 29 countries with the speed and transparency eCommerce customers demand. Track shipments all the way to your customer’s door.”
This newest resource for merchants in the U.S. abides by the same requirements in the agreement originally made with China (see the What are the Requirements for ePacket Delivery? Section above).
The list of 29 qualifying countries includes:
You can find the complete list on the USPS Take Your Business Global webpage in the Tips section under “Browse Commercial ePacket Country List.”
Some international factories will dropship to your customers. That means the product never arrives at your door and you never have to worry about shipping. This is an incredible convenience to online stores and it’s made possible through services like ePacket delivery. Overseas factories need affordable ways to ship their goods and get products to a wide-range of addresses. The benefit is that more factories can offer services like dropshipping, which saves stores the hassle of having to ship and it means a better e-commerce experience all-around. If overseas factories were forced to ship with EMS, deliveries would be slow and dropship services would be doubtful.
Why ePacket Delivery is Important to e-Commerce Businesses
Do you source products from China or other international factories? E-Commerce businesses often do because overseas factories are the cheapest and most reliable way to have their products produced. EPacket delivery makes it possible for an e-commerce store to receive their manufactured products at a much more rapid pace.
When you’re just starting out, startups don’t have the investment funds available to buy their products in bulk, all at one time. They need to order in batches. EPacket delivery makes this more affordable for the factory and faster for the store.
When you’re trying out overseas factories, samples are how you gauge product quality. Without samples, you would never know whether a factory can produce something of your quality standards. Your store relies on samples and if it takes over a month to receive them, you’ll be constantly working from behind. EPacket delivery makes it possible to order samples from multiple factories and have confidence that those products will arrive on time.
EPackets – Providing eCommerce Merchants Better Opportunities to Expand Their Reach and Increase Sales
Thanks to the convenience and the ability to let consumers find the best deal, e-Commerce is no longer a trend. It’s a fact of life. The USPS’s ePacket program now not only allows China merchants to expand their sales internationally but U.S. merchants as well. As an online store, you benefit from lower prices and faster delivery and your customers benefit too.