Ever wondered how international shipping happens?
May be it’s a small gift that you want to send across to your cousin living half way across the globe or its just some homemade pickle that your mom has made for you and want to get it delivered to you at your address in US.
Be it a one kg package or a bigger international parcel weighing over a hundred kilograms, the basics are the same. In this article we’ll explain various international shipping options, choosing and evaluating the right option based on speed, budget and contents apart from packaging guidelines and documentation.
Ok let’s start from the scratch. What’s international shipping?
In simple words it’s the movement of goods from one international location to another. It could be a small document package or a parcel that gets send by air or it could be a large commercial shipment sent as ocean freight. It all comes under international shipping. The mode of the transport could be air, ocean or even road or rail in certain places. Depending on the budget, speed and size of the package the type of service required it could be courier, air cargo, ocean freight etc…It’s a bit confusing when everything is said in one go, I know.
So in this article we’ll be specifically be discussing about international shipping from India, primarily talking about sending personal non 5
commercial packages, parcels and documents from India.
Types of International Shipping
Ok let’s assume that you want to send a small package containing some apparel from India to your sister living in USA. Now if the package is small, light weight you could send this across as courier also known as express cargo. There are many companies which offer courier and international shipping from India for example DHL, Fedex, Aramex etc… These are some of the leading international shipping companies in the world well known for their reliability, speed and quality of service. Courier services are fast, offers door to door delivery with international shipping tracking thereby helping you to track the package right from pick up to delivery. They are fully managed meaning you don’t have to worry about any documentations or customs clearance process as it is taken care off by the carrier. As you can see sending a courier is pretty easy and straight forward. All that you have to do is to make a booking provide the required documents and make the payment.
The flipside is that courier services can come across as expensive and is commonly used for sending documents and small packages. Depending on the carrier you can expect INR2000 upwards per Kg for sending a package from India to USA if you directly go with them. As you can see it isn’t the most economical option when sending low value and bulky items whose delivery is not urgent. One way to bring down the cost is to get in touch with a channel partner of these leading international shipping companies. All the leading courier service and express cargo service providers have got channel partners who get discounted rates and as such their rates are much lower than the rates offered when you directly go with the carrier. The reason being that they send shipments regularly and thus get discounted pricing based on the volume of cargo that they do. Not to mention that they negotiate hard.
Alright. I am still not happy with the price and plus I don’t mind if it takes a little longer to deliver. What other option do I have?
Door to Door parcel service
Like courier it is also sent by air but a lot more cheaper at times 60 to 70% cheaper than regular courier service. That sounds cool! What is it and how does it work?
Usually the channel partners or resellers that we have mentioned above mainly focus on providing parcel service. They have tie ups with multiple carriers and has got the network and facilities to handle parcels. What happens is that your package gets picked up and goes to the channel partner’s warehouse were it gets clubbed with other customer’s packages. This consolidation process gives considerable savings as the per Kilogram rates go down as the size of the shipment increases. Better and more efficient packaging also lead to increased savings. They intern pass on a part of these savings to the customers thereby getting better rates. As mentioned the rates could be at times 70% less compared to regular courier service.
The downside is that door to door parcel service could take much longer compared to regular courier services and offers limited international shipping tracking.
How international shipping works?
When it comes to courier service, the process is pretty straight forward. Your package gets picked up by the courier personal. This then goes to the company’s local handling center. From there it goes to the carrier’s regional/national hub from where it gets dispatched after clearing customs. Now depending on the origin and destination the package might go through one or more international transshipment hubs before it reaches the destination country. Once it reaches their it again goes through a clearance process. It then goes through one or more handling centers and hubs before the package finally gets delivered.
Door to door parcel service works pretty much the same just that package first arrives at the channel partner’s warehouse and sits there before it gets clubbed with other packages. Once it reaches the destination country the bulk package gets unpacked and individual packages are sent to their respective destinations.
International Shipping tracking guide
Tracking your package helps you know the progress and also provides you peace of mind so that you are not in dark. When it comes to courier it is pretty straight forward. All leading carriers offers real time international shipping tracking. All that you need to do is to punch in the AWB or the airway bill number provided by the carrier at the time of booking at the tracking section in the company’s website. For door to door parcel its slightly different since it might go through multiple carriers and non carrier warehouses the tracking needs to be provided by the channel partner. This information is usually available on their website by using the airway bill number provided or by contacting customer service team at the parcel service provider. Since the shipment is not directly handled end to end by a single carrier, the tracking information may not always be real time as that’s what the experience says.
Never the less tracking of the shipment is important especially when you are sending time sensitive packages or medicines. The delivery time frames vary from country to country. A courier sent via a leading carrier usually takes only 2-3 business days to get delivered to USA from India. However the standard shipment time is 5 to 6 business days. Parcel service on the other hand could take 5 to 10 business days or at times longer.