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Shipping time

Understanding Global Shipping Times: A Comprehensive Guide for Dropshippers

By
Gemma Henry

Navigating Shipping Times Worldwide: A Guide by Country

With Amazon setting the standard and the rest of us online retailers working our hardest to catch up, it’s easy to understand the importance of shipping times if you want to stay competitive. It’s also worth noting that different countries have different shipping times. What’s more, if you partner with more than one dropshipping provider, their shipping times may differ too! That’s a whole lot of shipping times to get confused about.

Thanks to Amazon and their amazing next or 2-day shipping services, ecommerce customers have come to expect this type of service everywhere. In dropshipping, next-day delivery is almost unheard of. In fact, at one time, dropshippers were considered to offer a terrible shipping service for a time. But Spocket rose to the challenge and ensured that dropshippers had access to suppliers that are able to provide fast shipping and tracking information. And now dropshipping accounts for 23% (almost a quarter) of all online sales.

But as a dropshipper you’ll need to be able to understand average shipping times fully so that you can pass that knowledge onto your customers and manage their expectations at the same time. So, this is need-to-know info! Read on to learn all about how to navigate shipping times worldwide.

Understanding Average Shipping Time

Measuring, monitoring and keeping your average shipping times up to date is crucial in the world of e-commerce. This is a metric that gives valuable insight into the efficiency of your dropshipping dispatch and delivery processes. 

To calculate average shipping time, start by taking the time between the order being placed and the product being received by your customer. Divide this by the total number of orders fulfilled. Let’s look at an example to make this calculation easier to understand:

Let’s say you fulfilled 10 orders in a month. If the total time between each order placement and delivery was 100 hours, your average dropshipping time would be 10 hours.

Use this formula to help you calculate average shipping times:

Total time between order placement and delivery/total number of orders=average shipping time 

Keeping track of the different shipping times for different carriers and shipping methods is also vital. This will help you to spot any areas that are in need of improvement. 

Again, for example's sake Let’s say that USPS have consistently longer average shipping times than DHL, choosing to ship items through DHL more frequently could be a better move for your dropshipping company as it will result in higher customer satisfaction levels overall. Now apply the same principal to your dropshipping suppliers. You will have very little control over what shipping carrier they use, however, if you notice that one supplier is consistently faster than another, a smart move would be to use the one with the faster average shipping time as your primary supplier.

Another thing to think about while calculating average shipping time is where your customers are based. If the majority of your customers are in the US (for example), it could be beneficial to use a US-based dropshipping supplier. This could help to reduce both shipping times and costs. 

You should also consider offering expedited shipping options. This can also really help to improve overall customer satisfaction and should boost your dropshipping sales. But again, there are things to consider. The cost of express shipping is often much higher than standard shipping services. Plus, the total weight of the items being shipped are likely to drive those higher shipping rates higher still. Express shipping isn’t a viable option for every dropshipper.

Finally, as the dropshipper, you’ll need to be able to communicate shipping times clearly to any and all potential customers. Estimated delivery dates and tracking information help to manage your customers’ expectations. And effectively managing their expectations will reduce the amount of customer service enquiries you receive about order status. This, in turn, helps to build trust with your customer base which will result in both returning customer business and positive dropshipping reviews.

Global Overview

Shipping times can vary depending on a number of factors. These include the supplier’s carrier, the supplier’s location, the location of the delivery address, and whether or not your customer has upgraded to a faster shipping service (if that’s an option offered by your dropshipping store). 

While the principles of calculating average shipping times remain the same. For global dropshipping estores, it’s worth calculating individual average shipping times for each country. And in some cases, it may be worth breaking this down into smaller, more-regional locations too. 

As the popularity of online shopping continues to grow, you need to stay aware of how customer expectations regarding shipping are changing. And, how that will affect your bottom line too.

To improve your customer’s shipping experience, here are our top tips:

  • Clearly outline the shipping services customers can expect
  • Manage expectations regarding shipping times
  • Where possible offer free shipping or flat-rate shipping by working the costs into your product prices
  • Partner with a reliable dropshipper
  • Think about faster shipping options
  • Provide tracking information

North America

In North America (including The US, Canada, and Mexico) expected shipping times vary somewhat. But The US customer base is one of the most demanding. 

A 2021 survey suggests that over 40% of US consumers expect their online purchases to arrive within 2-3 days. Not only that, 27% of those surveyed confessed to hoping to receive their online purchases on either the same day or the next working day.

At Spocket, you can filter suppliers by their average shipping times. The fastest service available is within 1-3 working days. This ties in with customer expectations, yet it might not be the most viable dropshipping business option.

You can also filter by:

  • 4-7 days
  • 8-14 days
  • 15+ days

This means that you can target efficient shipping while maintaining competitive prices while shipping to Canada, US, or Mexico-based customers.

Europe

Dropshippers operating in the European ecommerce market are faced with similar challenges to those operating in the US. Generally people in the United Kingdom, Germany, France and Spain, have become accustomed to fast shipping.

And so, whether you’re a dropshipper just starting out, or running an established dropshipping business, you’ll see higher levels of customer satisfaction coming through by filtering the suppliers by the average shipping time of 1-3 days here too.

That said, if a dropshipping supplier operating in the 4-7 days average shipping time bracket is also able to offer faster shipping upgrades, this could be another option to consider. Overall, customers located in the UK, Germany, France, and Spain, are happy to pay for faster shipping when available too.

 Asia

In Asia, fast shipping is also a priority for many online shoppers. But to combat this expectations, dropshippers can specifically seek out Asia-based dropshipping suppliers as this will automatically reduce the amount of time it takes between dispatch and delivery. 

Whether you're dropshipping in China, Japan, India, or South Korea; looking for efficient shipping services will set you apart from your competitors in Asia.

Again, we’d recommend sticking to those suppliers that can ship orders to your primary delivery destination within either 1-3 or 4-7 days.

Oceania

And in Australia and New Zealand, customer shipping time expectations are very similar. One survey suggests that 75% of online shoppers in Oceania expect free shipping to be an option. What’s more, 60% of those surveyed also expect to be offered same-day or next-day shipping options. And 53% of shoppers admitted they’d prefer to be offered flexible shipping whereby they are able to choose delivery dates and time slots. 

So, if you’re starting (or running) a dropshipping business within Oceania, set your destination and filter out the suppliers that are unable to fulfil efficient delivery unless they are able to offer an expedited delivery service at an acceptable price.

South America

Faster shipping is in demand all over the world. A survey carried out by Statista suggests that globally 41% of shoppers expect to receive their online purchases within 24-48 hours of purchase. And so, for dropshippers operating in South America - that includes those dropshipping in Brazil, Argentina, and Colombia - it’s wise to partner with a supplier that can meet these general expectations.

Africa

Again, customer surveys suggest that higher satisfaction levels and efficient shipping times are linked. As we’ve already pointed out, 41% of shoppers - and this is a global statistic - expect to receive items bought online within 24-48 hours. 

With this in mind dropshippers dropshipping in Africa will need to look for suppliers that can meet those demands. With Spocket, you’ll be able to filter suppliers by your delivery destinations (whether you’re dropshipping to Nigeria, South Africa, or Kenya) and filter those suppliers again by average shipping times. 

Apply the knowledge we’ve provided on customer expectations and manage them effectively to avoid any negative reviews as a result of unforeseen and unavoidable shipping delays.


Understanding Customs and Import Regulations

When you’re importing goods from one country to another (as many dropshippers do all the time), it’s important to understand the different ways in which it can impact shipping times and customer experience.

Your international shipment needs to clear customs before being authorized to be delivered to the customer. Customs clearance just refers to the act of moving goods through customs. Essentially it’s a process whereby products shipped from another are authorized to enter their destination country.

Every country has their own import duties and taxes on goods that cross over into their borders. This process generates income while protecting the destination country’s economy and its environment.

99% of dropshippers will find that clearing customs is an easy process, no matter where in the world you are dropshipping to. In ecommerce, the advice is to prep the right documentation ahead of time and everything will run smoothly. But dropshippers will need to rely on their suppliers to do this for them. And failure to do so could result in lengthy customer wait times, and even additional charges.

Once the product arrives at customs, a customs officer will examine the customs paperwork. These documents need to be completed accurately. Both the shipping label and the invoice are important here. The invoice is integral and needs to list all of the contact information for the dropshipper, the supplier, and the receiver. It should also clearly display the export date and airway bill (also referred to as AWB) number. 

From there any import duties and taxes will be assessed. Import fees can vary and are dictated by the type of goods, their total value, and any import regulations specific to the receiving country. Import duties are usually assessed on goods that are valued above the minimum taxable threshold for imported goods. This is widely referred to as a de minimus value. So, if a country has a de minimus value of $100, this translates to goods that are valued at $100 or below will not incur additional import duties.

But, if the goods entering the country are valued above the de minimus value, the customs office will need to request additional payment for taxes and duties. So, if one of your dropshipping orders exceeds the tax threshold, the customs officer will check whether the duty and taxes have been paid. It’s also good to know that in some countries there are restrictions on goods. And in the case that you’re importing restricted goods to your customer, those goods may incur fees regardless of their total value.

If necessary customs fees are unpaid, customs will look to contact the recipient (AKA your customer) to collect these fees. And understandably, this could upset your dropshipping customers.

To avoid this, you need to know the ins and outs of the customs processes in your shipping country. Once you know the rules, restrictions, and custom fees related to the goods you sell, you’ll find the process much easier to understand.

Making sure the paperwork is accessible, clearly laid out, and features everything needed to clear customs efficiently is the key to success. And so, you’ll need to choose a reputable and reliable dropshipping partner you can entrust with such an important task.

Common Customs Clearance Delays

There are a few reasons that your dropshipping shipment can get stuck in customs. The most common reasons for custom clearance delays include:

  • Shipping items that are restricted or prohibited. Each country has their own list of prohibited or restricted products. If your shipment to your customer contains an item that is prohibited or restricted in its destination country, clearing customs will take longer. And if you fail to include the necessary documentation, your package could be destroyed.
  • Failing to include the necessary documents. Generally, customs officers are allowed to hold your parcel for as long as they like or until you are able to provide the necessary documentation. When shipping products globally, providing a customs declaration is essential. 
  • Unpaid import duties or taxes. In most cases, countries impose taxes on shipments that exceed a de minimus value. The longer it takes you to pay those fees, the longer your customer’s order will be delayed in customs.


Strategies for Managing and Communicating Shipping Times

When it comes to setting realistic shipping expectations, transparency is key. And so, providing a date range rather than a single specific date can help to manage your customer’s expectations advantageously. Choose to use phrases such as “expected to arrive between [date 1] and [date 2]” rather than “expected on or before [enter date here] helps keep expectations realistic. Plus by not guaranteeing an exact delivery date and time, you’ll avoid disappointing your customer should there be some sort of delay during its transit.

Being able to provide your customers with tracking information is definitely an asset in the dropshipping world. With order and delivery tracking, you’re much more likely to ensure that your customer deliveries continue to run both smoothly and efficiently. With order tracking at your disposal, you’ll be able to ensure that your customers receive their dropshipping purchases on time and identify any issues within the delivery process at the same time. This will give you unique insight and allow you to take the necessary steps to improving the flow of deliveries by considering an alternative dropshipping supplier or having a discussion with your existing supplier. 

Offering expedited shipping options wherever possible is always going to boost sales on your platform. For many online shoppers, receiving their order faster is a priority. And in many countries across the world, customers are willing to pay to be able to speed up the time it takes for their online purchases. 

Adding the option to upgrade to expedited shipping has the potential to improve the customer service experience. With a decrease in shipping times and transparent delivery processes, you’re likely to see a reduction in the amount of customer service related queries you receive each day too.

Handling Shipping Delays

Unfortunately, no matter how prepared we are, our dropshipping business will always face some shipping delay issues that are unavailable. Here are the most common causes of shipping delays: 

Delays due to natural disasters and external factors:

Some shipping delays are completely out of both your or your dropshipping partners’ control. External factors like the weather, wars, fire and natural disasters could all cause disruption to an otherwise smooth shipping system. 

Delays caused by schedule changes and traffic challenges:

Another common reason that some shipments are delayed is changes to schedules or traffic challenges. Peak seasons like Chinese New Year or the holiday season can see a rise in shipping delays for dropshippers as many dropshipping suppliers shut down completely for over a week during such holidays. And in some cases, full productivity does not resume for up to a month.

Delays due to customs issues

As mentioned above, failing to provide the correct customs paperwork can lead to lengthy customs delays. To avoid customs delays, ensure that you partner with a reliable dropshipping supplier that you can entrust to complete customs documentation consistently accurately. 

To avoid these potential shipping delays having a negative impact on your dropshipping business, it’s really important to communicate any issues to your customers with transparency. This can be done in several ways:

  1. Update your dropshipping site’s announcement bar. If your business has been hit by shipping delays, communicate them to your customer by clearly displaying it on your e-store. Doing so may see a reduction in your total number of dropshipping orders but, it will prevent a stream of negative customer reviews which can be more damaging for your business long-term.
  2. Update your product pages. If the delay is likely to be ongoing but only affects dropshipping products from one of your suppliers, it’s worth putting a note on the individual product pages that are likely to be impacted.
  3. Automate email notifications for post-purchase communication. If a customer has placed an order for items being impacted by shipping delays, be sure to follow up with an email outlining those delays.
  4. Update your shipping page. Make sure that these delays are also reflected and explained on your dropshipping store’s shipping page.

Despite doing everything in your power to communicate the impact of shipping delays to your customer, there will always be one or two customers that miss all the memos and get in touch to query the whereabouts of their items. These customers require a gentle yet firm reiteration of the info displayed on your site. Remember that excellent customer service should always be one of your USPs, so try to let them down gently while directing them to the sections of your site that explain the delays fully.

Evaluating Shipping Providers

Just as when choosing a dropshipping partner, choosing shipping providers comes down to prioritizing experience and reputation. A shipping provider’s experience and reputation should be at the top of your list of needs. You want to partner with a shipping provider that has a consistently good reputation and plenty of experience. Having plenty of experience means that a provider has most certainly faced unavoidable delays in the past, and their good reputation demonstrates their ability to navigate them without it impacting their overall satisfaction levels.

When negotiating contracts with shipping providers, you’ll need to think about many different components. Factors like price, delivery time, and payment terms are all elements that you’ll need to take into consideration. 

You’ll also need to have a clear understanding of the shipping providers capabilities and limitations. If a shipping partner has limited capacity for shipments, they could be unable to meet your dropshipping business demand during peak shopping periods. Determine the scope of work, their shipping schedules, insurance cover for loss or damage caused during transit, and their payment terms. 

Outline a clear and concise contract to best position your dropshipping business to avoid disputes and misunderstandings later on.

Case Studies

Many dropshipping entrepreneurs have been able to launch and grow successful businesses with Spocket. One great example we can all agree on is Marc Chapon. Marc launched his online dropshipping store with Spocket and through us, Marc was able to source high-quality products from European suppliers. This resulted in faster shipping times and higher levels of customer satisfaction. On one single day, Marc made over $10,000 in sales.

There are many shipping challenges that need to be overcome in dropshipping, and indeed in ecommerce in general. But partnering with Spocket can help you get off to a great start with reliable, local suppliers that can (in a BAU world) consistently offer fast and timely shipping services.

Conclusion

Customers generally expect their orders to arrive fast and on-time. Expedited delivery options should be considered because, as a conversion tactic, it works! Choose your dropshipping suppliers carefully. Product quality and profit margins are often a key consideration for dropshippers. But don’t forget about the need for reliable shipping.

Wherever in the world you are planning to launch your dropshipping platform, Spocket is here to help you overcome challenges relating to shipping. We only partner with reliable suppliers that are able to maintain an order success rate of 95% or above, as well as being able to deliver fast shipping and tracking information.

FAQs

How Can I Expedite Shipping to Different Countries?

If you want to be able to offer expedited shipping to different dropshipping audiences, the handy Spocket filters are there to help. Select your country of operation, then choose your preferred delivery time and you’ll automatically be linked up with a list of suppliers who can adhere to your dropshipping business needs.

What Should I Do if My Shipment is Delayed?

Shipment delays are inevitable in dropshipping. And while your initial reaction may lead to wanting to bury your head in the sand, this is the opposite of what you should do. Instead, implement the steps outlined in the Handling shipping delay section of this article:

  • Update your dropshipping site’s announcement bar. 
  • Update your product pages. 
  • Automate email notifications for post-purchase communication.
  • Update your shipping page. 

How Do Customs Policies Affect Shipping Time?

Customs policies are likely to affect your dropshipping business due to increased shipping times. But having a supplier you can trust to fill out the paperwork properly and include all necessary documentation can help you avoid lengthy customs delays. Most countries have a smooth customs clearance process whereby shipping delays are minimal as long as the correct documentation has been provided.

Is it Possible to Provide Guaranteed Delivery Dates?

While it is possible to provide guaranteed delivery dates in dropshipping, it’s not advisable. If you guarantee a date and a customer’s shipment is delayed during transit, your overall customer satisfaction rates are likely to dip. In a world where reputation and trust is fundamental to your business’ success, providing a date range is a much more effective operationally. This is part and parcel of managing your customer’s expectations (and your own).

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Gemma Henry

Gemma has a passion for writing, an enthusiasm for eCommerce, and a flair for creating informative content that drives others to follow their dreams. Her work foundations are built on thorough research to allow you to find all the need-to-know info in one place.

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